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IDP Hits: Week 5

By Matt Schauf 1:56pm EDT 10/7/23

Has Khalil Mack Been a Stud This Whole Time?

Khalil Mack ruined Aidan O’Connell’s NFL debut by sacking the rookie fill-in six times last Sunday. But what did IDP managers get out of it?

Unless you play in a deep league, that production probably took place on your bench – or the waiver wire. So did we make an egregious rankings error? Let’s take a look.

Didn’t You Used to be …?

Mack was awesome back in Oakland. Over his first four NFL seasons (2014-17), only five players collected more sacks. Throw out his rookie year, and only Chandler Jones beat him.

He was so good that Chicago gave two first-round picks, a third, and a sixth to get him in 2018. And Mack stayed good after that trade, delivering 12.5 sacks and a career-high 6 forced fumbles in his first Bears season, even while missing two games.

Mack finished 2018 ranked fifth in Pro Football Focus’ pass-rushing productivity among 121 edge players with at least 100 rushes. That followed rankings of 13th, third, and 10th in his final three Raiders seasons.

The Downturn

Mack didn’t prove quite so productive over the next few years, though. He hasn’t reached double-digit sacks in a year since 2018. And it hasn’t just been bad luck.

Here’s how Mack has ranked in pass-rushing productivity since:

  • 2019: tied for 31st (among 128)
  • 2020: T-26th (among 126)
  • 2021: 17th (among 132) – when he played just seven games
  • 2022: T-49th (among 132)

This year he ranks 17th. But Mack sat tied for just 57th among 116 edge player with 30+ pass rushes before that Week 4 Raiders meeting. He had 0 sacks.

In fact, across 21 games with the Chargers, Mack now has …

  • 9 sacks against the Raiders
  • 5 sacks against all other opponents

Looking Ahead

Should we have seen Sunday’s explosion coming? Not really.

Mack had 3 sacks in last year’s first meeting with the Raiders, but then 0 in the other.

QB Jimmy Garoppolo took just 4 total sacks through the first three games of this season.

And Mack had 2 total QB hits through his first three games. Rookie teammate Tuli Tuipulotu had 5.

So no, we should not have seen that game coming.

And we shouldn’t treat Mack now as though more such games are coming.

Specifically, he gets the Cowboys and Chiefs coming out of the Week 5 bye. They rank sixth-best and first in adjusted sack rate, according to FTN.

Week 8 against the Bears looks good, though. And there’s upside to Week 9 at the Jets.

Don’t be surprised if Mack offers you little IDP help before then.

Week 5 IDP Injuries

These are the questionable defensive players we'll be watching for Sunday and Monday games:

  • Alex Highsmith, Edge, Pittsburgh Steelers (groin)
  • Jaelan Phillips, Edge, Miami Dolphins (oblique)
  • Trey Hendrickson, Edge, Cincinnati Bengals (back)
  • Marcus Davenport, Edge, Minnesota Vikings (ankle)
  • Von Miller, Edge, Buffalo Bills (ACL recovery)
  • Justin Evans, S, Philadelphia Eagles (neck)
  • Tavierre Thomas, CB, Houston Texans
  • Nick Bolton, LB, Kansas City Chiefs (ankle)
  • Micah McFadden, LB, New York Giants (ankle)
  • Josh Woods, LB, Arizona Cardinals (ankle)
  • Cam Taylor-Britt, CB, Cincinnati Bengals (concussion)
  • Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Cincinnati Bengals (back)
  • Marlon Humphrey, CB, Baltimore Ravens
  • Kerby Joseph, S, Detroit Lions (hip)
  • Emmanuel Moseley, CB, Detroit Lions (knee, hamstring)
  • Christian Benford, CB, Buffalo Bills (shoulder)
  • Shaquill Griffin, CB, Jacksonville Jaguars (calf)
  • Paulson Adebo, CB, New Orleans Saints (hamstring)
  • Donte Jackson, CB, Carolina Panthers (shoulder)
  • Jaire Alexander, CB, Green Bay Packers (back)

 

Team Notes

Arizona Cardinals

Some dude named Zeke Turner led the Cardinals with 10 tackles last week.

He got the start next to Kyzir White at off-ball LB against the 49ers. Week 1 starter Josh Woods remained inactive with an ankle injury. Initial fill-in Krys Barnes was back active from his own finger injury, though. Whether that still kept him sidelined or Turner passed him on the depth chart, we’ll see.

Turner did his work on just 69% playing time. Barnes is off this week’s final injury report. Woods is questionable but put in a full practice Friday. If he’s ready, I’d guess he’s the starter.

This isn’t a situation I’d bother with (beyond White) in most IDP leagues.

Carolina Panthers

Carolina hit last Sunday’s game against the Vikigns without LB Shaq Thompson and S Xavier Woods. And fill-in LB Kamu Grugier-Hill reminded everyone in Week 3 why he can’t stick with a team. (He’s not very good.)

Seems like a perfect time for more Jeremy Chinn, right? You’d think so by his 6 solo tackles and a sack.

But Chinn played just 65% of snaps in the loss to Minnesota, down 27 total snaps vs. Week 3 and his second-smallest share of the year.

Might you steal good fantasy lines by using Chinn in future weeks? Sure. But I won’t be trying to start him.

