Week 8 IDP Sleepers
The 2021 NFL season has been full of injuries and Week 7 was no different. Here are some sleepers to fill your lineup holes.
Week 7 was once again tough for injuries across the NFL, mainly on the offensive side, though there were some IDP injuries that will cause a problem as well. Jaquiski Tartt injured his knee, Christian Kirksey injured his thumb, Devin McCourty left with an abdomen injury, Quincy Williams left with a concussion, Balke Cashman went on IR with a groin injury, Jerome Baker left with a knee injury, Jabrill Peppers is done for the year, A.J. Terrell left with a head injury, and Erik Harris left with a shoulder injury.
All of these injuries have opened up playing time for guys who would never be on your radar, but here we are. In recent articles I have dropped some pretty deep names for sleepers—this week is about to get deeper.
Trevis Gipson, Chicago Bears (EDGE)
Trevis Gipson was drafted out of Tulsa by the Bears in the 5th round of the 2020 NFL Draft. He seemed to be a bit of a long shot to make the team, but when the preseason ended, Gipson was informed that he in fact had landed a roster spot. Unfortunately, Gipson has not seen a volume role as he has been stuck behind veterans Khalil Mack and Robert Quinn.
Gipson has been productive in his limited role, though. Over the first six games, he’s seen only 21.33% of the team’s defensive snaps. During that time he produced 10 tackles, 3 tackles for a loss, 2 sacks, 2 passes defended, 1 forced fumble, and 2 QB hits. In Week 7, Gipson saw an increase in his role, playing on 74% of the team’s snaps, though his production did not spike. It was more or less due to game script, though.
In Week 8, the Bears square off with the 49ers. It is a less than stellar matchup as the 49ers have only given up 11 sacks in 6 games. The 49ers are sticking with Jimmy G though, and he has proven to have less than ideal pocket presence. If Trent Williams misses another game at left tackle, it will leave Garoppolo’s blind side vulnerable. With Khalil Mack set to miss this week, Gipson could be a nice fill-in option.
Ernest Jones, Los Angeles Rams
The Rams started the season with Kenny Young manning the lone linebacker spot in their dime defense. As surprising as this was, he seemed to be playing well. This, as most of us thought, was in fact a mirage. It took only 5 games before he was ceding snaps to Troy Reeder, who has out-snapped Young over the past couple of games.
Still, Young was playing about 60% of the team’s snaps over the past three games, as the Rams were playing more two linebacker sets. Young was just recently shipped to the Denver Broncos, who were dealing with a mess of injuries themselves.
Ernest Jones is next in line for snaps at linebacker, as he was a mid-round draft pick for the Rams in the 2021 draft. Jones was already seen staying late after practice with the defensive coordinator going over game notes. Young compiled 16 tackles over the last three games in the role Jones will likely play, and I expect similar production from Jones.
Juan Thornhill, Kansas City Chiefs
Daniel Sorenson has been an enigma. In real-life NFL games, he is not very good. In IDP matchups, he was a star. Sorenson was a tackle machine for the Chiefs over the past season and a half, but it is in part because he could not cover. A vast number of his tackles were because he allowed a reception.
As IDP enthusiasts, we know that is just fine. But for Sorenson’s defensive coordinator, Steve Spagnulo, this had to be infuriating. The Chiefs finally made a change in the defense during Week 6 this season and started Juan Thornhill over Sorenson. Thornhill is by far the better safety in coverage when comparing the two. He is also the better playmaker—his ability to break up and intercept passes was one of his better traits coming out of Virginia Tech.
Thornhill has played every defensive snap for the Chiefs over the last two games. During that time, he has shifted all over the defense. He has made plays in the box at the line of scrimmage, as well as playing deep as the last line of defense. Thornhill was huge in Week 7, coming up with 9 tackles.
Anthony Hitchens missed practice again, meaning Thornhill could be a bit busier in run defense again for Week 8. He is also facing off against the Giants, who are still led by the always erratic Daniel Jones. The Giants will likely try to establish the run, and I believe that Thornhill will be up in the box. Plus, Jones will likely have to take some shots downfield to keep pace with the Chiefs. Thornhill could see a volume tackle night with some playmaking stats to match.
All three of the sleepers in this week’s article have become relevant because of new roles in their respective defenses. Trevis Gipson has been an emerging presence on the Bears’ defensive line, and this week he will fill in for the injured Khalil Mack. Ernest Jones should see a significant snap increase after the Rams decided to ship Kenny Young off to the Broncos.
Juan Thornhill has simply outplayed his teammates and has forced himself into the starting lineup. Three different ways to see more volume, with all three being potential league winners. If you have holes in your roster, which at this point we all do, feel free to fire any of these three players up for Week 8.
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