Lions DE Ezekiel Ansah still has yet to deliver his 1st sack of the season after continuing the drought through the Thanksgiving Day win over the Vikings.
He nearly notched a 1st-half strip sack but watched the play change to an incomplete pass upon review. Ansah did register 2 more QB hits, giving him 6 over the past 2 weeks and 11 for the season.
That’s the most in the league for any player with 0 sacks. (Chargers DE Corey Liuget sits next with 0 sacks among 7 hits.)
Sacks are coming for Ansah, though next week’s visit to New Orleans doesn’t make for the best breakout spot. The Saints have allowed the league’s 5th smallest sack rate, yielding just 16 sacks through 10 games.
A Week 14 home date with the Bears looks like the only truly good spot remaining for this stud pass rusher’s value. The Giants in Week 15 and Cowboys in Week 16 rank 4th and 6th, respectively, in sack rate allowed.
That upcoming slate – combined with his production to date and low tackle floor – makes Ansah tough to keep on fantasy rosters in shallower IDP leagues. Keep him in mind for Week 14 use, at least.
Here are some other pass rushers who have registered a lot more QB hits than their sack numbers might reveal (suggesting upside beyond current totals). For now, let’s go with players who have at least 10 QB hits and 3 times their sack total:
Rams DT Aaron Donald: 5 sacks, 22 hits (league high)
Vikings DT Tom Johnson: 2 sacks, 19 hits
Vikings DE Everson Griffen: 6 sacks, 18 hits
Bengals DE Carlos Dunlap: 5.5 sacks, 16 hits
Saints DE Cameron Jordan: 4 sacks, 16 hits
Saints DL Nick Fairley: 4.5 sacks, 16 hits
Eagles DE Brandon Graham: 5 sacks, 15 hits
Broncos DE Derek Wolfe: 4.5 sacks, 15 hits
Titans DE Jurrell Casey: 3 sacks, 15 hits
Bengals DT Geno Atkins: 4.5 sacks, 15 hits
Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul: 4 sacks, 14 hits
Falcons DE Adrian Clayborn: 4.5 sacks, 14 hits
Seahawks MLB Bobby Wagner: 2.5 sacks, 13 hits
Steelers DE Stephon Tuitt: 3 sacks, 13 hits
Raiders OLB Bruce Irvin: 3 sacks, 13 hits
Vikings DT Linval Joseph: 3 sacks, 12 hits
Seahawks DE Michael Bennett: 3 sacks, 12 hits
Jets OLB Lorenzo Mauldin: 2.5 sacks, 12 hits
Texans OLB/DE Jadeveon Clowney: 3 sacks, 11 hits
Bills DT Kyle Williams: 3.5 sacks, 11 hits
Browns OLB Emmanuel Ogbah: 3 sacks, 10 hits
Broncos DE Jared Crick: 2 sacks, 10 hits
Panthers DE Charles Johnson: 2 sacks, 10 hits
Stephon Tuitt, DE, Steelers
Tuitt offered up 0 sacks and just 3 QB hits through his 1st 7 games this season. The past 4 outings, however, have seen 10 hits, including his 1st 3 sacks. Tuitt didn’t get to Colts QB Scott Tolzien in time for a sack Thursday night, but he did reach 3 hits for the 2nd straight game. The recent performance makes him a lot more attractive down the stretch in IDP leagues. The Giants don’t present a strong sack matchup in Week 13 (4th in sack rate allowed), but the Bills (30th) and Bengals (28th) sure do the following 2 weeks.
New England made big news a few weeks ago by trading LB Jamie Collins to the Browns, but what did that move leave behind at LB? Nothing consistent through 2 games.
Rookie Elandon Roberts looked like the initial replacement plan, playing 83% of the snaps in Week 10—the Pats’ 1st jaunt without Collins. But he fared poorly in a loss to the Seahawks and fell down the depth chart the following game.
At San Francisco in Week 11, Shea McClellin jumped from 23% playing time to 57%. Kyle Van Noy – acquired earlier in a trade with the Lions – played 46% of the snaps. And then came Roberts at just 19%, playing 12 total snaps.
So Dont’a Hightower hits Week 12 as the only Patriots LB you can comfortably use in your IDP lineup. He has played more than 70% of the defensive snaps in 7 of his 8 games. (He lost weeks 2 and 3 to a knee injury.)
Even Hightower’s just been OK, topping 6 total tackles just once in the past 4 games. He does carry sack upside as a blitzer each week, at least.
Justin Houston, OLB, Chiefs
Houston posted a forgettable fantasy line in his Week 11 return: 2 solo tackles. But he also notched a QB hit while playing 71.4% of the defensive snaps. That last number's most important because it shows his readiness level. This week's Denver matchup presents sack upside, so I'll be curious to see what he can do there. After that come less attractive sack matchups in Atlanta and Oakland. A promising 3-week stretch, however, could set Houston up for a nice finish with Tennessee and then Denver again the final 2 fantasy weeks. (Week 17 finds a trip to San Diego.)
Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, Giants
After just 1.5 sacks through the 1st 9 games, JPP finally broke through for 2.5 in Sunday’s win over the Bears. His 3 total QB hits made it 3 straight games with 2+. Pierre-Paul had also deflected 5 passes over the previous 4 games heading into Sunday. Just a reminder to not quite on a guy just because of a sack draught—especially if the hidden pressure numbers point to solid performance.
Danielle Hunter, DE, Vikings
When Hunter hit a 3-game sack draught from Week 7 through Week 9, he didn’t seem as clear a bounce-back candidate as JPP. The 2nd-year Viking didn’t register more than 1 QB hit in a game until Week 9, so there seemed just as much chance that his hot start to the year had some mirage to it. But Hunter has now tallied 3 sacks over his past 2 games. Just as important, his 3 QB hits in Sunday’s win over Arizona marked his 3rd straight game with 2+. As a team, Minnesota hit Carson Palmer 23 times in that game. So Hunter and his defense seem like they’re back. Continued strong performance from the D overall can only help Hunter.
Bruce Irvin, OLB, Raiders
You might have already noticed that Irvin posted a huge game against the Texans on Monday night: 10 tackles (9 solo), 1 sack. So should we be jumping on him as a waiver pickup this week? Well, there’s some upside this week. Irvin has tallied 13 QB hits this season -- 2nd only to Khalil Mack (18) among Raiders for the season – though just 3 sacks. He has surpassed 2 total tackles in 5 of 10 games and topped 4 tackles just once. Irvin’s 2 tackles for loss Monday night doubled his season total. Don’t give Irvin a look outside of sack-heavy scoring leagues, though. And don’t chase him too hard even in those spots.
Mario Addison, DE, Panthers
Addison played his smallest snap share Sunday since Week 5 and his smallest snap total since Week 6. But he has been on a roll for longer than his increased playing time of the 3 games before Week 11. Addison has racked up 5 sacks over the past 3 games, and he tallied 2 QB hits in the 2 games before that stretch. This week’s matchup with the Raiders doesn’t shape up well for Addison continuing his streak. If he does, though, then it’ll be tough to bet against him vs. Seattle and San Diego the next 2 weeks.
Rob Ninkovich, DE, Patriots
Ninkovich has delivered sacks in 2 straight games. Those mark his only 2 QB hits through 6 appearances this season. He did deflect 5 passes across 2 meetings with the Jets last year, though, and the Jets have had more passes defensed by D-linemen this season than any other team. That helps Ninkovich’s usability this week against the familiar foe.
Logan Ryan, CB, Patriots
Ryan popped back up to full playing time in the Week 10 loss to the Seahawks, but the other 3 contests among his past 4 suggest a declining role. Ryan has played less than 67% of the snaps in those other 3 games, with DB Eric Rowe staying on the field more in Sunday’s win over the Niners as well as the Week 8 victory at Buffalo. Ryan still defensed a pair of passes against San Francisco, but he has topped 4 total tackles just once since Week 4. Leave him and Rowe – who has just 1 game of more than 3 tackles -- out of IDP lineups until we see some production we can rely on.
Shareece Wright, CB, Ravens
Wright returned to action in Week 11 after losing 3 games (plus a bye week) to a quad injury. He tallied 7 tackles (6 solo) and defensed 2 passes against a Dallas offense that has provided a below-average scoring matchup for fantasy DBs. That also gives Wright 5 total passes defensed – his total for the season – over his past 3 outings. There’s upside to this week’s matchup with the Bengals, though next week’s meeting with Miami is less attractive.
S Harold Jones-Quartey played more than 90% of the defensive snaps in 7 of the 1st 9 games this season. Then he didn’t play at all in last week’s loss to the Giants. It was the 2nd time Bears coaches have benched Jones-Quartey this season, and it sounds like S Deon Bush will get at least another start in his place. Bush collected an OK 7 tackles, including just 3 solos. We’ll see if he turns into an IDP option. For now, S Adrian Amos is the best bet in that secondary. CB Bryce Callahan also returned to full playing time in his Week 11 return to health and bears watching in deeper IDP leagues. Callahan has posted 5+ solo tackles in his past 4 full outings.
Cleveland’s revolving door at safety turned out Ed Reynolds for 100% of the defensive snaps in last week’s loss to the Steelers. That marked Reynolds’ 2nd straight game of 90+% snaps played, though he hasn’t done anything special for IDP owners: 11 total tackles (9 solo) over the past 2 weeks. CB Jamar Taylor returned to full playing time in his return from injury in Week 11. Taylor similarly didn’t do anything special for fantasy, though he has defensed 8 passes this season. His slot position adds upside.
