IDP Start/Sit: Week 13

Updated: November 29th 2023

 

Welcome to week 13, our penultimate matchup before the playoffs! Let’s get those lineups ready again as we secure our first-round byes, or our spots in the playoff, or at the very least, play spoiler to those still in it!

Week 12 Recap

DL:

Start: Will Anderson Jr. (2 solos, 2 assists, TFL) 👎

Sit: Shaquil Barrett (3 solos, assist) 👍

LB:

Start: Ivan Pace Jr. (7 solos, 2 assists, sack, TFL, QB hit) 👍

Sit: Frankie Luvu (Solo, assist) 👎

DB:

Start: Jonathan Owens (8 solos, 4 assists, TFL, FR, Def TD) 👍

Sit: Jevon Holland (5 solos, INT, PD, Def TD) 👎

Week 13 Starts & Sits

START: Osa Odighizuwa, Dallas Cowboys, DL60 (DT18)

Osa Odighizuwa, he not only has a fun name to say, but he also has the production to get into our IDP lineups. This is especially true in week 13. Osa has had a great year in terms of his pass rush success. He has a pass-rush pressure rate of 13.65% and he has a pass-rush win rate of 24.25% on the season. These are outstanding numbers, however, they have not resulted fully in the sack numbers you’d expect. I’d expect to see him with close to 5 sacks versus the 3 he has produced year-to-date. Getting a matchup against the Seattle Seahawks should help with that this week. They are allowing pressures on 32% of all dropbacks while 15% of those are being converted into sacks. This is a strong matchup for Odighizuwa to add to his sack total this season.

SIT: Denico Autry, Tennessee Titans, DL40 (ED27)

Denico Autry has had a wonderful season. 8 sacks is a great season for most pass-rushers, but Autry is at that number through 11 games and obviously pushing for more. Autry has been an bit of an over-producer this season though, with those 8 sacks coming on 32 pressures. And as we looked at with Osa, we would expect his sack total to be closer to 5 sacks at this point. His pass-rush production numbers are solid, but not elite either that it would lead me to believe that he is a true outlier with 10.22% pass rush rate and a 15.0% pass rush win rate. This week, Autry gets a less than ideal matchup in the Indianapolis Colts who are allowing only a 23% pressure rate per dropback this season and only 7% of those pressures are converted into sacks. This is a week where Autry likely regresses back to the mean.

START: Jack Campbell, Detroit Lions, LB41

Jack Campbell has been an IDP rookie darling of mine since the draft cycles this off-season. Now, due to an unfortunate injury, he might get the full-time role I was hoping he’d have secured by this point. Either way, Campbell has been quietly delivering a respectable baseline for IDP production. He has 49 tackles at a 12.82% efficiency. This is very average, but for a first year player, that is a good baseline to be achieving already. He has added a handful of splash plays, too. Week 13 is a good matchup as well, heading to New Orleans Jack Campbell is facing a Saints offense that is providing an average of 19.2 tackles per game to the linebacker position. Even at an even split with Derrick Barnes, that is still likely to yield an 8 – 10 tackle floor for them and Campbell is should easily take advantage this week.

SIT: Markquese Bell, Dallas Cowboys, LB36

Markquese Bell has stepped up in his role with the injuries and uncertainty at linebacker this year for the Cowboys. Starting in week 6 we have seen snap percentages of 53%, 73%, 94%, 39%, 85%, and 77%. The numbers have been relatively consistent, but Rashaan Evans has slowly been seeing his integration and snaps increasing as well, even if smaller. But that reduction is coming at the extent of someone else at times, and it seems to be Bell. It also doesn’t help that they already have an established safety group of three as well in Kearse, Wilson, and Malik Hooker that limits Bell’s ability to stay on the field. Pair the snap count concerns with the Seattle Seahawks matchup this weekend in a team that is only yielding 14.7 tackles per game to the linebabcker position, I do not like Bell’s range of outcomes this week.

START: Jordan Battle, Cincinnati Bengals, DB32 (S28)

Rookie Jordan Battle is getting his opportunity this season due to injuries, but he has gone ahead and made the most of that. Filling in early two weeks ago and getting his frist fultime starting game, Battle quickly made the most of it with 19 total tackles. He projected as a strong tackling safety during the NFL draft process but has shown he can deliver that on the NFL field. While this is a small sample size, we love the production, but we also love the utilization. 58.26% of his snaps these last two weeks have come from the sweet spot alignments but his box utilization saw a jump from 18 snaps to 31 once after a week of preparing the defense with Battle known as the starter. Again, small sample sizes, but we are at the end of the season and we cannot wait several weeks to figure out some of these new roles and opportunities. But we can react to the information we have seen the teams already do. Battle should be a strong start while he maintains this role.

