There is a lot to be said for fresh legs at this point in the season. Deone Bucannon looks both healthy and fresh. He played every snap against Tampa Bay, leading the team with 7 solo tackles and an assist. Over their next six games, Arizona faces Jacksonville and the Rams twice (including this week) so Bucannon has some positive matchups coming up as well. He will have been picked up in a lot of leagues but I have seen him slip through the cracks in some redrafts.
Patrick Peterson left the Week 6 game with a quad injury. After the game, Peterson said he would play in Week 7. Tramon Williams came in for Peterson on Sunday and would likely be the replacement if one is needed.
Atlanta got Vic Beasley back in Week 6. He played 26 snaps and did nothing but seemed to come through healthy. He could get back on track this week against a Patriots offense that has given up 3 or more sacks in four of six games.
Matt Judon had a huge Week 6 going 12-0-2 against the Bears. His raw snap count of 70 makes it seem like something might have changed about his role, but the extra opportunity came from nearly a full period of overtime. There is nothing here that suggests Judon is more than a one week wonder.
There may be something to see with Patrick Onwuasor however. His snap percentage has been on the rise with the 66 plays against the Bears representing a season-high 79% of the playing time. Meanwhile, Kamalei Correa has played 8 snaps in the last two games combined. Onwuasor might be worth adding in some deeper leagues. At the least, he is a player to keep on the radar.
I will be starting Micah Hyde this week against the Buccaneers. He has not been the steady tackle producer many of us expected entering the season, but Hyde has been a playmaker. The bottom line is he has 9 or more points in four of the team's five games with a high of 28 in Week 4. If that is not enough, factor in the matchup. In Tampa Bay's five games, opponent’s safeties have combined for at least 11 solo tackles four times while six safeties have reached double-digit points.
There have been mixed reports about Luke Kuechly, including the possibility he did not suffer a concussion. He has been a limited participant in practice this week and is thought to still be in the NFL's concussion protocol. If Kuechly remains out it would make both Thomas Davis and Shaq Thompson three-down linebackers.
For many owners in corner required leagues, James Bradberry has been a solid every week start this year. Playing against the Bears this week is somewhat risky after Mitchell Trubiski directed only a handful of passes at wide receivers versus the Ravens. The result in that game was no Baltimore corner recording more than 1 tackle. If you have another quality option at corner, you might want to play it safe and go with him. If you are short on options, however, there is nothing wrong with rolling out Bradberry. First and foremost, Chicago is not playing Baltimore's dysfunctional offense this week so the chances of them working with a lead again seem slim. Even with the minimal opportunity in Week 6, the corner positions of Bears opponents have averaged better than 9 tackles per game. If/When they get behind, Trubiski will have no choice but to throw and even if receiver targets are a little low, the rookie quarterback has high turnover potential. Then there is Bradberry himself with at least 5 solo stops in three of the first five games, and a mark of 4-2-1 in Week 6.
Adrian Amos is on fire with 21 solo stops over his three starts and a monster Week 6 that included 6 tackles, 2 assists, and a 6-2-0 90-yard touchdown return off a turnover. The Panthers have been an inconsistent matchup for safeties but we have seen three reach double-digit points against them. Amos continues to see a lot of time up in the box and is seeing time at linebacker depth in a lot of sub package situations. I look for Week 7 to be his fourth strong outing in a row since becoming the starter.
With Sean Lee set to return the Cowboys finally have all their linebackers available for a game. This probably spells bad news for Jaylon Smith owners, especially after his role was greatly reduced in Week 5 even with Lee out. Smith played all 69 snaps against the Rams in Week 4 but saw slightly more than half the action versus Green Bay. Anthony Hitchens replaced Lee in that game while Smith split time with Justin Durant. With everyone healthy the only sure three-down option and of the group is Lee.
Shane Ray has been activated from IR and is expected to practice this week. It is unclear if the Broncos will try to get him on the field for a few plays this week or will wait until next but his return is close. Owners in big play based leagues should look to add him now if available, while his activation is still running under the radar.
Justin Simmons is getting a lot of waiver wire attention this week following his 11 tackles against the Giants. I saw nothing to suggest a role change or anything that would make me believe his big production was more than a fluke.
When Tavon Wilson racked up 9 tackles in Week 5 it looked like an indication he was back to 2016 form. Apparently, that is not the case, however. Wilson missed a few snaps against the Saints after aggravating the shoulder injury and played most of the game tentatively. This has the look of a problem that will linger, making Wilson a non-factor for most of us going forward.
Detroit may be without Glover Quin week. He is out of practice early in the week with a "head" injury; most of the time that means a concussion. The Lions used a backup corner at free safety for about half of the Week 6 game but could shift Wilson to that spot and start Miles Killebrew this week if Quin sits.
