Remember, the Lions/Falcons tilt kicks off early Sunday morning, so get those lineups in early. We’re hitting the halfway mark of the season, and hopefully, most of you have navigated the bloody waters and are in contention for a league title. I appreciate all of your tweets and questions and for those that I haven’t gotten back to, make sure to check out this week’s IDP TwitterBag. The only thing we can count on IDP is uncertainty, so here’s my look at the IDP Week 8 Match-ups Facts and Analysis to help you prepare for this week’s action. Let’s get to it and, let’s hope, no one suffers another injury.
Detroit Lions vs. Atlanta Falcons
-As whole, the Lions pass rush is licking their chops this week against a horribly graded Atlanta offensive line. Ndamukong Suh has already been sent on 242 blitzes and has generated pressure almost 10 percent of the time. The guards for Atlanta have yet to allow a sack and are grading positively in pass blocking, but Suh is a DT1 in those leagues requiring a defensive tackle. Ezekiel Ansah also has a plus match-up against Jake Matthews, who’s been responsible for three sacks and 20 combined QB hits/hurries. Ansah is coming off a 2.5 sack game in Week 6 and is generating pressure on nearly 12 percent of his blitzes. Ansah is a high-upside DE1 this week.
–Jason Jones is also a sneaky DE play this week. Even though he’s got one combined sack on the year, he’s also getting to the backfield, with 18 combined hits/hurries. He’ll line up over Gabe Carimi who’s allowed three sacks in the last two games. There’s DE3 upside this week.
-After seeing three-down work in Weeks 4 and 5, Tahir Whitehead has been on 78 percent of the snaps in the last two games. I’m still not getting too down on him just yet. He’s still recorded 12 tackles, three defended passes and had a two INT game against Minnesota. He’s putting up points when he’s on the field and has a decent match-up against Atlanta, who’s allowing the 11th most points to opposing LBs. I definitely would like to see the 10.7 percent tackle rate that he’s produced over the last two weeks go up.
–Glover Quin has INTs in consecutive games and now finds himself in a great match-up against the team giving up the 2nd most points to opposing DBs. Quin has a plus match-up this week and makes a sneaky DB2 in the early tilt.
–James Ihedigbo is a high upside safety play this week in a decent match-up against Atlanta. Since being activated in Week 4, he has three games of 14 or more fantasy points and is producing 0.21 points per snap and is adding the big plays. He’s produced 2.5 sacks and generated pressure on 43 percent of his 15 blitzes. A weak offensive line could mean another big game for Ihedigbo. Sneaky DB2 this week.
-IDP is a fickle mistress. One day you’re one man’s treasure, the next you’re put out to pasture. Joplo Bartu is one such defender. Bear in mind, all this can change in an instant, but for now, Bartu is back on the field receiving significant snaps. After seeing seven snaps between Weeks 4 and 5, Bartu has played 117 in his last two, in which he’s produced a near 19 percent tackle rate. Bartu went off on the Ravens to the tune of 15 tackles (six solos) and his third game of 17 or more fantasy points. Right now, he’s the darling next to Paul Worrilow, but keep in mind, those snaps could be decreased at any time. He’s definitely a boom or bust LB3 this week.
–Kemal Ishmael has three-straight games of six or more tackles and is recording a 12.1 percent tackle rate and 0.21 points per snap. Keep riding him as a DB2.
-After allowing QBs to record a 100+ rating against him in coverage, Desmond Trufant has been targeted just five times allowing a QB rating of just 73.6. He has yet to record an INT, but has six defended passes on the year and has a decent match-up with the pass happy Lions, who might be getting Calvin Johnson back this week. He’s making a play on the ball on nearly 25 percent of his last 12 targets. He’ll be a boom or bust option in CB-required leagues this week because of the inconsistency of his targets.
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–Jonathan Massaquoi has seen an uptick in his usage over the last two weeks. After barely cracking 30 snaps per game, Mass has received 96 snaps in his last two tilts. The results? 10 tackles (three for a loss) and a sack. In his last 39 blitzes, he generated pressure 28 percent of the time. He’s got a motor and seems to be a more effective pass rusher right now. If Massaquoi has DL eligibility, he’s worth adding and playing as a DE2 this week.
Seattle Seahawks vs. Carolina Panthers
-There’s still no timetable on Bobby Wagner’s return, as all Pete Carroll has said, “It could be a while.” K.J. Wright will continue to get the snaps at MIKE and he responded with 10 tackles. He’s produced 13 or more fantasy points in three-straight games and, since the bye week, has produced a 13.1 tackle rate and 0.24 points per snap. He’s trending up toward LB2 status during Wagner’s absence.