Sheldon Rankins, DL, Saints
The Saints’ #1 draft pick has been back on the field for 3 games now, playing 63.3%, 57.8% and then 64.5% of the snaps. That participation level shows just how excited the team is about it’s top pick. Rankins has contributed 8 total tackles, including 3 solos. He has 1 sack, plus another QB hit. We’ll see what he does over the next few weeks, but the next truly good matchup lies in Week 15 with the Cardinals. Most likely, though, this is a player to watch for next year in IDP leagues, as opposed to this year.
Dannell Ellerbe, LB, Saints
Ellerbe has played more than 72% of the defensive snaps in 2 straight games after spending nearly all of the season’s 1st half sidelined by a quad injury. He has delivered nondescript tackle totals so far but proved to be a significant pass rusher. Ellerbe has registered sacks in 2 straight games, with 2 total QB hits in each of those contests. He’ll be interesting against the Rams this week. We’ll see beyond that.
Noah Spence, DE, Buccaneers
The rookie has tallied 5 QB hits over the past 5 games, including 3 sacks. Spence’s playing time has dipped since DE Robert Ayers returned from injury, so he’s not worth trusting in IDP lineups right now. But there are positive signs heading toward next year at least,.
David Parry, DT, Colts
The 2nd-year man has been decently productive for a while, totaling 3+ tackles in 6 straight games now (including 4 against the Steelers on Thursday night). That production included Parry’s 1st 2 sacks of the year in consecutive games before this week. Don’t expect a lot more in that category, though he did at least tally 3 other QB hits before the Week 9 sack. For the season, Parry’s 33 total tackles is good for 5th on the team.
Artie Burns, CB, Steelers
Pittsburgh’s 1st-round pick has now spent 4 games in the starting lineup and delivered some solid fantasy numbers. Burns’ tackle totals have gone 4, 6, 3 and 5—following 2 other games of 4+ total stops just before he grabbed a starting gig. Burns has also defensed 5 passes among the past 4 outings, giving him 9 for the season (including a pair of INTs). He’s in play for CB-required leagues in Week 13 against the Giants and Week 16 against the Ravens. (Buffalo and Cincinnati in between look like lower-upside spots.)
Bud Dupree, OLB, Steelers
Dupree has played just 21 total snaps through 2 games since his return from the season-opening PUP list, but his playing time at least jumped from just 1 snap in Week 11 to 20 at Indy on Thanksgiving Day. He contributed 2 solo tackles and his 1st QB hit against the Colts. We'll see what else he can provide, though you shouldn't bet on significant IDP contributions the rest of the way. We'll see if Dupree can turn into a real-life starter and potential fantasy factor in 2017.
Miles Killebrew, S, Lions
Detroit’s 4th-round rookie stayed quiet through the 1st 9 games, tallying just 4 total tackles over that span. From there, you’d think that his 9 total stops over the past 2 weeks probably signaled a jump in playing time. You’d be wrong. Killebrew collected a team-high 5 tackles while playing just 12 defensive snaps in the Week 11 win over the Jaguars. Then he added 4 more on Thanksgiving while playing only 9 snaps against the Vikings. None of this means much for this year. You’re not starting a guy in your IDP lineup who’s playing less than 20% of his team’s snaps. But keep the tackle collector in mind for next year in case he lands a starting job. Killebrew amassed 356 total tackles in college.
DeAndre Levy, OLB, Lions
Levy still hasn't played a game since Week 1, but he's closer. Levy entered Thursday questionable before being ruled inactive again. That's a step up from "doubtful" the previous game, and Detroit listed him as a limited participant throughout the practice week. We can't use Levy in IDP lineups until we see him actually return to game action. It'll be tough to expect a full compliment of snaps in his 1st game back. LB Josh Bynes figures to disappear from the lineup whenever Levy finally returns.
Dion Jordan, DE, Dolphins
Remember this guy? Jordan returned to practice this week for the 1st time in almost 2 years. First came a league drug suspension and then knee surgery. So what can we expect from him now? DC Vance Joseph said expectations are "zero or none," according to The Associated Press. “We just want to see him practice, and hopefully he can help us this year,” Joseph said. “If not, he’ll help us next year.” He'd better. Next season is the last under contract for this 1st-round bust.
Tyvon Branch, S, Cardinals
Arizona on Wednesday designated Branch as their player to return from IR this season. For fantasy owners in general, that means RB Chris Johnson's season is officially over. (They hit IR at the same time in October with hernias.) For IDP owners, we'll see. Branch was starting over D.J. Swearinger before he got hurt and playing the slot corner role in place of Tyrann Mathieu before Mathieu got back to full health. We'll see what role Branch returns to as he gets all the way back.