Welcome to the IDP Weekend Preview. Each week we’ll take a close look at each matchup based on several factors, such as roles, where offenses are giving up FP, snap counts, and tackle crews.
NO @ Atl
The Saints were involved in the weirdest game of 2020 (and that’s saying a lot), so we’re gonna throw out those stats. Denver - lacking a professional quarterback - threw the ball just 9 times. Cameron Jordan has a long history of blowing up the Falcons, and he flashed that in their last meeting a few weeks ago (3 sacks). With Atlanta passing the ball so much, there should be plenty of sack opportunities for Jordan and Trey Hendrickson. It looks like Marcus Davenport (concussion) is Out for this matchup. It could also be a good game for Malcolm Jenkins and the secondary, as Atlanta produces over 30 tackles to DBs. Though, the Saints IDPs won't get much help this week, as Atlanta's home crew is next-to-last in awarding tackles.
Jacob Tuioti-Mariner (73%) balled out with 6 tackles, 1 sack, and a forced fumble. He played considerably more than Dante Fowler (29%), who is dealing with a hamstring injury. Fowler is Questionable, so this is something to watch going forward. In all, the Falcons D dominated the Raiders at the line of scrimmage, with 4 DL sacks (in addition to 1 LB and 1 DB sack). Can they keep that going against the Saints, who aren’t using a traditional QB? With so much domination upfront last week, Deion Jones (85% - 5 tackles) and Foyesade Oluokun (96% - 4 solos, 1 sack) didn't have much left to clean up. I mentioned before that I wanted to see Keanu Neal get back to his big-play days before his injury, and he continues to flex that muscle. In Week 12, he had 4 tackles, but also had a TFL and a fumble recovery.
Det @ Chi
Detroit’s defense is such a mess. They only managed 42 tackles, and that was spread across 21 players. Yuck. Jamie Collins “led” the team with 5 tackles. Maybe a new HC will get this defense going. Romeo Okwara and Everson Griffen continue to be effective off the edge, and Chicago is vulnerable to sacks. It's such a shame we can't rely on Tracy Walker - who again played just 46% - because the Bears produce a whopping 47 FPG to DBs. Walker is listed as Questionable. The Lions will be missing Jeff Okudah (shoulder) and Da’Shawn Hand (groin) this week.
The Bears sorely missed Akiem Hicks last week, but he returned to practice this week, so hopefully he’ll play. At this point, this is what we expect from these Chicago LBs: Danny Trevathan (68% - 10 tackles) will occasionally outshine Roquan Smith (100% - 5 assists). Don't adjust your TV sets and keep firing Smith off as the LB1 he is. Not having Hicks to hold up O-linemen, Smith was constantly in traffic. The five starting Chicago DBs posted 34 tackles - or half of the overall tackles in this game. This is what we were expecting, as Aaron Rodgers loves DBs. Buster Skrine had 13 tackles, and Kyle Fuller had 8 tackles. These DBs have a similarly good matchup this week, as Detroit averages 27 tackles per game to DBs. Rumor has it that the Lions will be throwing more and picking up the offensive pace.
Ind @ Hou
Indy’s DLs had a great matchup, and they came through for us: Tyquan Lewis and Al-Quadin Muhammad had 5 tackles each, while Grover Stewart and Taylor Stallworth had 4 tackles each. The Colts also get DeForest Buckner and Denico Autry back this week, making them a dangerous defense again. Houston is a bottom-10 option for DLs, though. It’s been good to see Darius Leonard show his true LB1 self lately, but Houston is one of the worst matchups of the week for LBs. Expect more like 7-8 tackles from Leonard, but he’s got plenty of big-play upside, so I’m starting him as my LB1. With no Bobby Okereke last week, Anthony Walker played 100% but only had 6 tackles (3 solo). Zaire Franklin (44%) stepped in for Okereke and posted just 2 solos. Okereke (ankle) is Out this week as well. Khari Willis was off to another strong game before getting injured. Willis (quad/back) is Out week, so it should be Tavon Wilson who steps in for Willis.