–Malcolm Smith saw his most usage since Week 2. Smith was involved in 100% of the snaps and recorded 10 solo tackles. He’s proved that he can make plays, and in games where he receives more than 70 percent of the snaps, he’s recorded 15 tackles and a forced fumble. He’ll be an LB3 this week against the Panthers.
–Earl Thomas has helped his tackle rate over the last two weeks, by recording 12 tackles, good for a 9.4 percent tackle rate in that span. What’s hampered his scoring is the lack of big plays this season. Through six games, he has yet to score more than 12 fantasy points and has just three defended passes on the year. He hasn’t recorded an INT since Week 15 of 2013 and it’s looking like he’s settling back into his career average of tackles, as he’s on pace for 88 tackles this year. He doesn’t play the near the line of scrimmage, playing just 9 percent of his run snaps near the LOS. He’s a middling DB3 at this point.
–Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett should bounce back in Week 8, after failing to do much of anything against St. Louis in Week 7. Bennett and Avril will lineup against two of the worst-graded tackles in the NFL in Nate Chandler and Byron Bell. Together, they’ve allowed eight sacks and 36 QB hits/hurries. Avril has been held in check the last two games. After generating pressure on 16 percent of his first 122 blitzes, he’s generated just one QB hurry in his last 41 blitzes. Michael Bennett hasn’t had a sack since Week 2, but both Avril and Bennett are high-upside DE plays this week against a poor tackle duo in Carolina.
–Charles Johnson has picked up his pace as of late. In his first 130 blitzes, he’d generated pressure 10 percent of the time, but didn’t record a sack. He’s now recorded a sack in three straight games and should line up over Justin Britt, who is prone to allowing Russell Wilson to get pressured. Britt has allowed two sacks, including Robert Quinn’s first sack and 14 QB hurries, with six of those coming in Week 7. Continue to play Johnson as a DE2.
–Antoine Cason had a game to forget. He allowed all 4 of his targets to be caught, making four tackles on the day and allowing a TD. It was just the second game that Cason failed to record at least five or more tackles. Cason has a tougher match-up this week, facing a Seahawks that doesn’t allow many DBs to score, as only six CBs have scored 10 or more fantasy points against Wilson and Co.
-In just 49 snaps, Luke Kuechly still managed seven solo tackles, producing a 14.3 percent solo tackle rate. The ejection he received was undeserved and he won’t face any disciplinary action from the NFL.
Baltimore Ravens vs. Cincinnati Bengals
–Daryl Smith has four games of 15 or more fantasy points and is producing 0.23 points per snap and is on pace for 130 tackles at his current 12.5 percent tackle rate. Over his last four games, he’s recorded eight or more tackles and is a locked in LB1 this week.
-I never thought much of Pernell McPhee as an IDP, but his name was brought to my attention this week. In looking at his numbers, he’s certainly providing big plays. After going without a sack in his first four games, he’s got sacks in three straight, including a multi-sack game against Atlanta in Week 7. In looking at his numbers, a bit deeper, in his last 114 blitzes, he’s generated pressure 18 percent of the time and is doing this as a part-time rusher. He’s not going to make the tackles, so if you’re in a deeper league with big play scoring, he might be worth adding. He’s pulling a Paul Kruger contract year and is looking to cash in. The Bengals line is tough, however, as they’ve only allowed three sacks all season.
–Will Hill saw 24 snaps in his first game back from suspension and recorded two solo tackles (one for a loss) and even got to the QB for a hit on one of his two blitzes. Matt Elam’s days could be numbered at FS as he also appeared in 24 snaps and his playing time as decreased steadily over the last several weeks.
–Elvis Dumervil is now on pace for 16 sacks, his highest mark since 2009. He’s converted 27 of his QB pressures into sacks this season (7) and is getting to the QB on nearly 17 percent of his blitzes. He’s also putting these numbers up despite appearing in 57 percent of the total defensive snaps. Dumervil is a big play specialist, as he’s registered 22 combined sacks/hits/hurries in the last four games.
–Rey Maualuga is not expected back for a few more weeks, at least. Fire up Vincent Rey, as he saw all 82 snaps at MIKE in Week 7 while recoding 16 tackles (seven solos). Rey had a dominant effort against the Ravens in Week 10 last season, notching 15 tackles, an INT and three sacks in 73 snaps. Even if Emmanuel Lamur and Vontaze Burfict are active, I still like Vincent Rey as an LB2 this week.
