By Duncan Smith
Hi, welcome back to the last IDP article for the first half of the season. By the time you join me next week, we will be closer to your championship game than we are to your opening game unless you’re one of those nutters that play 17 weeks, like a nutter.
A week of Halloween fun kicked off when Daniel Jones got tackled by a ghost on an 80-yard touchdown scamper. Even ghost whisperer Sam Darnold managed to avoid that on a similar run.
A more impressive offensive tackle than Jones tackling himself was DK Metcalf chasing down Budda Baker like he wanted to give him back a dropped bank card.
Ain’t it great when you write a weekly IDP article and the two biggest defensive talking points were performed by some shoelaces and a wide receiver that wanted his ball back? Sheesh.
Anyway, time for my snap decisions.
ARIZONA CARDINALS – Bye week 8
Safety – Those of you with Budda Baker rostered were dancing for joy while Russell Wilson could only watch in horror as he returned an interception for what was surely going to be a touchdown. That is until DK Metcalf raced 102 yards up the field to make a tackle.
Baker still had his best week of an impressive season with 1 interception for 90 yards, 1 pass defended, and 14 combined tackles including 1 for a loss. Baker is on a bye this week but has a nice back half of the season, so make sure you keep him rostered.
Safety – Keanu Neal has had a rough go of it over the past couple of years, having only managed 4 games over 2018 and 2019 due to injury. He may be one of the few people having a good 2020 as he appears to be regaining his early-career form.
Against Detroit, he recorded 11 combined tackles and the first sack of his career. Up next is a matchup against the Panthers in Carolina. In week 5 he only managed 7 combined tackles against the Panthers. Things haven’t changed enough in the interim to make this a great matchup for Neal this week and you may find better options elsewhere.
Edge – Baltimore made improvements to their defense during their bye week by trading for Yannick Ngakoue from Minnesota. Ngakoue comes to the Ravens with 5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 12 solo tackles (5 for a loss), and 7 total QB hits. He will make an already terrifying Ravens defense even better and should continue his top 10 DE form and make a formidable partnership with Calais Campbell.
He has an up and down schedule including 2 games against Pittsburgh before a great run of matchups during the fantasy post-season (Browns week 14, Jags week 15, and Giants week 16).
Edge – Veteran Jerry Hughes had a career day against Sam Darnold and the (I’m calling it now) soon to be 0-16 Jets. Hughes had 2 sacks, 6 combined tackles, a pass defended, a forced fumble, and the first interception of his career. At 32 this was more of a reminder of what Hughes used to be capable of rather than an indication of what’s to come.
LB – Shaq Thompson had 13 combined (7 solo) tackles this week. So far this season he has recorded 10 or more tackles in weeks 1,3,5 and 7. In even-numbered weeks his highest total is 6 tackles.
If this pattern continues we would expect a down week from Thompson however, he is playing Atlanta, a team he got 10 combined tackles against in week 5.
The Bengals have now played Cleveland twice this season and in both fixtures failed to record a single sack on Baker Mayfield, leaving them as the only team to fail to do so. Next, they entertain Tennessee. Ryan Tannehill has only been sacked 7 times this year and only intercepted twice. Unless Joe Burrow can get the Bengals up early, Tannehill is unlikely to throw much further than the end of his shoes, meaning there isn’t much hope of adding to his interceptions. However, running the game through Derrick Henry should bring plenty of tackle opportunities for Cincinnati.
LB – Khalil Mack recorded the Bears only sack of Jared Goff to accompany 4 solo tackles (1 for a loss) and a forced fumble. Fellow LB, Roquan Smith logged 8 combined tackles (7 solo, 1 for a loss).
Mack’s snap percentage is hovering around 85% while Smith hasn’t missed a snap since week one. Your IDP scoring format dictates which one of these two you prefer to start. Mack has 5.5 sacks on the season and 25 combined tackles (15 solo). Smith has yet to record a sack but has logged 60 combined tackles (44 solo), with both recording a forced fumble.
If your league rewards tackles you want Smith on your roster otherwise Macks sack upside makes him the preferred option.
