Through six weeks of play, fantasy draft picks are largely known quantities. Players like Marcus Davenport and Chandler Jones aren’t going to live up to preseason expectations in 2022. Busts, injuries, and bye weeks leave all but the deepest rosters with makeshift line-ups going into November.
The active manager must navigate these constraints one week at a time with a position group of complementary players. Third- and fourth-tier defensive ends and, where applicable, edge defenders can be platooned to maximize output based on opponent. Struggling pass rushers who play large volumes of snaps can remain in line-ups versus NFL opponents expected to implement run-heavy game plans. Part-time pass rushers are boom/bust choices against quarterbacks who are prone to sacks or who lead big underdogs on a given Sunday.
Pass rushers who compile tackles typically do so in run defense. Pro Football Focus “Premium Stats” track tackles by run defense as a subset of total tackles for each player. Three defensive ends lead their position group with 22 tackles in run defense. Cameron Jordan, Maxx Crosby, and Demarcus Lawrence are credited by PFF with 23, 24, and 25 total tackles, respectively. All three rank among the top ten scorers among defensive ends at Footballguys.com.
(Of note, PFF tracks tackle numbers for its own use and does not rely on reports from stat crews upon which fantasy scoring is based. PFF tackle totals do not necessarily match official tackle totals.)
Situational Pass Rushers
Carl Lawson, New York Jets
Carl Lawson is tied for the league lead in quarterback knockdowns with eleven per Pro Football Reference. Like the pass rusher he’s tied with, Cincinnati’s Trey Hendrickson, Lawson has collected just 2.5 sacks. Through his first four games as a Jet, Lawson played fewer than 60% of snaps for his new team. In the past two, he’s been on the field for about three-quarters of the Jets’ defensive snaps.
Lawson and the Jets raise two questions about his fantasy value. Are the Jets for real? Has Lawson earned the increased workload going forward?
Fantasy gamers should be comfortable deploying Lawson this week versus vulnerable Russell Wilson and the Broncos rather than wait for the answers to these questions. Lawson is, at minimum, a matchup-based play against sack-prone quarterbacks. He may the potential to develop into a weekly starter as he puts last year’s preseason Achilles’ tendon tear further behind him.
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