Green Bay Packers
The Packers are dealing with a rash of injuries on both sides of the ball. Aaron Rodgers gets all the attention but losses in the secondary have the defense behind the eight ball as well. Starters Morgan Burnett (hamstring), Davon House (quadriceps) and Kenny King (concussion) all missed the Week 6 game and are in doubt for Week 7 while Quinten Rollins landed on IR this week with an ankle injury suffered during the game. This could not come at a worse time with the Saints next on the schedule. New Orleans has been a strong matchup for defensive backs in general with the opponent’s secondary accounting for 21 or more solo tackle in four of their five games. If Burnett is not available I like the chances of both Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Josh Jones putting up good numbers. Those in corner required leagues may want to consider Damarius Randall.
The Texans injury mess got worse in Week 6 with outside linebacker Dylan Cole exiting early with a bad hamstring. The team added some bodies heading into last week's games including Lamarr Houston who could be a starter when they return from the bye next week. Houston landed a sack on one of his 9 snaps in Week 6. With the team on a bye, there are not many updates coming from the team so we will probably have to wait until early next week to hear anything.
At a glance, we might expect Jacksonville's strong run game to make them an exceptional matchup for inside linebackers and safeties. In reality, they have been fairly solid on most weeks but nothing special overall. Jon Bostic should be a quality start based on volume of opportunity, and I can see Mathias Farley having closer to a full-time role as they match up with the Jaguars offense. I think both have a high floor this week.
Many of us have been leaning on Myles Jack and Telvin Smith all season but we may want to look hard at other options this week. Through six games there have been two linebackers and one corner that have exceeded 5 solo tackles against the Colts with no linebacker managing more than 6.
Los Angeles Chargers
Jatavis Brown continues to tough it out and play on a sore ankle but he is working in a limited role. He played 20 snaps against the Raiders and needs to remain on the bench until healthy. The good news for Los Angeles is the impending return of Denzel Perryman who is ahead of schedule in the recovery from his ankle sprain. Coach Lynn said on Monday that he expects Perryman to practice this week. Depending on how that goes Perryman could see some action in Week 7 but it will be another week or two before we can expect a significant role for him.
In the Week 1 meeting between the Chargers and Broncos, Brown had 11 solo tackles while strong safety Jahleel Addae went 1-1-0. I expect much better production from Addae this week but would still lean toward sitting him. Micah Hyde and Darian Thompson are the only two safeties to reach 5 solo stops against Denver so far this season and no safety has reached 6.
Los Angeles Rams
Aaron Donald has not been the fantasy beast some expected this year but he does have a pair of sacks in the last four games. He has a good shot at adding to the total this week against an Arizona offense that has allowed the third most sacks (21) in the league. For those in tackle required leagues, I like Michael Brockers in this game as well. He also has a couple sacks in the last three games and is tough against the run which will be a plus with the Cardinals feeding Adrian Peterson the rock.
The Jets running game laid an egg in Week 6 but they have been a strong matchup every other week. Meanwhile, Lawrence Timmons has been solid over the past few weeks. I like his chances of a big game in this one. With the Jets giving up more than 3 sacks a game on average, this would be a good week to plug in Cameron Wake as well.
Anthony Barr left the Week 6 game with a concussion and was replaced by Emmanuel Lamur. Lamur remained on the field in sub package situations as well. There is nothing special about the Ravens matchup but Lamur could have some value in deep rostered leagues.
New England Patriots
At this point, there is little we can trust about the Patriots and even less when it comes to Dont'a Hightower, but I have to mention this anyway. Hightower has been on the field for 89% (131 of 148) of the Patriots defensive snaps in the past two weeks. He is still seeing some time as a pass rusher in sub packages. His 6-1-1 against the Jets was the first decent production we have seen from Hightower this year. Some will contend that is because he is finally healthy. While that is a valid point, history makes me highly skeptical about Patriots defenders in general and Hightower in particular.
New Orleans Saints
For the second consecutive week, I am calling out Alex Okafor as a quality start. Despite the almost uncanny ability of Aaron Rodgers to feel pressure and avoid them, the Packers have allowed the most sacks in the league thus far. Brett Hunley has the same offensive line in front of him but he does not have the same escape ability. We might even see Sheldon Rankins finally get it going in this one.
Craig Robertson was huge in his first start of the season and will be on a lot of owners add lists this week. At this point in the season it is hard to argue against that move but be aware he is still not playing every down. It looked as if the coaching staff simply moved Robertson into the role Alex Anzalone had held and put safety Rafael Bush in one previously belonging to Robertson. Robertson played 62 of 81 snaps with Bush logging 21 total plays.
New York Giants
Landon Collins played against Denver but was obviously bothered by the sore ankle; enough so in fact, to play a reduced number of snaps (52 of 81). I will be keeping him on the bench until healthy. Both he and Olivier Vernon have been limited in practice this week.
Maybe it was by design and maybe it was because the Giants have some injuries at linebacker; whatever the reason is was good to see B.J. Goodson play all but one snap versus Denver. It would have been nice to see more production than his 5-1-0 but at least we can blame that on a stagnate Broncos running game and not a lesser role.