–Vontaze Burfict’s status will be up in the air, despite Marvin Lewis saying, “he’s fine.” I think even if he’s active, he’s still a risk as he appeared in just 27 snaps before leaving with a neck injury after making a hit on Andrew Luck. Marquis Flowers would get the nod at the weak-side if Burfict is inactive. Flowers saw 46 snaps, and though he recorded five tackles, he missed on two others. He’d be desperation play in deeper leagues this week.
–Carlos Dunlap has 6.5 sacks in seven career games against the Ravens. He’s also generated pressure on 16 percent of his 197 career blitzes against the Ravens. I like Dunlap more as a DE2, as he has a tough match-up this week, lining up over Ricky Wagner. Wagner is grading as one of the NFL’s better tackles and has allowed a sack and 9 QB hurries in 276 pass block snaps. It’ll be a great battle in the trenches this week.
Miami Dolphins vs. Jacksonville Jaguars
-The bye week seemed to have done some good for Cameron Wake. Since the bye, Wake has 2.5 sacks and has generated pressure on over 13 percent of his last 79 blitzes. He’s recorded 0.21 points per snap in his last two games and is back on the DE1 radar.
-As good as the bye week has been for Wake, it’s been the opposite for Jelani Jenkins. He’s recorded 9 solo tackles in the last two games and has produced 0.14 points per snap. Jenkins has been in on 100% of the snaps in the last two games after seeing just 47 of 67 snaps in Week 4. I still like him as an LB2 this week, but we might have to pump the brakes on his production over the next few weeks. He’s still grading positively overall this season.
–Reshad Jones has now been on all but three snaps since returning from suspension. He’s now producing a 12.2 percent tackle rate and recorded his first INT in Week 7. In his first two games, he’s also recording 0.30 points per snap and is on the DB1 radar this week and the remainder of the season.
–Brent Grimes has been targeted 17 times since the Week 5 bye, nearly 42 percent of his total targets. He’s making a play on the ball 17 percent of the time he’s thrown at and has recorded 31 tackles.
-In 11 career games, Cortland Finnegan has three INTs and 9 defended passes against the Jags while recording 45 tackles (33 solos). Finnegan looks to be a CB2 this week against the Jaguars.
-I didn’t even see Paul Posluszny get injured and it wasn’t talked about afterwards. Posluszny was put on season-ending IR with a torn pectoral. He’ll finish the season with 69 tackles and a 13.9 percent tackle rate. Who’ll replace him? From an IDP standpoint, no one. It’s another elite IDP whose production can’t be replaced on the wire. However, if you’re in a deeper league it’s going to be J.T. Thomas, so he’ll get first crack. Thomas has played OLB and recorded seven tackles against Cleveland in Week 7. He gets a tough match-up as the Dolphins are stingy when it comes to points allowed to opposing LBs.
–Andre Branch will miss six weeks after tearing groin muscle, which sounds horrible. Branch was more of a situational player and had only two sacks on the year, while generating pressure on fewer than 6 percent of his blitzes. Red Bryant could see more snaps going forward to DLE, with Tyson Alualu seeing about the same workload. Bryant has been better as a run stuffer than a pass rusher, so the Jags will continue to lean on Chris Clemons for their pass rush.
–Telvin Smith‘s role could be expanding. He was mostly a nickel LB, so an increase in snaps is likely with the loss of Posluszny. In limited playing time, he does have a 12.4 percent tackle rate in 193 defensive snaps so something to think about for those in deeper, tackle-heavy scoring leagues.
St. Louis Rams vs. Kansas City Chiefs
-After being completely shut out of the game against the 49’ers, Robert Quinn took advantage of his match-up with Justin Britt and recorded his first sack of the year. Is this the sign of breaking out of the funk that Quinn’s been in? Quinn should see Eric Fisher and while he’s allowed just two sacks, he’s grading near the bottom among NFL tackles, allowing 15 total combined hits/hurries. Quinn, after showing signs of life, remains a DE1 this week.
-Even though he’s recorded 10 or more fantasy points in five of six games, James Laurinaitis is producing a tackle rate under 10 percent, well below his career average. He’s making the most of his tackle opportunities, producing a 6:1 solo-to-assist ratio and has missed on just three tackles. Laurinaitis should be busy tracking Jamaal Charles this week. Continue rolling with him as an LB1 this week.
