As the season progresses it is hard to find those diamonds in the rough or that guy that no one has heard of. This week we are going to examine the plethora of injuries across the league and who the most likely successor is to that starting job as well as highlight some prime matchups as well as surprising performers to this point. This article will also highlight a few long-term and speculative players that could see their value rise over the course of the season.
Robert Quinn OLB (LAR): Robert Quinn has been completely forgotten about for the Rams. He is the prototypical 4-3 defensive end but has been asked to play linebacker. Quinn has struggled a bit in his new role but this does not diminish his speed off the edge and ability to get after the quarterback. Coming off two injury-plagued seasons, Quinn is in arguably the most important season of his career. Add that to the plus matchup he has with the Cowboys commitment to running Ezekiel Elliot and Quinn has a chance to rack up the tackles this week. Quinn’s value was hurt by scheme change and his previous injuries but look for a bounce-back performance this week against Dallas.
Lawrence Timmons LB (MIA): The Dolphins have lifted the suspension of veteran linebacker Lawrence Timmons and he will be inserted back into the starting rotation. Timmons may not be the same linebacker he was back in his early playing days with Pittsburgh but he still has something left in the tank for a Miami team that struggled with the Jets last week. It is rare to find a starting linebacker at this point in the season without an injury and Timmons could be a great stash if he has his head right. I would not plug Timmons in right away as he does not have a great matchup with New Orleans this week but he is a great stash and see what happens option for the rest of the season.
Demario Davis LB (NYJ): The entire New York Jets football team cannot be bad and Davis has been an almost lone bright spot on a very bad defense. The Arkansas State product had a breakout game last week with 11 solos and 1 assist. This is a very welcomed follow-up to his 8 solos, 6 assists, and half sack performance from week one. It is easy to write off the Jets defense but someone has to get the tackles. With plus matchups against Jacksonville and Cleveland in back to back weeks, Davis is a worthy addition for the short term and we will see if he can keep up this pace for the rest of the season.
Alex Okafor DE (NO): Since making the change from linebacker to defensive end, Okafor has thrived for the Saints. With 3 solos, 2 assists, a sack, and a forced fumble last week against the Panthers, Okafor is emerging as a premier defensive lineman for a Saints defense that has been terrible. Teams are going to continue to pick on a very weak New Orleans secondary and this will give Okafor ample chances to get after the quarterback. The tackle totals may not be as high but the sack total should make up for that. Look for Okafor to continue to thrive for a Saints defense that is going to be on the field a lot this season.
Melvin Ingram DE (LAC): It is almost baffling that Ingram is less than 50% owned across all Yahoo IDP leagues as he is currently rated in the top 3 of all defensive ends this season. Ingram had a huge game last week with 3 sacks and 6 solos against Kansas City. Ingram is not going to be around very long if he has not already been claimed. The Chargers defense may not be very good overall but with Joey Bosa on the other side, there is a two-headed pass rush that is arguably the best in the league. Ingram has double-digit sack potential and has shown that he can play a factor in the run game. This may be your last chance to jump on the Ingram train this season.
Olivier Vernon DE (NYG): Do not look too far into the questionable tag for Vernon as his MRI came back negative on his ankle and the defensive end has not missed a game in his 6-year career. The Giants have not played very well so far this season and if the defense is going to turn it around, Vernon will be a big part of that. With 4 solos, an assist, and a sack last week, Vernon is starting to turn it on as the Giants try to climb out of a 0-3 hole. Vernon and the Giants face a Tampa Bay team that likes to throw the ball and a Jameis Winston who has not shown the same ability to evade defenders as early in his career.
Tre’Davious White CB (BUF): Buffalo almost always seems to find a defender on this list as they seem to have different contributors almost every week. White saw his tackle numbers increase to 6 solos last week against a Denver team who kept trying to force the ball down the field. This week White will take on a much more established passer in Matt Ryan but still an offense that likes to put it in the air. White will get his opportunities this week but will need a few more solid performances before being trusted as a starter.
Darius Slay CB (DET): Slay finds his way onto this list after a strong performance last week against Matt Ryan and company (2 interceptions) as well as a good matchup this week in Minnesota. Slay is primed to cover Stefon Diggs and will have ample opportunity for tackles and pass breakups. Slay’s interceptions last week were gifts off of Atlanta’s receivers’ hands but he could have a better chance if Case Keenum starts for the Vikings. Slay has far outperformed his expected production so far this season but he could be a great addition for this week for those in need of a corner.
Terrance Mitchell CB (KC): Kansas City has been playing lights out football and players are contributing all over the field. Mitchell has an intriguing matchup against Kirk Cousins and a Washington offense that likes to spread the ball around the field. Coming off of a 9 solo tackle performance last week and adding 6 passes defended and 2 interceptions on the season, Mitchell is primed for a breakout year. Corners do not get a lot of love in the IDP world with the low tackle numbers, but Mitchell showed he can get his nose in there and stop the run when needed. If you are in a league that requires a corner or have been bitten by the injury bug and not a spot starter, Mitchell could help you this week against the Redskins.