The big IDP news of the week happened just this Thursday morning, as our rankings were being finalized.
It was pretty big news, too. Yannick Ngakoue was traded to the Baltimore Ravens! Let’s discuss just how big this news is, and whether it’s good or bad for his short and long term fantasy prospects, shall we?
In the short term, fantasy managers should expect Ngakoue’s fantasy potential to actually improve after this trade, even if he was already on a 13 sack pace in Minnesota. The reason for this optimism is twofold.Editor's Note: Get any full-season NFL Premium Pass for 50% off. Exclusive access to our Premium articles, rankings, projections, 15 lineup tools and daily Premium DFS research/tools including our Lineup Optimizer, Research Station and so much more! Sign Up Now!
Yannick Ngakoue Implications
The first reason to be optimistic about Ngakoue’s 2020 prospects in Baltimore is the likelihood that the Ravens will use him similarly to how they have used Matthew Judon this season. In 2020, Harbaugh and company have put Judon at or on the line of scrimmage on 79% of his snaps. That is encouraging, since Ngakoue is used to being a hand-in-the-dirt pass rusher and not a stand-up coverage 'backer. Fantasy managers do not want Ngakoue learning a new position mid-season, nor do they want him serving as an all-purpose linebacker. His strength is as a pass rusher, and Baltimore should use him that way.
The second reason to expect Ngakoue to continue his 2020 tear, despite changing teams and defensive schemes, is that he should get FAR more help from the secondary in Baltimore than he got in Minnesota. Baltimore’s three best corners this year (Marlon Humphrey, Jimmy Smith, and Marcus Peters) are giving up a 63.8% completion percentage to opposing passers despite seeing a dozen more targets than Minnesota’s corners. Meanwhile, Minnesota’s corners are giving up a 72.9% completion percentage to opponents. This upgrade in corner performance, as well an increase in opponent passing plays, should spell a much better opportunity for Ngakoue’s sack totals.
While the short term ramifications of this trade are positive for Ngakoue’s fantasy managers, the long term implications are even better. According to overthecap.com, the Vikings are currently more than $8 million over the 2021 salary cap, meaning they will likely be cutting talent rather than adding it this offseason. The same cannot be said for the Ravens, who have approximately $43 million in 2021 cap space. Keep in mind that Baltimore's rosy cap situation is with players like Marcus Peters, Marlon Humphrey, Patrick Queen, and Chuck Clark all under contract through at least the 2022 season.
Overall, this trade is great for all IDP managers who roster Ngakoue. Dynasty managers should love the idea of a 25-year-old pass rusher going to a defense with good corners under contract for several years. Redraft managers should also love this move, as it makes big plays easier to come by for the stud pass rusher. In both formats, the needle is pointing up on this Maryland born star.
Top-25 Fantasy Defensive Linemen of the Week
|5||Harold Landry III||Steelers|
|10||Aldon Smith||Washington Football Team|
|19||Josh Allen (Q)||Chargers|
DL Streamer of the Week: Chase Young, Washington Football Team
Young sits comfortably outside of the top-15 DL rankings for multiple prominent fantasy outlets this week, and that may make sense if you just looked at his output since he was injured in Week 2. Another factor that may be scaring some IDP managers/rankers is his matchup this week with a Dallas Cowboys team famous for its pass-blocking unit. The Cowboys' pass blocking isn't what it used to be, however.
This year, the Cowboys have allowed 14 sacks, which is only slightly below the league average. That number does not reflect what the Cowboys passing game has going on right now, though. So far this year, Dallas has lost both of its starting offensive tackles, Pro Bowl Guard Zack Martin, and mobile superstar Dak Prescott. Do not underestimate how many sacks Prescott has saved this season with his legs or how many Dalton won't save with his. If you want a better idea of what this Cowboys offense really looks like aftr all of these injuries, look no further than the three sacks they allowed against a Cardinals Defense that was missing its best pass rusher (Chandler Jones) on Monday.
