After Tony Jefferson and Tyrann Mathieu both played every down in the opener, Arizona threw us a little change up in week two. Jefferson continued in his every down role turning in a second excellent stat line. Meanwhile Mathieu's mere 2 tackles were at least partly the result of a reduced role. He was on the field for 53 of the team's 79 snaps or about 67%. Tyvon Branch saw a bit more action than in week one and his numbers grew accordingly to 9-1-0 on 66 snaps. There is not enough evidence here to say for sure what the Cardinals will look like in week three but it sure looks like Jefferson is going to be the guy to have. I am fairly confident Branch will have a big enough role each week to be a quality contributor as well. Mathieu is going to give us plenty of big weeks along the way but he may prove to be too inconsistent to be counted on as an every week starter until later in the season. Remember he is coming back from a major knee injury and is not yet 100%.
Rookie Brandon Williams is still listed as the starting corner opposite Patrick Peterson but in reality that may not be the case. Marcus Cooper logged 65 snaps on Sunday going 5-2-0 with a pair of picks, while Williams was on the field for 27 plays and did little. It looked as if Williams was simply spelling the starters here and there. Both the numbers and what I have seen of the game suggests the three corners were never on the field at the same time.
Kemal Ishmael blew up for 13 solo tackles and a pair of assists in week two. Those numbers have fantasy owners scrambling to pick him up just in time for Keanu Neal to reclaim the starting job. Ishmael is a capable player who will continue to produce solid numbers so long as he remains in the lineup. With Neal expected to practice late this week Ishmael may be headed back to a reserve role as early as week three. Neal on the other hand, could be a gold mine going forward. If he is on the waiver wire it is time to make the move before he is pronounced healthy.
With Paul Worrilow out of the mix and DeVondre Campbell on the shelf with an injury the Falcons were not a five headed monster at linebacker in week two. Deon Jones played all but one snap at middle backer while Sean Weatherspoon was on the field for all but three plays. The result was a strong box score for both players as Jones finished 7-3-0 and Weatherspoon 8-1-0. There has been no word on an expected return date for Campbell who is out with an ankle sprain. We know the Falcons want to be faster at linebacker this year which is why they drafted both Campbell and Jones, but if Weatherspoon continues to play the way he all summer it may/should be hard for the coaching staff to justify sending him back to the bench. He has clearly been the team's best linebacker since early in preseason.
Timmy Jernigan has gotten off to a blazing start with a sack in each of the first two games. He is a good player with plenty of ability but before you jump out there and pick him up be aware he produced 4 sacks in each of his first two seasons. Every year there are a couple of 3-4 linemen who come from mediocrity to put up strong numbers. Jernigan has the potential to be one of those guys but he is just as likely to have 5 tackles and no sacks over the next month.
I was not sure what to expect from Eric Weddle when he landed in Baltimore. In their relatively brief history the Ravens have never produced a fantasy friendly safety. Just putting up 5 tackles and an assist against the offensively challenged Browns was enough to ease those concerns a little, but Weddle added an interception as well. He should definitely be in our lineups this week against Jacksonville. In fact Lardarius Webb is also worthy of consideration in deeper leagues since over the first two games opposing safeties have accounted for 30 solo tackles, 3 passes defended and a pair of turnovers against the Jaguars.
With a solid 6-3-0 in week two, Zach Orr continues to work in a three down role and put up solid numbers. Keep him in mind over the next few weeks when injuries start taking a toll on our depth. He will end up on a roster in most leagues before long.
During the preseason it was Zach Brown wearing the communications helmet for Buffalo. That duty has since come to rest with Preston Brown who has been calling the defense in the huddle over the first two games. Preston may log a handful more snaps each Sunday but it is clear both of these players are going to have strong value for us. In week two Preston Brown finished 7-9-0 with a forced fumble while Zach Brown was 8-6-0. The simple fact here is the Bills are not very good on either side of the ball right now. Injuries to key players have set them back while the Rob and Rex Ryan scheme is being called into question by those on the outside, and possibly those on the inside as well. If you can get your hands on either of these guys make the move.
In my preseason article I talked about how the Bills used a mix of Ryan's 3-4 and Jim Schwartz 4-3 last year, but would be strictly running the Ryan 3-4 this year. It is this change that I believe has ruined Corey Graham for us. After blowing up for 95 solo tackles a year ago he is on pace for 48 through two games. Graham has different responsibilities in this scheme and is playing off the line much more than last year. The time has come to cut our losses and move on.
With Kyle Fuller sidelined by a sore knee, young Jacoby Glenn has been called into action as the Bears starting corner. The second year pro rarely got on the field last season so in essence this is the rookie corner rule at work again. In two games Glenn has accounted for 12 solo tackles and 4 passes defended. Dallas is not necessarily a good matchup for Glenn but then neither was the Eagles or Texans. If fuller continues to miss time Glenn could be a solid spot start for those in corner required leagues.