SIT: Richie Grant, Atlanta Falcons, DB25 (S23)

Richie Grants was a defensive back I had a lot of belief in coming into this season. Unfortunately, that has not been the case for his third season in the NFL. It has shown not only in his reduction in IDP production, but some of his worst PFF grades, especially is his overall defense and coverage grades. Most concerning though, is the last two weeks he has dipped below 100% snap percentage and this last week it was down to 75%! Up to this point, he has delivered slightly above average tackle efficiency, but if he isn’t producing outlier numbers and his utilization is going to drop, his IDP production becomes concerning on a week-to-week basis. Enter the New York Jets for this week, they are allowing the lowest numbers of tackles to opposing safeties at 9.9 per game.

 

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IDP Start/Sit: Week 9

Updated: November 2nd 2023

 

Week 8 we had every team playing again and lots of options. We looked good and the efficiencies checked out for our starts. For our sits, the process didn’t check out for on Holcomb and Grant. But holy cow, Bryce Huff needs to get a bit more run (or a competing team should have tried to nab him at the deadline) because this man is on fire this year. Might be worth a stash on your dynasty roster if he is available and you have the spot.

Week 8 Recap

DL:

Start: Bryce Huff (2 solos, 3 assists, 1 sack, TFL, QB hit) 👍 – Only on 37% snaps!?!

Sit: Jonathan Allen (1 assist, 2 QB hits) 👍

LB:

Start: Denzel Perryman (6 solos, 3 assists, TFL, QB hit, 0.5 sacks) 👍 – Only on 48% snaps!?!

Sit: Cole Holcomb (7 solos, 4 assists, FR) 👎 

DB:

Start: Jamal Adams (5 solos, 3 assists, TFL, PD) 👍

Sit: Richie Grant (6 solos, 3 assists, PD) 👎

Week 9 Starts & Sits

START: JeDeveon Clowney, Baltimore Ravens, DL46 (ED35)

Clowney has had a bit of a career flip here in his season with the Ravens. A defender once known for his strength in run defense and ability to make tackle plays in the backfield is now really showing some chops as a pass rusher. He is pacing out for 72+ pressures this season, his best since 64 in 2017. But he is going to do this on 200 fewer snaps. His efficiency is up and he is delivering strong pass-rush metrics in other spots, too. He is top 25 in the NFL in terms of his win rate at 22.8% this season. The one downside to Clowney’s season is his tackle floor has dropped to its lowest of his career as he is pacing out to have 29 total tackles this season. This week, Clowney gets the Seahawks whose offensive line has been a line that has allowed a 30% pressure rate on the season. This is one of the bottoms in terms of pressures allowed but only 11% sack conversion, one of the better marks this season. So for Clowney, he has been successful in creating pressures and should realize that this week, but his ability to convert a sack is good enough that he will have success this week, too, making him a viable starting option this week.

SIT: Jonathan Greenard, Houston Texans, DL27 (ED21)

Jonathan Greenard had an amazing week last week with 7 pressures and 3 sacks against the Panthers! He has delivered some solid metrics to go along with these recent eye-popping stats. He has a 19.1% win rate in pass rush sets and an 11% pash rush pressure rate. However, he has overproduced a bit on his sack production, where I would expect to see him closer to 3.5 sacks vs. the 7 he has. The potential negative regression in his sack production while coming into a matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this week, has me a little concerned about Greenard being a strong play this week. Tampa has the third-lowest pressure rate allowed and the third-lowest sack conversion rate, too.

START: Blake Cashman, Houston Texans, LB26

Blake Cashman has been absolute money once stepping into the full-time role in this Demeco Ryans’ Houston Texans defense. Since getting the full-time role he has delivered a solid 13.42% tackle efficiency. The real kicker on top of that is the splash play he has added to that strong tackle floor. 6 TFL’s, 3 QB hits, 1 sack, and 2 PDs. With the strong tackle production and the addition of the big play upside, Bashman is firmly cemented as an LB2. This week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it is a bottom-half matchup scoring-wise, but Cashman is the primary LB in this offense has the best likelihood of absorbing the bulk of the LB scoring this week.

SIT: Kaden Elliss, Atlanta Falcons, LB29

It pains me to say to sit Kaden Elliss, he was a flag plant of mine and someone I was very excited about this season. Now, he hasn’t been a complete busy by any stretch of the imagination either. He is wearing the green dot for the Falcons and he is seeing nearly 100% of all snaps this season. However, is tackle efficiency is below average at 10.9%. While this is not ideal, we can normally work with this when there is upside in other aspects of their game. And with Kaden Elliss with thought we might have that with his pass-rush upside from his time with Saints and his DC Ryan Nielsen. Elliss is actually on pace to surpass his pass rush opportunities from last year by 21 chances while playing well over 400 snaps more than last year. This lower ceiling, plus a matchup against rookie QB Jaren Hall and the Vikings, with an offense that is not likely to be very efficient week 1 with this big change, I am expecting a lower set of opportunities for Elliss this week.

START: Keanu Neal, Pittsburgh Steelers, DB74 (S52)

Minkah Fitzpatrick is out and Keanu Neal was one of the biggest benefactors last week when Fitzpatrick was out due to injury. This gave him the opportunity to see his best utilization in the box and the slot alignments. What did that do for him in terms of his production? His best tackle production of the season with 7 solo tackles. And Minkah is officially out for the Thursday night matchup against the Titans and we should be ready to expect another solid night from Keanu Neal against an offense that maybe has some renewed juice with Will Levis behind center.

