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IDP Hits: Week 7

By Matt Schauf | Updated on Sat, 21 Oct 2023 . 12:27 PM EDT

Questions Abound on Chargers Defense

Austin Ekeler’s back? Cool. But the Chargers’ defense looks a lot more interesting …

We’re all obviously happy to get one of fantasy’s top RBs back on the field. But we knew that was coming. And Ekeler reassumed his throne in the L.A. backfield. 

So now you start him every week. Yes, even though he gave you disappointing production in Week 6.

Analysis done.

The defense on the other hand? That’s worth a deeper dive. And there are questions/issues at every level.

Bosa’s Back

Edge Joey Bosa has endured another rough season on the injury front. First came a hamstring injury that limited him to just 19 snaps in Week 2. (Yet he still managed 2 sacks in that game.)

Then came a toe injury. Bosa played another limited role in Week 3 before sitting out Week 4 completely. (And leaving all the sacks to Khalil Mack.)

Even coming off the bye, Bosa barely practiced last week and entered Monday night questionable. But his 30 snaps and 47% playing time were his highest since Week 1.

This week finds him off the final injury report for the first time since the opener. I moved Bosa up the Week 7 DL rankings for that, but only into DL3 territory.

He gets a bad scoring matchup with the Chiefs, who have allowed just 6 total sacks through six games.

What Lies Ahead?

It’s worth noting that Bosa’s 10.6% pass-rush productivity (pressures per pass-rush snap) so far this season marks a career low – trailing even his injury-riddled 2022.

Should we blame the injuries? We’ll see over these next few weeks.

Much more favorable matchups against the Bears and Jets lie beyond the Chiefs meeting.

Any Answers at LB?

LB Kenneth Murray hasn’t been good since arriving as a first-round pick in 2020. For some reason, though, he appears to be the Chargers’ lead LB right now.

Eric Kendricks has played less than Murray in two straight games. His 83% share against Dallas marked an upswing vs. 68% back in Week 4 (before the bye). But Murray played every snap in each game.

Why? *Shrug emoji*

Among 83 non-edge LBs who have played at least 100 snaps this year, Pro Football Focus ranks Murray:

  • 72nd in overall grade
  • 73rd in run D
  • 62nd in coverage

Change Ahead?

Kendricks sits ahead of Murray in each category. Does that mean playing time will swing in Kendricks’ favor now that he’s further removed from the hamstring injury that cost him weeks 2 and 3?

Maybe. But I haven’t seen anything about a Chargers coach saying so. And Kendricks doesn’t actually grade well in any of those aforementioned categories. So the team might not even agree with PFF’s assessments that he’s running better than Murray right now.

I’m interested to see if this all presents opportunity to third-round rookie LB Daiyan Henley at some point. But he has played just 1 defensive snap all season.

Murray now sits ahead of Kendricks in our Week 7 LB rankings. Neither player looks especially interesting for fantasy lineups, though – especially in an unattractive matchup with the Chiefs.

Hurting at Safety

We already know S Alohi Gilman will miss his third straight game. He’s now listed out with a toe injury after it was a heel for the other two.

The Chargers might also go without S Derwin James again this week.

He opened this week off the injury report. But James sprained an ankle in Thursday’s practice and then sat out Friday. He’s officially questionable against the Chiefs, but that progression certainly doesn’t bode well for his status.

It looks like the starters will be Dean Marlowe and Jaylinn Hawkins. Marlowe started the past two weeks and should be an OK bet for tackles if you need him.

Hawkins got waived by the Falcons earlier this week and saw his practice time with the Chargers limited by illness. There’s no way to know what we can expect from him – if he starts.

I’ve already moved James way down the Week 7 DB rankings. We’ll see about his status.

 

Week 7 IDP Injuries to Watch

Here are some other “questionable” defensive players we’ll be checking on ahead of kickoffs:

  • Quay Walker, LB, Green Bay Packers (knee)
  • Ernest Jones, LB, Los Angeles Rams (knee)
  • Dre Greenlaw, LB, San Francisco 49ers (hamstring)
  • Budda Baker, S, Arizona Cardinals (hamstring)
  • Kyle Dugger, S, New England Patriots (foot)
  • Jaquan Brisker, S, Chicago Bears (groin)
  • Kei’Trel Clark, CB, Arizona Cardinals (hamstring)
  • Vita Vea, DT, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (foot)
  • Darnell Savage, S, Green Bay Packers (calf)
  • Jonathan Jones, CB, New England Patriots (knee)
  • Adoree’ Jackson, CB, New York Giants (neck)
  • Greg Newsome II, CB, Cleveland Browns (hamstring)
  • Xavien Howard, CB, Miami Dolphins (groin)
  • Eric Stokes, CB, Green Bay Packers (foot)
  • Jaire Alexander, CB, Green Bay Packers (back)
  • Josh Woods, LB, Arizona Cardinals (back)

TIP

Want to know who YOU should pick up to help your IDP lineup? The Free Agent Finder syncs directly with your league to customize those recommendations.

Team Notes

Buffalo Bills

Edge Greg Rousseau returned Sunday night after missing the London loss. He did not register a sack against the Giants, one of the league’s most sackable teams. But it was undoubtedly a positive outing.

Rousseau played a season high in snap share (70%) and total snaps (54). The former wasn’t far ahead of Week 1 (65%), but the latter beat his previous high by 17 total snaps.