Given his low rankings across the industry this week and his matchup with a gimpy Cowboys squad, Young is a nice sneaky play in pretty much all IDP formats. While he may already be a starter for some managers, Young is available in 25% of leagues right now. Young’s combination of availability, talent, and matchup mean he is a strong sleeper/streamer in Week 7.
DL Fade of the Week: Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams
Donald is arguably the best player in the NFL, and he is always a fantasy starter in leagues where you have to play a DT. In fact, most weeks Donald is a reasonable high upside fantasy play no matter what kind of league you play in. With all of that said, Donald doesn't have the ideal fantasy matchup in Week 7.
While Chicago’s offense has surrendered 11 sacks this year (tied for 13th lowest), their starting offensive line has been surprisingly efficient. The five starting blockers for the Bears have allowed only seven total sacks and 9.3 pressures per contest this season. That type of efficiency should concern Donald fantasy managers. Although Donald has the talent to blow up any blocking unit in the league, the Bears and their style of play suggest another dud of a week could be on tap for the former Defensive Player of the Year. Donald is a boom-or-bust fantasy prospect in Week 7
Sneaky Good Matchup of the Week: Jason Pierre-Paul v. the Oakland Raiders’ Offensive Line
You don’t need me to tell you to start Pierre-Paul. The fireworks fan stands third in the NFL in sacks right now, and he has already forced three fumbles while averaging nearly four tackles per game. He is arguably a top-ten DL each week, regardless of matchup. His matchup this week is particularly interesting, though.
On paper, fantasy managers should consider downgrading any defensive linemen going against the Raiders’ offensive line. Las Vegas has allowed the sixth least sacks in the NFL so far this season, and the Raiders rank 12th in Adjusted Sack Rate according to Football Outsiders. However, things in Sin City aren't quite as rosy in Week 7 as those factors may suggest.
One of the Raiders’ best pass blockers is Trent Brown, who just went on the COVID list. If Brown doesn’t play, Pierre-Paul could take advantage. On top of that, the Raiders are currently quarantining all of their starting offensive linemen because they had contact with Brown. If Vegas is missing multiple starting offensive linemen, it could turn into slaughter and a terrible fantasy week for the Raiders’ offensive players, too.
Top-25 Fantasy Linebackers of the Week
|3||Jaylon Smith||Washington Football Team|
LB Streamer of the Week: Dre Greenlaw, San Francisco 49ers
Kwon Alexander missed last week’s matchup against the Rams with a high ankle sprain. It seems increasingly likely that he will miss this week’s game after he sat out practice this Wednesday, too. In games that Alexander sits, Dre Greenlaw averages a fantasy friendly nine tackles per game, with a ceiling of 13 tackles.
The Patriots are the third most run-heavy team in the NFL. Even better, Cam’s powerful yet improvisational running style tends to involve linebackers in the game more than usual. That bodes well for a guy like Greenlaw, who brings with him a high floor and ceiling in tackle premium IDP leagues.
LB Fade of the Week: Leighton Vander Esch, Dallas Cowboys
For those who read all of our IDP columns, you will notice that we have advised you to both add Vander Esch and fade him in this week. That is not an accident or a typo. As a season-long asset, fantasy managers should be eager to add the Boise State product. That doesn't mean you should start him this week, though.
As a Week 7 fantasy prospect, there are simply too many questions floating out there to start him. Chief amongst those questions is how much playing time Vander Esch will see against Washington. Last week he played only 52% of the Cowboys’ snaps, and it would make sense for this team to continue to take things slow with a guy who has a history of neck issues and a recently repaired clavicle. With only six total tackles this year and less than 55% of his team’s snaps in both of the games he has played (granted Week 1 was due to injury), Vander Esch should be rostered but benched until he is back to being a full-time starter.