Both safety Adrian Amos and last week's nickel corner Bryce Callahan were knocked out of Sunday's game with concussions. Chris Prosinski replaced Amos while rookie Deiondre Hall moved up the ladder at corner. Prosinski is also missing practice this week with a calf injury leaving the Bears very thin at the position.
The loss of Lamar Houston to a season ending knee injury is another big blow for Chicago. It will mean more opportunity for Leonard Floyd and Willie Young at least until Pernell McPhee returns from the PUP.
The more significant injury for fantasy owners is the sprained thump that is expected to sideline Danny Trevathan for at least a week or two and possibly more. Christian Jones is listed as the next man up on Chicago's depth chart but Jonathan Anderson may see some time as well. For that reason I would not trust Jones until we have a more definite answer. Even in an every down role neither of the backup options will produce near Trevathan's level.
Shawn Williams has not been eye catching thus far but the Bengals strong safety has been solid for us. Look for a third good game from him in week three when Cincinnati hosts Denver and their resurgent power running game.
Some may view the 6-1-0 put up by Rey Maualuga last week as sign of a possible upswing. The glass is still more than half empty for Maualuga who remains a two down base package thumper until next year when Nick Vigil probably replaces him. The Bengals and Steelers played in what was a driving rain for much of the game so we saw little of the wide open passing game from either team, thus the Bengals were in their base set more than can be expected going forward.
One note that was somewhat of a surprise from this game; it was Vincent Rey and not Karlos Dansby in the single backer sub packages. Rey played all 74 of the team's defensive snaps while Dansby was on the field for 58. This is something to keep a close eye on for those counting on Dansby this week and beyond. Remember the Bengals get Vontaze Burfict back after this week's game. He was not able to participate in the preseason due to injury so it will be a few weeks before Burfict is up to speed and in playing shape.
I have been talking about Margus Hunt since early in the preseason and wanted to mention he played slightly over 50% of the defensive snaps against Pittsburgh. A good number of those snaps came at tackle in the base defense.
After posting 6 solo stops in week one Derrick Kindred was the most productive of Cleveland's safeties in week two at 5-0. In the opener most of his playing time came as a third safety in sub packages. In week two Kindred was on the field for 63 of a possible 75 plays and took over for Ibraheim Campbell who left after 20 plays with a hamstring injury. There has been no word yet on how long Campbell will be out but he is unlikely to go this week. I like what Kindred has done both on the field and in the box scores so far and would not hesitate to play him this week if Campbell sits.
Christian Kirksey has been on the field for every defensive snap through two games and has averaged 10 fantasy points. While that is not horrible production, an inside linebacker with that much opportunity (152 snaps) should be able to give us more than 9 solo tackles. Demario Davis is not much better having played 142 snaps producing 9.75 points in each game. The Browns cut Scooby Wright this week so there is no one pushing for playing time at the position, which means these guys will have plenty of opportunity to step it up. I would not count on it happening this week against the Dolphins without Arian Foster. The team is expected to sign Wright to the taxi squad when/if he clears waivers.
The coaching staff shifted Tyrone Crawford to left end in week two. His numbers were hardly impressive but he did manage a sack in the game. Owners in tackle required leagues may want to consider starting him this week. Not only is he a tackle playing end, the Bears are starting a backup quarterback and they have already given up 8 sacks on the season.
Ezekiel Ansah left Sunday's game after three plays with a high ankle sprain. Nothing is official yet but his chances of playing seem slim at best and he could miss a few games. Wallace Gilberry is listed as the backup to Ansah and will likely get the starting nod but keep an eye on Kerry Hyder. He is a tackle in the data base at MyFantasyLeague and probably several other league hosting sites, but has been seeing action at end. In fact Hyder played more snaps than Gilberry after Ansah went down. With 3 sacks in his bag already Hyder is a player to keep an eye on or even snap up as a replacement for Ansah in some leagues. If you can play him at tackle he could be a steal.
With 7 solo tackles in week two Tavon Wilson has earned a spot on our radar if not yet on our rosters. He is still not playing every down but was on the field for 60 of 67 plays against Tennessee.
I have been on the Devin Taylor bandwagon since early in the preseason. After going 8-5-1.5 over the first two games (4-3-1.5 in week two) it is a good thing I got on early cause it is going to get crowded. The loss of Ansah is not going to help in the short term but go get this guy if he is still available.
Green Bay Packers
Morgan Burnett left Sunday's game with a groin injury and shortly after the Packers lost Micah Hyde to an ankle injury. With both on the sideline Ladarius Gunter filled in at strong safety putting up 6 tackles and forcing a fumble on 35 snaps. As of Wednesday Burnett has not practiced while Hyde has been limited. Whoever gets the start at strong safety for the Packers this week is going to have good upside.
