You’re almost certain to be in one of these three pots this week:
1. Confirmed a playoff spot. And looking for the final push for a championship
2. Out of the running and looking to stash promising players for the 2019 season.
3. Fighting for a playoff spot and looking for a player to help you in the crucial game this week.
There are, of course, other leagues that have already started playoffs or play the title game in week 17 – but we don’t want to get involved in such strange practices. Assuming you’re in one of the pots above, we’ll try and find you what you need.
Nickelback-plus Budda Baker is still out hurt so Bene Benwikere has been filling in for him. Unfortunately, Benwikere was limited to just 35 snaps this week and was not productive. Journeyman veteran Leonard Johnson came in to play the slot role with 58 snaps but produced just one tackle. Don’t go looking for the Budda’s replacement. It’s him or no one. Josh Bynes was also hurt in this game, limiting him to just 23 snaps. Gerald Hodges stepped in to play 46 snaps in relief. Deone Bucannon did not see the field.
Star LB Deion Jones just failed to recover for the Thanksgiving game. He should be fit next week but, in his absence Foyesade Oluokon (44) had another fine game. He’s really broken out this season. DE remains a muddle with five different players seeing time each week. None of them are good starts right now.
Veteran safety Tony Jefferson went down hurt in this game leading to Chuck Clark (27) playing his highest total of the year. Anthony Levine (11) maintained his standard volume with Eric Weddle (58) playing every snap. There’s a decent chance that one of Weddle or Jefferson is not back next season. IR rookie DeShon Elliot is a good stash for deeper rosters. At OLB, Terrell Suggs (49) had a big game on the stat sheet with a touchdown returned from a fumble forced by Matt Judon (36). Those two share snaps with Za’Darius Smith and have done all season. It’s a bit of a lottery who produces in any given week. Smith hasn’t had a sack since week six but actually leads the others by eight clear pressures.
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DE Trent Murphy returned to the team for the first time since week seven. Murphy played 38 snaps. Tremaine Edmunds is also back at full strength and played all 70 snaps – that was his highest total since 76 back in week four. Rookie cornerback Taron Johnson payed 43 snaps – he seems to have been a little limited by his shoulder injury. Johnson has very quietly settled in as a starter in the slot with TreDavious White (67) and Levi Wallace (67) outside.
Rookie corner breakout Donte Jackson has been banged up a bit and managed just one snap. Captain Munnerlyn (60) played out wide in two-receiver sets and in the slot in sub-formations. Corn Elder (29) played wide in nickel/dime situations. At LB, Shaq Thompson (41) stood out on the stat sheet with a sack but Thomas Davis (62) continues to be the full-time player. Since Davis returned from suspension, he’s played 388 snaps to Thompson’s 260 – that’s an extra 18 snaps per game for Davis.
Leonard Floyd has one sack and four hits from 302 pass rushes this season. He’s also managed 19 hurries, but either way, it’s been pretty shabby. I was expecting Khalil Mack’s presence to help him but it just hasn’t happened. He played 62 snaps this week though so either Vic Fangio disagrees with me or he doesn’t have any better options.
Vontaze Burfict played 62 snaps this week – his highest of the season. Jordan Evans was the second LB with 61. Hardy Nickerson (many people’s top pick this week) saw just two snaps. Burfict is a good option s always but outside of him avoid all Bengals LBs. After some excitement about Jordan Willis’ (29) playing time at DE, he’s been outsnapped by Michael Johnson (36) two weeks in a row. Corner Dre Kirkpatrick missed the week. Darius Phillips played 23 snaps to make up the shortfall but the current starters are William Jackson (63) and Darqueze Denard (61). Even though Denard plays in the slot against three or more receiver sets.
At LB, the Browns now have Joe Schobert back. He played 74 snaps this week to Jamie Collins’ 73. Genard Avery is unstalled as the OLB with 49 snaps this week. He’s played just eight fewer snaps this season than Christian Kirksey now. Jabrill Peppers managed 55 snaps this week – he’s getting much more playing time than Derrick Kindred but he’s also playing deep a lot. We can only hope that whoever is running this defense next year can be a bit more creative with him.
All of a sudden, the Cowboys have a pretty great LB corps with Jaylon Smith (63) and Leighton Vander Esch (59) actually being pretty great. It’s nice to see some teams not treating LB like a devalued position.
