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Week 12 IDP Hits: Mending the Minnesota Pass Rush

By Matt Schauf 10:25am EST 11/27/21


Mental health has grabbed the spotlight this NFL season. We’ve seen Eagles RT Lane Johnson and Falcons WR Calvin Ridley miss games, citing a need to take time away for their mental health. And other players have spoken out about their own struggles.

This week brought what seemed like a near-incident with Vikings DE Everson Griffen. Local law enforcement as well as Vikings reps and team mental-health professionals all responded to a call at Griffen’s home early Wednesday morning. Fortunately, the episode ended with Griffen coming out “without incident” -- following reports he was alone in there with a gun -- and the DE is now getting treatment.

On the football side of this, Minnesota placed the veteran on the non-football illness list Friday. This is not the 1st public bout with mental health for Griffen since he entered the league, and it’s clearly good that he’s getting the help he needs.

The Vikings, meanwhile, need some help in the pass rush. We’ll see whether Griffen makes it back onto the field this season. Landing on the NFI list means he’ll miss at least 3 games. That loss hits a D-line that already lost DE Danielle Hunter to injury.

Minnesota signed Tashawn Bower late in the week, a former undrafted free agent who spent 2017-18 with the Vikings, and then appeared in 9 games with the Patriots over last season and early this year. At 250 pounds, Bower certainly looks like a situational type of player. He has 2 career sacks in the NFL and totaled just 5.5 over 4 years at LSU.

Otherwise, the Vikings have only D.J. Wonnum, a 2nd-year player who hasn’t impressed in starter duty this season; Patrick Jones II, a 3rd-round rookie who has played just 20 total snaps (and none before Week 9); and Eddie Yarbrough, a 5th-year, former UDFA who has totaled 7 snaps this year, all over the past 2 weeks. My boy Kenny Willekes resides on the practice squad once again, after rising for significant duty in weeks 8 and 9 before landing on the COVID list. We’ll see if the team adds him back to the active roster ahead of Sunday’s game at San Francisco.

The Vikings clearly need to look beyond this DE group for pass-rush help, though. S Harrison Smith has been part of that solution so far.

Through the 1st 5 games this season, Smith totaled 8 pass-rushing opportunities, according to Pro Football Focus. He has added 14 more over just his past 3 games (sandwiching 2 missed on the COVID list). Smith’s sack against Green Bay last week marked his 1st since the opener, but he notched 2 QB hits for the game (giving him 3 for the season). Bet on at least a couple more sacks coming over the final 7 contests.

LB Eric Kendricks has also seen a slight bump in pass-rushing opportunities. Just like Smith, his bump started in Week 6. Kendricks rushed on 5.47% of his snaps through the 1st 5 games, according to PFF. He has rushed on 8.82% since then.

The shift adds a bit of fantasy upside, albeit to a pair of players who didn’t really need the boost.

One other potential shift could be more edge snaps for DT James Lynch, a 295-pound, 2nd-year player who spent seasons both inside and outside on his college line at Baylor. No change has occurred yet on that front, though. So I’m only speculating. Lynch played 30 snaps in Week 9, 21 last week and hasn’t reached 20 in any other game.


Buffalo Bills

The Bills also lost a defensive starter this week when CB Tre’Davious White tore his left ACL in the Thanksgiving night win over New Orleans. Dane Jackson came on after White went down and totaled 63% of the snaps. Only LB Matt Milano and slot CB Taron Johnson wound up seeing more targets in coverage for the game, according to PFF. Don’t be surprised if the Patriots test him in coverage next Monday night. Jackson arrived as a 7th-round pick in 2020.


New Orleans Saints

On the other side of that Thursday night game, LB Kwon Alexander topped 70% playing time for the 3rd time in 4 games. After playing just 29% and then 44% of snaps in his 1st 2 games back from an IR stint for an elbow injury, Alexander’s playing time has gone 78%, 57%, 83% and 76%. He has only topped 5 total tackles and 3 solos once this year, though.

With DE Marcus Davenport out nursing a shoulder injury, the Saints played DE Carl Granderson for a position-leading and season-high 67% of the snaps. He notched his 2nd sack of the year among 2 tackles for loss. We’ll see about Davenport’s availability for next week’s game against Dallas. After that comes a prime matchup with the Jets.