Congrats to all who’ve been rolling with J.J. Watt. He pulled down a pick-six for us on Turkey Day. Tyrell Adams led the team with 17 tackles (14 solo), 1 PD, and 2 FF, but Zach Cunningham (6-3) didn’t play much in the second half as it was a blowout. Fire up your Justin Reid shares, and if you’re desperate, you’ve got a few choices for who will replace the suspended Bradley Roby and ultimately who will get picked on in his absence. There’s Lonnie Johnson who has been playing safety but is probably best suited to move into Roby’s role. There’s Keion Crossen and Phillip Gaines as well. If I’m starting any of them, it’s Johnson because he should play safety and have a tackle floor even if he doesn’t take over Roby’s role. It’s also just a great matchup by the numbers anyway, as the Colts offense creates over 30 tackles per game to DBs.
Cin @ Mia
Sam Hubbard now has back-to-back 80%+ games, and also has 11 tackles (7 solo) and 2 TFL in his last two games. There’s the DL1 we’ve been waiting on. Josh Bynes has been leading the LBs in snaps (70-80% range), and he’s been a 5-7 tackle guy, with the occasional 2 or 3 tackles. I’m still avoiding these LBs if that’s the bet their top LB can do. Over the last two games, Vonn Bell has 24 tackles (15 solo), 2 TFL, 1 PD, and a FF/FR combo. This may have been a post-bye adjustment to the defense, as their bye was three weeks ago. We’d love to see another game or two of this before trusting him fully, but this is the kind of production we were hoping for when the Bengals signed him, so this may be the time to snag him and hope he’s the 8-10 tackle DB we had him pegged as.
I’m expecting big things from Emmanuel Ogbah, Christian Wilkins, Raekwon Davis, and this Miami D-line. The Bengals weak O-line gives up 2 sacks per game and is now protecting a backup QB in a game they are likely to trail in. Also with OG Alex Redmond ruled Out (concussion), their job just got a little easier. This is your weekly reminder not to trust these Miami LBs. Three of them had 5 tackles each in Week 12. With stud perimeter corners Xavien Howard and Byron Jones locking down opposing receivers, Nik Needham has been active as the slot corner. Needham had 5 tackles and a pick-six in Week 12, giving him at least 4 tackles in each of his last three games, and five of his last six. With the Bengals being a top-5 option for DBs, start Needham in deep leagues and Eric Rowe, Howard, and Jones in PD, and INT heavy leagues.
Jax @ Min
Myles Jack and Joe Schobert have another brutal stat crew to play in front of. Not many crews are worse than Jacksonville, but Minnesota is one of them. They award more assists than almost anyone in the league. Jack had another 9 tackles in Week 12, giving him at least 8 in three of his last four games since returning to 100% usage (he was injured before that). Jarrod Wilson has been productive in place of Josh Jones. This Jax D-line keeps taking hits. Not only is Josh Allen on IR, but DT Davon Hamilton is Out. So is Sidney Jones, while Jarrod Wilson (shoulder) is Questionable.
Eric Kendricks (100%) had 12 tackles (6 solo), 2 TFL, an INT, and a PD in Week 12 but was limited in practice on Thursday due to a calf issue. But he’s not on the final injury report so he should be good to go. I mentioned last week that while Sheldon Richardson and Olivier Vernon and Larry Ogunjobi have had great seasons, the Jags are actually not good for DL production. And sure enough, the Cleveland D-line recorded 0 sacks, and no DL had more than 3 tackles. Minnesota may suffer the same fate, so those sneaky Ifeadi Odenigbo and Shamar Stephen shares might not be as valuable this week. The Vikings will be without D.J. Wonnum (ankle/back) this week.
LV @ NYJ
Maxx Crosby should be licking his chops in this matchup. It also helps that Las Vegas will get Clelin Ferrell back this week. Cory Littleton (58%) returned but Nicholas Morrow (99%) was the man with 10 solos, a TFL, a QBH, and 2PDs. Nick Kwiatkoski (79%) lost a few snaps to Littleton but still did OK with 6 tackles and a sack. No Johnathan Abram this week, so it should be the Jeff Heath and Erik Harris show. The Jets offense can't sustain enough to provide sufficient tackles for LBs or DBs. They’ll give up big plays, but tackles might be lower than usual this week for the Raiders.
