S Jalen Thompson made it back from his Week 13 concussion in time to play last Sunday, and fellow S Deionte Thompson was inactive. Still, Jalen played only 63% of the defensive snaps against the Steelers. Reserve Chris Banjo jumped in for 25%. (He had played 4 total snaps for the year to date.)
At CB, Byron Murphy has shifted from outside to the slot over the past 2 weeks, taking over the role from which the team booted Tramaine Brock. He played just 75% of the snaps in last Sunday’s loss to Pittsburgh, but that ranked 2nd among Cardinals corners for the game. This Sunday should find him covering Browns slot WR Jarvis Landry often.
LB Foye Oluokun led the team in tackles in Sunday’s win over the Panthers, but he did so while playing just 55% of the snaps. De’Vondre Campbell played 63% -- his smallest share of the season -- while Deion Jones played 79%. Most of the defensive starters saw less-than-usual playing time in the lopsided victory.
CB Marlon Humphrey played every snap at Buffalo last week after entering the game questionable. He was actually the only Baltimore defender to stay on the field for every snap. That makes him a nice option against the Jets and slot WR Jamison Crowder.
DE Shaq Lawson passed DE Trent Murphy in playing time against the Ravens last week. Lawson led by just 3 snaps, not enough to call it a clear change. But it continues his recent bump in playing time. Unfortunately for Lawson, matchups with the Steelers and Patriots the next 2 weeks don’t carry big sack upside.
If you play into Week 17, then the Jets rematch looks better.
I discussed the tackle lull for for LB Luke Kuechly last week. He rebounded with 11 (8 solo) in Sunday’s loss to the Falcons. So did LB Shaq Thompson.
From weeks 6-11, Thompson averaged just 5.8 tackles per game. Over his past 3 outings, though, he has tallied 7, 8 and 10 tackles.
This Sunday’s matchup with Seattle might not include the play volume of that contest. The Seahawks have supplied the 9th-most tackles to LBs, though. After that comes Indy, which has served up the 4th-most fantasy points to the position on the year.
CB Kyle Fuller defensed a pair of passes in each of his past 2 meetings with Aaron Rodgers. He also tallied 6 solo tackles in their 1st clash this year. That doesn’t make Fuller a lock for IDP production. He doesn’t appear likely to shadow Davante Adams, who generally dominates Green Bay WR targets at this point. But Fuller should at least see some of Adams. And the upside is worth noting -- especially for a guy who ranks top 20 among fantasy DBs on the year anyway.
Rookie LB Germaine Pratt saw his playing time rebound in Sunday’s loss to the Browns and led the team in tackles. But his 71% snap share still trailed well behind Nick Vigil’s 100%. It’s too late in the year to start betting on fantasy production from Pratt.
S Juston Burris had been starting next to Damarious Randall since Morgan Burnett followed Jermaine Whitehead out of the lineup. That changed to Sheldrick Redwine in Week 14, however. That’s likely because the Browns decided they wanted Randall in “the box” more.
According to Pro Football Focus, Randall played 34 snaps (46.6% of his total) “in the box” against the Bengals. His previous high this season had been 20.3% back in Week 4.
For what it’s worth, Randall’s tackle tallies didn’t look different from the rest of his season. They could if he’s still playing more in the box come Week 16 against the Ravens, though. I’m not sure it matters for this week’s visit to Arizona.
LB Leighton Vander Esch still wasn’t practicing Wednesday, thanks to the neck issue that has cost him the past 3 games and 4 overall. HC Jason Garrett says “it might be a little bit of time” before he returns to the field. We’ll see how much more time it takes. But plan on Sean Lee being the Week 15 play over him.
OLB Von Miller returned from his knee injury for last week’s win over the Texans. But he played a season-low 59% of the snaps. Perhaps the lopsided victory allowed coaches to ease him back in. But Miller looks like a pretty easy fantasy “sit” for this weekend’s visit to Kansas City.
CB Rashaan Melvin was active for last Sunday’s visit to Minnesota after missing 2 games with a rib injury. He didn’t play a snap, though. Instead, rookie CB Amani Oruwariye continued to start in his place.
Perhaps it was still a matter of protecting Melvin’s sore ribs, but Oruwariye seems to be outperforming the veteran. According to MLive, the rookie has allowed just a 54.6 passer rating on balls thrown his way, compared with 110.0 for Melvin. Oruwariye has played at least 76% of the snaps each of the past 3 weeks.
He posted an empty stat line against a Vikings offense that doesn’t send many targets to WRs not named Stefon Diggs or Adam Thielen. But he tallied 5 and 6 solo tackles the previous 2 weeks and grabbed an INT against Washington in his first start.
Green Bay Packers
DT Kenny Clark hadn’t registered a sack since Week 2 before delivering 1.5 in Sunday’s win over Washington. None of the remaining matchups -- Bears, Vikings, Lions (Week 17) -- has proved terrific for sack upside, but Mitchell Trubisky enters with the 10th highest sack rate among current starters, according to Pro Football Focus. (And that’s despite ranking just 21st in pressure rate among that group.)