The Packers used less dime package in week two but it was still enough to basically ruin Blake Martinez and Jake Ryan who were 7-4-0 between them. Neither of the starters played more than 45 snaps while Joe Thomas poached 5 solo stops in his sub package role. Any of these three players would have decent value for us if they were on the field full time. Unfortunately there is no sign of that happening soon.
J.J. Watt looked much better in week two both on the field and in the box score where he was 1-4-1.5. He may not yet be 100% but it is clearly safe to go back in the water.
Bernardrick McKinney was less than impressive in his first start without Brian Cushing. He finished Sunday's game at 2-6-1 which despite the odd line provided a good point total. McKinney should have plenty of opportunity this week against the Patriots who are expected to ride LeGarrette Blount and James White rather than put too much on their rookie third string quarterback.
As expected Max Bullough was the replacement for Cushing and as expected he was not on the field in sub packages. In fact Bullough played all of 17 snaps. As part of the plan Houston used corner A.J. Bouye to help compensate for the loss of Cushing in sub packages. As a result there were four corners who logged at least 47 snaps for the Texans in week two.
Clayton Geathers returned to the lineup in week two but was not able to finish the game before leaving with what appears to be a setback from the foot injury. The Colts could have several more defensive backs available this week including T.J. Green, Patrick Robinson and Vontae Davis. Winston Guy stepped in for Geathers on Sunday but Green would likely be back in the lineup this week if he is able to go. Geathers owners should hold on to him until we get some word from the team on exactly what is going on. Depending on what we here it may be time to move on in redraft leagues. .
Once again the Colts had no inside linebackers play full time in week two. Sio Moore repeated as the most productive going 5-0 on 59 of 71 snaps. D'Qwell Jackson finished with 4 tackles on 66 plays while Josh McNarry was the third man in the mix at 16 snaps. Antonio Morrison did not get on the field. So the good news is both Moore and Jackson got a bigger piece of the pie with both having a fair amount of opportunity. The bad news is we still have no idea what to expect from them from week to week.
Myles Jack finally got on the field in week two but we should not get too excited about it. He recorded a couple of tackles in the fourth quarter but not until after the rout was on. Jack did work at middle backer which was somewhat of a surprise considering we were told the reason he did not play in week one was he is still learning the weak side position.
Los Angeles Rams
William Hayes is a player on the rise. He was 1-4-1 in week two and is emerging as yet another excellent fantasy option among the Rams front four. He finished last season strong with 37 tackles and 5.5 sacks despite not breaking the starting lineup until week seven. The Buccaneers generally do a good job keeping the heat of their quarterback but there are not enough linemen to double everyone. With Robert Quinn getting on the board with a sack last week, Hayes is likely to see a lot of single blocking. Call it a gut feeling but I like him this week.
I am also high on Trumaine Johnson this week. With or without Doug Martin the Buccaneers are going to have a hard time running this week. I can see them throwing the ball 45 or more times in this game.
Mario Williams played against New England but he did nothing. I expect that will change this week against the Browns who are starting their third signal caller. Miami should get out to an early lead giving their pass rushers plenty of opportunity to rush the passer.
Just like last year Jelani Jenkins is toughing it out and playing through injury. He was on the field more in week two, logging 61 of a possible 80 snaps. When/if he can get healthy Jenkins should be productive. With Jenkins seeing more action Koa Misi saw his role decrease in week two. Interestingly the Dolphins used backup safety Michael Thomas at linebacker in some sub packages.
Isa Abdul-Quddus has turned in back to back solid games and is worth keeping an eye on going forward. That said I do not expect much from him this week.
Danielle Hunter left Sunday's game with a knee injury that looked potentially serious when it happened. It was good news to see him as a limited participant in Wednesday's practice. One interesting note from this situation; tackle Tom Johnson took a few snaps at end on Sunday after Hunter left.
In case anyone has missed it, Linval Joseph is a beast! After two games he is the number one defensive tackle in the fantasy game with 8 tackles, 3 assists, 2 sacks and a forced fumble. Those numbers have him near the top even in leagues lumping the defensive line positions together.
New Orleans Saints
There is a lot going on with the Saints defense this week. P.J. Williams was carted off early on Sunday with concussion that is expected to land him on IR. With injuries mounting at the position New Orleans turned to undrafted free agents Sterling Moore and Ken Crawley as their top two with rookie DeVante Harris and rookie safety Von Bell in sub packages. Moore and Crawley could put up surprisingly strong numbers against the Falcons who will look to take advantage of the inexperienced makeshift secondary. Moore finished week two at 8-1 while Crawley 6-0 with a forced fumble. Bell also made a strong showing going 7-2 on 46 of a possible 71 snaps. I believe he logged a few snaps as a nickel linebacker along the way. We will need to keep an eye on that situation going forward.
