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In My Defense – Week 5

By Duncan Smith and JJ Wenner

Welcome to our week 5 defensive recap, the week started with Tom Brady getting sacked 3 times on Thursday night, continued with 7 individual players sacking Joe Burrow on Sunday, and finished with the first Tuesday game since Minnesota played Philadelphia in 2010, and Tennessee scoring 42 points against Buffalo.

We’ll delve into more detail as we go through all 32 teams so without further ado, let’s get to the week 5 Snap Decisions:


Safety – Budda Baker returned to the line up after a one-week absence and recorded 10 combined tackles, including a sack against Joe Flacco and the hapless Jets. Next up is a trip to Dallas to take on the Cowboys and Andy Dalton. You shouldn’t overthink this one.


LB – Foyesade Oluokon racked up a season-best 14 combined tackles, including 1 for a loss, and has had at least 6 combined tackles in every game he has played so far this year. With a 97% snap count, you can play him weekly from now on.


LB – I could talk about nearly every Ravens starter this week, after all, 7 of them sacked Joe Burrow but I’m only going to talk about one. Burrow’s former LSU teammate Patrick Queen. He had 9 combined tackles, a strip-sack with recovery, and another fumble recovery on the day. Next up is a week 6 match against Carson Wentz, who happens to have gotten sacked the second most times (19) after Joe Burrow (22).


Safety – Jordan Poyer has put up a strong showing every week this season, including week 5 when Tennessee put 42 points on Buffalo. Week 6 sees the Bills take on Kansas City in a     5 pm Monday slot, Poyer will once again see a lot of action and should be a solid play this week.


The Panthers rookies that had been doing so well this season collectively stuttered in week 5. Edge Yetur Gross-Matos only managed 26% of snaps before an ankle injury finished his day.  iDL Derrick Brown failed to put up any points and only played 51% of snaps, his lowest amount so far this season. CB Troy Pride managed 5 solo tackles, and safety Jeremy Chinn managed 6. We’re not panicking yet but next up for Carolina is a visit from Chicago, so perhaps temper expectations while Nick Foles is checking the ball down for the Bears.


Edge – Carlos Dunlap lost his starting role before the Ravens game on Sunday, then recorded the Bengals only sack of Lamar Jackson and his first sack of the season. He is likely to start again this week against the Colts and Philip Rivers but he won’t be in my line-up until he shows more consistency.


LB – I may have overstated the downfall of Khalil Mack earlier in the season, he managed to sack Tom Brady twice in the week 4 early fixture. Next up he gets a chance to get after Teddy Bridgewater.


Safety – Off-season acquisition Ronnie Harrison finally kick-started his season with a pick-6 in his first start of the year. Unfortunately, he then left the field after only 37 snaps with a head knock that subsequently landed him in the concussion protocol. If Harrison can’t go expect special teamer Sheldrick Redwine, who also had an interception in week 4, to take his place in Sunday’s grudge match against Pittsburgh.


LB – Jaylon Smith had a big week for the Giants recording 14 combines tackles, including 3 for a loss, and 2 hits on the QB, including half a sack. Up next is a visit from the Cardinals, who have allowed Kyler Murray to be sacked 8 times while he has thrown 6 interceptions.


LB – Malik Reed saw a big upswing in snap percentage week 4, jumping to 74%, and with it came his best game of the season, 5 combined tackles, 1 for a loss. In week 6 Denver finally takes on a New England team that has been turned over 5 times and allowed defenses to sack the quarterback 7 times in 4 games. He could be a nice upside play this week.

DETROIT LIONS – Bye week 5

iDL – The Lions are terrible at stopping the run, they’ve already allowed 590 yards on the ground through 4 games. Why is this important? Well, keep an eye on John Penisini! Hey, no laughing at the back, it’s a fine upstanding name, hard and firm and where was I? Oh yeah, Detroit needs to do something and that something might be rookie Penisini. He’s seeing his snap percentage steadily increase each week, and he is slowly making his presence felt as they do. One for the future or if you’re me a desperation flier this week against Jacksonville.


Edge – Za’Darius Smith had a monster game in week 4 against the Falcons, with 3 sacks of Matt Ryan. In week 6 he’s got a trip to Tampa and the opportunity to body slam Tom Brady to the turf, make sure he’s back in your line-up.


LB – Tyrell Adams got his shot after Benardrick McKinney was placed on season-ending IR and he promptly took it, recording 13 combined tackles, 1 for a loss, and recovered a fumble. This is Adams’s sixth year in the league and his first fantasy-relevant game so don’t get too excited and spend any FAAB on him. He does get Tennessee coming off a very short week next if you need a free bye week flier though.


LB – Darius Leonard was a no-go on Sunday leaving the way open for Bobby Okereke and Anthony Walker to have an impressive week. Okereke managed an interception, a pass defended, and 10 combined tackles, while Walker managed an interception, 2 passes defended, and 7 combined tackles including 1 for a loss.