–Lamarcus Joyner saw a season-high 45 snaps at the slot this past week and it led to eight total tackles. He saw four targets while covering Doug Baldwin (2) and Cooper Helfet (2). I’m surprised the rookie hasn’t seen more balls thrown his way, but even in CB-required leagues, his production is going to be inconsistent, especially if WR Frankie Hammond only sees 20-25 snaps at the slot.
–Janoris Jenkins improved upon his Week 6 disaster, allowing three catches for a total of 29 yards (compared to allowing 120 yards last week) in Week 7. I still like Jenkins in CB-required leagues this week.
–Justin Houston can’t be stopped. He generated pressure on 25 percent of blitzes last week, converting one for a sack. Houston is match-up proof in big play IDP scoring, as he’s producing 0.20 points per snap and is on pace for a career-high 17 sacks, generating pressure on nearly 19 of his blitzes. He’ll be matched-up with Joe Barksdale, who’s grading among the NFL’s best offensive tackles.
–Josh Mauga is on pace for 105 tackles, with 100 of those being solos. He’s producing a near 13:1 solo-to-assist ratio and a 10.7 percent solo tackle rate, while not missing a snap since Week 2. Rams are allowing the 8th most points to opposing LBs, so I like Mauga as an LB3 this week in a favorable match-up. Love that he’s recording the solos.
-Keep an eye on Eric Berry. He’s back at practicing and the Chiefs could use back in the defensive backfield. He hasn’t seen action since Week 2.
–Jamell Fleming got the start at CB on the left side and logged 51 of the 52 defensive snaps in Week 7. He was thrown at eight times and recorded six solo tackles. Marcus Cooper appears to have lost his job to Flemming, as Cooper didn’t any defensive snaps. This is a situation to watch in deeper leagues requiring a CB corner. Take a wait and see approach over the next week or so to see how things shake out, as it could be a fluid situation.
Chicago Bears vs. New England Patriots
–Darryl Sharpton and D.J. Williams rotated snaps at MIKE in Week 7. Williams was in on the base, while Sharpton received the nickel snaps. Sharpton might have more IDP value, as he’s now wearing the communication device when on the field. In 95 snaps, he’s recorded 11 tackles and an 11.6 percent tackle rate.
-Don’t expect another monster game from Jay Ratliff this season, so let someone else grab him from the wire based on that game. Nearly half of his tackle production came this past week and he’s already matched his highest sack number since 2010. I’m only considering him in deeper, all-IDP leagues where defensive tackles are required.
–Willie Young has already recorded career-high in sacks with seven. Even with the sacks, he’s not generating all that much pressure, 8 percent of the time on his 170 blitzes. However, he’s recording a solid 10 percent tackle rate in 288 defensive snaps. He makes for a high-upside DE3 with his sack potential.
–Brock Vereen might have established himself as the FS going forward. Vereen was in on 66 snaps and recorded five solo tackles but also missed on two others. This is an intriguing match-up as he’ll face off against his brother, Shane.
–Tim Jennings‘ scoring is down slightly this season. After producing nearly 0.16 points per snap, Jennings is recording 0.10 points per snap. He’s also not making nearly the plays on the ball, 10 percent of his targets in 2014, compared to nearly 20 percent in 2013.
-So, the Patriots acquire Akeem Ayers after learning that Chandler Jones will miss about a month, possibly more according to the Boston Herald. Ayers is only a few seasons removed from 100+ tackle/6 sack season. Ayers, surprisingly, recorded just a sack in 2013, but generated pressure on 16 percent of his blitzes while grading positively overall. It’s a low-risk/high-upside acquisition for the Pats. Might be something to watch in deeper leagues over the next week or so.
-What will Dont’a Hightower‘s role in the defense be going forward? It’s possible that Hightower and Ayers will be the OLBs going forward with Rob Ninkovich moving to the end. Hightower could stay inside with Jamie Collins with Nink and Ayers sharing OLB duties. Hightower played 76 snaps outside in Week 1 and was effective with five QB pressures on 19 blitzes. Chandler’s absence poses a big problem for their alignment going forward, IMO. Hightower is a risky play this week outside of big play formats, but start Collins and Ninkovich as you normally would.
–Deontae Skinner saw just five snaps in Week 7, but it’s quite possible that his role increases with the Chandler Jones injury. In a deeper league or dynasty league, I’d certainly see if I could make some room for him at the expense of a lesser known or under-utilized defender. Re-draft leagues, take a wait and see approach for now.
