By Duncan Smith
Hey guys, welcome back for another week of the In My Defense roundup. We all make mistakes when we play fantasy, we just have to hope it doesn’t cost us too much when we do. This week I left Jacksonville’s Myles Jack on my bench, luckily it didn’t cost me my week.
On waivers, I’ve picked up Kamren Curl after deciding to move on from Rashaan Evans. Hey, I’m trying to build with youth here so don’t give me that, plus I have Jayon Brown, so I’m happy with my Titans investment.
Shall we get down to talking some snap decisions? Ok then, pull up that deckchair, open a can of domestic beer (get me one too), I’ll put Pearl Jam’s Ten on, and let’s run through the talking points on the defensive side of the ball for week 9.
Time for my snap decisions.
LB – Jordan Hicks came off of the injury report for a full practice on Friday, then logged 100% of snaps against Miami. He led the team in combined tackles with 7 (4 solo), giving him a total so far of 66 combined (43 solo). However, he has yet to record a sack, interception, forced fumble, or even log a hit on the quarterback.
ATLANTA FALCONS – Week 10 Bye
LB – Foyesade Oluokun continues to impress during his third season in the league. The Yale product finished against Denver with 10 combined tackles (7 solo), as well as a pass defended, a sack, and 4 QB hits. Atlanta faces New Orleans in week 11 and Oluokun should be an every-week starter at this point.
When Yannick Ngakoue joined the Ravens from Minnesota he was supposed to elevate this pass rush unit to the elite unit in the league. Made up of Ngakoue, Calais Campbell, and Matt Judon they were expected to strike fear into the hearts of opposition quarterbacks. Instead, the Ravens became the third team this year to fail at sacking Philip Rivers. The other two being the Jags and Jets, not exactly illustrious company.
Matt Judon did at least record 7 combined tackles and 2 QB hits to save his week, Campbell left with a calf injury and Ngakoue failed to record any stats.
Next up is a game against New England, who have allowed the opposition to sack the quarterback every game so far this year.
Seattle was able to mount a 4th quarter fight back partially thanks to LB Tre’Davious White being held out for large portions of the quarter with an ankle injury. Before the injury White was having a nice day terrorizing Russell Wilson. He recorded 8 combined tackles (6 solo), an interception, that he nearly scored on, a fumble recovery, and a tackle for a loss.
Keep an eye on his injury status during the week as the Bills may choose to shut White down against the Cardinals before the week 12 bye.
Safety – Undrafted rookie Sam Franklin had a blow-up game against Kansas City with starter Juston Burris on IR and Jeremy Chinn unable to play. Franklin converted a 98% snap share into 7 tackles (5 solo), his first career sack, and a tackle for a loss.
Starter Burris is eligible to return for the game against Tampa Bay so Franklin may find himself relegated to back-up again, especially with a thoroughly humiliated Tom Brady looking to bring the pain and make up for one of his worst performances in a long career.
LB – Third-year-pro Roquan Smith is having himself a great year. With the Titans leaning on their rushing game it gave Smith the chance to record 11 tackles (9 solo) and his first sack of the season. He is currently averaging 9 tackles a game giving him a great floor. Up next is the Vikings and with Minnesota relying heavily on star back Dalvin Cook he should see plenty of opportunities this week too.
Safety – Jessie Bates is almost the complete IDP player for your roster. He has logged 57 tackles (37 solo, 1 for a loss), 2 interceptions, and 10 passes defended. The only thing missing from his resume is a forced fumble and a career first sack. Unfortunately with Pittsburgh next it’s unlikely to come this week. Of quarterbacks to have played 8 games only Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Philip Rivers have been sacked less than Roethlisberger. If Big Ben can’t go due to Covid the matchup improves slightly with Mason Rudolph under center.
DE – Myles Garrett disappointed in his last outing against Las Vegas in week 8 thanks to a knee injury. Garrett was fortunate that the Browns bye week fell in week 9 allowing him the time to recuperate before two great matchups against Houston and Philadelphia. Neither of these offenses are doing much to prevent their quarterbacks from getting sacked. Philly has given up a league-leading 32 sacks and 219 lost yards. Houston is marginally better with 24 sacks and 130 lost yards. With Garrett in his current form, I’m expecting big things.
DALLAS COWBOYS – Week 10 Bye
It shouldn’t be too surprising that the hapless Cowboys failed to record an interception or sack against the undefeated Steelers. LB Jaylon Smith continued to do his thing with another 7 tackles (6 solo) and a pass defended.
If you need a rookie to keep an eye on, have a look at Oklahoma product Neville Gallimore. While he didn’t light the IDP scoring charts up he was 1 of only 2 players to lay a glove on Roethlisberger and provided a bit of steel on the Cowboys defensive line.
LB – Malik Reed has slowed down over the last two weeks, in week 9 he was down to 3 tackles, although a sack saved his stat line. This week he managed 1 solo tackle and no sacks, although he did register 3 QB hits to prevent his week from being a total wash. On another day he might have continued his sack streak. Fellow linebacker Josey Jewell recorded his second 10 tackle game in a row, in heavy tackle scoring leagues he’s a worthy start but don’t rely on him for sacks or interceptions.
