Trey Flowers, DE, Patriots
Flowers has failed to fill up the stat sheet since the Week 2 concussion that knocked him out for most of that game and all of the next. He has contributed just a half-sack since returning from that, with no other QB hits beyond that one.
Matchups haven’t helped, though. The best spot among Flowers’ 4 games back found Ryan Tannehill attempting just 20 passes in a Patriots-controlled game. Then came the Colts and Chiefs, who sit 1st and 2nd in the league in sack rate allowed on the year.
The Bears, on the other hand, rank just 16th. Flowers came up empty again but tallied a season-high 6 hurries, according to PFF. His playing time has also trended up: 57% in Week 4, to 61%, 76% and then 87%.
Flowers began this year at 68% playing time but topped 80% in 11 of his 14 games last season. And the upcoming schedule should help him get back into the sack-production industry. The Bills (32nd in sack rate allowed), Packers (23rd) and Titans (27th) sit between Flowers and the Week 11 bye.
Brandon Graham, DE, Eagles
If you played Graham 2 weeks ago for the favorable matchup with the Giants, then he left you disappointed. For the season, Graham has logged only 4 total QB hits. But according to Pro Football Focus, only 7 edge players have generated more total pressures than Graham’s 29.
Week 8 brings another positive spot against Jacksonville. The Jaguars sit a respectable 14th in sack rate allowed for the season, but the 3 past weeks have seen change there. The 8.5% sack rate they’ve yielded over that span would rank 8th worst in the league for the year. And only 6 OTs have allowed more total pressures than Jags RT Jermey Parnell.
In a sack-friendly scoring format, Graham’s worth the risk this week. If he works out, another positive matchup with Dallas (5th highest sack rate allowed for season) awaits on the other side of the Week 9 bye.
Jayon Brown, LB, Titans
Brown continued his team-leading production despite Wesley Woodyard’s return Sunday morning from a multi-game shoulder injury. Brown tallied 7+ tackles for the 4th straight game and delivered his 3rd sack within that span in the loss to the Chargers. Let’s keep using him until he gives us a reason not to.
Haason Reddick, LB, Cardinals
Reddick played 100% of the defensive snaps for the 3rd straight game in Thursday night’s loss to the Broncos. He did nothing special statistically in that game but delivered 15 total tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and 3 pass deflections over his 1st 2 full-time outings. Reddick did, at least, supply a QB hit behind his 4-tackle line against Denver.
Reddick -- a college edge rusher -- adds sack upside to a tackle profile that improves with his newfound playing time. Week 8 will bring a matchup with the Niners, who entered Sunday as a top-5 scoring matchup for fantasy LBs. He's still more of a deeper-league option than a pickup for more common IDP formats, though.
Ryan Kerrigan, OLB, Washington
If you play in a sack-heavy league, you might already be familiar with Kerrigan’s sluggish start to the season. He registered just 1 sack through the 1st 5 games, with no other QB hits hidden behind that. Then came Sunday’s matchup with the Cowboys, bringing Kerrigan’s 2nd and 3rd sacks of the year.
Perhaps Kerrigan’s slowing down at 30. Pro Football Focus has him tied for just 34th in total pressures among all edge players, compared with a tie for 14th last year. Kerrigan’s playing time has been fine, though, and he at least contributed 3+ pressures in 4 of 5 games before Sunday. That came despite 3 of 5 opponents ranking among the league’s top 9 in sack rate allowed.
Things get more favorable the rest of the way. Here are the remaining opponents and their current rank in sack rate allowed:
Jaguars (14th, but worse over the past 3 weeks)
Daryl Worley, CB, Raiders
Worley opened his Raiders stint with a 4-game league suspension, but he played 77% and 97% of the defensive snaps in his 1st 2 appearances before the Week 7 bye. That led all Oakland corners each week. Worley also finished each game among the team’s top 2 in tackles and defensed passes in each outing, including an INT against the Seahawks in London.
He and the Raiders will come off the bye to face Indy, which has supplied the 2nd most points to DBs so far.