CB Johnathan Joseph opened the season as 1 of the most reliable DB scorers in fantasy. He has become a guy we can’t trust for playing time, though. Joseph’s 4 games since the Week 10 bye have seen these snap shares:
Combine that with a low-floor matchup in Tennessee this week, and Joseph is best left out of your IDP lineup.
After some recent down games in playing time, S Khari Willis has played 76% and 87% the past 2 weeks. He followed consecutive 3-tackle games with 11 at Tampa last week (including 9 solos).
This week brings another nice tackle spot against New Orleans. The Saints have provided the 5th-most total tackles to DBs on the year.
S Andrew Wingard played just 73% of the defensive snaps in place of Ronnie Harrison (concussion) in last week’s loss to the Chargers. That followed 75% playing time the week before, his 1st start for Harrison. Even if he’s in there again this week, Wingard doesn’t make for a strong IDP option.
It’s also worth noting that Harrison wasn’t delivering particularly useful stat lines right before he got hurt. He posted 2 solo tackles or fewer in 4 of the 5 games leading up to his concussion and has defensed a mere 5 passes for the season. Two of the 5 came against Andy Dalton.
If you need a Jacksonville safety, then Jarrod Wilson is the better bet.
Kansas City Chiefs
DE Frank Clark played just 46% of the snaps last week while dealing with the flu. That was his smallest playing-time share of the season, but enough to find him a sack, 2 tackles for loss and 3 total pressures against the Patriots.
Clark gets an upside matchup with the Broncos this week and then a decent spot at Chicago in Week 16. We’ll see if the playing time climbs, though. His next smallest snap share came in Week 13, coming out of the Week 12 bye. Clark played 70%+ in every appearance before the bye; 54% and 46% since.
Los Angeles Chargers
Los Angeles Rams
New England Patriots
DE John Simon’s playing time dipped back to 46% in last Sunday’s loss to the Chiefs after topping 55% in 2 straight games and 3 of the past 4. The snap total (36) still fell right in line with the past 4 games, though, actually standing as his 2nd-largest within that span.
Simon carries upside into this Sunday’s matchup with poor-protecting Cincinnati. But there’s also downside risk. He has, at least, supplied 3+ solo tackles in 3 of his past 4 games. That helps the floor.
New Orleans Saints
DE Marcus Davenport will miss the rest of the season and have surgery to address a Lisfranc foot injury. Of course, no one seems to have bothered to report which foot. Daveport had surgery after last season for turf toe on his left foot.
The Saints have added DE Noah Spence, who joins his 3rd team of just this season. Trey Hendrickson will be the primary fill-in. Upside matchups with the Colts and Titans the next 2 weeks could make Hendrickson noteworthy for deep IDP leagues.
New Orleans also seems to have lost DT Sheldon Rankins to an ankle injury for the 2nd straight year. We’ll see about the severity of this round, after he tore an Achilles’ tendon in last year’s playoffs.
New York Giants
New York Jets
S D.J. Swearinger climbed to 82% playing time against the Titans on Sunday. And then the team released him. So, if you’re wondering which Raiders safety to trust in your playoff lineup … the answer is none of them. (Besides Erik Harris, of course.)
San Francisco 49ers
If Nick Bosa’s hitting any sort of a rookie wall, then he didn’t tell the team. The rookie DE played a season-high 94% of the snaps in Sunday’s win at New Orleans. Now comes a tremendous matchup with Atlanta’s poor O-line. Then the Rams bring another solid matchup for sacks and D-line tackles.
DT Jarran Reed has no sacks outside of the Week 10 trip to San Francisco. But Pro Football Focus credited him with 10 pressures over the past 2 weeks. That includes 3 QB hits by NFL stats. He’s a sneaky sack bet this week against a Carolina offense that has allowed 21 of them over just the past 4 games -- and the league’s 2nd most (50) for the season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Former starting slot CB M.J. Stewart returned to health last week, but he remained out of the lineup. The Bucs stayed with Carlton Davis, Sean Murphy-Bunting and Jamel Dean as their top 3 at corner.
Murphy-Bunting has shifted in to the slot in recent weeks. That could prove a high-volume spot this week vs. Danny Amendola, now that WR Marvin Jones has landed on IR.
In case you’re wondering why Titans S Kenny Vaccaro only played about half of Sunday’s win over the Raiders, the veteran left early with a concussion. Rookie Amani Hooker stepped up to play a season-high 56% of the snaps and looks like the fill-in if Vaccaro misses this Sunday’s clash with Houston.
In 8 healthy career meetings with the Eagles (he left 1 early in 2017), S Landon Collins has delivered 7+ tackles 7 times. The last time he fell short of 6 solos against the Eagles was in 2016, his rookie year. The 1st meeting of that season is the only time Collins has fallen short of 7 tackles.
He supplied 6 solos and 1 assist in this season’s Week 1 clash.