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IDP Hits: Week 14

By Matt Schauf 9:04am EST 12/9/23

Time to Pick Up Jahlani Tavai?

Patriots LB Jahlani Tavai racked up 14 tackles (8 solo) in Thursday night’s win over the Steelers. Did he become someone you need to pick up for the fantasy playoffs?

No. 

Tavai’s 71% playing time for the game fell right in line with most of his season – when top LB Ja’Whaun Bentley has been healthy. Tavai has topped 76% snap share just twice and finished 10 of 13 games in the 60-76% range.

He hasn’t made more than 8 total tackles in any other game this season and has only exceeded 4 solos on three other occasions. The most recent before Thursday night came in Week 6.

How He Got There

Tavai benefited from the Steelers supplying a bit more tackles than usual: 70 vs. New England’s 62.8 per-game average. Pittsburgh also presented a good matchup for him, between the lean on RBs (27 combined opportunities for Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren) and Mitchell Trubisky’s short passing.

Trubisky’s 5.4 yards per attempt for the game came in 1.0 shorter than Kenny Pickett’s already short 6.4 YPA for the season. That makes Steelers completions close to running plays. 

Tavai leads the Patriots in solo tackles (30) and total tackles (58) on run plays for the season. Bentley sits tied for just fourth on the team in run solos (22), loading up on assists in both phases.

Mixed Matchups Remaining

Two of New England’s next three opponents rank among the league’s top 7 in pass rate over expected for the season. The Chiefs rank second in that category and now have lead RB Isiah Pacheco dealing with a shoulder injury. The Bills have actually passed at a rate under expected since Week 10, a span that includes their OC switch.

So don’t plan to use Tavai in your Week 15 IDP lineup (vs. Chiefs). We’ll see about Week 17 (at Bills). And in between he could make sense at Denver.

The Broncos rank among the league’s most run-leaning teams. And QB Russell Wilson sits tied for 29th in average target depth.


Week 14 IDP Injuries to Watch

  • Jeffery Simmons, DT, Tennessee Titans (knee)
  • Vita Vea, DT, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (toe)
  • Maxx Crosby, Edge, Las Vegas Raiders (knee)
  • Cameron Jordan, Edge, New Orleans Saints (ankle)
  • Byron Young, Edge, Los Angeles Rams (knee)
  • Michael Hoecht, Edge, Los Angeles Rams (knee)
  • Yannick Ngakoue, Edge, Chicago Bears (knee)
  • John Franklin-Myers, Edge, New York Jets (ankle)
  • Jordyn Brooks, LB, Seattle Seahawks (ankle)
  • Quay Walker, LB, Green Bay Packers (shoulder)
  • Jerome Baker, LB, Miami Dolphins (knee)
  • Pete Werner, LB, New Orleans Saints (shoulder, oblique)
  • E.J. Speed, LB, Indianapolis Colts (knee)
  • Jevon Holland, S, Miami Dolphins (knees)
  • Jonathan Owens, S, Green Bay Packers (knee)
  • JuJu Brents, CB, Indianapolis Colts (quad)
  • Tyson Campbell, CB, Jacksonville Jaguars (quad)
  • Denzel Ward, CB, Cleveland Browns (shoulder)
  • A.J. Terrell, CB, Atlanta Falcons (concussion)
  • Jeff Okudah, CB, Atlanta Falcons (ankle)
  • Jaire Alexander, CB, Green Bay Packers (shoulder)

 

Team Notes

Cleveland Browns

Edge Myles Garrett posted his first completely empty stat line of the season last week, coming off a Week 12 shoulder injury. 

Garrett missed two practices ahead of that but returned or a full Friday workout and didn’t appear on the injury report. He also played a season-high 57 snaps in that game (89% snap share).

The shoulder has to be affecting Garrett, who has just 3 total pressures over the past two games, according to Pro Football Focus. That was his single-game low for the season entering Week 12.

Garrett took just one day off this week and then practiced in full Thursday and Friday and is again off the final injury report. 

There’s obviously some risk to playing him, and you’ll find Garrett lower than usual in our Week 14 DL rankings. But it’ll also be risky to sit the guy. Consider both angles as you make your lineup decision.

Green Bay Packers

The Packers got S Darnell Savage back from IR and S Rudy Ford back from a two-game injury for Sunday night’s game against the Chiefs. Ford played minimally (7 snaps) while Savage jumped back into the starting lineup next to Jonathan Owens.