The Lions are quickly becoming a disaster of a defensive outfit. For two weeks in a row, they’ve fielded 10 men on a play, this week allowing Dalvin Cook to tear off a 70-yard scoring run. They are at the bottom of the league in most defensive ranking metrics and while in IDP generally, you can find value in poor defenses, here might be an exception.
Put simply Detroit can’t stop the run, yes it was Dalvin Cook that ran for over 200 this week and yes he’s an athletic freak but they have given up 1185 yards on the ground for 4.8 yards an attempt and 13 touchdowns.
With that level of success on the ground, opponents don’t need to throw and I’m not sure that changes this week with a visit from Washington. The WFT have their troubles at quarterback but have a promising rookie running back in Antonio Gibson to feed. If you can pivot from your Lions players I would.
GREEN BAY PACKERS
Another week, another mediocre stat line from the Green Bay defensive players. There’s no one here you want to roster. Safety Raven Greene became the third Packer to record an interception, to go with his 1 tackle and 47% of snaps.
LB Oren Burks led the team in combined tackles with 6, giving him a season total of 14! This was on the back of a 60% snap share due to team tackle leader Krys Barnes leaving with an injury.
Safety Adrian Amos recorded the most solo tackles with 5.
DE – J.J. Watt got 1 of Houstons 2 sacks to record his 100th of an illustrious career. This was his 4th sack over 8 games and leaves him well off of his own 16 game pace. The 31-year-old has recently sparked rumors of trade as he is determined to win football’s biggest prize before retiring. While Watt is still a disruptive force on the field, his IDP production can be found cheaper elsewhere. Perhaps time to shop him to the big-name guy in your league. You know the one with OBJ, Todd Gurley, and Rob Gronkowski?
LB – Indianapolis linebacker trio of Darius Leonard, Bobby Okereke, and Anthony Walker should all be rostered with Leonard and Okereke solid week in, week out starts.
Against Baltimore, Leonard logged 15 tackles (13 solo, 1 for a loss) and a fumble recovery, while Okereke logged 9 (7 solo) and a fumble recovery. Walker has seen his snap percentage drop since Leonards return, 43% week 8, and 67% week 9 but he did still log 6 tackles (5 solo) and a pass defended.
A middling match-up next against Tennessee would make me inclined to sit Walker. Leonard and Okereke should be solid plays though.
LB – When Myles Jack is fit and finishes games he’s a great fantasy option. In the four games he’s remained healthy and played 100% of snaps, he has recorded exactly 11 combined tackles each time. This is the type of reliability you rarely see from IDP players.
He’s got Green Bay next and should be started.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS – Week 10 Bye
Safety – Daniel Sorenson continues to pace the Chiefs’ defense in his contract year. Another 10 tackles and a forced fumble bring his season total to 2 interceptions (one pick 6), 2 passes defended, and 57 combined tackles heading into the bye.
LAS VEGAS RAIDERS
DE – Maxx Crosby was touted to have a breakout second year in the league in 2020. While he has still been a solid enough IDP play in DL required leagues he does find himself slightly behind his 2019 performance at the halfway point of the season. Last year he finished with 46 tackles, 10 sacks, and 4 forced fumbles over 16 games. After 8 games this year he has 21 tackles, 5 sacks, and no forced fumbles.
He did record another sack this week against the Chargers and has Denver next. The Broncos have failed to prevent their quarterback from getting sacked since week 1 and provide a good opportunity for Crosby to start chasing last season’s numbers.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
DE – Joey Bosa failed to suit up on Sunday due to not clearing the concussion protocol. Keep an eye on his status going into a Sunday matchup against Miami.
CB – Two times Pro Bowl corner Casey Hayward was only targeted 5 times by Derek Carr at the weekend, and only allowed 2 completions. Unfortunately, those 2 completions went for 98 yards and a score. A 31-year-old shutdown corner that gets smoked when he does allow completions? I think I’ll pass. Jokes, but yeah, no.
LOS ANGELES RAMS
DT – Aaron Donald is back off of his bye and ready to face Seattle. While the Rams overall were a bit of a mess against Miami before the week off, Donald still recorded 4 tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble.
Russell Wilson is the fourth most sacked QB in the league with 24 and presents a great opportunity for Donald to get a lead over Myles Garrett in the race to become Sack King 2020! Maybe the winner could get an award, the Sacko? Has anyone called a trophy the Sacko before? I doubt it, sounds dumb.
DE – Emmanuel Ogbah’s first year in Miami is shaping up to be the best of his career at the halfway point in the season. Against Arizona, he put up 5 combined tackles (4 solo) a strip-sack that resulted in a Miami defense TD and a pass defended. This brings his halfway point totals up to 25 tackles (15 solo), 7 sacks (4th in the league), and 3 forced fumbles.
Up next is an opportunity to get at the Chargers rookie signal-caller, Justin Herbert.
This defense has improved immensely since the bye, helping the team to wins over Green Bay and Detroit. They racked up 3 interceptions against the Lions, 1 apiece by Eric Wilson, Harrison Smith, and Eric Kendricks. LB Eric Wilson led the team on the day with that pick, half a sack, a pass defended, and 13 combined tackles (8 solo).
