As a local market representative and league manager of one of 16 teams invited to be a part of Crown Royal’s inaugural Fantasy Football League dubbed “First and Crown,” I will be using this spot every Sunday before the Browns kick off against their respective opponent to tell you who I’ll be watching during this Week’s contest.
This week’s spotlight shines on: Jabaal Sheard
The Cleveland Browns defense is undoubtedly the team’s strength, putting up top-seven numbers through the season thus far. Said “strength” has also struggled over the last two weeks, letting the Buffalo Bills and Detroit Lions combine for 55 points. While Jabaal Sheard missed the team’s Week 4 win against the Cincinnati Bengals, he was still nursing his knee injury over the course of the last two weeks, forcing a tighter rotation at the outside linebacker spot.
Facing arguably the league’s best quarterback in the NFL at Lambeau Field this week and Sheard’s return could not be more timely. While rookie linebacker Barkevious Mingo faired well during his extended time, Sheard’s ability to get to the quarterback as well as move down the line to defend the run is imperative. Rob Chudzinski isn’t committing to immediately reinserting him into the starting lineup, but adding someone with Sheard’s skill set to the mix will instantly add a threat that will have to be accounted for by the Green Bay Packers offensive line. Aaron Rodgers has been sacked on 23 percent of all plays where pressure is provided, the fourth-worst mark in the league. Conversely, Sheard’s pass-rushing productivity, as graded by Pro Football Focus, is good enough for fourth best in the entire NFL.
Extended drives will only serve to fatigue a unit that has been on the field entirely too often as of late. Getting to Rodgers early and often will be key for the Browns. Having Jabaal Sheard back in the fold should only serve to help this cause.