Cautious Optimism of the Week: Foyesade Oluokun, Atlanta Falcons
If you know who Foyesade Oluokun is or how to pronounce his name, then you are probably one of his family members, a teammate, or an IDP fantasy manager. The Yale alumnus has never had the profile of an NFL superstar, nor has he ever been given the playing time necessary to become one. He is finally getting that opportunity now, though, and he is doing enough to make casual fans wonder just who this guy is and whether he is for real.
You want a reason to believe Oluokun is for real? Well, it helps that the Atlanta Falcons finally seem to think he is. While Oluokun occasionally popped with double-digit tackle games during his first two pro seasons, the Falcons rarely rewarded that play with significant playing time. For example, in 2018 the Yale grad only played on 29.88% of the Falcons’ defensive snaps, despite being available in all 16 games. This season is a different story, though, as the Yale Bulldog has played on nearly 60% of Atlanta’s defensive snaps despite missing time to injury. Expect that increased usage to continue, as Oluokun saw 100% of the team’s defensive snaps in Interim Head Coach Raheem Morris’s first game leading the Falcons.
A second reason for Oluokun optimism, beyond how often Atlanta is using him, is how Atlanta uses him. In his first two seasons combined, the Falcons brought Oluokun on a blitz just 25 times. In just five games this season, the Falcons have already sent him after the quarterback on 23 times. That increased blitz usage spells an increase in sack and TFL opportunities, which raises his fantasy value in all formats. Additionally, Oluokun has significantly improved in pass coverage. While quarterbacks had a 115.4 Passer Rating targeting him in 2017, they are now putting up an 85.6 Passer Rating against him. That improvement is likely one of the reasons that Atlanta feels comfortable keeping Oluokun on the field during passing downs.
Given his current production and increased usage, Oluokun is worth rostering in 16-team IDP leagues and unique IDP setups. Do not make the mistake of thinking you have to know how to pronounce his name in order to roster him, though. You don’t. If your friends ask you who he is or how you knew to add him, just say, "He’s that guy from that thing… you know, the guy! I've always liked him! Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go poop!” That should end the conversation right there.
Top-25 Fantasy Defensive Backs of the Week
|3||John Johnson III||Bears|
|6||Jessie Bates III||Browns|
|8||Antoine Winfield Jr.||Raiders|
DB Streamer of the Week: Taylor Rapp, Los Angeles Rams
As we have already covered in past articles, fantasy managers with Taylor Rapp on their roster are in a precarious position this season. Rapp performs very well when he sees a ton of snaps, but he doesn’t tend to see a ton of snaps when rookie Jordan Fuller is healthy.
When Fuller was healthy in Weeks 1, 2, and 5 of his season, Rapp never played more than 24% of the Rams’ defensive snaps. When Fuller wasn’t healthy in Weeks 3, 4, and 5, Rapp played a vast majority of his team's snaps, and he consistently put up starter level fantasy numbers. This trend consistently reflects Rapp's 2019 season, too. Last year Rapp started ten games and saw more than 80% of his team's snaps in nine contests. Rapp put up enough stats to be a fantasy starter in most formats in each of those games.
The lesson to learn from all of this is that when Rapp plays a lot, fantasy managers play him. With Jordan Fuller on the IR, he isn’t going to play this week. That means Rapp will play a lot. It also means you should play him.
DB Fade of the Week: Carlton Davis, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
A constant favorite of mine and a streamer recommendation for us last week, Davis is a bit of a fade in Week 7. The primary concern with Davis this week is the fact Derek Carr likes to spread the ball around. Carr has given double-digit targets to seven different skill players on the Raiders this year. His most-targeted weapon by far is Darren Waller, who lines up inline or in the slot on 77.6% of his snaps this year. Davis rarely goes into the slot, preferring to stick outside. A diverse target selection and primary target in the slot means the Raiders could easily avoid Davis without changing their game plan much at all.
While Tampa may use Davis to shadow Waller, it seems unlikely. It also seems unlikely that Carr will force the ball to his tight end if Davis is blanketing him in good coverage. That means Davis should see limited opportunities for fantasy points this week.
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