Dante Fowler, DE LAR
How highly touted was Dante Fowler when he entered the league? The Florida edge rusher was drafted third overall in 2015, the first SEC player off the board, the first non-quarterback, and seven spots higher than now-teammate Todd Gurley.
So what went wrong in Jacksonville?
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Fowler tore his ACL on the very first day of mini-camp and missed the entire 2015 season. The Jaguars drafted another defensive end in 2016, Yannick Ngakoue, who seized a starting gig while Fowler was working his way back from injury.
Fowler has also had off-the-field problems, with an arrest and no contest plea in 2017 for an altercation with another man. That may have sunk Fowler’s long-term prospects with the Jags, who decided not to pick up Fowler’s fifth-year option earlier this year.
Fowler has picked up 14 sacks in his career, appearing in 39 games. It remains to be seen how much playing time he’ll get with the Rams, but the team shipped third- and fifth-round picks to the Jaguars for him, so that would signal they don’t plan to just use him as bench depth. Also, playing next to Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh and Michael Brockers, it’s unlikely Fowler sees many double teams.
If someone dropped Fowler in your league, frustrated as he languished behind Calais Campbell and Ngakoue, now is the time to grab him.
Marquel Lee, LB OAK
It’s difficult to see what the big plan is in Oakland (Vegas?) Clearly at the early stages of a rebuild, the Raiders were still playing guys on their last legs like LB Derrick Johnson. That changed with Johnson’s release on October 16th.
Enter Marquel Lee to man the middle. In the previous three weeks, Lee has managed 6 tackles and 1 assist, 3 tackles and 2 assists, and 4 solos with 1 assist against the Browns, Chargers and Seahawks. This past week against the Colts, he must have been inspired by Darius Leonard, because Lee had 7 solo tackles and 4 assists.
Breeland Speaks, LB KC
A late-bloomer in college, Speaks was playing defensive tackle before being drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in 2018 as a defensive end. The Chiefs have now moved Speaks to outside linebacker, and after seeing snaps and LOLB and ROLB, Speaks has settled into a large role on the right side.
He’s had two standout weeks in his young rookie season. The first was week six against the Patriots when he posted 1 solo tackle, 5 assists, a forced fumble and a half sack. He was back to his disruptive self in week eight, as he had three solos, one assist, a fumble recovery and his first full sack against the Broncos.
Jordan Evans, LB CIN
Vontaze Burfict has a bad hip. Nick Vigil has a sprained MCL. No worries for the Bengals, as Jordan Evans was the next man up and made a case to earn more playing time with a head-turning performance.
Seven solo tackles, four assists, 1.5 sacks, a pass defended and an interception – that’s what Evans posted while playing 86 snaps for the Bengals.
Burfict’s availability going forward is as it has been: questionable, whether it’s due to injuries or suspensions. Although the Bengals have several young linebackers who could step in and post stellar numbers, Evans is one to keep an eye on.
Jermaine Whitehead/Kentrell Brice/Josh Jones, S GB
There was a time when the Green Bay defense produced two top-ten safeties for IDP: Morgan Burnett and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. Burnett left in the off-season and Clinton-Dix was traded on Tuesday to the Washington Redskins.
Who will take over a coveted role in the Green Bay secondary? I have no earthly idea. This is definitely a situation to monitor, and if you’re in a super deep league, it doesn’t hurt to take a flier on any of the three.
I’ll admit I was on the Josh Jones bandwagon this off-season, but Jones has done little and couldn’t wrestle snaps away from Kentrell Brice. Brice has been no superstar either. Jermaine Whitehead is the veteran of the group as a third-year player, and may be the best bet to grab now. He posted six solo tackles and an assist this past week against the Rams. Long term, I think I still like Jones best of the group. But here’s an opportunity to grab and IDP safety that could put up big numbers down the road and the price is nearly free.
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