The much-maligned Todd Davis has averaged 61 snaps since Brandon Marshall got injured. Davis played 64 this week. He averaged 50 snaps per week before the Marshall injury. Further back, Su’a Cravens played 24 snaps this week. In the three games he’s played he’s averaged 22. With Darian Stewart (78) back, Will Parks (42) is also a part-time player, sadly. This is the future of the NFL; a bunch of hybrid linebacker/safeties playing out of structure.
Quandre Diggs played 58 snaps on Thanksgiving. Out of those, just five were in the slot (his position for most of his career). Then again, he hasn’t had five or more total tackles since week eight. The Lions play the lowest amount of defense in the NFL this year with just 60 snaps per game (the Browns play 76 per game) so there’s just not the opportunity.
Green Bay Packers
With lineman Mike Smith missing out this week, Dean Lowry played a season-high 55 snaps. Montravius Adams (19) and Tyler Lancaster (22) also saw some time. Only Lowry is wort starting in most leagues. Kenny Clark (66) is the nose and although he plays a huge amount (only Larry Ogunjobi has more snaps at DT), he’s just not that efficient. Outside linebacker Kyler Fackrell is playing well – he’s played 161 snaps over the past three weeks putting him narrowly ahead of Clay Matthews (161). At this stage, Fackrell looks like the best edge rusher on the team. At safety this week was journeyman Ibraheim Campbell (53) and Josh Jones (57). Kentrell Brice saw just 24 snaps. This is a very disappointing unit.
The Texans played just 55 snaps against the Titans, which made their collective pass-rushing success even more impressive. Lineman Christian Covington played just 22 snaps and managed two and a half sacks. He had a big game but please don’t go out and add him. Zach Cunningham returned from injury at LB. He played 41 snaps with Benardrick McKinney on 42. Brennan Scarlett (eight) and Brian Peters (six) missed out as a result.
At DE, Tyquan Lewis (40) has thrust himself right into the thick of things. Since his debut three weeks ago, he’s averaged 48 snaps per game. Meanwhile, Kemoko Turay (17) has bene more of a specialist pass rusher. Turay has been more productive as a pass rusher in that time however despite having missed a game and played around half as much. Darius Leonard continues to be exceptional. Hopefully everyone reading this managed to nab as many shares as possible.
The Jags have regressed as predicted from their 217 heights and this week was pretty abject. In terms of personnel, not much has changed with the same core players on the field. They’ve again been extraordinarily fit and healthy. It’s just natural regression.
Kansas City Chiefs
No snaps due to bye week.
Los Angeles Chargers
Joey Bosa played 33 snaps this week after returning with 31 last week – that sounds low, but the Chargers only lined up for 47 snaps this week which is crazy low. At LB, Jatavis Brown (41) is leading the way with the injuries and Adrian Phillips (34) just behind. Uchenna Nwosu (21) is playing sparingly but has shown some excellent pass rush in limited opportunities. He’s worth stashing.
Los Angeles Rams
No snaps due to bye week.
The Dolphins finally have four of their top edge rushers back healthy. Cam Wake (38), Robert Quinn (41), Andre Branch (35) and Charles Harris (31) have just been ineffective. They have eight sacks between them and Wake has half of those. Minkah Fitzpatrick (68) continues to see a lot of playing time but his versatility is hurting him. He’s played a lot of outside corner the last two weeks and a fair amount of free safety. He’s been a disappointment in IDP leagues.
LB Anthony Barr returned for the Vikings this week with 53 snaps. Eric Wilson played just two snaps as a result. CB Xavier Rhodes was hurt, too. This is a big worry given the team is already missing Mike Hughes and Mackensie Alexander has been disappointing.
New England Patriots
The Patriots used one of their famed team-specific gameplans this week. Kyle Van Noy led all LBs with 63 snaps with Dont’a Hightower on just 38 and Elandon Roberts on just 29. Specialist free safety Duron Harmon outsnapped them both with 35. Patrick Chung was the wildcard as he played much of the game in the box as a LB. Bill Belichick is not to be predicted by the likes of us.