Edge – Myles Garrett continues to be a one-man wrecking crew. Against the Bengals, he recorded 2 sacks, 3 tackles (all solo) including 1 for a loss and a forced fumble. He has a tougher game this week against Las Vegas, who has only allowed Derek Carr to be sacked 11 times this season, although 3 of those came this week against Tampa Bay. The opportunity for a man of Garrett’s abilities are there and you are keeping him in your lineup.
LB – Leighton Vander Esch returned from his week 1 fractured collarbone and immediately saw a 97% snap share, which netted him 12 combined tackles (9 solo). Those of you with Jaylon Smith rostered will be pleased to know his return didn’t cut into Smith’s workload. He continued to see 100% of snaps and has yet to miss a snap this year.
Next for this duo is another divisional match, this time against Philadelphia. With Dallas potentially starting their 3rd string QB this week the defense is going to struggle to get off the field. Luckily Carson Wentz is tied for the most interceptions thrown (10) and times sacked (28). You are starting both of these guys and that is an order.
LB – Malik Reed continues to stake his claim for the starters’ role in the absence of Jeremiah Attaochu. He followed up a good showing against New England with an equally impressive game during Kansas City’s comfortable win over Denver. He posted 2 sacks, 5 tackles (4 solo, 2 for a loss) on the day.
Reed will look to keep this run going against Justin Herbert this week. While he appears to have done enough to keep the starters role you should be aware that he might lose some opportunities if Attaochu suits up.
Edge – Romeo Okwara is putting together a nice season for himself, quickly becoming a key component in the Lions defense. His snap percentage is going up, having not played less than 50% since week 1 and he now has 4 sacks on the year, including 2 against Matt Ryan this week. However, Okwara has yet to get more than 4 tackles in a game this year and that will limit his upside, particularly going into a tough game against Indianapolis.
GREEN BAY PACKERS
LB – Despite exiting the match against Houston in the second half with a shoulder injury, rookie Krys Barnes led the Packers with 1 sack, and 8 combined tackles (4 solo, 1 for a loss).
Barnes leads the Packers with 43 combined tackles on the season, this is good for 44th in the league and 32 combined tackles behind league leader Jaylon Smith. His 25 solo tackles are good for 74th. Barnes is a nice rookie stash but until his snap percentages and stat lines increase it’s tough trusting him in your lineup.
HOUSTON TEXANS – Bye week 8
LB – Tyrell Adams continues to play well filling in for Benardrick McKinney. This week he led Houston with 11 combined tackles (5 solo, 1 for a loss) however like the rest of the Houston defense he failed to lay a glove on Aaron Rodgers. The week after Rodgers gave up 2 interceptions and 4 sacks to Tennessee, Houston failed to record a single sack or interception.
Coming out of the bye Houston face Jacksonville, Cleveland, New England, and Denver making him a set and forget option in most IDP leagues.
LB – Keep an eye on Darius Leonard’s status in the build-up to Sunday, after missing the last two weeks many expect him to make his return against Detroit, however in his absence Bobby Okereke and Anthony Walker have put up solid performances. If the Pro-bowler suits up on Sunday I would be wary of playing any of the three, especially Walker until I know how the snap percentages shake out.
JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS – Bye week 8
LB – As predicted Myles Jack failed to suit up before the Jags bye week however, this did not translate to a significant snap share for Kamalei Correa. After being activated from IR in week 6, Quincy Williams saw his snap share jump to 94% while Correa’s fell to 36% while his special teams’ snaps jumped to 50%. Williams turned his snaps into 7 combined tackles (3 solo, 1 for a loss).
With Jack likely to return against Houston in week 9 and Joe Schobert having a good year, you don’t need to roster Correa, and Williams’s value may depend on how long an ankle injury keeps Dakota Allen out.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Safety – Daniel Sorensen and Tyrann Mathieu both managed to pick off Drew Lock in this one, with Sorensen returning his interception for a touchdown. They also recorded 9 tackles (7 solo) and 5 tackles (5 solo) respectively.
