Welcome back, Dynasty IDP Nerds, to another edition of Man Coverage. We break down the start and sit options for those tough lineup decisions you’re faced with every week. Three consecutive weeks of at least nine correct predictions since the dreadful week 4. Nothing to be sad about after a 9-3 week (75% accuracy). We remain at 69.89% accuracy for the season. As we creep closer to the halfway point of the season, injuries continue to pile up, so make sure you are checking out the man coverage article every week. You will get the best advice on who to start or sit in your #FFIDP leagues. Here we go with week 8 of the NFL season.
Cincinnati Bengals @ New York Jets
Start : Trey Hendrickson, DL CIN
The Cincinnati Bengals have surprised everyone, holding the #1 seed in the AFC heading to Week 8. The Bengals offense is getting all the credit for obvious reasons. However, it’s the Bengals’ defense who have made the most significant improvement. The Bengals were barely a top 20 defense a year ago and have improved to a top-five unit this season. Staying healthy has been an enormous help, along with big production from one of their key free agents, Trey Hendrickson.
The Bengals’ leading sack man (6.5) was on fire over the first four weeks. Hendrickson has four sacks and 50 fantasy points over his last three games. In Week 8, the Bengals defense will face a New York Jets team that has allowed 20 sacks this season (seventh-worst in the NFL). It’s a solid bet that Hendrickson and the Bengals defense get after whoever the Jets are putting behind center in the absence of rookie QB Zach Wilson.
Tennessee Titans @ Indianapolis Colts
Start : Elijah Molden, DB TEN
Well, IDP Nerds, we may have found another one in Elijah Molden. The Tennessee Titans CB has been on my radar for a few weeks, and he continues to produce respectable numbers. I can guarantee that in nearly all IDP leagues that aren’t CB-required, he is on waivers. Molden has 19 tackles and a forced fumble over his past three games. He’s scored at least nine fantasy points in each of those games. Molden currently holds an 81.2 run defense grade, according to PFF. The former Washington Husky has also played 26.8% of his snaps as either a run defender or pass rusher.
This is an excellent sign for a rookie DB in a defense that has produced multiple highly ranked IDPs at the position. Molden reminds me of a player like Taron Johnson. He continues to produce but will be overlooked because he’s listed as CB and not safety. This is a player you should be looking to add on any of your dynasty teams that is weak at DB.
Los Angeles Rams @ Houston Texans
Sit : Jonathan Greenard, DL HOU
Greenard has been one of the pleasant surprises for the Houston Texans this season. The former Florida Gator had just 46 fantasy points as a rookie. He is on the verge of registering over 100 just eight games into his second season. Greenard has six sacks and a forced fumble over his past five games, scoring at least 28 points in each of his past two games. Typically, it’s an excellent strategy to ride the hot hand in this scenario, but there’s no way this pace can continue.
The Texans’ defensive linemen registered four sacks and ten tackles in the last two weeks. This week is a bad matchup with the Rams. The Los Angeles Rams have allowed a league-low seven sacks all season. This is a game where if you can afford to sit Greenard, I would do that. There will be better matchups; this, unfortunately, isn’t one of them.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cleveland Browns
Start : Cam Heyward, DL PIT
The Steelers veteran Cam Heyward has been highly productive this season. Although he’s 32, he was a recent buy for me across a few dynasty leagues. Heyward has averaged 17.6 fantasy points per game (FPPG) in the past three games, including multiple 8+ tackle games. The Steelers’ defense currently ranks third in the NFL in pressure % (28.8%) and will match up with their division rival Cleveland Browns, who have allowed 19 sacks this season (eighth-most). IDP managers should be able to bank on Heyward continuing his high production in Week 8.
Philadelphia Eagles @ Detroit Lions
Sit : Eric Wilson LB PHI
This is tough for IDP managers; Wilson notched 284.45 fantasy points last season after a 121 tackle season. Wilson joined the Eagles as a free agent, which many expected him to take the LB1 role and continue to be an IDP stud. That just hasn’t been the case. Wilson has only eight tackles over his past three games, while his snaps have decreased in each of his past three games (29,23,22). The Eagles have been rotating multiple LBs alongside Alex Singleton this season, but none of them have carved out a significant role as he has. I tend to try and let it sort itself out in these situations before I risk starting any of them consistently. Look for better options before settling on starting Wilson this week.
San Francisco 49ers @ Chicago Bears
Start : Kentavius Street, DL SF
Here is a deep sleeper pick here who is on almost all waiver wires across IDP leagues. Kentavius Street had a big game last week, recording four tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble against the Colts. Street notched his second double-digit fantasy performance of the season despite not playing more than 43 snaps in any game this season.
The 49ers’ defensive line will go up against the Chicago Bears, who have allowed the most sacks (26) in the NFL this season. According to NFL snap count analysis, Street averages 22.7 fantasy points per 100 snaps, the most of any 49ers defensive linemen not named Nick Bosa. There should be plenty of opportunities this week for Street and the 49ers’ defense against a Bears offense that turned the ball over six times and allowed four sacks in Week 7.
Carolina Panthers @ Atlanta Falcons
Start : Richie Grant, DB ATL
Grant was in the sit column a week ago. I mentioned we would need to see more faith in the coaching staff before relying on him to be in your lineups. Well, that’s precisely what happened in Week 7. He played a season-high 58 snaps, recording five tackles. This season, Grant has played 92 snaps, with 45.65% of those coming as a run defender or pass rusher. The Carolina Panthers have allowed seven DBs over the past two games to record at least four tackles. Grant is seeing nearly all his production come from his tackling numbers. We can’t forget he made eight impact plays in just nine games during his last season at UCF. Since they’ve increased Grant’s snaps, this should force the team to play their rookie more as they have the past two games.
