Week 14 IDP Hits
Losing T.J. Watt in Week 1 was a big blow to IDP lineups. But overrating his return might have hurt more.
I’m calling myself out here.
A healthy Watt can be 1 of the strongest forces in all of fantasy football. He crushed it so hard last year that he ranked 2nd among LBs in balanced-scoring points per game (3 sack points per tackle point). For context, the next sack-driven guy in those standings was Micah Parsons, at LB20 – with Shaq Barrett and Chandler Jones at LB29 and LB30, respectively.
Watt started this year the same way, racking up 6 solos, 3 tackles for loss, 1 sack, an INT and a pass deflection against the Bengals in Week 1 – a game he left before OT.
So the idea of benching an active Watt when he returned for Week 10, honestly, didn’t even cross my mind. Turns out it should have.
Watt has just 6 total pressures in his 4 games back. That ties for 51st among all edge players over that span, according to Pro Football Focus. He has 3 QB hits and a half-sack. That’s enough to put a pass-rusher in play for IDP lineups, but it’s far from the must-play status we’re used to for Watt.
And it makes sense. Watt was not only coming off a 9-week recovery from a pectoral injury. He also had knee surgery while he was out. And he has added a rib injury over the past couple of weeks.
It’s OK if the guy is merely performing at mortal levels right now. But we need to adjust our expectations as we set lineups. I have done so in my Week 14 IDP rankings. Sorry I expected more than was reasonable from Watt over the previous 4 games.
Pittsburgh’s other edge starter, Alex Highsmith, probably doesn’t hate having Watt back. Highsmith delivered 4 QB hits in the season opener (with Watt), then 5 more in the 7 games he played without Watt. Since the return, Highsmith has 6 hits and 3.5 sacks through 4 games.
Obviously, there’s more than just Watt’s presence at play here. But getting the 2021 defensive player of the year back on the other side of the formation certainly can’t hurt Highsmith’s situation.
Other Notes for NFL Week 14:
- Raiders EDGE Chandler Jones had just a half-sack and 6 total QB hits for the season before Sunday’s win over the Chargers. Then he suddenly exploded for 3 sacks and 5 hits. Actually, his turnaround started the week before. Jones entered Week 12 with just 19 total pressures, according to Pro Football Focus – tied for 60th among all edge players. He doubled that total with 8 against the Seahawks and then 11 against the Chargers. Jones didn’t fare quite so well Thursday night against the Rams. But he did add another 4, including another sack. He has also delivered 7 total QB hits over the past 2 games, more than doubling his season total (6 entering Week 13). It certainly would have helped our IDP lineups more if Jones could have produced like this all season, but he’s rebounding in time to take advantage of 1 of the best remaining schedules for DL scoring.
- Patriots DB Kyle Dugger has reached 90% playing time just twice all year, but both of those games have come among the past 3. His 99% snap share vs. the Bills marked a season high, and the 72% playing time in between is enough to keep him in IDP lineups. Dugger has collected 21 tackles, 3 passes defensed and 2 QB hits over the past 3 contests.
- It hasn’t resulted in big numbers, but Steelers LB Devin Bush has taken the playing-time lead from LB Myles Jack over the past 2 weeks. Bush played every snap in the win over the Colts and then 87% in the win at Atlanta. Jack played 69% and 76% in those 2 games. Jack’s snap decline began back in Week 6, and the span included a Week 10 deactivation after Pittsburgh removed Jack from the final injury report. Jack has continued to lead Bush in tackles – even 13-11 over the past 2 games. So I can’t recommend any specific action here. Neither stands as an exciting fantasy option. This week’s matchup with Baltimore would seem to be a good spot for LB upside, but the Ravens have actually had a negative impact on LB scoring this season.
- The tackle totals have remained good for Falcons LB Mykal Walker over the past 3 weeks – 8, 9 and 8 – but his playing time is down significantly. He dipped to 89% in Week 10 after 3 straight games of 100%. That has declined further to 74%, 68% and 74% the past 3 games. His solo tackles have also fallen off. After averaging 5.3 over his 1st 9 appearances this season, Walker has collected just 3, 1 and 2 the past 3 games. He has still defensed 4 passes and racked up assists, so it’s not time to drop Walker just yet. But be aware of the shift as you valuate him beyond the Week 14 bye. And he could be in further danger because of the next player in these notes.
- It looks like Atlanta has been trying to get 2nd-round rookie LB Troy Andersen on the field more. Don’t be surprised if that increases further after the bye for a team that already announced a post-bye QB switch. Here’s his playing time for the past 6 games:
- Broncos LB Alex Singleton racked up 17 tackles in Sunday’s loss to the Ravens – which was, improbably, not even his largest game total this year. (He collected 21, including 19 solos, in a Week 6 loss to the Chargers.) A playing-time boost helped. Singleton played 88% of Denver snaps. That followed 3 straight games in the 53-65% range. It also came in a game that QB Lamar Jackson left early, giving way to run-first backup Tyler Huntley. So expect Singleton’s snap share to regress going forward. But hd has showed us in recent weeks that he can provide usable tackle production even in the 50-60% range.
- The Buccaneers will miss DBs Antoine Winfield Jr. and Mike Edwards once again this week. That means another game of Keanu Neal and Logan Ryan as starters. I’ve added both to the Week 14 IDP rankings, with 1 in fantasy-starter territory.
- No Derwin James (most likely) for the Chargers should mean another start for S Alohi Gilman against the Dolphins. He has played full time in 2 games this year and delivered strong fantasy numbers in each. Gilman tallied 7 tackles and an INT against the Browns in Week 5, and then 10 tackles and a pass breakup in Week 12. He sits in DB2 territory in the Week 14 IDP rankings.
- 49ers DL Arik Armstead did return to action last week, for the 1st time since Week 4 (foot and ankle injuries). He played a limited 21 snaps, though, 46% of the team total. At full strength, Armstead commonly plays 70%+ of defensive snaps. He followed the same practice schedule this week as last: limited-limited-full. We’ll see if the playing time increases.
- Jets LB Quincy Williams played 85% of defensive snaps in last Sunday’s loss to the Vikings, his largest share since Week 2. It wasn’t a huge difference but up vs. his past 4 games: 74%, 74%, 65%, 75%. Williams didn’t translate that into big fantasy numbers (3 tackles) but did register 2 QB hits for the 2nd time in 3 games.
- The ankle injury that has knocked Jaguars LB Chad Muma out for this week should push fellow rookie Devin Lloyd back into a full-time role. I addressed that possibility in my IDP waiver-wire article early in the week.
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