-I don’t think Darrelle Revis is in danger of missing Week 8 after being sent home. The Patriots are going to need him to cover either Brandon Marshall or Alshon Jeffrey. In seven games, Revis has been thrown at 31 times and has made a play on the ball on 16 percent of those targets. He’ll make a boom or bust CB play this week, as Jay Cutler is going to have to throw his way in Week 8.
-With Chandler Jones out for a month, the Pats lose one of their top pass rushers. Jones had generated pressure on nearly 10 percent of his blitzes (235 total). He was also someone that didn’t leave the field often, appearing in 86 percent of the defensive snaps.
Buffalo Bills vs. New York Jets
Preston Brown returned to his three-down role in Week 7. After seeing just 47 percent of the snaps in Week 6, Brown saw all 67 snaps at OLB this past week. A bit of an underwhelming game, just six total tackles, including one for a loss. On the year, he’s recording an 11.5 percent tackle rate, even after a two tackle game in Week 6. He’s still safe to use an LB3 this week.
-After missing just one tackle on the year, Nigel Bradham missed three in Week 7, leading to a miss in every three attempts. He’s been a solid IDP producer, otherwise, as since he returned in Week 6, he’s recorded a 15.2 percent tackle rate in his last 118 snaps, leading to 18 tackles. Continue to start him as an LB3 this week.
-38 percent of Leodis McKelvin‘s solo tackles came in Week 1. Since then, he’s cracked five solo tackles just once. However, he is still making the big plays for his owners. He’s already recorded a career-high in interceptions (4) and is making a play on the ball 23 percent of the time he’s thrown at. He’ll make a boom or bust CB against the Jets, a team he hasn’t recorded an INT against in 9 career games.
-Patriots are pretty stingy to opposing LBs, so I wouldn’t look too deep into Demario Davis‘s four tackle effort in Week 7. Up until that point, he’d really given you no reason not to start him. He’s producing an 11.7 percent tackle rate and faces a Buffalo team that is 13th in points allowed to opposing LBs and 14 LBs to score 10 or more fantasy points. Dial up Davis as a strong LB2 this week.
-Even though David Harris is near the bottom in run stop percentage, according to PFF, he’s not missing on many tackle attempts, so he’s maximizing his point opportunities. He’s missing a tackle in every 19 attempts on the year and is producing 0.21 points per snap.
Minnesota Vikings vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
–Everson Griffen had the quietest three sack game in the history of the NFL. Griffen stuffed the stat sheet in Week 7, recording eight tackles to go along with those sacks. Griffen should line up this week against Anthony Collins, who’s grading near the bottom among NFL offensive tackles. Even though he’s only allowed a sack, he’s still grading near the bottom in pass block. It could be another boom or bust game and is a DE2 heading into the week’s action. Even with last week’s huge game, he’s generating pressure on 9 percent of his blitzes.
-Welcome back Chad Greenway, back here where your IDP owners need you. Greenway returned to the lineup in Week 7 and dominated. He recorded 15 tackles (7 solos) leading to a 22.7 percent tackle rate on 66 snaps. He’s back in the LB1 conversation this week against the Bucs.
–Anthony Barr has missed four tackles in a game twice this season, and in tackle heavy leagues, that’s at least 16 points left on the field. He’s still on pace for over 100 tackles but his missing a tackle in, nearly, every five attempts. He’s still dialed in as an LB3 this week, not only because of his tackles, but his big play abilities and upside as well.
-Shariff Floyd has two sacks in his last three games and has generated pressure 10 percent of the time on his last 77 blitzes. The guard play for Tampa has been well-below average and Floyd looks to try and take advantage of Logan Mankins, who’s given up two sacks and 10 combined hits/hurries this year. Floyd is a solid play in leagues requiring a DT this week.
–Captain Munnerlyn has been thrown at less than 30 times this year and hasn’t had quite the IDP impact on CB-required leagues as his owners had hoped this season. He’s only recorded one defended pass and yet to cause an INT. Munnerlyn is a risky play this week, as in seven career games against Tampa, he has a pick-six and seven defended passes.
-This is a great week to be a Michael Johnson owner, as he gets to face the human turnstile, Matt Kalil. Kalil is grading out at 70th among 71 offensive tackles and has given up eight sacks and 19 combined hits/hurries. Ove r the last three games, Johnson has been sent on 114 blitzes and notched two sacks while registering 9 total combined hits/hurries/sacks in that time period. The Bucs should let Johnson pin his ears back and get after Teddy Bridgewater.