Next up is Nick Foles and Chicago, if Dalvin Cook can continue his hot streak against a Bears D allowing 4.1 yards a carry then the defense should get an opportunity as Foles attempts to keep Chicago in the game.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
CB – J.C. Jackson has recorded an interception every week since the Patriots week 5 bye and is proving to be one of the few bright spots on the roster during this period. He has now equaled his interception and passes defended totals of 2019 on half the games. This man wants to be paid when he hits free agency at the end of the year.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
The Saints defense were like a bulldog with a rag toy against the Bucs this week, after Brees put the Saints up early Tampa abandoned the run completely recording only 4 attempts for 9 yards.
This allowed the Saints to dial in on Brady and feast, they recorded 3 interceptions and 3 sacks on Brady, leaving him with one of his worst performances ever. Up next for the Saints is a visit from San Francisco, with the injury-ravaged 49ers in free fall I would continue playing my Saints players.
NEW YORK GIANTS
LB – Blake Martinez continues to be a dominant force this season, with another 10 combined tackles (3 solo), an interception, and 2 passes defended to add to his totals this week.
Safety – Despite Martinez having a great week we really can’t leave the Giants without talking about Mr. Jabrill Peppers. He was involved in ALL the action. To start there was that brutal leg whip on Kyle Allen that reminded so many of Alex Smith’s horror injury. Peppers has apologized to Allen and maintains he didn’t mean to injure him. After that, we get an interception, 6 combined tackles (4 solo) before rounding us out with a comedy routine of a fumble recovery. If you haven’t seen it yet, google it now. A Benny Hill soundtrack is your choice.
NEW YORK JETS – Week 10 Bye
Ah, New York, New York. What a dumpster fire. To add to the Jets series of unwanted accolades, they became the first team to fail to record a sack against the Patriots quarterback this season.
CB – Blessuan Austin led the team with a pass defended and 12 combined tackles (9 solo).
The Jets are on bye this week but will continue to see some value in IDP due to the fact they can’t get off the field, when they return they welcome the Chargers to MetLife.
DE – Brandon Graham gets to face the Giants coming off of the Eagles bye. They last played the Giants on Thursday night football in week 7 after facing Baltimore the previous Sunday. Graham racked up 4 tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble then.
This week he’s coming in fully rested and looking to keep a 3 game sack streak going.
DL – Rookie Alex Highsmith recorded his first professional sack against Dallas. Regardless he isn’t quite startable yet in anything other than the deepest, most depraved IDP leagues, but maybe one for the future.
LB – Vince Williams led the team in tackles again, recording 8 combined (6 solo). Keep an eye on his status going into week 10 as he has landed on the Covid list alongside Big Ben and two O-line players. He and the other can still make Sunday with 5 days of negative tests, best have someone else to go if he can’t play though.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
LB Fred Warner continues to pace San Francisco for tackles, he got another 13 (9 solo) here bringing him up to 74 (48 solo) on the year.
In DE Jordan Willis’s second game for the 49ers, he recorded his first team sack. Having recorded exactly 1 sack a year for the four years of his career we wait to see if he can reach the dizzy heights of 2 on the West Coast on this banged-up team.
Safety – Jamal Adams made it back on to the field having not played since week 3 against Dallas. He recorded 5 combined tackles (4 solo, 1 for a loss) and 1.5 sacks on 3 QB hits. He also recorded a stupid third-quarter penalty and a sideline argument with head coach Pete Carroll. Maybe just this once it isn’t Gase.
DT – Jarran Reed led the league in sacks week 9, recording 2.5 on Josh Allen, giving him 3.5 on the year. His most fantasy-relevant season was 2018 when he recorded 10.5 sacks and 12 total tackles for a loss over 16 games. Unless he maintains this week’s form through the back half of the season it is hard to see his fantasy relevance in anything other than the deepest of DT starting leagues.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Lb – Devin White was a lone bright spot on a disastrous outing for the Bucs. Fellow linebacker Lavonte David suffered a hyperextended knee while recording 7 combined tackles (4 solo, 1 for a loss), and a fumble recovery. White led the team with 14 combined (7 solo).
Despite an embarrassing blowout loss to New Orleans, White and David are the leagues best LB combination and both should remain in lineups against Carolina, assuming David is good to go after likely logging limited practices all week.
LB – Jayon Brown had some fun against Chicago, recording a pass defended, a sack, 10 combined tackles (6 solo, 1 for a loss), and a forced fumble. Brown is a mainstay in this Titans defense, he’s yet to play under 90% of snaps and has 10 or more tackles in three of his last four outings.
Safety – Landon Collins season-ending Achilles injury against the Cowboys before the bye looked to be a big disappointment for the Washington defense. In his first start as Collins replacement rookie seventh-rounder, Kamren Curl went a long way to alleviating that disappointment. He paced the team with a sack, 2 total QB hits, and 11 combined tackles, including 6 solo and 1 for a loss.
Curl has the potential to be a nice play for the rest of the season, starting this week against Detroit.
Duncan Smith – IDP and Dynasty Writer
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