Can Quinnen Williams and Co. take advantage of whatever the Falcons figured out about how to penetrate this normally strong O-line? The Raiders gave up 8 sacks to the Falcons. They usually give up about 1 per game. Word just came in that Blake Cashman will now be out a few more weeks (likely due to his balky hamstrings), so this is Harvey Langi’s job for the foreseeable future. Langi has 29 tackles in his three starts and is the #9 LB over that stretch. Don’t sleep on Neville Hewitt, though. He’s usually good for 6-8 tackles, but he also has double-digit tackle games in three of his last seven games. Still not much action for Marcus Maye and Ashtyn Davis, who seem to hover around 3-5 tackles per game.
Cle @ Ten
Cleveland's IDPs could see more solos than usual, as Tennessee has a top-5 crew for awarding tackles, including a lean on solos. The Titans run 51% of the time, and their offense tends to favor LBs over DTs and DBs. Myles Garrett is back this week, so although the Tennessee O-line is stingy, this Cleveland D-line can match up with anyone when Garrett is healthy. B.J. Goodson (85%) is still an LB3, and now Mack Wilson (51%) is losing snaps to Malcolm Smith (66%). Ronnie Harrison and Denzel Ward will miss this week’s game, so Karl Joseph and Andrew Sendejo should be your starting safeties, and Terrance Mitchell and Kevin Johnson should start at corner.
Jeffery Simmons (knee) had another good game in Week 12: 4 tackles and a sack on 76% usage. But he’s Questionable, so watch for the inactives list. Matt Dickerson is likely to start if Simmons can’t go. Cleveland’s run game produces 17.5 tackles per game to DLs, which is tied for second-most. David Long had 49% snaps in his return, but it was at the expense of Will Compton (41%) and not Rashaan Evans (81%). I’d avoid Long and Compton this week until this sorts itself out.
LAR @ Ari
Aaron Donald came through for us last week: 5 tackles (4 solo), 1 sack, 2 TFL, 1 PD, and 1 FF. I know it seems like forever that Donald had a big game, but when he hits… Leonard Floyd continues to be a sneaky play. He had 7 tackles in Week 12. Troy Reeder has played two games in place of Micah Kiser, and in those two games he has 26 tackles and 3 sacks. The Cardinals produce a slightly above average 21 tackles per game to LBs, so Reeder could hit double digits again. John Johnson has been out-producing rookie Jordan Fuller, so I’d lean on Johnson in this matchup, as his role will include some LB snaps.
The Cardinals D saw just 53 snaps, so we got some sub-par production in Week 12. Zach Allen (ankle) has been limited this week, so watch his status. Haason Reddick continues to produce off the edge for Arizona. He had 4 tackles (3 solo) on 96% usage. Jordan Hicks (100% - 7 tackles) and De'Vondre Campbell (96% - 6 tackles, 1 sack) continue to be the main LBs here, though Isaiah Simmons (30% - 5 tackles, 1 sack) continues to be involved now that Campbell is healthy again.
NYG @ Sea
Another defense that barely saw the field last week, the Bengals only had 44 total offensive plays (15 runs, 29 passes), so stats were down for the Giants D. New York's IDPs might lose some tackles, as they're playing in front of the worst stat crew in the league. I’m all in on Leonard Williams, Dalvin Tomlinson, and Dexter Lawrence (in that order). Seattle continues to give us tons of production, as we saw last week against Philly. Williams racked up another sack in Week 12, giving him a sack in four of his last six games. His usage hasn’t dipped below 70% since Week 4 and he’s usually good for 2-5 tackles as well. Blake Martinez’s slow game had much more to do with a poor offense than anything on his end. Keep loading him into your lineups. While the team got rookie Xavier McKinney back from the IR, he barely played. Jabrill Peppers will likely remain an every-down player even when McKinney’s snaps increase as the 3rd safety. Peppers pushed his streak of at least 6 tackles in a game to six straight games, which is impressive since the Bengals only produced 44 snaps for the Giants defense. Keep in mind that Peppers usually returns a few punts per game, so he’s got extra value in return-yardage leagues.
Carlos Dunlap (foot) looks to be a game-time decision, and of course this is a late afternoon game, so he’s gonna be risky to use. After all the talk that Jamal Adams was playing poorly, it looks as though he just wasn’t recovered from his shoulder injury. That, plus clearly out to prove he’s elite, has kicked Adams into high gear. I love him this week being aggressive against Colt McCoy. We saw an uncharacteristically slow game from Bobby Wagner (4 tackles and a PD) in Week 12, but nothing to worry about here. Tre Flowers (hamstring) is Doubtful, so we’ll likely get to use D.J. Reed again this week.