Edge – Justin Houston failed to record a sack for the first time this season in week 5. In week 6 he’s facing Cincinnati and Joe Burrow, who has been dropped on his ass a league-high 22 times this season.


CB – Sidney Jones had a bright future in the NFL when he joined the league in 2017 but after 3 years on the Eagles, he failed to live up to that future. Now with the one franchise that might be historically worse than NYJ you shouldn’t get too excited by one blow-up game against Houston.


CB – Bashaud Breeland returned from a 4 game substance abuse suspension and immediately recorded an interception and pass defended on 73% of snaps. He did however only manage 2 tackles.


LB – Corey Littleton continues to be on the field for almost every snap, his only performance with less than 100% of the snaps was week 4 with a snap percentage of 98%. However, he has yet to register a sack, interception, or fumble recovery and until he does, we have to be cautious about expecting him to return to his Rams form.


Be aware, the Chargers have had their Bye week moved and are not playing this week.

Edge – The good news about the Chargers new bye week is it gives Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa time to come back healthy in week 7. Monitor their situations and Ingram’s IR status carefully over the weekend.


LB – Micah Kiser was ruled out of the Rams week 5 match with Washington, giving Troy Reeder his first start of the season in a great match up. Reeder delivered on his opportunity with 11 combined tackles, 3 sacks, and 3 QB hits.  If Kiser can’t go week 6 then Reeder is an excellent start against a 49ers offense that gave up 5 sacks and 7 total QB hits to Miami.

iDL – Aaron Donald had himself a day with 4 sacks and a forced fumble. He currently leads the league with 7.5 sacks on the season so far.


Safety – Bobby McCain picked off Jimmy Garoppolo on Sunday to flatter his stats but with only 3 tackles made he just doesn’t have the floor to make him a viable weekly option going forward.


iDL – Hey, you didn’t ditch Jaleel Johnson or Shamar Stephen this week after I told you to last week. How do I know? They scored my predicted 2 points, between them. Well, 2.5 to be exact. You don’t need these guys on your roster.

LB – Eric Kendricks meanwhile continues to be an every-week play after recording another 7 solo tackles and has yet to miss a snap this season.


CB – Stephon Gilmore is the second player that tested positive for Covid-19 after maybe having dinner with Cam Newton the night he tested positive. If he can’t play in the rearranged Bronco’s game look for Jonathon Jones to see a big increase in snap percentage and targets opposite Jason McCourty.


CB – Marshon Lattimore returned for the Saints on Monday night and recorded 6 combined tackles. He gets a week off this week but will be back week 7 against Carolina.

iDL – Cameron Jordan continues to improve after a slow start to the season. This week he was good for 10 combined tackles, including 2 for a loss and half a sack. Look for him to keep this form up when he gets back on the field in week 7.


LB – Lorenzo Carter ruptured his Achilles tendon on Sunday. This saw Markus Golden’s snap percentage rocket from 12% in week 4 to 86% in week 5. With Washington and the Eagles to come next, he should be a solid floor play in your lineup.


CB – Pierre Desir put up another fantasy-relevant week with 11 combined tackles, 8 solo. He’s at least a bye week flex option at this point (I know, I don’t particularly like it either). 


LB – Duke Riley led the team with 13 tackles, 7 solo, a tackle for a loss, and a forced fumble. Don’t get too excited though, this is the first time since joining the league in 2017 that he has put up fantasy-relevant numbers.


LB – Fred Warner recorded double-digit tackles for the second time this season with 11 combined. Kwon Alexander only managed 5 combined tackles but did get to the quarterback for a sack. Alexander has a suspected high ankle sprain, so make sure you have options if he misses time. Dre Greenlaw will likely fill in for San Francisco if he does.


LB – After 5 weeks of football Bobby Wagner has yet to miss a defensive snap. This week he had 14 combined tackles as Minnesota elected to run the ball regularly. Unfortunately, the Seahawks are on a bye this week so you will need a fill in to replace Wagner.


CB – Mike Hilton picked up where he left off before Pittsburgh’s unexpected week 4 bye. He recorded 8 tackles, all solo, and a sack this week. 


LB – Lavonte David and Devin White both had a quiet week against a somewhat ponderous Chicago team led by Nick ‘short pass middle’ Foles. Tampa has the high octane Green Bay Packers to deal with next, so at the very least the volume should be there to give one or both a fantasy-relevant week.


CB – Well I said he would boom or bust and Malcolm Butler boomed this week. He had 2 interceptions for 97 yards, 2 passes defended, and 6 solo tackles on only 56% of snaps. He has Houston next but only a few days to get ready.


DE – Montez Sweat continues his up and down fantasy season with an up game in week 5. Sweat recorded 8 combined tackles, 1.5 for a loss, and a sack. With the Giants up next for the Football Team I’m expecting a second good week in a row for Sweat in week 6.

Duncan Smith – @duncafc
JJ Wenner – @JJWenner

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