SIT: Trevon Moehrig, Las Vegas Raiders, DB39 (S30)

Trevon Moehrig had a wonderful week 8 with 10 total tackles for our IDP lineups. It did not hurt that he also had played all 86 snaps in that game! But that is still a very good 11.1% tackle efficiency, which we would be more than happy to have from a DB. He has also back-to-back weeks of 30 box snaps as well. These are both positive things for IDP production, however, prior to this week, his tackle efficiency sat at 7.5%, a good step below average tackle efficiency for DBs. In a matchup against a struggling New York Giants offense (especially if Daniel Jones sits), I would expect limited upside from most Raiders IDPs, but especially those that play further off the line, like Moehrig.

 

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IDP Start/Sit: Week 8

Updated: October 28th 2023

 

Week 7 was the first of the big “bye-magedon” weeks (we see you week 13 and your 6 teams on bye). However, I feel like we navigated those waters well enough to get us through to week 8 and full rosters again. Now, let’s find those best plays and matchups this week.

Week 7 Recap

DL:

Start: Dexter Lawrence (2 sacks, 2 solos, 4 assists, TFL, 4 QB hits, ) 👍

Sit: Leonard Floyd (0 sacks, 0 tackles) 👍

LB:

Start: Dorian Williams (3 solos, 2 assists) 👎- I have no idea who is going to lock in LB2 in Buffalo

Sit: Eric Kendricks (7 solos, 2 assists, TFL, FF) 👎 

DB:

Start: Grant Delpit (7 solos, 3 assists, TFL) 👍

Sit: Rudy Ford (4 solos, 3 assists) 👎

Week 8 Starts & Sits

START: Bryce Huff, New York Jets, DL37 (ED28)

Bryce Huff has been on an absolute tear this year from an analytical standpoint. It starts with a top 25 win rates out pass rush set at 25%. Even crazier, his pass-rush pressure rate of 29.8%. 1 out of 4 pass rush snaps Huff is winning his rep, he is creating a pressure. His sample is smaller than others at 147 total snaps over 6 games (114 pass rush snaps), but the numbers look too good to pass up on. There is also talk of Carl Lawson trade rumors because he is “looking for more playing time” leads me to believe, Huff has earned his spot in this rotation and it is only trending up at this point. Also, over his last 3 games he is averaging 30 snaps per game and 7.6 pressures per game. Enter the New York Giants who have been experiencing 15.5 pressures per game over the last two weeks with Tyrod Taylor under center, and he is set to start his 3rd game this Sunday. Huff may be a bit “risky” due to lower volume, but the positive matchup and the torrid levels of success, I can’t help but be excited to play Bryce Huff this week!

SIT: Jonathan Allen, Washington Commanders, DL36 (DT09)

Jonathan Allen is one of the elite interior defenders of the NFL for sure, however for IDP, this isn’t an ideal week for him. Jonathan Allen could definitely make his week based on his talent and if you don’t have a better option, I understand that, but Allen has struggled over his last 2 games, only generating 3 pressures over 80 pass rush attempts. He has had a very good pass rush win percentage on the season, 19.6%. The recent down performances are not likely to be remedied in a matchup with arguably the best offensive line in the NFL on the other side of the ball. They are tied for the 11th-lowest pressure percentage allowed this year and the 4th-best in terms of pressures converted into sacks. Allen is looking for a bounce-back performance from two down weeks, but I don’t think this is the week for it.

START: Denzel Perryman, Houston Texans, LB33

Denzel Perryman was a “healthy scratch” in week 6, however, coach Demeco Ryans said this was due to the fact it wasn’t fair to try and have Perryman play with a cast. Pair that with the fact the following week was their bye week, I believe he wanted to get Perryman back to 100%. What does 100% Perryman look like? A highly efficient 16.9% tackle efficiency, near 100% snap count, and his career tackle efficiency supports this at 15.7% too. With both teams coming off their bye weeks, the Texans and Perryman take on the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers come in with an offense that runs the 5th most plays per week at 67.3 and are running 67 over the last three weeks. Now 64% of those plays are pass plays, but 63% of those pass plays are 9 yards or less down field and the zone-heavy scheme the Texans run, should allow Perryman to deliver strong value this week.

SIT: Cole Holcomb, Pittsburgh Steelers, LB30

Holcomb has been the LB1 for the Steelers all season. However, he has not been the LB1 that we like to see in that his snaps have fluctuated a bit, whereas our true LB1’s tend to play close to, if not all 100% of the snaps for their defense. His efficiency with those lower snap counts are quite average as well at 12.2%. Normally we can work through a player with average efficiency and/or even less than ideal utilization. But when we pair that with positional adjusting scoring and the player is facing one of the worst possible matchups for scoring for their position, that turns into a fade for me. Cole Holcomb against the Jacksonville Jaguars is exactly that. The Jaguars allow LB scoring against them at the 8th lowest rates for IDP scoring. Let’s lower our expectations for Holcomb this week.