Indianapolis Colts

The Colts hoped to get S Khari Willis back from his calf injury this week, but he’s not yet ready to be activated from IR. S George Odum and S Andrew Sendejo tied for the team lead in snap share (91%) at Buffalo last week, with Willis out.


Dallas Cowboys

After not altering Micah Parsons’ role in the 1st game after DE Randy Gregory went down, Dallas has played Parsons as a DE each of the past 2 games. He has delivered 3 sacks and 17 total pressures in those contests, so the rookie is clearly capable of delivering wherever he plays. The shift certainly lowers his tackle upside (and floor), though.

S Damontae Kazee reclaimed his starting gig on Thanksgiving, with Donovan Wilson out. The Cowboys placed him on IR ahead of the game with a shoulder injury, meaning Kazee will get at least 2 more games.


Las Vegas Raiders

CB Brandon Facyson left Thursday’s win at Dallas with a concussion. If he can’t make it back for Week 13, then Desmond Trufant would start in his place.


Chicago Bears

LB Alec Ogletree played a season-high 84% of the defensive snaps Thursday, in a game Roquan Smith left with a hamstring injury. If Smith can’t play in Week 13, Ogletree would likely lead the position again in playing time. He’ll be worth a pickup on that possibility, at least in deeper IDP leagues.


Detroit Lions

EDGE Charles Harris is nothing special as a player, but his snap volume is worth noting. He played a season-high 89% of snaps against the Bears on Thanksgiving, his 5th straight outing of 74% or more. Harris hasn’t notched a sack since Week 5 but did register QB hits in each of the past 2 games. That followed a 4-game drought in the category.

The next 2 games bring offenses that rank #2 (Minnesota) and #1 (Denver) in highest pressure rate allowed, according to Pro Football Reference.


Washington Football Team

With no Chase Young or Montez Sweat vs. Carolina last week, DE James Smith-Williams (86%) and DE Casey Toohill (84%) dominated playing time at the position. No other DE played more than 9 snaps. Each delivered 1 QB hit for the game, with Smith-Williams registering a half-sack. Sweat is spending his 3rd game on IR this week for the broken jaw, meaning he’ll be eligible to return in Week 13.


Carolina Panthers

S Juston Burris returned to full playing time (91%) in his 2nd game back from injury. That followed 65% participation in Week 10 and shoved S Sean Chandler out of the lineup. This hasn’t been a position of particular value, though.

LB Shaq Thompson, on the other hand, has returned value even at less playing time than previous since his return from a foot injury. Thompson’s snap share increased to 94% in Week 11, following games of 78%, 69% and 66%.


Baltimore Ravens

LB Patrick Queen played 75% of Baltimore’s defensive snaps vs. Chicago on Sunday, his largest share since Week 4. He played 1 more snap than fellow off-ball LB Josh Bynes.


Houston Texans

S Eric Murray has returned to the starting lineup over the past 2 games, reclaiming the job that had shifted from him to Lonnie Johnson. Murray has played 96% and 94% of snaps in those 2 games, logging 8 and 11 tackles. Murray’s 5 starts this season have found him exceeding 70 total snaps 4 times, so play volume is on his side. Murray stands out as a high-level play in our Week 12 DB rankings.


Cleveland Browns

Rookie LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah re-injured his ankle in last week’s game against Detroit. But it apparently wasn’t too bad, because he put in full practices all week. JOK still didn’t make it back into the starting lineup against the Lions, so he’s got some climbing to do before we can consider him for IDP use. LB Anthony Walker played every snap in Week 11. Malcolm Smith, Sione Takitaki, JOK and Mack Wilson all followed in the 27-38% range.


San Francisco 49ers

The Niners expect to activate LB Dre Greenlaw ahead of Sunday’s game against Minnesota. It’ll be his 1st action since a groin injury knocked him out of the opener. That makes it tough to know how much Greenlaw will play -- and tough to use him in an IDP lineup. His return also keeps Azeez Al-Shaair from being a trustworthy Week 12 option.


Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars lost CB Shaquill Griffin to a concussion last week, and he’ll remain out for Sunday’s game against the Falcons. Nevin Lawson looks like the fill-in, for an upside matchup with Atlanta this week.