-Williams Gholston also has a nice match-up this week against Phil Loadholt. While not grading nearly as bad as Kalil, he is weaker at pass protection, allowing four sacks and 19 combine d hits/hurries. I look for Gholston to increase his current sack total of one this week.
-After missing tackles in his first four games, Lavonte David has just one miss in his last two games. That’s about the only knock on his game that I can see, as he’s produced 20 or more fantasy points in four straight games and producing a 15.1 percent tackle rate.
–Mark Barron is producing a solid 10.5 percent tackle rate, despite playing less than 40 percent of his run snaps near the line of scrimmage. He’s recorded 10 or more fantasy points in every game this season.
Houston Texans vs. Tennessee Titans
–Brian Cushing will be out this week against Tennessee, and possibly, multiple games. It looks like he’s still favoring the knee, which is has given him troubles over the last few seasons. He’s coming off two sub-par games in which he recorded 5 total tackles (two solos) in 137 snaps. Justin Tuggle is a good match-up play here, as he’s producing 0.38 points per snap in his last 104 defensive snaps.
–J.J. Watt has dominated the Titans over the course of his career. I know, you don’t need me to tell you to start him, but just thought I’d throw out some numbers. In six career games, Watt has recorded eight sacks, 2 forced fumbles and has defended five passes. In terms of pressure, in 182 career blitzes, he’s generating pressure almost 15 percent of the time. Watt is a force that can’t be stopped and in 305 career snaps, he’s producing 0.34 points per snap.
-The Texans might be getting back Jadeveon Clowney this week. He’s only appeared in 23 snaps before injuring his knee. His presence would be a boost to the pass rush and to his IDP owners in big play scoring leagues.
-Even though Kendrick Lewis posted six total tackles last week, it was the first time he failed to reach at least 10 fantasy points this season. He’s been a consistent scorer, producing 0.21 points per snap. More of a neutral match-up this week, but continue to start him as you normally would. I look at him as a DB3 this week.
–Wesley Woodyard’s percentage of snaps played have slowly decreased over the last several weeks. Even though his snaps are limited, he’s recorded 13 tackles in the last two weeks, but the fact that he’s appearing in 60-65 percent of the snaps, it’s hard to recommend him in all but deeper leagues, starting three or more LBs.
-Are you looking for DT play? Or someone to add for the rest of the season? Sammie Lee Hill is a DT20 in overall scoring and has four games of 5 fantasy points or more this season. The Texans are allowing the 9th most points to opposing defensive tackles.
-In 10 career games against Houston, Jason McCourty has yet to record an INT. He’s defended six passes and 53 tackles, but has yet to hawk a pick. He also hasn’t recorded an INT since picking off two in Week 1. This could be a the week that he gets pick, otherwise, he’s going to rack up some tackles since the Texans are allowing the 9th most points to opposing CBs. He’s only had two games where hasn’t recorded 10 or more fantasy points.
-I missed on George Wilson being productive, as it looks like Michael Griffin has been the dominant producer since Bernard Pollard’s injury. In his last four games, Griffin has produced 15 or more fantasy points in three of those tilts and is producing 0.25 points per snap. He’s locked in as a DB2 this week with DB1 upside in big play formats.
Philadelphia Eagles vs. Arizona Cardinals
–Mychal Kendricks owners could still be without his services. He’s been limited in practices and hasn’t played since Week 2 since injuring his hamstring. The Eagles have been struggling to find consistency at the ILB spot next to DeMeco Ryans, using Emmanuel Acho and Casey Matthews in a rotation. Neither should be considered in IDP leagues.
–Vinny Curry has to be one of the most efficient pass rushers in the NFL and if he ever gets moved to a 4-3 team, look out. Curry has recorded sacks in three straight games and has generated pressure on 15 percent of his last 61 blitzes. He’s only appearing in 32 percent of the Eagles’ snaps, so he’s definitely a risk in IDP leagues, but can provide a reward in bigger play scoring formats.
-In 2015 blitzes, Fletcher Cox has produced just 11 combined QB hits/hurries on the year. Granted, as a 3-4 end, his assignments are different, but you’d expect some semblance of a pass rush. He’s among the top 3-4 ends in run stopping and has recorded 16 stops in the run game, that is, tackles that have resulted in a failure for the offense. He’s producing a tackle rate over six and it’s hard to trust him as a DE play, especially this week, as the Cardinals are allowing the 7th least amount of points to opposing DLs.
