IDP Hits: Week 6
Is That Guy for Real?
If you look at just the sack numbers, Edge Kayvon Thibodeaux seems to be on a hot streak.
But looking at just the sack numbers is a poor way to judge a defender’s actual performance. So let’s dig a little deeper.
Thibodeaux opened this season poorly, especially for a fairly popular IDP selection. He logged no sacks or tackles for loss through the first two games, with just 1 QB hit and 1 solo tackle.
We could excuse him for a quiet opener against the Cowboys. But a silent outing at Arizona was tougher to take.
Since then, however, the 2022 first-round pick has logged 4 sacks in three games. We’ll certainly take that. But you should also stop short of getting too excited.
Here are videos of each sack, featuring a mix of luck and the talent we want to buy into:
- Cleanup sack vs. 49ers after teammate flushed Brock Purdy up out of the pocket.
- Strong hands and quickness for first sack vs. Seahawks (albeit vs. backup RT).
- Good one vs. Seahawks in fourth quarter (against same RT).
- Nice bull rush through Dolphins LT in Week 5 (also a backup).
What Do We Make of Those?
You can’t criticize Thibodeaux for making impressive rushes against backups. He can only combat the guys on the field. But we also shouldn’t ignore who was on the field.
The mix of speed, hands, and strength this young guy brings is exactly why I was buying into him as a prospect last year (No. 2 in my 2022 IDP rookie rankings).
The problem: He hasn’t used those tools nearly enough so far.
Thibodeaux tied for just 93rd in pass-rush productivity last year among 132 edge players with at least 100 pass rushes, according to Pro Football Focus.
This year, he sits tied for just 57th in total pressures on a No. 32 ranking in pass-rush chances.
That doesn’t mean he should sit on IDP waiver wires. But it does mean he’s not actually playing like a sack-per-game type.
Make sure you temper your weekly expectations, especially this week against a Bills offense allowing the ninth-lowest pressure rate (according to Pro Football Reference).
Isaiah Simmons Gets a Shot
Giants off-ball LB Micah McFadden missed last week’s game with an ankle injury. That left Isaiah Simmons to play every snap.
The former Cardinal collected 9 tackles (7 solo) but also earned poor PFF grades across categories.
McFadden is questionable this week after making it back for limited Thursday and Friday practices.
If he plays, expect McFadden to easily reclaim his spot. If he sits, Simmons looks playable in IDP lineups.
Week 6 IDP Injuries to Watch
Here are some other “questionable” defensive players we’ll be checking on ahead of kickoffs:
- Dre Greenlaw, LB, San Francisco 49ers (hamstring)
- Brian Burns, Edge, Carolina Panthers (ankle)
- Jaelan Phillips, Edge, Miami Dolphins (oblique)
- Ernest Jones, LB, Los Angeles Rams (knee)
- Kyle Dugger, DB, New England Patriots (foot)
- Micah McFadden, LB, New York Giants (ankle)
- Devin Lloyd, LB, Jacksonville Jaguars (thumb)
- Derrick Brown, DT, Carolina Panthers (knee, ankle)
- Shaq Barrett, Edge, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (illness)
- Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Cincinnati Bengals (back)
- Jakorian Bennett, CB, Las Vegas Raiders (shoulder)
- Eddie Jackson, S, Chicago Bears (foot)
- Dane Jackson, CB, Buffalo Bills (foot)
- Sauce Gardner, CB, New York Jets (illness)
- Jonathan Jones, CB, New England Patriots (ankle)
- Davon Godchaux, DT, New England Patriots (ankle)
CB Marlon Humphrey played just 56% of snaps in Sunday’s loss to the Steelers, his first game this season thanks to a foot injury.
Getting burned by George Pickens for the go-ahead TD highlighted that Humphrey’s not all the way back yet. We’ll see when his playing time is.
S Marcus Williams also returned from a pectoral injury that sidelined him since Week 1. Williams took the field for 63 of Baltimore’s 66 snaps, though.
We’ll see about the Matt Milano replacement plan this week.
Buffalo’s top LB went down for the season in last Sunday’s loss to the Jaguars. Tyrel Dodson closed out that game as the No. 2 LB, behind Terrel Bernard. Those two battled preseason to start alongside Milano, so it would make sense if Dodson continues in this role.
But the Bills also elevated veteran A.J. Klein from the practice squad this week. Klein’s history with HC Sean McDermott dates back to Carolina, where McDermott served as DC throughout Klein’s first four years in the league.
