For the third consecutive week, we saw a rookie finish as the top producer at his position (depending on your scoring system of course). Give yourself a pat on the back if you added Kamren Curl and plugged him into your week nine lineups – he was the S1 (along with Jordan Poyer) in several of my leagues this week – joining Trevon Diggs (the CB1 in week eight) and DaVon Hamilton (the DT1 in week seven) – as rookie IDPs to garner the honor. Just like we all predicted going into the season, right?
As with each week in this article, I’m keeping watch on a number of those IDP rookies to provide a look at playing time and progression. At season’s end, my plan is to provide positional rankings and write-ups to give you a good feel for who you can build around, who you can keep rostered, and who you can let go.
As always, let me know in the comments section if you want more information on anyone covered or not covered.
Derrick Brown, DT CAR
43 of 62 snaps (69%); three solo tackles, two assists; one quarterback hit
Brown had another solid outing as a gap-plugging run-stuffer but again didn’t offer much as a pass rusher against a pass-heavy team. He did get to Patrick Mahomes at the beginning of the third quarter, laying a hit on the Chiefs quarterback just as he threw the ball for a completion to Travis Kelce.
Neville Gallimore, DT DAL
36 of 69 snaps (52%); one solo tackle, two assists; one tackle for loss; one quarterback hit
Gallimore had a bit of a breakout game, and frankly looked dominant during the first half in a surprising performance by the Cowboys. On two of his tackles, he gained inside leverage on Pro Bowl right guard David DeCastro to get into the backfield. On the third, he simply overpowered right tackle Chuks Okorafor.
It was Gallimore’s big hit on Ben Roethlisberger that injured the quarterback’s knee, and it came on a play that he got under the pads of Maurkice Pouncey to drive the veteran center backward. He’s shown what he’s capable of now, and Gallimore will need to work on being a consistent player through a full game. In defensive tackle-premium IDP formats, Gallimore looks like a keeper based on this performance.
Justin Madubuike, DT BAL
24 of 68 snaps (35%); three solo tackles, two assists
Calais Campbell’s injury opens the door for more snaps for Madubuike, who has shown promise as a three-technique tackle since first taking the field in week five. This was easily his best fantasy day; his five tackles included plays where he did a nice job to disengage blocks and hustle to track down Jonathan Taylor, De’Michael Harris and Jordan Wilkins on screen passes. Consider him for a roster spot in defensive tackle-premium scoring systems.
Javon Kinlaw, DT SF
40 of 66 snaps (61%); two solo tackles, one assist
Kinlaw’s quickness and power are obvious, and it’s leading to solid fantasy outings, but he’s going to need some refinement and buildout with his pass-rush repertoire before he becomes a force. Until then, there’s a low ceiling here even in defensive tackle-premium formats. It was fun to watch him get on his horse to chase Rodgers across the field and out of bounds late in the first half.
Chase Young, DE WAS
64 of 77 snaps (83%); one solo tackle; one sack; two quarterback hits
This wasn’t a big statistical week for Young, although he was credited for his second sack of the season when he stopped Daniel Jones for no gain when the Giants quarterback tucked the ball and ran up the middle.
Neither of Young’s two credited sacks on the season have come in the traditional “meet the quarterback in the backfield” fashion; his week two sack of Kyler Murray also came on a scramble play, and I still don’t think Young ever actually touched Murray. Don’t get me wrong – Young is a disruptive player – it’s just that his two “sacks” haven’t been all that satisfying. His other hit on Jones came on a play where Young walked left tackle Andrew Thomas back into Jones.
Others of note:
- McTelvin Agim, DT DEN – 19 of 71 snaps (27%); one solo tackle, one assist; one pass defensed
- Ross Blacklock, DT HOU – 27 of 69 snaps (39%); one solo tackle
- K’Lavon Chaisson, DE JAX – 18 of 64 snaps (28%); second time he’s been active and posted a goose egg in the stat column
- Doug Costin, DT JAX – 29 of 64 snaps (45%); two assists; undrafted rookie has seemingly taken starting job from former first-round pick Taven Bryan
- Michael Danna, DE KC – 29 of 83 snaps (35%); one solo tackle; two quarterback hits
- Raekwon Davis, DT MIA – 37 of 69 snaps (54%); two solo tackles, one assist. He’s having a solid rookie season.