–Trent Cole continues to be an asset in IDP leagues that reward more for the big plays. He’s consistently generating a rush, as he’s produced at least four combined hits/hurries/sacks in his last four games, and is getting to the QB on 13 percent of his total blitzes.
-I think Tyrann Matheiu is droppable at this point. His snaps and production are inconsistent, as he played in 50 snaps in Week 6, only to play 27 in Week 7. Cardinals are running multi-safety sets and guys like Tony Jefferson and Deone Bucannon are seeing time on the field also. In the defensive backfield, it seems that Rashad Johnson is the only one on the field for the majority of the snaps. Johnson, since the Week 4, has produced a tackle rate of near 9 percent and 0.25 points per snap. Jefferson is a DB3 this week, while leaving the others on your bench.
–Patrick Peterson is another DB that can be dropped in IDP leagues, even in CB leagues. He’s been thrown at 32 times and has produced just one defended pass, no INTs and 16 tackles in 378 defensive snaps. He’s not scoring and is taking up valuable roster space. Even in a good match-up, he shouldn’t be played this week.
Oakland Raiders vs. Cleveland Browns
-The Chris Kirksey roller-coaster continues. After appearing in 82 percent of the snaps in Week 6, he appeared in just 53 percent in Week 7. But the kid is making plays and tackles and it’s hard to ignore. Since the bye week, he’s recording 0.28 points per snap, which is a solid number. Kirksey makes for a sneaky play against a Raider team that could look to exploit the run defense. If you’re into risk, you might want to consider Kirksey, but the Raiders are allowing the least amount of points to opposing LBs.
–Tashaun Gipson was a big play specialist this past week, producing two INTs, and how has four total. He’s also produced five defended passes on his 12 targets this season. While his tackles are low, 32 total and a 7.5 percent tackle rate, he’s looking like an emerging option in big play scoring leagues and is worth playing at home against a rookie QB.
–Joe Haden could be covering James Jones, leaving Buster Skrine to cover Andre Holmes, projecting him to be a solid CB play this week. Skrine has been thrown at 24 times in the last two weeks and Holmes has seen 25 targets in his last 3 games. Skrine’s two INTs and six defended passes have come in the last two games, which has led to him making a play on 33 percent of his last 24 targets. Sure, he’s a CB42 among corners in scoring, but you have to like the match-up at home against Derek Carr.
–Khalil Mack has been everything the Raiders were hoping for, as he’s graded out the 3rd best 3-4 OLB this season. The Raiders could be showing more 4-3 fronts against Cleveland this week and his coverage abilities could mean a tough game for Jordan Cameron. He’s producing a near 10 percent tackle rate and has just one game where he hasn’t produced 10 or more fantasy points. He’ll have LB2 upside against the Browns as they try to establish the run.
-Brandion Ross gets the next man up treatment, as he’ll look to replace Usama Young at FS. Having said that, he’s not an IDP option this week.
–Carlos Rogers has just one defended pass on the year and no INTs. He’s produced 7 or more defended passes in his last eight seasons, so he’ll have some work to do. Browns are near the bottom of the league in points allowed to opposing cornerbacks. Rogers is a risky play in CB-required leagues.
-Since the Week 5 bye, Miles Burris has recorded 12 tackles in the last two games. Since his blow up game in Week 1, he’s had just two games of five or more solo tackles. He remains a risky LB play this week.
-When will Charles Woodson stop being productive? He’s produced five games of 10 or more fantasy points and continues to log the snaps as he has yet to miss a snap. Surprisingly, since 1998, Woodson has only played in three games against the Browns.
Indianapolis Colts vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
-The Colts have gotten 10 sacks from D’Qwell Jackson, Bjoern Werner and Erik Walden this season. Together, they’ve also generated pressure on 11 percent of their combined blitzes. These three have stepped up in the absence of Robert Mathis. Jackson continues to be a steady IDP producer, recording a 12.7 percent tackle rate and 0.26 points per snap.
–Jerrell Freeman isn’t on the injury report after suffering a hip injury in Week 7, that he did return from. He’s recorded a near 19 percent tackle rate in his last 108 snaps and is shaping up to be an LB2 in a decent match-up.
–Vontae Davis has already reached the double-digit mark in defended passes. On 32 targets, he’s making a play on the ball nearly 44 percent of the time, leading to 12 defended passes and two INTs. The points per snap are low (0.14), but he’s been on the field for over 400 snaps and ranks as a CB25 in overall scoring. He’s shaping up to be a CB3 this week, as the Steelers are 18th in points allowed to opposing CBs.
