For the record, I have no stinking clue what is and what isn’t a clean hit on a quarterback. Clay Matthews has been robbed of a sack in three straight weeks while other players are literally belly-flopping on quarterbacks without so much of a glance from the officials. I wonder if Matthews is getting extra attention from the refs because Aaron Rodgers whines non-stop about getting touched. Is it possible it is creating a heightened awareness on both sides of the ball? I don’t know, probably not, but it’s possible.
Occasionally, there is a rookie IDP who explodes onto the scene and you tell yourself you should’ve seen it coming. Sometimes it’s due to pure athletic ability you somehow ignored. Sometimes it’s because of the opportunity they are presented due to injury or lack of competition. Sometimes it’s both and you just blew it. That’s what happened with me and Darius Leonard of the Indianapolis Colts.
Through three weeks, the rookie is not only leading the league in tackles, but he’s also setting the league on fire by adding three sacks a forced fumble and two passes defended. On a team starved for difference-makers, there is no excuse for me not being a lot higher on Leonard than I was coming into this season. I know he’s not on any waiver wires and hindsight doesn’t help you moving forward, so let’s get to the players who can!
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Leighton Vander Esch, LB DAL
It was a little bit surprising to see Sean Lee play against the Seahawks in week three after nursing a hamstring injury all week. Ironically, it was an injury to his other hamstring which pulled him from the game and is expected to sideline him for multiple weeks.
Lee lasted 36 snaps and produced five solos, six assists, and half a sack. Overall a very solid outing – one IDP owners could live with if he played the entire game. Then, Vander Esch stepped in for the injured Lee and played the remaining 33 snaps and flat-out dominated. He racked up a very quick nine solo tackles and two assists… in 33 snaps. That means he was in on one of every three tackles.
Look, Sean Lee has had his highs and lows throughout his career but he has always been an injury risk and the Cowboys knew that when they selected Vander Esch in the first round of this year’s draft over players like Calvin Ridley (which was a mistake regardless of how good Vander Esch is, but I digress). Bottom line, Vander Esch is going to start for the Cowboys while Lee is recovering and then he’s going to start when he returns. He needs to be owned in all leagues and it’s time to unload your shares of Lee.
Nickell Robey- Coleman, CB LAR
For you streamers out there, Robey-Coleman will be thrust into the spotlight this Thursday when the Rams take on the Vikings. Marcus Peters is expected to miss the next two-four games with a calf injury while Aqib Talib is nursing an ankle injury and unlikely to play. With Kirk Cousins, Stefon Diggs, and Adam Thielen coming off an embarrassing upset to the Bills in week three, it’s possible they could come out firing.
Damontae Kazee, FS ATL
The injuries just keep on coming for the Falcons. Ricardo Allen joins Deion Jones and Keanu Neal on injured reserve and it leaves the Falcons once again scrambling to backfill the position. If you remember back in week two, it was Kazee who put the illegal hit on Panthers quarterback Cam Newton and got himself ejected. In week three, he played 92% of the snaps and responded with eight solos and two assists. He stands to gain the most from this injury and immediately offers DB1 upside. There are rumors of the Falcons possibly reaching out to acquire disgruntled Seahawks safety Earl Thomas as well but I believe he would play with Kazee, not instead of.
Charles Harris, DE MIA
If Harris was dropped in your league, now is the time to dip your toes back in the water. With injuries to both Andre Branch and William Hayes, Harris now has a meatier piece of the defensive end rotation pie. With Robert Quinn and Cameron Wake, Harris will see a significant spike in playing time and has a favorable upcoming schedule on this surprising defensive unit. At worst, he could be a viable bye week fill in during the upcoming weeks as a DE2 or flex.
Ja’Whaun Bentley, LB NE
I’ve mentioned him before but I think this kid is going to be something special for New England. He might not be wearing the green dot as the defensive signal-caller but he’s seeing a significant number of snaps and making the most of them. Against the Lions on Sunday night, he played 58 of 74 snaps and finished with three tackles, two assists, and an interception.
His 78% of defensive snaps were on par with Dont’a Hightower and Kyle Van Noy who played 63 and 64 snaps, respectively. The thorn in Bentley’s side continues to be Elandon Roberts who continues to produce adequate numbers on a limited number of snaps. He managed to still play 50% of the team’s snaps and finish with four solos and three assists. Much like their offensive skill players, all of these players warrant dynasty ownership but it’s my opinion Bentley is the one who stands above all when the dust settles.
Larry Ogunjobi, DT CLE
I am going to keep mentioning Ogunjobi at the end of every article until everyone knows him. Against the Jets on Thursday Night Football, he continued his great start to the season by popping off for four tackles and four assists from the defensive tackle position. It was his first game of the season without a sack but he was a disruptive force all night and the Jets were trying to get the ball out of Sam Darnold’s hands as quickly as possible. Look for him to get back on track when the team travels to Oakland in week four.
Find me on Twitter @OlingerIDP.