START: Jamal Adams, Seattle Seahawks, DB40 (S34)

Jamal Adams was back last week and he was back in such a good way for IDP. He was 100% snaps, which is just the first part of this story. He took all but 3 snaps either in the box, on the DL, or in the slot. With snaps in the box. Now his efficiency was a bit average with only 6 tackles, we would have liked to see a slightly better performance. But in really only his true second game of playtime, I think we can expect a little bit of ramp-up. With his role seemingly more set now, the Seahawks take on the Cleveland Browns who lead the NFL in plays ran at 71.2 and an average of 69 over the last 3 games. The additional upside of the pass-rushing opportunities he saw last week of 4 chances is what really rounds out Jamal Adams’ value. He has elite alignment/utilization, a favorable matchup, and the usage for some potential big-play upside, too. 

SIT: Richie Grant, Atlanta Falcons, DB38 (S33)

Richie Grant has been an average NFL safety. If you look across the board at his PFF grades, it supports this as well. This has been the case for his IDP performance up to this point for 2023 as well. 42 tackles across his 7 games for 6 tackles a game and a tackle efficiency of 9.4% is right in line of averages for safeties this season. He has provided a consistent floor for sure and can be played with that consideration, but he has provided limited upside with one splash play with an interception last week. He has played 100% of the snaps this year as well, which we can certainly appreciate. But with a fairly limited upside combined with a matchup this week against the Tennessee Titans whose offense was already the 2nd lowest plays ran this season at 55.5 plays per game. Now they are likely missing their QB1 with Tannehill out this week, the offense should likely get weaker and limit the ability of this offense even more, thus reducing Grant’s limited upside even more.

 

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IDP Start/Sit: Week 5

Updated: October 4th 2023

 

We are at the quarter mark of the NFL season and we have plenty of interesting stories. Khalil Mack’s six sack game chief among them. Devon Witherspoon trying to cement his pace in IDP relevance as well. But let’s see who we can find for our lineups this week to deliver some of that awesome IDP value!

Week 4 Recap

DL:

Start: Za’Darius Smith (1 assist) 👎

Sit: Rashan Gary (1 QB hit) 👍

LB:

Start: Alex Singleton (4 solos, 8 assists) 👎 – let’s call it meh

Sit: Tremain Edmunds (6 solos, 2 assists, 1 TFL) 👎

DB:

Start: Rudy Ford (7 solos, 1 assists, 1 INT, 1 PD) 👍

Sit: Tyrann Mathieu (3 solos, 2 assists) 👍

Week 5 Starts & Sits

START: David Onyemata, Atlanta Falcons, DL35 (DT11)

David Onyemata has had a very successful season so far. He has notched 2 sacks, 4 QB hits, 13 total tackles. That success isn’t likely to stall out in his week matchup against the Houston Texans. This is a Texans team that has allowed 63 pressures on CJ Stroud so far this year (6th most) and even with Stroud’s movement in the pocket, he has been sacked 11 times as well (7th most). And the Texans interior defense suffered another injury with their current RG landing on injured reserved after an injury against the Steelers.

Onyemata’s production has been backed by some strong marks, too. He is 6th among all pass-rushers in his True Pass Rush win rate at 33.3%! One-third of his snaps are resulting in a win and his chance to make a play in the backfield on the QB. Add in Houston’s 5th most passing plays ran this year and their willingness to air it out, Onyemata should have a beautiful intersection of opportunity and talent that should lead to a very productive week.

SIT: Sam Hubbard, Cincinnati Bengals, DL34 (ED24)

Sam Hubbard has delivered his standard performance at the quarter mark for the NFL season. 2 sacks, 22 combined tackles, 2 TFLs, 5 QB hits. He takes his solid performance this season to Arizona against the scrappy Cardinals. The Bengals have under-delivered this season as a football team, and I am afraid Sam Hubbard will do the same here in week 5, too.

Josh Dobbs and the Cardinals have done a nice job avoiding pass rushes and have done so with some young, new talent in Paris Johnson. And a very specific gameplan, 9th fastest time to throw amongst all QBs with at least 50 pass attempts. This has led to Dobbs being the 9th lowest pressures (44) and 8th lowest sacks (6).

Add in the fact that the Bengals offense has been struggling too with injury and performance, the defense can only do so much, after so long. This cross-section for Hubbard does not bode well for him to have an overly productive week. 

START: Chad Muma, Jacksonville Jaguars, LB40

Chad Muma was a LB prospect who had some promise, upside, and excitement last year during the draft process. But he ended up behind a stud in Foyesade and top draft talent, Devin Lloyd. He had a chance to show out a bit last year and he gets his chance this year with an injury to Lloyd this season. In his first game, he totaled 7 total tackles and 2 pass breakups. Now he gets his second game overseas in a row against the Buffalo Bills and their top-ten offense in passing and rushing. This should lead to plenty of opportunities against this Jaguars defense that has struggled against the pass, too.