-Good news for Ryan Shazier owners. He got in full practices and he’s looking like a good bet to play in Week 8. Shazier has been on the shelf since Week 3. Until the injury, he was producing a 13.2 percent tackle rate. He should settle back in as an LB2 this week.
–Sean Spence has missed six tackles in his last four games. Spence is going to have be disciplined this week, as the Colts have two RBs that are tops in the NFL in Elusive Rating, according to PFF. He’s produced a low 8.2 percent tackle rate and is missing a tackle in every four attempts. He’s a dicey LB4 in deeper leagues this week.
–William Gay is 9th among CBs in times targeted. He’s been thrown at 47 times, but it hasn’t led to IDP production through seven games. He’s recorded just 20 tackles and six defended passes. If you’re looking for a corner to start in deeper leagues, the Colts are 2nd in points allowed to CBs. They’ve allowed 10 corners to post 10 or more fantasy points.
Green Bay Packers vs. New Orleans Saints
–Davon House and Casey Hayward each saw time at RCB in Week 7 while Sam Shields was inactive. Shields availability will be up in the air, as he got in some light work but not a full practice. House and Hayward are sneaky plays in CB-required leagues, especially if Shields misses this week. The Saints are giving up the 8th most points to opposing CBs, and this game is expected to be a shoot-out.
-Even though Morgan Burnett has been limited, I’m still expecting him to suit up Week 8. He was questionable last week and managed to notch seven tackles in 53 snaps. Among the FS position, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix was on the field for all 71 defensive snaps in Week 7, recording 9 total tackles, and in his last four games, has notched 27 tackles. He’s on the DB3 radar this week.
-Might be to move on from Jamari Lattimore in re-draft formats. Over the last two games, Lattimore has seen 37 total snaps, moving around on the inside. He just hasn’t been able to gain that three-down role. Sam Barrington is ahead of him on the depth chart, but they’ll be continue to rotate in and out between base and sub-packages. Brad Jones doesn’t appear to be a factor any more, as he didn’t even see the field last week.
Washington Redskins vs. Dallas Cowboys
-It appears that Perry Riley could be returning Monday night against the Cowboys. He’s missed the last two games, but even though he should be active, Will Compton could figure in the mix for some snaps. Compton graded well in his Week 7 game, appearing in all 57 snaps and recording seven tackles. Since it’s a Monday night game, this situation might be better to avoid.
–Ryan Kerrigan has produced at least three combined QB hits/hurries/sacks in all but one game this season. Kerrigan should line up and face off with Jeremy Parnell as he continues to fill-in for Doug Free. Parnell only allowed two total QB hurries in Week 7. On the year, Kerrigan is generating pressure on over 15 percent of his blitzes. Kerrigan is a big play specialist, but will be targeted for double-teams by the Dallas offense.
-Since Ryan Clark’s 14 tackle effort in Week 4, he’s produced 14 total since then. He’s middling around the DB3 tier this week.
–Rolando McClain has been up and down since returning in Week 4. After producing 15 or more fantasy points in Weeks 1 and 2, he hasn’t hit the 15 point mark once. It’s an unfavorable match-up and he’s a risky LB3 play this week as the Redskins are stingy in points allowed to LBs. He is playing at home where he’s averaging just over five tackles per game.
-This is a great week to plug-in the Dallas secondary as a match-up play against Colt McCoy. The Dallas LBs are also going to be busy covering Jordan Reed, as I see a lot of dump-offs also. Brandon Carr has been thrown at 37 times this season, while Orlando Scandrick has been targeted 25 times in five games.
-After finishing as a DB1, Barry Church is hovering around the DB21 area in overall scoring. The Dallas LBs have performed well above expectations and is playing considerably less near the line of scrimmage, just 28 percent of his run snaps compared to 44 percent last season. He’s still producing solid digits, but is more of a DB2, averaging around 6 tackles per game and 0.21 points per snap. He should be in your lineups this week with a nice match-up.
-Of all 4-3 DE that have recorded over 300 snaps, Jeremy Mincey is one of two that have yet to record a sack. The pressure is there, as he’s getting to the QB in nearly 13 percent of his blitzes. He just has to convert to a sack. I hope Dallas takes advantage of the match-up and plays him on the left side, but probably won’t happen, as he’s only seen four rush snaps from the left. George Selvie should be in line for a solid game lining up over Tyler Polumbus. Mincey gets one of the top graded offensive tackles in Trent Williams.
Mike Woellert is an IDP Contributor for FakePigskin.