Craig Robertson had another big game with 10 tackles and 3 assists. He is an average player in a golden situation. James Laurinaitis has been a major disappointment. I really thought he still had some fuel left in the tank but watching more closely in week two I am not so sure. I have him in a couple of leagues and will give him one more chance before I move on but he will certainly be on my bench this week.
Michael Mauti played 6 snaps against the Giants and finished 3-0-1 with a forced fumble. If Laurinaitis continues to struggle it would not be a shock to see Mauti get a shot.
New York Giants
Eli Apple has apparently moved past Dominique Rodgers-Cromarti into the starting lineup. Apple was on the field 59 of 60 plays against the Saints, finishing at 6-1. The rookie corner rule and a quality matchup with Washington make him an interesting consideration as a starter this week.
New York Jets
It looks as if Darron Lee may get his chance in week three. Erin Henderson left Thursday's game in a boot and has not been able to practice this week. If he is unable to go Lee would likely be the starter next to David Harris. Lee went 4-1 on 41 of a possible 53 snaps against Buffalo. He will have a lot more opportunity this week against the Chiefs.
With an interception in each of the first two games nickel corner Marcus Williams has made a serious impact both on the field and in the box scores. Beware the mirage however. He is still a nickel corner playing 35-45 snaps a game. Unless he moves past Buster Skrine into a starting spot, starting Williams will be a bad bet.
Good news for all of us who drafted Karl Joseph. After being the worst defense in the league through two weeks the Raiders are finally going to give their first round pick a chance to play. Coach Del Rio was less than clear in terms of what role Joseph will have or how much he will play so we need to hang in there at least one more week before considering him for a starting spot.
There is nothing to think about when it comes to Reggie Nelson who already has 17 solo tackles and 3 assists. Nelson is an every week must play at this point.
Jihad Ward has not done much yet but it is worth mention he is starting at end opposite Khalil Mack. This is particularly noteworthy considering Ward is designated a tackle by most league hosting sites.
Ben Heeney owners may want to keep him on the bench this week. He was replaced by Cory James on Sunday after giving up big pass yards on consecutive plays late in the contest and did not get back on the field. There has been no word out of Raiders camp to confirm Heeney will continue as the starter.
We thought the Eagles defense was wacky under Chip Kelly but it has not been much better so far this year when it comes to the linebacker positions. Mychal Kendricks and Stephen Tulloch had little or no role in the week one game. In week two they had much bigger roles while Jordan Hicks and Nigel Bradham saw less action. There is nothing to do here but avoid the situation until we get some clarity and/or the Eagles coaching staff makes up their mind.
San Diego Chargers
Nothing has changed for Manti T'eo who was 1-3-0 on Sunday despite playing all 57 snaps against Jacksonville. This was simply the result of a lopsided blowout win. What was interesting, Denzel Perryman went 3-1 on 32 snaps. I am still wondering what the coaching staff is thinking by using Perryman in a two down role.
Jahleel Addae was carted off Sunday with broken clavicle. Dexter McCoil replaced him after the injury and is expected to start week three.
It is time to move on Frank Clark who is 4-3-3 after two games. He is not yet a starter but Clark is seeing significant time as the third man in the rotation at end and is also seeing time at tackle in some situations.
San Francisco 49ers
With Ray Ray Armstrong lost for the season we finally have a three down player at inside linebacker next to Navorro Bowman. Gerald Hodges was 2-8-1 with a forced fumble in week two. Over the past several years whoever has started at that spot has put up strong numbers. Hodges has the ability and now the opportunity to be a quality contributor the rest of the way. The only thing that could throw a wrench into it would be the coaching staff plugging Michael Wilhoite into some role. That was not the case on Sunday after Armstrong went down but who knows what might happen with a week to prepare. Grab Hodges but hang tight for a week before trusting him in your lineup,
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
For the second week in a row Chris Conte put up good numbers (7-0) and out produced Bradley McDougald (4-0). It is hard to say if this trend will continue but the fact McDougald has not done more over two games is enough for me to move on in most of my leagues.
Robert Ayers left Sunday's game in a boot and is unlikely to go this week against the Rams. With the earlier loss of Jaquise Smith the Buccaneers are down to Noah Spence and William Gholston as the last two standing from their original four man rotation. Los Angeles is not a great matchup for pass rushers but Gholston's fantasy value is not based on sack production anyway. He had 47 tackles and 20 assists last season. I like his chances of giving us solid tackle totals this week.
Like everyone else I am puzzled by Lavonte David. We know the kind of player he is and the Rams may prove to be the best matchup in the game for tackle producing defenders over the next few weeks. Put him in your lineup this week.
With that I am out of time. Best of luck in week three!