While his PFF grades leave a lot to be desired, Muma is their best option this week and should see near 100% snap utilization this week again. I also believe in the fact that Jacksonville has a second week in a row overseas and this should play as an advantage for him to put up a better performance overall. This is likely a limited value for Muma, so let’s enjoy this for now and if you are still looking for LB play after this week, we will have to find that value somewhere else moving forward.

SIT: Demario Davis, New Orleans Saints, LB35

Demario Davis has been an IDP stalwart for years, so it feels a bit blasphemous to call him a sit, but we are at that point in his career where it is time to call what we see. Davis dip in production starts at his tackle floor. His tackle efficiency has dipped below 9% so far this season and seems to only be trending downward at this point. His pass-rush upside was usually able to help make up for a lesser tackle rate, but even that has seen a dip. He was rushing the passer every 12.5% of his snaps for his career, but so far this year, it has dropped to 10.25% already this year.

In addition to his declining IDP performance, Pete Werner’s ascension in IDP value has been happening. Between these two things, Demario Davis is an IDP asset that I would be fading at this point with his fading tackle floor and reduced pass-rush upside, but OK starting as a deeper option thanks to the fact that he is still a near 100% snap LB.

START: Jayron Kearse, Dallas Cowboys, DB38 (S34)

Jayron Kearse hasn’t had the highest tackle floor this season, but he has been utilized in a great way to optimize that and deliver a higher tackle floor. He has played 80.55% in the sweet spot (Box, DL, Slot) and the matchup against the San Francisco 49ers has been a very IDP lucrative for LBs. And Kearse is essentially acting and playing as the 2nd or 3rd LB in this Cowboys defense.

Kearse has added a nice bonus to his IDP production with some increased productivity in coverage in the early season. He has 1 interception and 3 pass break ups which we like to see the PBUs as something more indicative of IDP production in coverage, beyond just racking up the tackles. With the matchup, the little bit of upside, and the excellent alignment usage, I am excited to fire up Jayron Kearse this week.

SIT: Jalen Pitre, Houston Texans, DB5 (S5)

Sitting our IDP darling from 2022 feels silly. A guy who was able to compile almost 150 tackles last season from the safety position, feels like a cheat code! But through his two games this season, he has only compiled 4 total tackles and a FF. One of those games was only half the snaps due to injury, but even last week with a full complement of snaps, he only compiled 2 total tackles.

The Houston Texans defense has shown to be a bit more competent under new coaching and some additional talent via the draft and free agency. This has limited the need and opportunity for Jalen Pitre to be such a playmaker. He is still taking 44.7% of his snaps from the sweet spot, but this is not the same usage he had last season.

In week 5, he faces the Atlanta Falcons whose limited offense attack downfield, means reduced opportunity for the Texans safeties when not in an ideal alignment. The Falcons have been a bottom-half matchup for their opponents’ safeties, meaning Texans safeties should see an overall decrease in their IDP production. This still might be enough to keep Pitre in shallower leagues but keep your expectations lowered for Pitre here in week 5.

 

More Analysis by Jake

IDP Start/Sit: Week 1

Updated: September 7th 2023

Welcome back, folks! It is time to kick off the 2023 NFL and fantasy season and I can’t think of a better way to do it than to talk Start and Sit options for some of our favorite IDPs. For some context for our newer readers, I am reviewing weekly rankings from Jase Abbey over at TheIDPShow.com and looking for players in that 15-40 range that we should have some greater confidence in (Start) or someone whom we have a little more concern about their output this week (Sit). These aren’t hard and fast recommendations, but hopefully, a great way for you to more thoroughly assess your lineups each week and for the season. Let’s get to it.

Week 1 Starts & Sits

START: Will Anderson Jr., Houston Texans, DL27 (Edge 21)

The talent and draft capital for Will Anderson are undeniable. And the matchup against a strong Baltimore Ravens might not be our normal target for an edge rusher matchup. However, when looking for better values for our edge rushers, we love QBs who like to hold on to the ball and Lamar Jackson is one of the best at that. His time to throw last year was second only to Justin Fields and in his 378 dropbacks, teams converted 27 sacks in those dropbacks (7.14%). In the last two years, that conversion rate is at 7.6%. Now the Ravens are set to run more offensive, and specifically, pass plays, we have a floor of 2.5 – 3 sacks given up for the Ravens.

Who better to capitalize on a QB holding on to the ball too long and moving around the pocket, than an edge rusher with the quickness and lateral agility to bring him down behind the line? While he likely won’t play Maxx Crosby volume snaps, Anderson projects as the leader rusher and should see a healthy number of snaps in a shallower edge room. Great volume play, a strong sack upside, Will Anderson is closer to a high-end edge 1 and DL2 for me this week.

SIT: Aidan Hutchinson, Detroit Lions, DL9 (Edge 9)

I love Aidan Hutchinson’s year 2 growth and have plenty of him in my lineups. However, Patrick Mahomes is one of the least sacked QBs over the last 3 years. In fact only 76 times over 2,110 dropbacks for a sack rate of only 3.6%. The game should have an above-average number of plays ran and still some good opportunity based on plays and snaps, but the sack ceiling should be lowered for this matchup.

