Week 12 IDP Free Agent Focus
I’m breaking the usual format of this article to highlight Broncos LB Alex Singleton. But it’s not because I think he’s the ONE GUY YOU NEED TO GRAB!!!
No, it’s because Singleton is different than most LBs we target. And his difference is worth highlighting for both his outlook and for general understanding of LB performance/usage.
Singleton is a good example of the difference between real football and IDP success. The guy absolutely absorbs tackles almost every time he’s on the field. The past 2 games have seen him collect 8 of them among just 33 snaps (53%) at Tennessee and then 12 among 43 snaps (65%) against the Raiders. So why can’t he stay on the field (or on a team)?
For one, he has played poorly in coverage so far in his career. And even his tackle numbers don’t necessarily translate to good run defense. He ranks 3rd among Broncos LBs in average run-tackle depth this season at 3.2 yards, according to Pro Football Focus. That trails Jonas Griffith (3.0) and Josey Jewell (1.7). Jewell ranks 3rd among all LBs with at least 100 run-defense snaps.
To be fair, Singleton sits tied for a solid 21st in that category, among 74 qualifiers. And his 3.2 marks an improvement over last year (3.4) and 2020 (5.1).
More important for our purposes at the moment, though, is Griffith landing on IR with a foot injury that’s expected to end his season.
That should mean the #2 LB role belongs to Singleton going forward. And that means we should expect plenty more tackles – even if he continues playing less than 70% of the snaps.
While we’re here, the top 10 LBs in PFF’s average run-tackle depth (min. 100 run snaps) go …
- David Long, Titans – 1.1
- Zaven Collins, Cardinals – 1.2
- Jewell – 1.7
- Dre Greenlaw, 49ers – 2.3
- E.J. Speed, Colts – 2.3
- Sione Takitaki, Browns – 2.4
- Kamu Grugier-Hill, (formerly Texans) – 2.5
- Matt Milano, Bills – 2.5
- Fred Warner, 49ers – 2.5
- A recent fill-in who will appear later in this article …
To be clear, there’s more to playing quality run D – and defense overall – than simply posting the shortest average tackle depth … as illustrated by Grugier-Hill sitting 7th in a season that has found him released. But tackling a runner closer to the line of scrimmage (or behind it) will always be better than catching him later.
Before we get to the rest of this week's pickups, here are a couple of players who look OK to drop:
Deion Jones, LB, Browns: The team has already gone from he'll be calling the defensive plays soon to putting Jones on the field for just 8 snaps vs. Buffalo. Looks like they're realized what the Falcons did: Jones just isn't that good anymore.
Malcolm Rodriguez, LB, Lions: Perhaps the rookie regains playing time as the elbow he hurt in Week 9 gets healthier. But that's no lock, And Rodriguez has only had 2 games (among 9) so far that would make you slap your forehead for missing. So the risk to dumping him in redraft is low. (I still believe strongly in him long term.)
Now on to the rest of this week's targets.
Remember, I make these waiver-wire recommendations with a variety of league formats in mind. Make sure to check your Free Agent Finder for the best available options in your specific league.
Dorance Armstrong, EDGE, Cowboys
Armstrong remains a boom/bust IDP prospect be virtues of low tackle totals and limited playing time. He has hit 50% snap share or more in 7 of the past 8 games and hasn’t exceeded 54% since Week 3 (and that has been the lone time this season).
But after 3 games without a QB hit, he reminded us of the upside with 2 sacks among 3 hits in Sunday’s beatdown of the Vikings. That’s a particularly good time for a reminder, because the next 2 weeks bring sack-vulnerable opponents.
Thanksgiving Day brings to town a Giants offense allowing the league’s 2nd-highest pressure rate, according to Pro Football Focus. Then come the Colts, who sit tied with the Bears for most sacks allowed this season.
Arnold Ebiketie, EDGE, Falcons
Ebiketie is another boom/bust prospect, with just 2.5 sacks for the entire season and 2.4 tackles per game. And 23% of that tackle total came just last week against Chicago.