This marks his fourth straight season spending at least some time with McDermott’s Bills. And when Milano lost 6+ games to multiple injuries back in 2020, Klein stepped up to make 11 starts and spend much of that year as a full-timer.
It would not be surprising to see the Bills turn to the veteran for similar duty this time around.
For now – unless we get more specifics on the plan – let’s hold off on anointing either Dodson or Klein the Milano “replacement.”
S Jeremy Chinn has been fun at times. But that 30% playing time in Sunday’s loss at Detroit just might be the final blow to his IDP hopes.
You can drop Chinn if you haven’t already. In deeper leagues, though, you could hang on for now to see if he gets traded to a situation with starting opportunity. Rumors are running pretty heavy, and it would certainly make sense for Carolina to move him.
At non-edge LB, Frankie Luvu remains the only full-timer. Second-year undrafted free agent Chandler Wooten ran second at Detroit, playing just 60% of the snaps. That’s not a usable level for IDP lineups.
The Bears designated CB Kyler Gordon (broken hand) to return from IR this week.
The second-year player wasn’t a high-impact IDP as a rookie. But he plays the upside slot position and allowed 81.8% completions in 2023, according to PFF. We like that kind of player in deeper IDP leagues, because opponents will like throwing at him.
We’ll see about Gordon’s numbers over his first couple of games back. Meetings with Adam Thielen in Week 10 and CeeDee Lamb in Week 11 could be particularly interesting spots.
I highlighted LB Damone Clark in the IDP Waiver Wire Pickups earlier this week as the top option in the wake of LB Leighton Vander Esch’s latest neck injury. But there’s another sneakier option for deeper leagues.
Second-year player Markquese Bell stands just 205 pounds and is listed as a safety. But of the 106 defensive snaps he has played this year, only eight have found him lined up outside the box.
That basically makes him a LB, and a potential helper in filling in for LVE.
And Bell could get pressed into more duty if Clark is limited by the shoulder issue that has limited his practice time this week.
LB Josey Jewell played 76% of Denver’s defensive snaps in Thursday night’s loss to the Chiefs. That’s his smallest share among four healthy games this season.
Jewell still collected 9 tackles (7 solo), so there’s no need to panic yet. But teammate Alex Singleton has apparently moved ahead of Jewell in coaching favor.
Singleton has played every snap in three straight games and delivered 10+ tackles in four straight.
Singleton’s PFF grade for coverage is back down to poor range after a huge 2022 spike in that area. That could threaten his playing time at some point. But Denver re-signed him at $6 million per year this offseason. So don’t worry too much.
Denzel Perryman ran third among Texans LBs in his Week 5 return from a hand injury. His 45% snap share trailed way behind rookie Henry To’oTo’o (97%) and Blake Cashman (96%).
Perhaps they chose to leave Perryman out of passing sub packages because of the club he wore on his repaired left hand. But we don’t typically see full-time players eased back in after brief hand injuries – even if they’re sporting a club.
Perryman missed just two games with the hand fracture, so there’s no reason to believe he wouldn’t have been physically ready for full duty. And Houston played run-heavy Atlanta.
It’s hard to believe the Texans entered the game expecting a lot of passing. And the Falcons handed to RBs on 31 of 74 offensive plays.
We’ll see if Texans coaches say anything about Perryman’s role heading into Week 6. Barring that, we can’t expect a flip back to full-time duty for a LB who has never been good in coverage.
This year, he’s working on a career-worst PFF coverage grade. Perryman ranks 115th among 129 off-ball LBs in that category so far.
Cashman has similarly graded poorly in coverage in the past. But PFF has him second-best at the position so far this year. That could be the key difference between him and Perryman if it holds.
E.J. Speed played 98% of Indy’s defensive snaps in Sunday’s win over the Titans, with LB Shaquille Leonard out.
That was particularly noteworthy, because it’s more than Leonard has played in any game this season. Leonard opened at 86%, then dipped to 71% and 69%. Then Week 4 found him playing just 45% and Speed passing him (55%).
DC Gus Bradley revealed recently that the plan is “to get [Leonard] back, sometime November, to where we really have a good feel for where he’s at.”
That’s not too clear. But it seems Bradley is hoping to get “full” Leonard sometime in November. Does that mean full playing time? We’ll see.
