Join the Footballguys Daily Update
Start your morning with our roundup of the most important stories in football - with the fantasy insight you need to make league-winning decisions. Delivered straight to your inbox, 100% free.
Matchup plays matter.
On some level. It would be great if they didn’t. It would be awesome if everyone we drafted stayed healthy and lived up to expectations. If Philadelphia Eagles edge-rusher Haason Reddick had more than one assist over his first three games (in Reddick’s defense, he has three sacks in the last two). If Indianapolis Colts linebacker Shaquille Leonard could shake off the injuries that have dogged him and return to being IDP’s most dominant force. If defensive backs weren’t the unpredictable quagmire, that is, you know, defensive backs.
But that’s not the world we live in. Players get hurt each and every week. Others just aren’t going to be who we hoped they would be, no matter how badly we wish differently. Holes pop up in IDP lineups on a weekly basis. And while permanent fixes are great, sometimes fantasy managers just need a patch. A one-week fill-in from the bench or waiver wire.
That’s where Living the Stream comes in. The patches don’t always hold (this analyst rather picked the wrong Denver edge-rusher last week). But some do (he also hit on Miami Dolphins edge-rusher Andrew Van Ginkel and Los Angeles Rams edge-rusher Jordan Fuller), and you never know which matchup play will win the matchup that makes the difference between the playoffs or an early end to the season. Or the difference between runner-up and champion.
Every lineup spot and fantasy point matters—at least when I’m right.
Where the whole Jonathan Cooper/Nik Bonitto snafu is concerned, we’ll just go with bygones?
DE Jadeveon Clowney, Baltimore (at Tennessee)
It has been quite the long and winding road for Jadeveon Clowney—the 30-year-old has gone from former No. 1 overall pick and sure-fire superstar in the making to NFL journeyman playing for his fifth team in 2023. Per Clifton Brown & Ryan Mink of the Ravens’ website, Clowney’s goals for the 2023 season are clear—stay healthy, make an impact, and help the Ravens make a deep playoff run.
"When I first came here to visit, I got the feeling that I was joining a team that could really go places," Clowney said. "I'm sticking to my original goal – to play all 17 games. If I do that, I think my play will take care of itself. This is my fifth team, and I've told the guys here – don't take this opportunity for granted. We've got the pieces to do something special. I really believe that. We just have to keep working every day for the long haul and see if we can extend this thing into February, you know what I mean?"
Clowney’s numbers haven’t been especially gaudy—11 tackles and 1.5 sacks. But he leads all Ravens edge-rushers in snaps by a fair margin, leads the team in quarterback hits, and draws a Tennessee Titans team in Week 6 that has surrendered the most fantasy points in the AFC to defensive ends so far this season.
DE A.J. Epenesa, Buffalo (vs. NY Giants)
Despite a career-high 6.5 sacks in 2022, for most of his four-year career, A.J. Epenesa has been considered more of an edge-setter than an edge-rusher. But with injuries forcing him into a larger defensive role in Week 5, Epenesa was both. And while the Bills may have lost the game, Epenesa told Tim Graham of the Athletic that he was glad to show he can be counted on as a difference-maker up front.
“In moments like that,” Epenesa said, “it’s what I’ve been trying to build to, grow to, be a leader on the team and show the guys they can believe in me and trust in me no matter the situation. I want them to have that confidence in me because I trust and love all these guys. I want them to feel that way towards me. Guys are going down, but I promise you I’m not being selfish and thinking only of myself. I want us all to eat, all of us to do good.”
There wasn’t much that Epenesa didn’t do against the Jaguars—playing 67 percent of the defensive snaps, he logged four total tackles, two sacks, a tackle for loss, a forced fumble, and three passes defensed—numbers that landed him atop the defensive linemen in Week 5. Epenesa may not be the No. 1 D-lineman two weeks in a row, but with a Giants team on tap that has allowed a staggering 20 sacks this year, maybe he will be.
Continue reading this content with a ELITE subscription.
An ELITE subscription is required to access content for IDP (individual defensive players) leagues. If this league is not a IDP (individual defensive players) league, you can edit your leagues here.
"Footballguys is the best premium
fantasy football only site on the planet."
Matthew Berry, NBC Sports EDGE