Miami Dolphins @ Buffalo Bills
Start : Gregory Rousseau, DL BUF
The former Miami Hurricane will get his second shot at the NFL team he shared a stadium with while in college. Rousseau had the best game of his young career against the Dolphins in Week 2, recording five tackles and two sacks for 29 fantasy points. Rousseau has broken the mold and earned valuable snaps at DL under Sean McDermott, which doesn’t happen. His 188 snaps are second amongst Buffalo defensive linemen. Rousseau averages 30 fantasy points per 100 snaps, with nine percent of his snaps ending in a tackle and two percent ending in a sack. The Bills rank top-five in pressure % despite ranking 18th in the NFL in sacks. Rousseau and the rest of the Buffalo pass rushers should see some better sack numbers going forward if they can keep up the pressures.
New England Patriots @ Los Angeles Chargers
Sit : Dru Tranquill, LB LAC
Tranquill is rumored to be back in action this week after practicing in a limited capacity this week. He left the team’s last game in Week 6 early after injuring his chest. In his place, Amen Ogbongbemiga registered eight tackles and eleven fantasy points. Kyzir White is the top LB for the Chargers, while Kenneth Murray is out on short-term IR. Dru Tranquill, Amen Ogbongbemiga, and Ben Niemann will likely rotate in that second LB role. Tranquill, the most veteran of the players, will likely start, but I don’t think he plays enough consistent snaps to earn his way into your starting lineups. The Chargers have a talented secondary that will be tough to keep off the field in favor of a second LB, especially on pass downs. There are better options than Tranquill in Week 8.
Jacksonville Jaguars @ Seattle Seahawks
Start : D.J. Reed, DB SEA
This was a tough one, and I won’t lie. There are very few options outside of the proven studs in this game. This season, D.J. Reed has five games of double-digit fantasy points, the same number as teammate Jamal Adams. The Jacksonville Jaguars have given up some massive games to DBs this season. Most of the focus will be on Adams, and there will be opportunities for Reed to notch his sixth game of ten fantasy points or more. The Seattle defensive back has 41 tackles this season after setting a career-high in 2020 with 61 tackles. He’s almost certainly going to top that this season. He currently has 84 fantasy points despite not having an interception. D.J. Reed averages 5.8 tackles per game and gives IDP managers a safe floor for a player who is on waivers in most leagues.
Washington Football Team @ Denver Broncos
Start : Justin Strnad, LB DEN
The last man standing at LB for the Denver Broncos is Justin Strnad. He was drafted in the 5th round from Wake Forest in the 2020 NFL draft, and he missed his rookie season due to injury. The second-year LB has found himself in a starting role less than halfway through the 2021 season. Strnad has only eclipsed ten fantasy points once this season. This is a case where opportunity outweighs the talent of the player. The Denver Broncos defense needs all the help it can get, and they will force Strnad to grow up fast and become a consistent NFL linebacker. Whether that’s good for IDP or not, only time will tell. Opposing LBs playing against the Washington Football Team have led their teams in tackles in every game this season. Strnad should be in for a high tackle game this week.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ New Orleans Saints
Start : Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, DB NOS
Malcolm Jenkins is the most dependable DB in the Saints secondary. Chauncey Gardner-Johnson is coming off his best season scoring 184.90 fantasy points in 2020, and he’s improved his tackles and impact plays from his rookie year to his second season. The former Florida Gator looks to keep that trend going into his third season. Gardner-Johnson has been a hit-or-miss IDP this season, recording only two double-digit performances over his first five games.
The Saints secondary has a plus matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who pass on 65.8% of their plays, the second-highest in the NFL. The Buccaneers gave up eleven tackles each to both starting safeties last week and have given up at least seven tackles per game to a DB in each of their past three games. The Saints will need big games from their DBs to help slow down this high-powered Tampa Bay passing attack.
Dallas Cowboys @ Minnesota Vikings
Sit : Keanu Neal LB, DB DAL
The Dallas Cowboys linebacker situation hasn’t improved one bit for IDP managers despite Jaylon Smith no longer being on the team. Micah Parsons is still the only dependable LB, and the guessing game of who to play between Keanu Neal and Leighton Vander-Esch every week is frustrating. Over the past two weeks, neither LB has played more than 34 snaps in a game, and neither has surpassed five tackles in a game. This is a situation that IDP managers need to avoid until it clears itself up. Keanu Neal, like his counterpart, grades below average according to PFF. There’s not much to be optimistic about as a dynasty manager halfway through the season.
New York Giants @ Kansas City Chiefs
Start : Nick Bolton, LB KCC
If there’s any question if Bolton is an every-week starter, those should stop now. The rookie LB has been a tackling machine just like he was in college. Bolton has racked up 10+ points in six of seven games this season. This season, Bolton has 112 fantasy points on 55 tackles and is the team’s best LB without question. The Chiefs rookie is coming off his best game with 32 fantasy points recording 15 tackles in a Week 7 loss to the Tennessee Titans. Nick Bolton ranks as the LB19 this season, and his tackle upside gives him as good of a chance as anyone to finish as an LB1 by season’s end.
Thanks for stopping in to check out this week’s column, and as always can only hope it helps make some decisions easier on you this week. Stay tuned for the second quarter IDP report dropping shortly after week 8. As always, please check out our weekly IDP articles and rankings over at Dynasty Nerds. Good luck this week, Nerds, and keep chasing those dynasty championships.
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