Phi @ GB
This is a dominant D-line, but they’re not likely to repeat their massive production vs. Seattle last week. Green Bay remains the stingiest team for D-lines. And they’ve faced some good ones this year. Alex Singleton (100% - 5 tackles) had a slow game, but so much of the action was stopped by this D-line or went over Singleton’s head as Seattle attacked Darius Slay (9 tackles) all game. Green Bay loves to pick on DBs, so look for Slay, Avonte Maddox, and safeties Jalen Mills and Rodney McLeod to be busy, though Slay (calf) is Questionable.
Unlike Philly’s D-line, this is a good week for Kenny Clark and Co. - the Philly O-line gives up 15 tackles and 3 sacks per game. Last week, Chicago only ran the ball 16 times, which threw a wet blanket on Christian Kirksey’s production (5 tackles - 1 PD). That should balance out this week against the Eagles. For being a third safety, Raven Greene has sneaky value in deep leagues. He has 15 tackles over his last two games, playing around 50%.
NE @ LAC
Look for big games from Chase Winovich, Lawrence Guy, Adam Butler, and John Simon as no team produces more tackles for DLs than the Chargers. Especially Winovich, who now has four games of over 80% usage, and three games with at least 5 tackles. Expect a lot more assists than usual from your Patriots IDPs. The Chargers home crew gives out more assists than almost any stadium in the league, while New England's crew gives out the most solos per game. Ja’Whaun Bentley (86%) had 14 tackles last week. Bentley (groin) is Questionable, but so are 11 other players, so it’s hard to read their injury reports with anyone who missed any practice considered “questionable.” And while this is where I’d normally remind you that these are fluke games for the Patriots LB, this could also be another week of that. The Chargers produce the second-most tackles to LBs this season. Adrian Phillips will be facing his old team and has been a solid DB2 all season.
Joey Bosa had all the peripheral stats to show us he’s still a beast. And beast he did in Week 12: 8 tackles (7 solo), 3 sacks, 6 TFL, 1 PD, 1 FR. There are so few players of his talent this year. You’ve gotta fire him up each week in your playoff run. He’s had some horrible luck with injuries and concussions. But he’s healthy now. He’s a full go after getting some rest earlier this week. Denzel Perryman (35% snaps; 4 tackles) injured back so Nick Vigil took over (66%; 8 tackles, 1 PD, 1 FF). Perryman is Doubtful for this game, so look for Vigil to fill in. No matter who is there, that WILL spot is more productive than Kenneth Murray’s MIKE spot. Since Week 5, Rayshawn Jenkins has at least 5 tackles in every game and has at least 7 tackles in five of his last seven games. That's top-10 DB production.
Den @ KC
New Orleans had a 44:16 run-pass ratio last week, so the D-line had massive tackle totals across the board. That won’t be the case this week against the Chiefs. While the Chiefs give up 15 tackles per game to DLs, they are stingy with sacks. So this could be a slow game for Bradley Chubb and Malik Reed (Questionable - shin), who have had solid seasons (or in the case of Reed, a surprising season) so far. The Chiefs are also stingy for LB production, so this could be a slow game for A.J. Johnson. He’s normally good for 8-10 tackles, so he might be on the low side of that this week. It should be that Justin Simmons is very busy this week. Shake off that 3-tackle game last week. The Broncos did re-sign former 3rd-safety Will Parks, but this shouldn’t affect Simmons.
KC’s D-line came up empty last week, but it wasn’t for a lack of snaps. They have another poor matchup this week, as Denver only produces 11 tackles and less than a sack per game for DLs. But if this turns into a blowout, that sack rate is likely to go up. Anthony Hitchens had a few DNPs this week, but he was a full participant on Friday and is not on the injury report, so it looks like veteran rest. After posting LB tackle production since taking over the starting job in Week 6, Daniel Sorensen saw a dip in production in Week 11. That was due to his high number of snaps at deep safety. Sorensen had been playing in the box at about a 2:1 ratio, but that flip-flopped to a 2:1 deep safety ratio. Consequently, Sorensen’s tackle numbers dropped to just 4 tackles. And while that’s still not bad for a DB, that’s not what we’ve been expecting from Sorensen. Luckily, that ratio flipped back in Week 12, as did his tackle production. Sorensen had 7 tackles in Week 12 and has been the #2 DB since he became the starter.