Hutchinson showed he can make plays in other aspects of the game last year with 3 interceptions, but also had a limited tackle floor with 39 combined tackles. He will likely have an exciting year 2 in 2023, but his campaign is likely to get off to a rocky start. I view Hutchinson more as a mid-to-low end DL2.

START: Kaden Elliss, Atlanta Falcons, LB46

If you have heard me at any point this offseason, you have likely heard me talk about my excitement for Kaden Elliss. There is the contract this offseason, 3 years and $21.5 million. The familiarity with the defensive coordinator, Ryan Nielsen, who was his former DC for the last few years in New Orleans. The strong pass-rush production in his half-season role when Pete Werner was injured. Wearing the green dot this preseason. Needless to say, I am excited to see what Elliss can do with a full-time role.

Week 1, the Falcons and Elliss take on the Panthers. The Panthers have an average, at best, offensive line and have struggled this preseason. Atlanta has struggled to generate a consistent pass rush the last several years, Elliss could be primed for good volume, even in a lower projected matchup with a nice ceiling play too. This combination makes Elliss a high-end LB3 with an upside for even more.

SIT: Jamin Davis, Washington Commanders, LB28

Jamin Davis’s offseason was a bit of a roller coaster. The ups of becoming the clear LB1 for the Commanders and the potential leader of this defense. Then his subsequent off-the-field issues with his reckless driving case and the potential impact to his 2023 season. His case was recently slated for March 2024 and the NFL generally doesn’t pursue until court cases are resolved.

Now coming into week 1, he gets a matchup against the the Arizona Cardinals with the lowest over/under of the week, 38.5. An implied point total of 16 for the Cardinals doesn’t bode well for the offense staying on the field and the Commanders and Jamin Davis making a lot of plays. He has the talent to deliver an LB2 finish this week, but with a weaker floor this week, I am fading Jamin as a low-end LB3.

START: Jayron Kearse, Dallas Cowboys, DB27 (Safety 27)

Dan Quinn and this Cowboys defense have preferred to run three safeties (Kearse, Donovan Wilson, Malik Hooker) with one of them aligning more closely to the line of scrimmage. Kearse has been an IDP beneficiary and the alignment has helped a ton. He spent 74.11% of his snaps last season in either the DL, Box, or Slot alignments. Now with Wilson potentially out for week 1, Kearse should have a strong hold of the valuable snaps.

The New York Giants matchup projects to yield an above-average amount of opportunities for the Dallas Cowboys defense and with a path with reduced resistance for Kearse with Wilson on the shelf for week 1, Kearse has a likely outcome as a midrange DB2 this week.

SIT: Jeremy Chinn, Carolina Panthers, DB22 (Safety 22)

Jeremy Chinn has been an IDP darling since exploding on the scene is rookie year in 2020. This season though, the final year of his rookie contract, Chinn is in a precarious situation with incumbent safety, Xavier Woods who played over 1,000 snaps the last two season and big free agent signing, Vonn Bell. Bell has played over 1,000 snaps the last three seasons. Woods and Bell project to the be primary safeties while Chinn is likely heavily utilized in the slot defender role. Normally slot usage isn’t a death knell for IDP, however, if it is limited and the only role, that is not ideal. And this is what we saw in Chinn’s utilization this preseason.

Pair this with a poor passing performance opponent in the Atlanta Falcons, Chinn’s potential reduced usage, and the crowded safety room, Chinn doesn’t feel like a safe play for me and I would have him as a low-end DB3.

More Analysis by Jake

Divisional Round Predictions

Updated: January 12th 2018

Well, the underdogs were the story of last week, covering all four games, and winning two of them outright with the Titans pulling off a miracle at Arrowhead and the Falcons dominating the Rams. All in all, the games were highly entertaining save for the Jags/Bills game which was one of the worst games in the history of football in my unfettered hyperbolic opinion. Here is how our writers performed last week (only one of us with a winning record ATS 🙂 ): 

  1. Stephen Wendell: 3-1 ML & 3-1 ATS
  2. Matt Papson: 2-2 ML & 2-2 ATS
  3. Bob Cowper: 3-1 ML & 1-3 ATS
  4. Matt Goodwin: 1-3 ML & 1-3 ATS 
  5. Nick Andrews: 2-2 ML & 0-4 ATS
  6. Bernard Faller: 2-2 ML & 1-3 ATS 

A quick summary of the picks for this week are below in case you don’t want to read each writer’s analysis…but you should because there are some great nuggets of information down there:

  1. Atlanta Falcons @ Philadelphia Eagles (Line ATL -2.5): ML – 4 ATL & 3 PHI// ATS – 3 ATL & 4 PHI
  2. Tennessee Titans @ New England Patriots (Line NE -13.5): ML – 0 TEN & 7 NE // ATS – 3 TEN & 4 NE
  3. Jacksonville Jaguars @ Pittsburgh Steelers (Line PIT -7.5): ML – 1 JAX & 6 PIT // ATS – 4 JAX & 3 PIT
  4. New Orleans Saints @ Minnesota Vikings (Line MIN -4.5): ML – 4 NO & 3 MIN // ATS – 7 NO & 0 MIN

#6 Atlanta Falcons (10-6) @ #1 Philadelphia Eagles (13-3) [Line: ATL -2.5]

Stephen Wendell: As a Birds fan, I am very nervous, but I think Foles and the defense do enough to get this one done, narrowly escaping defeat and setting up an exciting NFC Championship game at home hosting the Vikings featuring two backup quarterbacks!  Projected Score: Eagles 28 – Falcons 27.