The Raiders were a mess at linebacker in Week 6. Marquel Lee missed the game with an ankle injury, Cory James tried to go on his sore knee but managed just seven snaps and Tyrell Adams was on the field for one play then was released on Tuesday. That left Oakland with nickel linebacker Nicholas Morrow and special team’s contributor Xavier Woodson-Luster at middle and weakside respectively. The Navorro Bowman addition could not have come at a better time for this team. San Francisco let him go because they wanted more athleticism at the position. In Oakland, Bowman is the best linebacker on the roster. As of Wednesday evening, we know Bowman will play in at least some packages against the Chiefs. When we consider their limited options, it will be a surprise if he is not a three-down starter. One thing that seems certain, Bowman should lead the team in tackles the rest of the way, especially if James struggled to get healthy.
Oakland gets more reinforcements with the return of Obi Melifonwu. The super-sized safety returned to practice this week and may be available in Week 8. Unless they get some guys healthy we could see Melifonwu log some time at weakside linebacker and/or at linebacker in sub packages. Keep an eye on his progress and role going forward.
Mychal Kendricks has played fewer than 30 snaps in four of the Eagles six games. In Week 3 he was 6-1-0 on 48 plays and when Jordan Hicks was forced out of the Week 6 game with an ankle injury, Kendricks exploded for 12 tackles and 5 assists on 58 snaps. In those two games combined Kendricks accounted for 34.5 points on 68% of the defensive snaps. In Week 2 he was 4-0-1 with a pass breakup on 20 plays. Why he is not starting for the Eagles is a huge mystery. Hicks is expected to practice late this week so if you reacted to the big game by Kendricks and picked him up, keep a close eye on the situation. If Hicks sits, Kendricks is a solid start.
Nigel Bradham missed a few snaps in Week 6 with what looked like a potential concussion. He checked out and returned to finish his most productive game of the year at 7-3-0 with a pair of pass breakups. Bradham was a major disappointment early on but has seen his production steadily rise since going 2-2 in Week 1. Over the last two games, he has combined for 12 tackles, 6 assists and a pair of passes defended. The Redskins have been an inconsistent matchup for linebackers but I like the chances of Bradham's solid production continuing; especially if Hicks plays as expected.
Brandon Graham missed some snaps with a sore shoulder but was able to return. Even if healthy he is not a great play this week against the Redskins who have allowed 8 sacks on the season.
If Sean Davis is a player you are considering this week, be aware Tony Jefferson in Week 1 and Josh Jones in Week 3 are the only safeties to record more than 3 solo tackles against the Bengals to date.
Michael Bennett's foot improved over the bye week and he is expected to play against the Giants. Both he and Frank Clark are worthy of serious starting consideration in this one. Both should play a lot of snaps with Cliff Avril out of the rotation. Having given up 16 sacks on the year including 8 in their last two games, the Giants are an above average matchup for pass rushers.
San Francisco 49ers
The release of Navorro Bowman caught most of us off guard but making that move before Reuben Foster was ready is a real head-scratcher. I have to think they jumped the gun by a week thinking Foster would play in Week 6. Instead San Francisco started Brock Coyle in the middle for one game. Foster has been practicing since last week and is expected to go against Dallas.
Ray Ray Armstrong was banged up in Week 6, missing some time with a shoulder injury. He has been limited in practice this week but it feels like he will be able to go. That is not the case with Arik Armstead who has been placed on IR following surgery on the hand he injured in Week 6. With both Armstead and Tank Carradine now out for the year, San Francisco will be using Elvis Dumervil and Aaron Lynch in a rotation opposite Solomon Thomas.
Eric Reid was active for Week 6 but played sparingly (10 plays) as the third safety. His role should expand in Week 7, the question is will the coaching staff move Jaquiski Tartt back to free safety where he was early in the season or will they send him to the bench and keep Jimmy Ward at free safety as they had originally planned to do heading into the season. The third option would be to leave Tartt at strong safety with either Reid or Ward at free. As well as Tartt has played I have a hard time believing they would take him out of a starting role but we have seen stranger things.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
When rookie Justin Evans played so well in his Week 5 debut I wondered if they would go ahead and make him the starter. If the Week 6 game is an indication that is exactly what the Buccaneers have done, Evans started at free safety and played 57 of 63 snaps, going 6-1-0 on the day. Meanwhile, T.J. Ward and Chris Conte split time evenly at the strong safety position. It will be interesting to see if it is Ward and Evans as the full-time guys going forward.
Lavonte David returned to action last week and Kwon Alexander has been a full practice participant this week, so the Buccaneers defense should finally be at full strength against Buffalo. The Bills are a strong matchup for linebackers so get these guys in your lineup.
Bashaud Breeland left Sunday's game with what was initially called a hamstring injury but later diagnosed as a knee. The team is awaiting results of an MRI but it sounds like Breeland is going to miss some time. With Josh Norman already sidelined Washington is looking at Kendall Fuller and Quinton Dunbar as the starters with Fabian Moreau as the nickel back. One of these guys is likely to put up decent numbers but picking the right one is a crap shoot. The best thing to do here is start your Eagles pass catchers.
That's all I have for Week 7. Best of luck and we pass the halfway point and head down the stretch of the fantasy regular season.