Barring some word this week that a healthier version of Ford is about to reclaim his role, we’ll have to assume it’s Owens and Savage going forward.

Green Bay’s defense played well in the win. Owens has produced well for fantasy teams. A knee issue has limited his practice time this week, so we’ll keep an eye on that.

Houston Texans

Denzel Perryman’s return from a two-game suspension Sunday did not return him to the lead among Houston LBs.

Blake Cashman led the way, playing every snap for the third time this year. He has played all but two defensive snaps over the past three games, and thus looks like the best bet to continue leading the group.

You might remember Cashman’s 19 tackles (13 solo) against Arizona in the first of those three games, but that’s been a near outlier amid his 2023 game log.

Indianapolis Colts

LB E.J. Speed has posted a just-decent 6 and 8 tackles (11 combined solos) in two games since the Colts parted ways with LB Shaquille Leonard. Combine that with a low-floor Cincinnati matchup in Week 14, and Speed didn’t have enough going for him to make this week’s IDP waiver-wire pickups.

But he did deliver a season-high 3 tackles for loss in Sunday’s OT win over the Titans. And Speed led the team in tackles and tied for the lead in solos in that game.

A knee issue has Speed questionable this week after he missed practice Wednesday and Thursday. He returned for a limited Friday workout. But Speed doesn’t have the floor or ceiling to be worth chasing through that injury.

We’ll see about him for a decent Week 15 matchup with the Steelers.

Kansas City Chiefs

Remember Nick Bolton? Of course you do.

It looks like the Chiefs’ lead LB will be ready to return for Sunday’s game against the Bills. He returned to limited practices last week after missing five games with a dislocated wrist. That improved to full practices this week. 

K.C. will need to activate him from IR before 4 p.m. ET Saturday to make Bolton eligible to play. But that’s expected. How will he score? That’s tough to say.

Quiet Start

Bolton ranks just 43rd among LBs in fantasy points per game this year. But he also hasn’t played a full game since Week 1. Bolton left Week 2 early with an ankle sprain that cost him the next three contests. 

He played 88% of snaps (nearly full) in his Week 6 return but then injured the wrist his next time out.

The 2022 version of Bolton trailed only Foye Oluokun in fantasy scoring. He racked up 13 tackles (9 solo, 2 for loss) in last year’s regular-season matchup with the Bills.

This week finds a Buffalo offense leaning a bit more toward RBs in the two games since the switch to OC Joe Brady. Bolton sits high in LB2 territory in our Week 14 rankings.

Miami Dolphins

LB Jerome Baker’s early departure for a knee injury last week left David Long as the position leader. He played 82% of snaps in a game where only one Dolphins defender (fill-in S Brandon Jones) played every snap. 

Long should continue to lead LBs as long as Baker’s out, which seems likely to be the case at least this week. Duke Riley stepped up to the No. 2 spot after Baker left.

Edge Andrew Van Ginkel got his second-largest snap share of the season in the first game since Miami lost Jaelan Phillips (Achilles’ tear). Van Ginkel’s big fantasy score vs. Washington was a bit lucky (INT return for TD), but he also delivered 2 QB hits.

Van Ginkel looks like a top-15 play at his position for Week 14 and a strong option for Week 15 against the Jets. Matchups with the Cowboys and Ravens look less good the following two weeks.

New Orleans Saints

I mentioned LB D’Marco Jackson as an interesting dynasty stash in last week’s IDP Hits. He got no playing time in Week 13, though, despite LB Pete Werner being out.

Second-year undrafted free agent Nephi Sewell (yes, brother to Penei and Noah) got 72% playing time against the Lions and tallied 8 tackles, including 2 tackles for loss.

Werner’s questionable this week after putting in limited practices all three days. We’ll see about his status Sunday.

Tennessee Titans

LB Jack Gibbens racked up a season-high 13 tackles in Sunday’s OT loss to the Colts, but that doesn’t make him an IDP target the rest of the way.

Gibbens played just 59% of the defensive snaps. That did mark a rebound from three straight games of less than 50%, but it also trailed his first eight games this season.

We’ll see whether the second-year LB continues to trend up in Week 14, but there’s also nothing especially attractive about his remaining schedule.

 

More Week 14 Fantasy Football Tips

Looking for Week 14 fantasy football tips on the offensive side? Matt and Jared have your preview in this video.

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