Matt Papson: It’s a Falcons line but I can’t bring myself to pick against the Birds. It’s a home game. Nick Foles is capable of putting together two good games, which is enough to get them to the super bowl. Will he? I’ll bet on at least 1. Projected Score: Eagles 24 – Falcons 23.

Robert Cowper: Jury duty got a hold of Bob this week (good thing college is done) so he was just able to send his projected scores. Projected Score: Eagles 25 – Falcons 19.

Matt Goodwin: Going with experienced QB play in each game as that is the key to the divisional round in my opinion. Projected Score: Falcons 23 – Eagles 20.

Nick AndrewsThe Eagles have been sliding down the power rankings ever since Carson Wentz was lost for the season. In their final three games, the Eagles looked on par with the 3-13 Giants and 6-10 Raiders and then were shutout by the Cowboys in week 17. There’s a reason why this will be the first time since the playoffs expanded that the #1 seed is an underdog in the Divisional Round. The Falcons flaunted their playoff experience against the Rams last week by taking the early lead and then holding strong throughout. I expect the same will occur this week. Projected Score: Falcons 27 – Eagles 16.

Bernard Faller: Philadelphia was in the conversation for most complete team in the NFL with Carson Wentz at quarterback.   The Eagles dominated in almost every aspect with no weaknesses.  Things change in a hurry.  Atlanta has not exactly been a “juggernaut” in any area this season but I will take Ryan almost every time in a Ryan vs. Foles matchup.  The improving Falcons defense does just enough. Projected Score: Falcons 21 – Eagles 17.

Dave SandersWhile Doug Peterson tries to return Nick Foles to somewhere between competent and his 2014 form, the Atlanta Falcons come to town as -2.5 point road FAVORITES.  I’d expect that Ajayi, Blount, and Clement will faced a stacked box as Dan Quinn will force Foles and company to attack their Cover-3 zone scheme, which has been very successful this year.  Foles will have to get the ball out quickly to counter Atlanta’s ability to pressure with only four rushers.  On the other hand, Atlanta’s offense hasn’t be great this season and likely will continue struggle against a stout Philadelphia defense.  All of that said, give me Ryan over Foles in a playoff game.  It’s as simple as that.  I’ll take Atlanta and lay the 2.5 points. Projected Score: Falcons 20 – Eagles 13.

#5 Tennessee Titans (9-7) @ #1 New England Patriots (13-3) [Line: NE -13.5]

Stephen Wendell: The Titans cover but in a backdoor fashion. They will not compete on the road in one of the toughest places to win in January. Brady and a healthy Gronk dominate this game from start to finish. Projected Score: Patriots 27 – Titans 14.

Matt Papson: All the drama surrounding the Pats isn’t nearly enough to create a chance they lose this one. Projected Score: Patriots 45 – Titans 13.

Robert Cowper: Jury duty got a hold of Bob this week (good thing college is done) so he was just able to send his projected scores. Projected Score: Patriots 33 – Titans 10.

Matt Goodwin: Going with experienced QB play in each game as that is the key to the divisional round in my opinion. Projected Score: Patriots 31 – Titans 10.

Nick AndrewsI called everything but the score in last week’s Titans/Chiefs game. The Chiefs did everything to lose that game by not relying more on Kareem Hunt in the second half. It will be interesting to see what happens to them in the offseason. As for the Titans current matchup, the Patriots are the opposite of the Chiefs in terms of offering opportunities to come back from a multi-score deficit. There are only two outcomes that this game can have. Either the Patriots are distracted from last week’s media storm and allow the Titans to pull out another sneaky win or they use the distraction as fuel to throttle the Titans out of playoffs. I expect the latter. Projected Score: Patriots 27 – Titans 12.

Bernard Faller: The Titans move on to the second round after a historic collapse by the Kansas City Chiefs last week.  New England’s defense, one of the worst in the league this year, is certainly exploitable especially against the run.  That won’t matter as Tom Brady brutalizes the Tennessee defense.  The Kansas City offense forgot to play the second half last week.  New England’s will not.  Projected Score: Patriots 34 – Titans 24.

Dave SandersGive me Tennessee and the 13.5 points.  This isn’t about the drama between Brady, Belichick, and Kraft, which I believe to be overstated.  It’s simply too many points for New England to be laying against anyone in the divisional round.  Mariota and Henry should be able to do just enough to cover, while still losing a close game to the Pats. Projected Score: Patriots 34 – Titans 24.