New York Jets

LB Quincy Williams rejoined the starting lineup in Week 11, reclaiming the role that Jarrad Davis had stolen from him upon his return from injury. Williams played 88% of the snaps vs. Miami and racked up a season-high 15 tackles, including 10 solos and 2 for losses. You can find him back among the top 25 in our LB rankings for this week.


Miami Dolphins

Rookie EDGE Jaelan Phillips’ playing time has been volatile this season but might be leveling out lately. Here’s his weekly snap share:

29%
28%
59%
41%
77%
82%
24%
84%
54%
56%
63%

The past 3 games have all found him between 37 and 41 total snaps. Phillips also has a half-sack or more in each of the past 3 contests, after 3 straight with none. Last week found him registering 2 QB hits against the Jets, just his 2nd game with multiple hits this year. The rookie gets a favorable stretch over the next 3 games with the Panthers, Giants and Jets, surrounding a Week 14 bye.


Philadelphia Eagles

LB T.J. Edwards has topped 90% playing time in 3 straight games, giving us a Philly LB to trust. Davion Taylor left Week 11 with a knee injury that required surgery. He apparently still has a chance to return this season, but Alex Singleton figures to play in his place against the Giants this week. Singleton came on for 89% playing time last week, tallying 7 tackles (4 solo) and a pass breakup.


Cincinnati Bengals

LB Germaine Pratt’s jump to 92% playing time in Week 9 vs. Cleveland was a lie (or at least based on the Browns’ run heaviness). It marked a season high by a wide margin, and Pratt returned to 68% last time out. His other 3 games among the past 4 have all wound up in the 64-68% range of playing time.


Kansas City Chiefs

DL Chris Jones’ huge game against Dallas in Week 11 came kinda out of nowhere. He entered with just 3 sacks for the year -- 2 of which came all the way back in the opener -- and left with 6.5. But Jones’ performance had picked up recently. After notching just 4 total QB hits through Week 7 -- a span that included games lost to a nagging wrist injury -- Jones has delivered 8 QB hits over the past 4 games. That has included 2+ in 3 of 4 weeks. Jones has seen his DT reps increase within that span, after operating almost exclusively on the edges early in the season. Let’s hope that continues. Jones’ career features plenty of evidence that he can win inside as a pass-rusher.


Seattle Seahawks

DE Rasheem Green played a season-high 77% of the snaps in last week’s loss to Arizona. That marked a big rise vs. 45%, 58% and 51% the previous 3 weeks. He had 3 QB hits over the past 2 games, plus 2 more against New Orleans 2 games before that. He gets an upside matchup at Washington this week.


Arizona Cardinals

DE Zach Allen’s playing time slipped vs. Seattle last week, from the 78-87% range over the previous 3 weeks to 67% against the Seahawks. He still reached 5 tackles for the 4th time in 5 games, though. Allen also has QB hits in 5 of his past 6 contests and pass deflections in 2 of his past 3. Week 13 -- after Arizona’s bye -- brings another upside matchup, with Chicago.


Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers get S Minkah Fitzpatrick back from the COVID list this week. EDGE T.J. Watt also returns. After missing last week with hip and knee injuries, Watt doesn’t even carry an injury status into Sunday’s game at Cincinnati. CB Joe Haden is questionable with the foot injury that cost him last week. If he’s out again, James Pierre would start in his place and present fantasy upside.


Los Angeles Chargers

LB Kyzir White played 96% of snaps in Week 11. That followed 97% playing time in Week 10 and 3 other games over 80%. LB Drue Tranquill’s return from the COVID list re-inserted him as the team’s #2 off-ball LB last week (64%) and drastically reduced Kenneth Murray’s role (22%).


New York Giants

S Julian Love played every snap in last Monday night’s loss to the Buccaneers, filling in for Logan Ryan. The Giants expect to go without Ryan once again in Sunday’s game against Philly. Love tallied 6 tackles and 2 passes defensed at Tampa. The Eagles’ run-heavy ways present a poor scoring matchup for the safety, though.


Tampa Bay Buccaneers

CB Sean Murphy-Bunting finally made it back Monday night from the Week 1 elbow injury that landed him on IR. He returned for full playing time, spending 57 of 58 snaps on the field.

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