New Orleans Saints
Rookie DE, Marcus Davenport returned this week after three weeks out. He played 37 snaps. At LB, Demario Davis (69) continues to be the only startable option with A.J. Klein (36) atrocious and Alex Anzalone (43) untrustworthy. Anzalone is definitely worth stashing (if only for his leonine mane) but a very tough start given his fragility. Vonn Bell (62) however is definitely startable at safety. The team seem to have finally realised that he’s pretty good and Kurt Coleman (14) is not at all.
New York Jets
The Jets played 70 snaps this week against the Patriots. It’s the 6th time this season they’ve hit that number or higher. It’s not a bad defense in some ways but the lack of pass rush is continually preventing them making stops. The personnel remains very consistent, though. It’s the same players each and every week failing to make important plays.
New York Giants
This team is so bad. B.W. Webb (65), Grant Haley (36), Tae Davis (38), Kareem Martin (25), Curtis Riley (65) really shouldn’t be playing as much as they are. Alec Ogletree (65) is battling Eli Manning to see who can be the least deserving of their reputation. Olivier Vernon (56) hasn’t looked like his old self. Dalvin Tomlinson (41) and Landon Collins (65) are really the only exciting players here.
Maurice Hurst is one of the few watchable Raiders this year. And he only played 25 snaps last week. Karl Joseph (61) has ‘started’ or at least played more than all but one other safety the past three weeks, which implies the team has made at least one major error in assessing talent on the team. He’s still not looking good but he’s at least producing right now. This is your sell window.
The Eagles’ crisis at corner is well-documented. Chandon Sullivan (42), Cre’Von Leblanc (45) and De’Vaunte Bausby (61) started this week – that’s good news if you’re in an undrafted apostrophe league I guess. Jordan Hicks missed the week at LB. Just like when Nigel Bradham (62) was out in week one Kamu Grugier-Hill (43) and Nathan Gerry (33) split the starting role. DE Michael Bennett was hurt in this game. Expect Chris Long (40) and Brandon Graham (49) to add a few snaps going forwards.
DE Stephon Tuitt has missed two games in a row. Tyson Alualu (36) has filled in both times. Remember when the Jaguars took him as an early first-round pick? Good times. Safety Morgan Burnett played just 18 snaps, whilst rookie Terrell Edmunds managed 55. This has been the pattern almost all year when they’ve both been fit. Edmunds is a major breakout contender in 2019.
K.J Wright missed the game with an injury. Austin Calitro (20) filled in with Barkevious Mingo (49) playing inside a little. Don’t be fooled by the interesting usage. He’s still not very good. Safety Delano Hill played 13 snaps this week. The Seahawks have clearly been trying to get him some playing time. He’s a speculative stash for deep leagues.
San Francisco 49ers
Reuben Foster’s off-field issues became simply too much last week and the 49ers released him. He was a really good on-field prospect but clearly has some real problems. It’s very possible he won’t get another chance. In his absence, the team shared the job around. Malcolm Smith (26), Dekoda Watson (21) and Mark Nzeocha (27) all got snaps. Fred Warner (72) is, of course, the undisputed starter. Jaquiski Tartt started again as well and played 65 snaps – he’s eighth among all safeties for tackle efficiency (including only those with 40 or more tackles) for the season. If he can get healthy and stay that way he’s an excellent IDP.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
With Justin Evans out at safety, Isaiah Johnson (64) and Jordan Whitehead (60) have played the past two weeks. Whitehead is the strong safety and is a decent emergency option.
Rookie PB Rashaan Evans played just 27 snaps this week – that’s been his average in weeks that he and Wesley Woodyard (65) have both been fit. Evans is going to be an off-season target I suspect. Kevin Byard and Kenny Vaccaro continue to play every snap. They both saw 65 this week. Neither is a good IDP option because of the scheme. Split deep safeties are unproductive. The tackle efficiency for the top 24 safeties this season is 9.35%. i.e. productive safeties make a tackle on 9.35% of their snaps. So far for 2018, Byard is on 7.75% and Vaccaro on 8.08%.
Quinton Dunbar returned at corner to play 61 snaps. Greg Stroman is a great option when Dunbar is out. Stroman played one snap this week. Preston Smith (62) is in red-hot form at OLB right now. He’s a good weekly gamble. Mason Foster (70) has quietly had a fantastic season and is sixth amongst all LBs in total tackles. This column expected Zach Brown (48) to be really good this year. Wrong LB.
Thanks for reading.