Was @ Pit
Chase Young has similar vibes as Joey Bosa. He's playing at an elite level but isn't getting home as often as we'd like. Like Bosa and Aaron Donald, those games are likely coming and soon. But this will be a tough matchup for Young. In three of his last four games, Cole Holcomb has eclipsed 80% usage and has 23 tackles in those games. He also carries some big-play upside as well, with 1.5 sacks (including one in Week 12), 4 TFL, 1 INT, and 1 PD. He’s currently ahead of Jon Bostic in usage during that span. Bostic is too risky to send out there anymore. Over the past four weeks since Kamren Curl won the starting job over Troy Apke, no DB has more tackles (37), sacks, (2), and fantasy points (67.5). With DeShazor Everett Out, Apke (51% - 3 tackles) and Jeremy Reaves (49% - 1 tackle, 1 sack) split the FS role.
Bud Dupree suffered a non-contact right knee injury (torn ACL). Alex Highsmith replaced him and should start this week. Avery Williamson is climbing up the depth chart. He played 41% but it was more at the expense of Vince Williams (64%) than Robert Spillane (81%). Still, none of these LBs are sniffing LB2 territory. Spillane has been an LB4 over the last month. Mike Hilton (54%) is no longer the DB1 he was when the season started. The DBs across the board had slow games vs. the run-heavy Ravens.
Buf @ SF
Solid games in a good matchup last week for Jerry Hughes (4 tackles - 0.5 sacks) and Ed Oliver (3 tackles - 1 sack). The Chargers are a great matchup for LBs, and Tremaine Edmunds (11 tackles) and A.J. Klein (14 tackles - 1.5 sacks) took advantage of that in Week 12. Their matchup this week is also top-10, but the Chargers are an anomaly. Don't expect 25 tackles this week. Klein has been a monster over the last few weeks in that role, but Matt Milano’s skill set and talent are on another level. Milano - who has been dealing with a pectoral injury ever since Week 1 - is a high-floor LB2 when healthy. There’s no guarantee Milano will play this week, but he’s worth a stash due to his value as you head into the playoffs. I’m not comfortable starting Milano or Klein this week.
The 49ers defense has been playing a lot better as of late, and Kerry Hyder and Arik Armstead are a big part of that. Joey Bosa put a hurting on the O-line last week. Hyder and Armstead might get home a few times themselves. Dre Greenlaw (95% - 7 tackles) has done well replacing Kwon Alexander. The team got Richard Sherman back last week, which has also helped steady this defense. Sherman had 7 tackles and an INT in his return.
Dal @ Bal
Randy Gregory notched his first two sacks of the season in Week 12 and has settled into a 40-60% player now that he’s been activated and Everson Griffen was traded. DeMarcus Lawrence (51%) missed some time with an injury, but still managed 4 tackles and a sack. This Baltimore team has been vulnerable to DLs. Leighton Vander Esch and Jaylon Smith each saw lowered snaps, as Sean Lee and Joe Thomas worked in for about 25% of the snaps each, mainly because Dallas was getting blown out by the 4th quarter. These Dallas LBs have a good matchup though, as Baltimore produces 23 tackles per game for LBs. Over the last two weeks, Donovan Wilson has played every snap and has 19 tackles (11 solo), 2 FFs, and a sack, but he’s dealing with a groin injury and hasn’t practiced. He’s too risky to trust as this game is on Tuesday.
Derek Wolfe missed some time with an ankle injury, but that didn't stop him from recording 4 tackles and a TFL. Dallas is the #1 opponent for DL production: 15 tackles and 2 sacks per game. Calais Campbell (COVID/Reserve) may miss another game. It’s crazy how Yannick Ngakoue has vanished. In his five games as a Raven, Ngakoue has just 1 sack and hasn’t had more than 2 tackles in a game. Has Patrick Queen finally settled in and provided some consistency for us? His usage has been above 85% for five straight games. Before that, he didn't clear 80% once. He also has 9 tackles in each of his last three games. Marlon Humphrey keeps displaying why he's a weekly starter in fantasy. He had 7 tackles and 2 forced fumbles. He leads the league in forced fumbles. Chuck Clark is dealing with a groin injury, so watch his status carefully.