And despite his 0 sacks, Rousseau registered a season-high 6 total pressures, according to Pro Football Focus. He also notched 2 tackles for loss for the second straight game.

Rousseau is playing well and staying on the field more than he did last year. He’s a good player to have on your IDP squad going forward.

Who Replaces Matt Milano?

Buffalo lost its top LB to injury in the Week 5 loss to Jacksonville. His Week 6 replacement? Rookie Dorian Williams.

The third-round pick played 84% of snaps against the Giants, eighth among Bills defenders. Williams tallied 10 tackles (6 solo) and a QB hit.

Across three starting college seasons, Williams averaged 105.3 total tackles per year and supplied cross-category production – including:

  • 27 tackles for loss
  • 9.5 sacks
  • 13 passes defensed

You might have read about him already in this week’s IDP Waiver Wire Pickups.

Cincinnati Bengals

CB Chidobe Awuzie was active vs. Seattle last Sunday, after heading in questionable with a back injury. He didn’t start the game, though, and played just 19% of defensive snaps. 

He gets the bye this week to heal up for a Week 8 visit to San Francisco. I’d bet on Awuzie returning to full-time duty.

Cleveland Browns

LB Anthony Walker improbably made it through the concussion protocol less than a week after sustaining his injury. He’s off the final injury report and set to play against the Colts, his former team.

Walker remains a lackluster IDP option, though.

Denver Broncos

The Broncos headed toward this season expecting Randy Gregory and Baron Browning to start on the edges.

Gregory has since been released and now plays for the 49ers. Browning, however, is set to finally make his season debut this week. He spent the past five months working back from surgery for a torn meniscus.

HC Sean Payton says Browning will be on a “pitch count” in his return. Nik Bonitto and Jonathon Cooper will remain the starters for at least one more week.

We’ll see how quickly Browning can ramp up his involvement.

Los Angeles Rams

LB Ernest Jones is questionable for the second straight game with a knee injury. He played through that designation last week, though.

Jones saw his playing time limited vs. usual. He played just 78% of the snaps in the win over Arizona after playing every snap in the previous five games. But L.A. could also afford to do that in a game the Rams won by 17.

Jones saw an uptick in practice participation this week, logging two limited workouts vs. just one for Week 6. He should be fine to keep in Week 7 IDP lineups. We’ll confirm his status ahead of Sunday’s kickoff.

Minnesota Vikings

Rookie LB Ivan Pace looked interesting at the start of the season. But you might have to squint to see his role now.

Pace went from a slight playing-time dip the previous two weeks – 51% and 58% – to barely getting on the field against Chicago: 18%.

No other off-ball LB moved ahead of him. Brian Asamoah ranked third at just 7 snaps played. That marked an increase over his previous three games but obviously still not much of a role.

We’ll see where this one goes. For now, Jordan Hicks in the only Vikings LB worth your attention.

Philadelphia Eagles

It was nice to get LB Nakobe Dean back from his foot injury last week. But we didn’t get him all the way back to his season-opening role.

Here’s how the LB playing time worked out vs. the Jets:

  • Zach Cunningham 75%
  • Nicholas Morrow 55%
  • Nakobe Dean 49%

We'll see how things go this week.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Before last week’s bye, we heard that Edge T.J. Watt dislocated a finger and tore “multiple ligaments” in it – an injury that might require post-season surgery.

The beast, of course, didn’t even let the issue show up on the injury report this week, coming out of the bye. Watt called it something he’ll just have to “deal with” for a couple of weeks until it heals.

We’ll see whether it affects his play. But I’m certainly not betting against him.

Seattle Seahawks

The first full game of Jamal Adams in 2023 found this playing time for Seahawks safeties:

  • Quandre Diggs 100%
  • Jamal Adams 85%
  • Julian Love 44%

Love did get hurt on a first-quarter kickoff but returned. He's just not a starter with Adams back.

Washington Commanders

The Commanders placed S Darrick Forrest on IR ahead of last week’s game with a shoulder injury. That knocks him out for at least three more contests.

Percy Butler started in Forrest’s place against the Falcons and played every snap but delivered nowhere near the production: 3 tackles (1 solo). He’s not worth much attention.

Start Your Pass Rushers

The Washington matchup for opponent pass rushers, on the other hand, is certainly worth your attention.

You undoubtedly already know that QB Sam Howell is taking a bunch of sacks. But check out these numbers comparing average sack production for Washington opponents to date vs. what they’ve collected against the Commanders.

(And then look ahead to target this matchup.)

Week 6: Falcons

vs. Was: 5 sacks
vs. other: 1.0/game

Week 5: Bears

vs. Was: 5 sacks
vs. other: 0.8/game

Week 4: Eagles

vs. Was: 5 sacks
vs. other: 3.0/game

Week 3: Bills

vs. Was: 9 sacks
vs. other: 3.0/game

Week 2: Broncos

vs. Was: 4 sacks
vs. other: 2.0/game

Week 1: Cardinals

vs. Was: 6 sacks
vs. other: 2.4/game

Season

Opponents avg: 2.03
vs. WAS: 5.67

 

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Matt Schauf Author Image
Matt Schauf, Editor
Matt has earned two Fantasy Pros accuracy awards for IDP rankings and won thousands of dollars as a player across best ball, dynasty, and high-stakes fantasy formats. He has been creating fantasy football content for more than 20 years, with work featured by Sporting News, Rotoworld, Athlon, Sirius XM, and others. He's been with Draft Sharks since 2011.
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