- Yetur Gross-Matos, DE CAR – 13 of 62 snaps (21%); one assist; recovered from ankle injury suffered in week five and returned from injured reserve
- DaVon Hamilton, DT JAX – 36 of 64 snaps (56%); one assist; one fumble recovery
- Bryce Huff, DE NYJ – 25 of 81 snaps (31%); two solo tackles
- John Penisini, DT DET – 39 of 58 snaps (67%)
- Malcolm Roach, DT NO – 17 of 50 snaps (34%); two assists; one quarterback hit; first time he has been active since week four
- Alton Robinson, DE SEA – 36 of 68 snaps (53%); playing time remained steady despite addition of Carlos Dunlap and return of Rasheem Green – will it continue once Benson Mayowa returns?
- Jason Strowbridge, DE MIA – 12 of 69 snaps (17%); one assist in first action of the season
- Tershawn Wharton, DT KC – 50 of 83 snaps (60%); one assist
- D.J. Wonnum, DE MIN – 38 of 75 snaps (51%); one quarterback hit
Notable inactives and injuries:
- Marlon Davidson, DE ATL – remained inactive after being reinstated from the reserve/COVID-19 list on Oct. 26
- James Lynch, DT MIN – inactive for first time since week four
Krys Barnes, LB GB
23 of 57 snaps (40%); one solo tackle, two assists
Kamal Martin, LB GB
We may have seen the last of Barnes’ fantasy value, as his future opportunities look murky. The Packers’ leader in tackles has plenty working against him, starting with a reported positive COVID-19 test following Green Bay’s win over San Francisco on Thursday Night Football.
Barnes looked like a solid bet for production in the game, but left after 23 snaps with a calf injury. Kamal Martin, who missed week nine while sitting out on the reserve/COVID-19 list, is back, and Christian Kirksey likely will be soon.
Jonathan Greenard, LB HOU
57 of 69 snaps (83%); one solo tackle, two assists
Houston has been reticent to play its rookies, but that changed in week nine. It was out of necessity for Greenard, a promising edge out of Florida by way of Louisville. Greenard only had 11 snaps on the season entering the game, but was called upon to play a large role with 1) Jacob Martin out with COVID-19; 2) Whitney Mercilus on the reserve/COVID-19 list; and 3) Brennan Scarlett’s injury – a broken forearm that forced him out of the game in the first quarter.
I didn’t think Greenard had a lot of fantasy upside as an outside linebacker in Houston, but that could change with development. Against the Jaguars, Greenard played a mix of weakside linebacker in 4-3 sets, and defensive end on both the strong and weak sides – sometimes with a hand in the dirt, but more often standing up. He looked to me to be at his best as a stand-up edge rusher, where he can build up a little head of steam before encountering protection. All that said, he didn’t strike me as very explosive in his movements, so I still think his upside is limited as a rotational player, and he won’t be of much use for fantasy purposes.
Malik Harrison, LB BAL
33 of 68 snaps (49%); three solo tackles, three assists
Patrick Queen, LB BAL
58 of 68 snaps (85%); three solo tackles, one assist
Queen’s production was disappointing though his snap share is where we want it to be; it hasn’t dipped below 78 percent since week three. He’s still an LB2 on the season, so keep using him as you normally would and count on better days for tackles and big plays.
Harrison easily eclipsed his previous high in snaps (21 in week one), filling the void left by LJ Fort (inactive with a finger injury). He’s impossible to trust in your lineups – he had an LB2 finish on the week but played less than half of the defensive snaps – but we’ll take any step in the right direction. In addition to the six defensive tackles, Harrison had three solos and two assists on special teams, leading to his nice fantasy day.
Alex Highsmith, LB PIT
12 of 72 snaps (17%); two solo tackles; one sack; one tackle for loss; one quarterback hit
Highsmith has benefitted from Devin Bush‘s absence, with some Pittsburgh formations featuring three outside linebackers on the field together. In those instances, Bud Dupree is moving further inside, giving Highsmith the opportunity to play on the edge opposite TJ Watt. One week after a key interception, Highsmith returned with another splash play. This one resulted in his first career sack, which came on a third-down red-zone play on the Cowboys’ first drive of the game.
As mentioned in last week’s article, Dupree is highly unlikely to return to Pittsburgh next season, opening up starter snaps at outside linebacker for Highsmith. He’s worth buying low in leagues that utilize edge designations or scoring systems that value outside linebackers.
