The Seattle Seahawks have been a buzzsaw offensively this year, but that has partly been out of necessity. As good as the offense has been, the defense has been just as bad—historically bad, in fact.
Over the first three games of the 2020 season, the Seahawks have surrendered a jaw-dropping 1,292 passing yards—the most ever allowed by a defense over the first three weeks of a campaign. As Corbin Smith reported for Seahawks Maven, while Shaquill Griffin recorded his first interception of 2020 in last week’s win over the Dallas Cowboys, the 25-year-old knows that he and his secondary mates have got to play better.
“I made a good play for myself, but there are some things I have to continue to work on. Giving up that deep ball isn’t something I do, so I have to continue to be locked in,” Griffin said, “I have to do better on my part of being consistent and just being in tune with the game each and every play, so that’s something I’m going to work on on my behalf. I’ve gotta do a lot better. I have to.”
This Seattle pass defense certainly ain’t the “Legion of Boom” of years past—but from an IDP perspective that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Opponents are attacking Seattle’s corners, and that means tackle opportunities on the outside—over the last two games Griffin has tallied 14 total tackles, that interception and a pass defensed. Those numbers rank Griffin fifth among all cornerbacks in Fantasy Sharks Default IDP Scoring over that span, and while Griffin popped up on the injury report this week with a shoulder ailment, he’s expected to play Sunday in Miami.
If you picked up Griffin last week based on my recommendation in this column, roll him out again. If you didn’t and he’s still on the waiver wire, scoop him up.
Better late than never.
Tre Herndon, Jacksonville Jaguars (at Cincinnati)
Much like the Seahawks, the once-formidable Jaguars pass defense has fallen on hard times since Jacksonville traded away Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye. As James Johnson reported for Jags Wire, some of those struggles can absolutely be attributed to third-year cornerback Tre Herndon.
“In addition to entering Week 3 with two penalties (Herndon also had nine in 2019) to his name (tied for second on the team), Herndon will enter Sunday’s game with a 49.9 PFF score,” Johnson wrote. “Needless to say, this could lead to him being viewed as a target week-by-week as he’s struggled in coverage.”
Herndon’s statistical production this season hasn’t been great—11 total tackles in three games. But the Jaguars have also faced three teams this year (the Indianapolis Colts, Tennessee Titans and Miami Dolphins) who don’t exactly possess high-octane passing attacks. This week, the 24-year-old gets easily his best fantasy matchup of the season to date—no team in the NFL has surrendered more fantasy points to quarterbacks so far this season than the Bengals.
Troy Hill, Los Angeles Rams (vs. New York Giants)
There isn’t much that Hill hasn’t done in the Rams secondary over his four-plus years with the Rams. In 2020, that means manning the slot in Los Angeles. As Jourdan Rodrigue reported for the Athletic, that’s because the 29-year-old is one of the team’s better tacklers on the back end.
“Troy is one of our best tacklers,” defensive coordinator Brandon Staley said. “I think, (when watching him play outside cornerback) when I first got here, I thought, ‘Man, this guy can really tackle.’ The way we play, that nickel is really in the way a lot in the run game. And so, I felt like he would really be a presence in that second level as a really good tackler.”
Hill may be a good tackler, but his coverage stats this season haven’t been good—19 of the 20 passes thrown in Hill’s direction have been completed for 215 yards and a passer rating against of over 90. But all those completed passes mean tackle opportunities—Hill is averaging seven tackles a game through three weeks in 2020.
Jonathan Jones, New England Patriots (at Kansas City)
The New England Patriots have the reigning Defensive Player of the Year in cornerback Stephon Gilmore. But as Nick O’ Malley wrote for Mass Live, when the Pats travel to face the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday, it won’t be Gilmore who covers Tyreek Hill. It will be fifth-year UDFA Jonathan Jones—and that’s just fine with Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.
“When you get a guy like Hill in there that can take the top off of the defense from in the slot, that really changes your defense and it changes the passing game offensively dramatically,” Belichick said. “So, to be able to not have to substitute but be able to play the same guy in there, and regardless of who they put in that position, is a huge advantage for us and all the versatile things that Jon can do are very valuable.”
Jones has been vulnerable in coverage this year, allowing a passer rating against of over 101. He’s also been busy on the stat sheet of late, tallying 15 total tackles the past two games. Jones will get safety help against Hill while Gilmore covers Sammy Watkins. But even with that extra set of hands, Jones should have opportunities to produce against a Chiefs team giving up the eighth-most fantasy points to cornerbacks this season.
Terrance Mitchell, Cleveland Browns (at Dallas)
The starting spot opposite Denzel Ward in Cleveland was supposed to belong to Greedy Williams this season. But with Williams on the shelf with an injured hamstring, it has been journeyman veteran who has started the first three games of the season. Not only has Mitchell held his own, but he has played so well that Williams acknowledged to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com that he may not get his starting job back once he’s healthy.
“May the best man win,” Williams said. “Whoever the coaches feel like should be the guy on the field, that’s the guy on the field. I always competed with myself my whole life, and it got me this far. I’m kind of going to stick with it. Just competing with myself and believing in the coaches that they’ll put the best players on the field.”
Head coach Kevin Stefanski won’t have to decide this week—Williams has been ruled out of Sunday’s trip to Dallas. That puts the 28-year-old Mitchell in line to start in Week 4 against a Dallas Cowboys team surrendering the most fantasy points in the NFC to the cornerback position this season.