In the meantime, Leonard doesn’t belong in IDP lineups. And Speed probably won’t either when Leonard’s back active.
Kansas City Chiefs
S Bryan Cook has seen his playing time dip the past three weeks. He played 98-100% of snaps through the first three games but has stayed on the field for 83%, 76%, and 81% the past three.
S Mike Edwards has moved in the other direction:
We’ll see if that Thursday night dip against Denver turns into a reversal for Edwards. But DC Steve Spagnuolo praised him earlier in the week.
“We’ve given him a little bit more playing time, if you’ve noticed,” Spagnuolo said. “He’s got a really good feel for the game.”
Neither player has likely delivered a double-digit fantasy score in your format so far this season. So this isn’t a situation we need to watch too closely.
I’ll keep an eye out for any significant further changes, though.
LB Jerome Baker followed his annual playing-time dip by rebounding to 100% snap share against the Giants last week.
And it didn’t come at the expense of LB David Long. Miami’s No. 2 non-edge LB played 92% of snaps, his second straight game of more than 90% and third in past four at 84%+.
Long has delivered 8+ tackles in four straight games. He should be a solid bet for more this week against a short-range Carolina offense.
New York Jets
LB Quincy Williams delivered 2 sacks and 3 QB hits in Sunday’s win over the Broncos. The Jets must have seen something they liked and bumped up his role in that area, right?
Nope. PFF says Williams got just three pass-rushing chances for the game. So he hit 100% productivity on them.
Not bad! But don’t go counting on regular sacks from him. The fifth-year bet totaled just 5 sacks over his first two Jets seasons.
That said, these Jets might need more from him. They have just 11 sacks through five weeks, tied for 24th in the league.
Carl Lawson isn’t helping
The edge player signed a three-year $45 million deal with the Jets ahead of the 2021 season. An Achilles’ tendon tear wiped out that year, but he made it back for 7 sacks and 24 QB hits in 2022.
The team restructured his deal this offseason to turn a non-guaranteed $15 million into a $9 million base salary, with $8 million guaranteed and $3 million more available through incentives.
Five games in, he has nary a QB hit. And it’s gotten so bad that Lawson was a healthy scratch at Denver.
Bet the Jets wish they’d just dumped him.
LB Nakobe Dean looks ready to start Sunday against the Jets after finishing the week with a full Friday practice.
It appears LB Zach Cunningham will maintain his starting role next to Dean, with Nicholas Morrow bowing out of the lineup. But I haven’t read anything specifically confirming that yet.
Expect Dean to lead Philly LB scorers the rest of the way. He sat inside the top 10 among all LBs in our preseason rankings.
LB Cole Holcomb’s playing time has improved from where it started the season. From Week 1 on:
His tackle totals have just been OK: 5, 8, 5, 7, and 9. So Holcomb’s certainly not a factor in all IDP leagues.
Edge T.J. Watt is, of course. Watt came out of Week 5 with a finger injury that might require post-season surgery. But it’s not expected to cost him any regular-season games.
We’ll look for more specifics after his Week 6 bye.
I was surprised to see Edge Harold Landry open the season at 88% and 80% playing time the first two weeks, coming off losing 2022 to an ACL tear.
He has since dipped to 59, 64%, and 68% snap shares. More importantly, Landry isn’t producing.
After notching QB hits each of the first two weeks, he has zero over the past three. PFF credits Landry with just 5 total pressures through five games, including just three over the past four games.
Landry is working on easily his worst PFF grades in the overall, pass-rushing, and even coverage categories. The last wouldn’t seem to matter for a pass rusher, but he has averaged six coverage snaps per game for his career. And poor performance in the pass rush and coverage both likely point to a decline in mobility coming off his injury.
Landry doesn’t belong on a roster in most redraft IDP leagues until something significantly changes.
I declared LB Jamin Davis done after he opened this season with games of 65% and 62% playing time.
The third-year, former first-round pick remains someone I’m not excited about. But it’s only fair that I point out his playing time has improved over the past three weeks.
Davis played 78% of snaps in Week 3 and then 80% each of the past two. That still puts him behind teammate Cody Barton, who has played every snap so far. And that remains not good, given that Barton arrived on a one-year contract after disappointing as a starter in Seattle.
Davis has also topped 6 total tackles in a game just once and supplied no big plays outside of a Week 2 sack at Denver.
But hey, just trying to be fair.
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