Both of these players are potential game-winners for you in week 8 (that might be a slight exaggeration) as Kansas City takes on the Jets. After a decent start on his return against Buffalo, Sam Darnold quickly fell apart and recorded 2 interceptions and zero touchdowns. Sorensen and Mathieu should both be in your lineup and I would expect both to eat.
LAS VEGAS RAIDERS
The Raiders defense had a tough time against Tampa Bay, failing to record a single interception or sack. CB Treyvon Mullen had the best numbers with 9 solo tackles and 2 passes defended for his best score of the season.
A week 8 game with Cleveland will give the Raiders players a better opportunity to record some more impressive stat lines.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
DE, DT – Melvin Ingram, and Justin Jones returned from IR to face Jacksonville. While neither lit the IDP scoring charts ablaze, Ingram recorded 2 quarterback hits and Jones logged 2 combined tackles. They immediately logged 68% of snaps (Ingram) and 52% (Jones) while they helped the Chargers prevent Gardner Minshew from completing a first-quarter pass and shut the Jags out completely in the 4th quarter.
Hopefully, a week 8 game against Denver will see both contribute more on IDP rosters.
LOS ANGELES RAMS
Safety – Taylor Rapp was the assumed starter at strong safety for the rams in the off-season before a knee injury left him sidelined. This led to the team naming Jordan Fuller as the starter and Rapps snap percentage sat at around 22% over the first 2 weeks. However, a shoulder injury to Fuller opened the door for Rapp to claim back the starter’s role.
Over the next 2 weeks, Rapp saw his snap percentage increase to 89% then 100% before Fuller returned in week 5 and it dropped back to 24%. Fuller then reaggravated his injury and Rapp saw 100% of snaps in weeks 6 and 7.
When in the starting role Rapp is a fantasy-worthy option, this week he had an interception, 7 combined tackles (2 solo), and a pass defended.
The rams have Miami and a bye to go before Fuller is eligible to return in week 10. Miami this week might be a nice spot start for Rapp against a rookie south-paw making his professional debut. If he hits you might be able to flip him to an unsuspecting rival before he loses the starting role again.
CB – Xavien Howard comes out of his bye week to face the Los Angeles Rams, having logged an interception in each of his last 4 games. These interceptions have kept him fantasy relevant and without them, his value drops off of a cliff. He has only recorded 1 sack and 1 forced fumble in his 4 years in the pros.
If he can’t pick Jared Goff in Week 8 then he will bust in your lineup. Goff has only been intercepted 4 times this season. Of quarterbacks that have played 7 games, only Matt Ryan (3) and Patrick Mahomes (1) have been picked less, so I’m not sure I fancy his chances.
Edge – The Vikings suffered one of the worst bye weeks you could imagine, losing Yannick Ngakoue to Baltimore and Danielle Hunter to season-ending neck surgery. With those defensive stalwarts no longer available, Ifeadi Odenigbo steps up as the most experienced player at the position.
Despite that, rookie DJ Wonnum may be the player to grab, having already been touted as a natural replacement for Hunter. Keep an eye on his snap count and performance against Green Bay this week and be prepared to move for him if he pans out.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
CB – For the second week in a row Jonathan Jones outperformed Stephon Gilmore despite only seeing 58% of snaps to Gilmore’s 100%. Jones logged 7 solo tackles to Gilmore’s 6 combined (3 solo) on a disappointing day for everyone in New England.
A week 8 divisional match against Buffalo should allow versatile corner Jones to put up a nice stat line again against the Bills faltering offense, particularly if the Patriots continue to struggle offensively.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Safety – My guy Chauncey Gardner-Johnson saw his snap percentage fall this week, down to 72%. He still recorded 5 tackles, all solo, and a pass defended. CJ-GJ is now up to 30 tackles on the year, this is only 16 short of his rookie total of 46.
NEW YORK GIANTS
LB – Blake Martinez is on course for a career year, another 9 combined tackles, 1 pass defended and 2 QB hits brings his totals for the year to 73 combined tackles, 2 sacks, 1 pass defended, 1 fumble recovery, 5 tackles for a loss and 5 hits on the quarterback.
Up next he faces a stiffer test than the Eagles in the form of Tampa Bay, then it’s WFT and the Eagles again before his bye. Make sure he stays in your lineup.