As for the LBs

Grugier-Hill’s playing time fell to just 29% against Minnesota. And he ranked second among off-ball LBs. So don’t use any non-edge Panthers LB besides Frankie Luvu.

Dallas Cowboys

S Donovan Wilson has played just 52% and 56% of snaps in his first two games back from the calf injury. That’s the main reason he has delivered minimal production.

I’d guess that improves as he moves further beyond the calf injury. But I haven’t seen any official word on whether/when his playing time might increase.

Indianapolis Colts

Rookie CB Dallis Flowers suffered a torn Achilles’ tendon in Sunday’s loss to the Rams. He’ll miss the rest of the season, likely making way for fellow rookie JuJu Brents to start in his place.

After going inactive the first two games, Brents played 74% of snaps in Week 3 and then 96% last week. He racked up 9 tackles (8 solo) against the pass-heavy Rams.

DT DeForest Buckner only played 20 snaps against the Rams, a game he entered questionable after missing practice all week with groin and back injuries.

He should be better off this Sunday. Buckner missed Wednesday practice again but put in a limited Thursday and then returned to full practice Friday. I have him comfortably inside starter territory in the Week 5 DL rankings.

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jags opened 21-day practice window this week for Edge Dawuane Smoot, who tore an Achilles’ tendon last December. He’s out for Sunday’s game against the Bills but traveled with the team. That indicates he’ll likely return soon.

Smoot won’t be relevant for all IDP leagues, even at full health. And he might see just limited playing time the rest of the way. But Smoot has flashed at times over the past four years and hit 55%+ playing time each of his final three outings last year.

I’ll be watching to see how he fares.

Miami Dolphins

LB David Long’s playing time has been all over the place through three games:

  • 21% vs. Chargers in Week 1
  • 84% vs. Patriots
  • 58% vs. Broncos
  • 93% vs. Bills

DC Vic Fangio indicated after Week 1 that Long’s role could vary by game, with more nickel defense meaning less time for the LB. Here are the opponent rush rates by game so far:

  • 52.6%
  • 49.2%
  • 33.8%
  • 51.8%

Those seem to line up with Long’s snap shares – outside of Week 1, when the Chargers surprised us all with their run-heavy approach.

Three of Miami’s next four opponents entered Week 4 in negative territory in pass rate over expected (meaning they’re running more than expected for their situations). The other – the Giants – leans only slightly toward the passing side.

Long falls short of being a strong waiver add this week. But he could be usable in at least some IDP lineups over the next month.

Shift in LB Roles?

We might, however, be seeing a shift in the Dolphins LB corps. Jerome Baker went from playing every snap the first two weeks to just 75% and 76% the past two.

If it seems like we get this kind of fluctuation from Baker every year … that’s because we do. He has opened two of the past three years at full playing time before sliding below 80% at some point.

Each year has seen him rebound in that category. This season, however, Baker is also averaging fewer pass rushes per game for the second straight year. He went from a career-high 9.75 per game in 2021 to 6.6 last year and now 4.75 so far in 2023.

Baker is also working on career-low PFF grades in tackling, pass-rushing, and coverage.

Minnesota Vikings

Rookie LB Ivan Pace played a season-low 51% of snaps in Sunday’s win at Carolina. It was actually his second straight season low, but the 62% of Week 3 appeared to be more in line with his 79% and 68% marks from the first two weeks.

A pass-heavy Week 3 opponent (Chargers) made that dip explainable. But the Panthers ran on 45.6% of snaps last week.

We’ll see where he goes from here, but Pace shouldn’t be in Week 5 lineups in most cases.

New England Patriots

Edge Matt Judon had surgery Wednesday for the tear in his right biceps. He has said he hopes to return this year, but we shouldn’t bet on it for redraft IDP planning purposes.

What’s that mean for others on the defense? We’ll see. But it looks like it could mean more playing time for rookie DL Keion White.

“Every week we’re trying to put a little bit more on his plate,” LBs coach Jerod Mayo said this week. “He kind of doesn’t fit in any mold like the [Deatrich] Wise category or the Judon category. He can kind of do both to a certain extent. He’s growing each and every week in the classroom and on the field.”

More Playing Time Needed

White has topped out at 39% playing time so far. He’ll need to increase a good bit from there to be worth trusting in IDP lineups. Perhaps the Judon injury helps create that opportunity.

Perhaps we see more playing time for Edge Josh Uche. He has finished each game in the range of 18-26 snaps.

Expect Uche – at sub-250 pounds – to remain on limited snap counts. But if he can get closer to 50%, then he might be worth playing in sack/pressure-friendly formats.

New York Jets

Edge Jermaine Johnson opened the year strong, delivering a sack among 2 tackles for loss and 5 total tackles on 71% snap share. But that number has declined each week since.

Johnson’s 68% share in Week 2 looked fine, and even the 61% of Week 3 would work. But the 2022 first-rounder slipped to 49% in Sunday night’s loss to the Chiefs. He also made a season-low 1 tackle.

His first two games made Johnson look like he’d have a shot to contribute to IDP lineups. We’ll need to see a rebound vs. his Week 4 inclusion for that to happen, though. It doesn’t help that Pro Football Focus credits Johnson with just a 6% pass-rush win rate so far this year.

 

Want More Week 5 Fantasy Football Tips?

Check out this video for a fantasy football preview of NFL Week 5.

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