We can use that as caution against overrating the rookie this week (and going forward). But just like Chicago, this week’s opponent (Washington) would prefer to run the ball quite a bit, which could once again help pad Ebiketie’s tackle numbers. The Commanders have also allowed the league’s 8th-highest pressure rate for the year – adding big-play upside to the run-tackle foundation.
We’ll see how Ebiketie fares there before deciding whether to use him against Pittsburgh, which has allowed 6 sacks to 2 of its past 3 opponents.
Carl Granderson, EDGE, Saints
Granderson is more of a deep-league option, at least until we know who’s in or out along this week’s D-line.
Granderson led all Saints linemen at 77% playing time last week, the 1st time this year he has cracked 50%. He took advantage with 1.5 sacks and 7 total tackles in the win over the Rams.
Cameron Jordan missed the 1st game of his career with an eye injury and was reportedly already lobbying over the weekend to return for Week 12. But even if he’s back, New Orleans will likely go without Payton Turner (ankle) and could still continue to miss Marcus Davenport (calf).
San Francisco has presented a fairly neutral scoring matchup to D-linemen so far, but the 49ers’ run lean lays an enticing base of tackle opportunity.
Patrick Queen, LB, Ravens
Did he get dropped in your league either after the Ravens acquired Roquan Smith or amid last week’s bye? That’s sure to change this week, because Queen followed a ho-hum 1st game with Smith by racking up 12 tackles (9 solo) and a half-sack in Sunday’s win over the Panthers.
Even Queen’s 5-tackle outing before the bye was notable, because Queen remained a full-timer. He stayed on the field more than Smith for that one.
Week 11 round Smith ramping up to 100% playing time ... but Queen still joining him for every snap. And although the Panthers rank among the run-heavier teams in the league (vs. situation), Sunday found them dropping back on 68.4% of snaps.
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Browns
Injuries and the Deion Jones trade have brought near-constant change in the Cleveland LB corps over the past month and a half. Sunday, though, found JOK back healthy and joining Sione Takitaki in the starting lineup. Jones, meanwhile, played a mere 8 snaps.
Owusu-Koramoah also led the team with 12 tackles (7 solo) and notched a tackle for loss and a QB hit. Barring some signal that his role will change, expect to see JOK in starter range in our Week 12 IDP rankings.
Kaden Elliss, LB, Saints
Elliss started his 2nd straight game in place of Pete Werner on Sunday against the Rams and racked up a huge stat line: 11 tackles (6 solo), 1.5 sacks and a pass breakup. That marks 3 straight games with a sack and 4 straight with at least 1 QB hit.
New Orleans is “optimistic” that Werner will play again this season, but he had ankle surgery last week. It’s strange that the team hasn’t place him on IR at any point, which has masked the severity of the injury.
Jayon Brown, LB, Raiders
Despite Denzel Perryman returning, Brown remained the LB playing-time leader for Vegas in Sunday’s OT win over the Broncos. He played 62 of 64 snaps (97%), while Perryman stayed on the field for just 69%.
It’s possible the Raiders limited Perryman’s time to help him deal with rib and hip injuries in a week that still found him questionable to play. But he also has yet to play more than 75% of the snaps in any game through this injury-riddled season.
Brown managed just 4 tackles (3 solo) and a QB hit, whereas Perryman supplied 6 tackles (2 for losses) and 2 QB hits. So Brown is no must-add. But he’s an option for deeper leagues.
Jeremy Chinn, S, Panthers
Chinn announced his return from IR with a team-high-tying 10 tackles (7 solo) in Sunday’s loss at Baltimore. It wasn’t clear going in whether Chinn would return to full playing time after sitting out since Week 4 with a hamstring injury. But he made sure to let us know that it’s now time to return the star safety to IDP lineups. The Panthers get a high-upside matchup with the Broncos before a Week 13 bye.