Safety – Despite Carson Wentz getting sacked 3 times, Logan Ryan was unable to get involved in the action. He is still playing every down and getting involved, unless you have a much better option he’s still a good weekly floor play.
NEW YORK JETS
LB – Neville Hewitt recorded 13 combined tackles, 10 solo against Buffalo in week 7. Hewitt hasn’t missed a snap since Week 2, where he still logged 95% of snaps.
Hewitt is amongst Jets players that could be a sneaky play in week 8. NYJ are at Kansas for what is likely to resemble a bloodbath. With the offense unable to perform, New York’s defense will likely struggle to get off the field giving guys like Hewitt, Marcus Maye, and Brian Poole upside on volume alone.
Edge – As predicted Brandon Graham got at the quarterback for his 6th sack in 7 games. The third-most in the league behind Aaron Donald and Myles Garrett.
Next up is Dallas, pre-injury they had allowed Dak Prescott to get sacked 10 times in 5 starts and Andy Dalton 7 times in 2 starts. When Dalton went off on Sunday after a cheap shot from Jon Bostic, third-stringer Ben DiNucci also got sacked 3 times. With the Dallas O-line destroyed by injury, I like Graham to get to DiNucci several times at the weekend.
LB – Vince Williams and TJ Watt led the team against Tennessee with each recording a sack and Williams collecting 10 tackles (9 solo, 2 for a loss), while Watt helped himself to 5 tackles (4 solo, 3 for a loss).
In week 8 the Steelers face Baltimore and this may be a more favorable matchup than you first think. Lamar Jackson has been sacked 15 times in 6 games, the 9th most in the league, and the Steelers have given up the fewest rushing yards (413, 4 TD’s), the 3rd fewest air yards (1305, 11 TD’s), and the fewest total yards (1718, 15 TD’s) so far. On top of that Jackson is currently QB 27 in passing yards with 1135 in 6 weeks.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
CB – Jamar Taylor hauled in 2 interceptions, 2 passes defended, and 3 solo tackles against New England. However, this is the 30-year-old journeyman’s biggest fantasy-relevant game since he logged 9 tackles against Baltimore in week 2 of the 2017 season. These blow-up games are relatively common in IDP scoring and you shouldn’t go chasing the points in a situation like this, particularly with a player who was only promoted from the practice squad in week4.
Safety – Jamal Adams didn’t suit up for Seattle’s Week 7 loss to the Cardinals on Sunday night. Adams has failed to log any practice time since sustaining the groin injury in week 3 against Dallas. Those of you with Adams rostered should expect him to miss more time as he looks to get game ready.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
LB – Devin White and Lavonte David continue to lead the Tampa Bay defense. David helped himself to 8 combined tackles (7 solo), while White had a monster 3 sacks, 1 forced fumble, and 11 combined tackles (9 solo).
With a trip to New York to play the Giants next, there are zero reasons why these two wouldn’t be in your lineup.
Safety – Rookie Antoine Winfield only recorded 2 combined tackles (1 solo) but came away with the game’s only interception and a pass defended to save his day. Winfield has yet to play under 94% of snaps in a game and again with the Giants next should be a solid play in your lineup.
LB – Jayon Brown had something of a ceiling game this week recording 1 interception, 4 passes defended, and 8 tackles (7 solo). This was his first interception of the season but with Cincinnati next, there’s plenty of scope for him to get another one in week 8. Even if he doesn’t, Brown is on course to break his season-high tackle count of 104 and is a solid floor play.
WASHINGTON REDSKINS – Bye week 8
Edge – Montez Sweat was having himself a nice Sunday against the Cowboy’s non-existent O-line before leaving the game in the fourth quarter to be evaluated for a concussion. He recorded 2 of the WFT’s 6 total sacks alongside 3 combined tackles and a forced fumble.
The WFT has a week 8 bye, so if Sweat does enter the concussion protocol he should be cleared before the Football Team faces the Giants in a rematch of week 6. He will be looking to improve on 2 combined tackles, a QB hit, and a tackle for a loss recorded in that game.
Duncan Smith – IDP and Dynasty Writer
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