Kenneth Murray, LB LAC
26 of 50 snaps (52%); two solo tackles, two assists
Uh oh, here we go again with the Chargers linebackers. Murray has not put up starting-worthy numbers for our fantasy squads, but he’s been a full-time player despite some struggles in coverage. I guess the Bolts’ coaching staff wasn’t seeing the improvement they were looking for, as Murray was pulled from the every-down linebacker role for what coach Anthony Lynn termed “communication issues.” That’s not good for the defensive signal-caller.
Denzel Perryman replaced him in the three-down role in the second half, with Murray only playing in three-linebacker sets. Most of us have been burned a time or two with this franchise; just keep Murray benched or stashed on your taxi squad for now. I’m fairly confident (gulp) he is still in good dynasty standing, and it’s possible if not likely that his demotion was a one-week teaching moment. We know Lynn was a big fan of Murray coming out of Oklahoma. Still, if you’re buying low, be cautious and don’t overpay.
Isaiah Simmons, LB ARI
32 of 61 snaps (52%); three solo tackles
Where did this come from? Simmons played more than half of the defensive snaps. The usage is a step in the right direction, although he’s not getting enough work to warrant starting consideration for your fantasy team. Keep in mind it’s only one week, so it remains to be seen whether this was matchup-specific, or whether the Cardinals made a concerted effort during the bye week to figure out how to get Simmons on the field more with Jordan Hicks and De’Vondre Campbell, each of whom handled a full workload.
Others of note:
- Jordyn Brooks, LB SEA – 22 of 68 snaps (32%); one solo tackle, one assist
- Cam Brown, LB NYG – two of 54 snaps (4%)
- Carter Coughlin, LB NYG – four of 54 snaps (7%)
- Troy Dye, LB MIN – 25 of 75 snaps (33%); two solo tackles, two assists; not playing in nickel
- Willie Gay, LB KC – 15 of 83 snaps (18%); one assist
- Anfernee Jennings, LB NE – seven of 46 snaps (15%); one assist
- Mykal Walker, LB ATL – 11 of 73 snaps (15%); one solo tackle
- Jabari Zuniga, LB NYJ – 19 of 81 snaps (23%); one solo tackle, one assist
Notable inactives and injuries:
- Shaquille Quarterman, LB JAX – suffered some sort of injury during practice late in the week and was placed on injured reserve
Julian Blackmon, S IND
64 of 64 snaps; three solo tackles; one tackle for loss
Along with Antoine Winfield, Blackmon is on almost all (if not all) mid-season all-rookie teams at safety. As good as he is, he shouldn’t be in your fantasy lineups, as this was typical of his output for the season. It’s not likely to improve much in his deep safety role. He was playing closer to the line of scrimmage in the second quarter on his tackle of Devin Duvernay – Blackmon showed off his closing speed to hammer the Ravens rookie receiver out of bounds for a loss of one yard on an end-around.
Jeremy Chinn, S CAR
Sam Franklin, S CAR
61 of 62 snaps (98%); five solo tackles, two assists; one sack; one tackle for loss; one quarterback hit
First and most importantly, Chinn is expected to return this week after somewhat surprisingly being declared inactive with a knee injury in week nine. He had shown improvement leading up to the game, which Carolina only lost by two points. Travis Kelce went off in this game, hauling in ten receptions for 159 yards, and I’m going out on a limb to say Chinn’s absence had a little bit to do with it.
Franklin, who is playing in place of the injured Juston Burris, had his best game from a production standpoint, and can be considered for your fantasy lineups in projected pass-heavy matchups if you’re in a bye-week pinch. Burris may be close to returning though, so keep an eye on his status.
In addition to the tackles, Franklin notched his first career sack. In the third quarter, he started in man coverage over Tyreek Hill, then peeled off after five yards and chased Patrick Mahomes to the opposite sideline for a five-yard loss. Mahomes later took advantage of the rookie in deep coverage when Franklin froze on deep crossing routes by Hill and Mecole Hardman. Franklin failed to follow Hill’s route, and Mahomes dropped a pass in for an easy 28-yard touchdown.
Kamren Curl, S WAS
77 of 77 snaps; six solo tackles, five assists; one sack; one tackle for loss; two quarterback hits
Coming off the bye week, Curl retained Landon Collins‘ safety role – the one that is more often closer to the line of scrimmage – with Deshazor Everett in the free safety spot. If you started Curl, you were thankful for it, and he looks the part, for the most part. I think he struggles when the ball isn’t in front of him, and it shows in coverage, where he’s typically a step behind. He was burned early in the game by receiver Austin Mack on what turned into a 50-yard gain, and he struggled in man coverage when lined up over tight end Evan Engram – once on a 16-yard touchdown catch near the end of the first half. Those coverage issues are good for immediate fantasy production, but will need to be rectified if Curl is to have any long-term value.
