In case the camp holdout made you forget why the Chargers snagged Joey Bosa 3rd overall in the 2016 NFL Draft, he wasted little time reminding everyone.
The former Buckeye racked up 5 tackles (4 solo) 2 sacks and 7 total pressures – according to Pro Football Focus – while playing only 27 snaps in his Week 5 NFL debut. That marked just 38% of the team total.
At least as impressive as the numbers, though, was the immediate versatility from a guy who sat out basically all of spring and summer and then missed the 1st 4 games with a hamstring injury. According to ESPN, Bosa played 10 snaps at left DE, 8 snaps at right DE, 6 snaps at left OLB and 3 snaps at right OLB.
Good luck finding veteran edge players around the league who move around that much on defense – nevermind a rookie in his 1st pro action. But that’s exactly why he went top 5 in the draft.
Of course, that dynamic debut made him a near-lock to step back statistically in his 2nd game, and Bosa registered just 1 tackle in Thursday night’s win over the Broncos. But he added a pair of QB hits and doubled his playing time. Bosa spent 54 snaps on the field – again moving around the formation – appearing on 74% of the team’s total plays.
There will be other weeks in which he doesn’t deliver the fantasy numbers, as with any D-lineman. But it’s no overreaction to consider Bosa a top-15 fantasy lineman the rest of the way this year.
College football’s most disruptive edge player of the past 2 years – according to PFF – is already looking like he can carry that over into the pros.
Lorenzo Alexander, OLB, Bills
Where the heck did this guy come from? In many (most?) cases, you can point to some foreshadowing factor or some other change that creates the kind of explosion in production that Alexander has seen to start this year. In this case, perhaps 10 years’ worth of coaches just failed to see his potential.
Alexander has been in the league since 2007, spending time with Washington, Arizona and Oakland before arriving in Buffalo before this season. Even the Bills, though, signed Alexander to continue his career role as special-teams maven. But then rookie Shaq Lawson succumbed to a shoulder injury, and the team dumped Manny Lawson just before the season started, amid domestic-violence charges.
So, Alexander and his 16 career starts got a shot to play opposite OLB Jerry Hughes. He has turned that opportunity into a team-high 7 sacks, a team-high-tying 8 QB hits and 28 total tackles (3rd on the team).
Enjoy the hot start, and certainly use Alexander at least through Sunday’s game against the Niners and in Week 7 against the Dolphins. But keep in mind that we’re talking about a guy who had registered 9 career sacks before 2016. He’s also about halfway to his career high in tackles (57, with Washington in 2010).
The Bills also expect Shaq Lawson to return to practice next week and potentially join the lineup for Week 7. That would likely take immediate time away from Alexander and could soon push him out of the starting lineup. We’ll keep an eye on the situation as Lawson returns and works his way in.
Rob Ninkovich, DE, Patriots
Ninkovich played 38% of the snaps in his Week 5 return game, 24 of 63. Jabaal Sheard led New England DEs at 76%, playing 1 more snap than Chris Long (48-47). Trey Flowers played 52% (33), which remained pretty much in line with his playing time from the previous 3 weeks. Ninkovich is 32 and playing through a torn triceps. He’s signed through 2017, but that final year on his contract would eat $2.25 million in cap space vs. $750,000 if the Pats cut him in the offseason. It’s too early to say what his role will be the rest of this year, but the range of possibilities includes him remaining 4th in the 4-man DE rotation.
The Falcons played primarily a 3-safety lineup in their Week 5 win at Denver. Ricardo Allen and Keanu Neal played all 70 of the defensive snaps, while Kemal Ishmael played 59 (84%) – often lining up in the box in LB territory. The move likely came in reaction to all of the LB injuries. No Atlanta LB played more than 76% of the snaps, and that was reserve Philip Wheeler. But the Falcons limited the Broncos to just 267 total yards while collecting 6 sacks, snagging an INT and forcing 3 fumbles (Denver recovered them all) en route to an impressive road victory. Perhaps Atlanta should (and will) consider using this formation more frequently. Atlanta, however, will get starting LBs Deion Jones and De’Vondre Campbell back from ankle injuries this week. I wouldn’t start Ishmael in Week 6, but I’ll certainly be checking the playing time afterward.
Harold Jones-Quartey, S, Bears
Bears HC John Fox pulled 2nd-year S Harold Jones-Quartey from sub packages early in Sunday’s loss to the Colts for a lack of consistency, he told reporters Monday. “He’s a young player that’s still learning the game,” Fox said. “He’s got a great attitude. He works very hard at it. He needs to continue to improve like all of us sitting at 1-4.” It doesn’t sound like Fox is permanently demoting the young safety. But after Jones-Quartey played only 10 snaps at Indy, we’ll have to see his role restored before using him in IDP lineups again.
Jacoby Glenn, CB, Bears
Glenn began the season going from nobody to helpful IDP contributor. But he has played just 25.4% and 26.5% of Chicago’s defensive snaps the past 2 weeks. Drop him.
Tony Lippett, CB, Dolphins
Think opponents will target Dolphins CB Tony Lippett? He has 15 tackles over 2 games since stepping in for Byron Maxwell in Week 4. Now come the explosive Steelers.
Kerry Hyder, DL, Lions
Week 5 finally marked the 1st time this season that Hyder failed to register a QB hit. He tallied 7 over the 1st 4 games, including 2 apiece in 3 of the 1st 4 weeks.
Demarcus Lawrence, DE, Cowboys
Lawrence played just 17 snaps and registered no stats in his Week 5 return game. He bears watching for IDP owners, but we’ll need to see something – even if just a drastic playing-time increase – before we use him.
In the 1st game since NaVorro Bowman’s season-ending Achilles’ tear, Bowman replacement LB Nick Bellore played 100% of the defensive snaps. Michael Wilhoite, who started Week 4 alongside Bowman, played just 79%. Bellore also led the team with 9 tackles (vs. Wilhoite’s 3), while each added a half-sack. Looks like Bellore’s the Niners LB to play if you need/want one. Buffalo, however, has presented a negative scoring matchup for LBs so far. No LB has tallied more than 5 solo tackles against the Bills yet, with only 2 reaching that number. Neither of those guys surpassed 6 total stops.
Danny Trevathan, ILB, Bears
Trevathan played a solid 84% of the defensive snaps in his Week 5 return from thumb surgery. That’s a smaller share than his 1st 2 games this year, though, so we’ll be interested to say if his playing time increases this week (or after he sheds the club).
Thomas Davis, OLB, Panthers
Thomas Davis played just 49% of the Panthers’ defensive snaps in his return from a hamstring injury Monday night. A.J. Klein beat him by 1 snap (37-36), while Shaq Thompson played 68% (50 of 73) to finish 2nd at the position, behind Luke Kuechly. That marks Thompson’s 3rd straight game above 60%. Davis, however, played 93.8% or more in each of the 1st 3 contests before leaving Week 4 early with the hammy trouble. So don’t consider him demoted just yet (unless we hear so from Panthers coaches).