#3 Jacksonville Jaguars (10-6) @ #2 Pittsburgh Steelers (13-3) [Line: PIT -7.5]

Stephen Wendell: Blake Bortles is awful, plain and simple. Big Ben threw 5 INTs, 2 of them were run back, and the Jags still only scored 30 points in the Week 5 defeat of the Steelers. Big Ben will protect the ball this time around and the Steelers offense will score enough to overcome a very very weak Jags offense. Projected Score: Steelers 24 – Jaguars 10. 

Matt Papson: Despite last week’s abysmal performance I think this is going to be closer than people are expecting.. Projected Score: Steelers 31 – Jaguars 27.

Robert Cowper: Jury duty got a hold of Bob this week (good thing college is done) so he was just able to send his projected scores. Projected Score: Steelers 16 – Jaguars 9 

Matt Goodwin: Going with experienced QB play in each game as that is the key to the divisional round in my opinion. Projected Score; Steelers 16 – Jaguars 10

Nick Andrews: Antonio Brown is expected to be back but how healthy will he be? These two teams met up in week 5 when Big Ben had five interceptions and the Jags got a rare win at Heinz Field. While I don’t think there will be five interceptions again I do suspect that the result will repeat itself. The Jags defense has shown that they can cover the best receivers in the league and can also get to the quarterback. Bortles was rather lackluster against the Bills but he surprisingly did enough on the ground to get a win last week. His performance will likely be the difference between a victory and defeat.  Projected Score: Jaguars 19 – Steelers 17.

Bernard Faller: The Jaguars won an ugly contest in the wild card game against Buffalo featuring one of the worst cumulative performances by opposing quarterbacks in playoff history.  Jacksonville’s defense might be the best in the league and could keep the game close.  The Jaguars beat the Steelers earlier this season with a historically bad five interception game from likely future hall of famer Ben Roethlisberger.  It will not happen again.  One can not trust Blake Bortles against Ben Roethlisberger in a playoff matchup.  Projected Score:  Steelers 24 – Jaguars 13.

Dave SandersI can’t wait to watch the Steelers offense vs. the Jacksonville defense.  It’s the head-to-head matchup I’m most looking forward to watching, most especially if Antonio Brown has fully recovered from injury.  In what may become a defensive grind, I’ll take Jacksonville and the 7.5 points. Projected Score:  Steelers 23 – Jaguars 16.

#4 New Orleans Saints (11-5) @ #2 Minnesota Vikings (13-3) [Line: MIN -4.5]

Stephen Wendell: Man this is the toughest game to predict of the weekend. I think the Vikings put together a FG drive late to win 17-16 and inch out the Saints, putting them one win in Philly away from hosting the Super Bowl! Projected Score: Vikings 17 – Saints 16.

Matt Papson: The Vikings have a more feasible path to a home super bowl than any team in recent memory. Case Keenum isn’t as good as Drew Brees, but the Vikings offense has been consistent and Pat Shurmur is going to put his mark on his final few games with the team Projected Score: Vikings 31 – Saints 27.

Robert Cowper: Jury duty got a hold of Bob this week (good thing college is done) so he was just able to send his projected scores. Projected Score: Vikings 24 – Saints 23.

Matt Goodwin: Going with experienced QB play in each game as that is the key to the divisional round in my opinion. Projected Score: Saints 24 – Vikings 20.

Nick AndrewsThis is another regular season rematch but unlike my Jags prediction, I think this one will be a different outcome. In week 1 the Saints were trying to figure out what to do with Adrian Peterson, had yet to discover the awesome power of Alvin Kamara, and faced Sam Bradford instead of Case Keenum at QB. Marshon Lattimore has also developed into a shutdown corner which will limit the big plays of Stefon Diggs. If the Saints offense can continue to both stretch the field with Brees, Thomas and Ginn Jr. as well as pound the ball with Ingram and Kamara I see the Saints hosting the NFC Championship game next week. Projected Score: Saints 20 – Vikings 17.

Bernard FallerThis game is the highlight of the playoff weekend.  Two of the best overall teams in the league face off for the second time this season.  The Vikings won the first matchup on the strength of a 347 yard, 3 touchdown game by Sam Bradford.  Both teams are good on each side of the ball but the highlight will be two top-rated units squaring off in the New Orleans offense against the Minnesota defense.  In a common theme for my picks, I pick the team with the proven quarterback in Drew Brees going against playoff first-timer Case Keenum. Projected Score: Saints 24 – Vikings 20.

Dave SandersIn what most are calling the game of the week, New Orleans travels to Minnesota in a showcase of two of the best QBs in 2017….Drew Brees (makes sense) and Case Keenum (wait what?).  It’s true.  Maybe it’s the 2,500 virtual reality reps or just distance from Jeff Fisher, but Keenum has turned himself into a very good quarterback.  I still have this feeling in the back of my mind that he’s going to sink the Vikings with a dud of a game at some point.  I’ll bet on it being this game as Kamara, Ingram, Brees, and Thomas may be too much for the Vikings regardless. Give me the Saints and the 4.5 points. Projected Score: Saints 24 – Vikings 23.

More Analysis by Stephen Wendell