All that said, he’s not afraid to hit. Combine that with a solid ability to close quickly on ball carriers and frequent alignments in the box, and you end up with some darn nice tackle numbers. He blitzed from the slot twice, getting in hits on Jones both times. The second hit resulted in a big sack just before the two-minute warning on third-and-six, with the Giants nursing a three-point lead. As Curl came screaming in from the strong side, Jones looked to get rid of the ball quickly to the weak side – only to find Montez Sweat dropping into coverage. Jones hesitated, giving Curl time to get home and force fourth down and a punt.
Ashtyn Davis, S NYJ
81 of 81 snaps; four solo tackles, one assist; one pass defensed
Davis looked the part of an NFL free safety on Monday night, showing off his speed and physicality on several plays, notably on a first-and-20 throw from Cam Newton to Jakobi Meyers that Davis closed quickly on from behind and dislodged from the sophomore receiver’s grasp. Davis could have had a bigger fantasy day, as he sacked Cam Newton late in the first half. He needlessly launched himself at Newton’s helmet though, and Davis was flagged for roughing the passer. Don’t get carried away from a fantasy perspective, as he’s playing the deep safety role, but Davis looks like a nice “real” NFL safety and decent fantasy asset.
Trevon Diggs, CB DAL
53 of 69 snaps (77%); seven solo tackles
Ben Roethlisberger and Co. were the latest to pick on Diggs – and they may have been the last this season. Diggs, who has been the rookie cornerback that everyone loves to start due to his volume of targets and opportunity for tackles, broke a bone in his left foot during the Cowboys’ loss to the Steelers. If he’s unable to return this season, we’ll have to see what the future holds for the second-round pick. I’ve read some chatter that he may be better suited in a free safety role, where he can keep plays in front of him and take advantage of his playmaking abilities. Either way, IDP owners in cornerback-required leagues just lost a top and dependable starting option.
Jeffrey Okudah, CB DET
26 of 58 snaps (45%); one solo tackle, one assist
Aside from Diggs, Okudah has been the other rookie corner consistently worth starting, as he’s been targeted a good bit on a bad Lions defense. Unfortunately he left Sunday’s game at some point in the third quarter with an ankle injury, and his status for week ten seems to be up in the air as of this writing. On his lone solo tackle, Okudah was beaten by fellow rookie Justin Jefferson for a 22-yard gain before recovering to keep the Vikings receiver out of the end zone.
Antoine Winfield Jr., S TB
71 of 73 snaps (97%); three solo tackles, four assists
The Bucs took a beating at the hands of Drew Brees and the Saints, and it was a fairly busy day for Winfield. He was in on stops on big plays in the first half, then helped out closer to the line of scrimmage in the second half as the Saints salted the game away with the run. He was more of an S3 this week, but I continue to play him with confidence where I have him due to his big-play potential. He’s my defensive rookie of the year so far (in real football, not the fantasy sort).
Others of note:
- Essang Bassey, CB DEN – 48 of 71 snaps (68%); four solo tackles; two tackles for loss
- Kyle Dugger, S NE – four of 46 snaps (9%); one assist
- Jeff Gladney, CB MIN – 74 of 75 snaps (99%); five solo tackles, two assists; one tackle for loss
- Bryce Hall, CB NYJ – 39 of 81 snaps (48%); two solo tackles in debut
- Harrison Hand, CB MIN – special teams snaps only; dealing with a hamstring injury
- C.J. Henderson, CB JAX – 64 of 64 snaps; three solo tackles, one assist; one pass defensed
- Darnay Holmes, CB NYG – 47 of 54 snaps (87%); four solo tackles, one assist
- Jaylon Johnson, CB CHI – 55 of 55 snaps; one solo tackle, one assist; two passes defensed
- Brandon Jones, S MIA – 15 of 69 snaps (22%); three solo tackles
- Michael Ojemudia, CB DEN – 71 of 71 snaps; two solo tackles, one assist
- A.J. Terrell, CB ATL – 73 of 73 snaps; two solo tackles, one assist; one pass defensed
Notable inactives and injuries:
- Damon Arnette, CB LV – designated to return from injured reserve last week so should return soon
- Cameron Dantzler, CB MIN – remained in concussion protocol following week eight collision
- Kristian Fulton, CB TEN – remains on injured reserve with a knee injury
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