This article attempts to immediately highlight defensive players whose production was significantly better or worse than normally expected for the prior week of games. Note there is sometimes limited information available when this article is written, but I will try to give everyone an early look at players who are moving up or down in value among IDP circles. I've also added a section this year called No Change that tries to explain why the stat lines may be misleading for some players. It’s difficult to give waiver advice for IDPs since there is such a wide variety of lineups and scoring systems, but hopefully, the information provided can help inform your waiver, trade, and upcoming lineup decisions. If you have any questions on specific players or situations, feel free to email me or reach out via twitter.
LA RAMS @ SAN FRANCISCO
DT Michael Brockers, LAR (6 solos, 2 TFL)
Played 61 snaps (74%), which is quite high for a nose tackle. Not generating much pressure on the quarterback yet, but has 13 solos in 144 snaps already compared to just 14 solos in 398 snaps last year.
DE Aaron Donald, LAR (2 solos, 1 asst, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 2 QH)
Donald saw significant action last week after ending his holdout but looked a bit rusty. He was back to his normal disruptive self this week as he played 68 snaps (83%) and grabbed his first sack of the year.
S Lamarcus Joyner, LAR (1 solo, 1 asst)
Only played 21 snaps (26%) as he was forced to leave the game early with a hamstring injury. Cody Davis replaced him and picked up 4 tackles on 63 defensive snaps.
LB Navorro Bowman, SF (3 solos, 1 asst)
While he only managed 4 tackles on 67 snaps with 32 rush attempts from the Rams, I don't think you should lose much sleep over this game from Bowman. The game was played on Thursday night, which left little time for him to recover from the Seahawks game in week 2 when he played 81 snaps.
BALTIMORE @ JACKSONVILLE (in London)
LB C.J. Mosley, BAL (8 solos)
Last year was a disappointment for Mosley in terms of his tackle numbers, as he was often outshined by fellow ILB Zachary Orr. Now that Orr is gone, however, Mosley appears to be back on track and headed for a LB1 season with an average of 7 solo tackles per game.
S Tony Jefferson, BAL (3 solos)
This game was a disaster for almost everybody on the Ravens side, so it's tough to single out anybody in particular. Jefferson came into the year with high expectations but looked invisible for most of this game while the Jaguars offense seemed to do whatever they wanted. Note the London stat crew only handed out 4 assists out of 89 combined tackles in the game, so the numbers were down across the board.
LB Myles Jack, JAX (4 solos)
There weren't a lot of opportunities here for the Jaguars defenders as the Ravens couldn't sustain any offense until the game was well out of reach. Jack still looks like a clear 3-down linebacker who will have more good games than bad, although he likely isn't as good as his week 1 numbers suggested either.
DENVER @ BUFFALO
CB TreDavious White, BUF (6 solos, 1 asst, 1 INT, 4 PD)
The rookie was tested early and often by the Broncos outside receivers this week but held up remarkably well. The Bills lost their top-3 corners from last year, but are getting impressive play from White (14 solos, 7 PD) and fellow starter E.J. Gaines (11 solos, 5 PD).
LB Todd Davis, DEN (9 solos, 1 asst, 1 sack, 2 TFL, 1 QH)
This was obviously a huge game for Davis in terms of his stat line, and it's quite impressive that he managed it while seeing just 41 defensive snaps (63%). That being said, it's unlikely he'll be able to replicate this type of performance without playing a regular role in the team's nickel packages. He came into the game with just 35 snaps in the prior two games combined.
NEW ORLEANS @ CAROLINA
DE Alex Okafor, NO (3 solos, 2 asst, 1 sack, 1 QH, 1 FF)
Okafor has made a comfortable transition from playing a 3-4 outside linebacker role with the Cardinals to a 4-3 defensive end with the Saints. He's playing nearly 80% of the defensive snaps, which has helped him collect 11 solos and 4 assists so far for an average of 5 combined tackles/game.
LB Shaq Thompson, CAR (5 solos, 2 asst)
Don't overreact here, but it's worth mentioning that Thompson saw more playing time (53 snaps) than Thomas Davis in this game. It appears the Panthers played most of the game in their base defense as nickel corner Captain Munnerlyn only saw 11 snaps. Thompson is one of those players with intriguing potential who just needs an opportunity to open up for more playing time.
S Kenny Vaccaro, NO (3 solos, 2 asst, 1 TFL, 1 INT, 2 PD)
After being benched a week ago, Vaccaro was back in the starting lineup and was on the field for all 59 defensive snaps, while Vonn Bell started in a 3-safety nickel package but only saw 36 snaps. While a poor game from Cam Newton certainly helped, it was encouraging to see Vaccaro come up with an interception.
DT Kawann Short, CAR (1 solo, 1 asst, 1 QH)
It's been a very quiet start to the season for Short as he's been credited with just 5 solos and 2 assists with 0 sacks through the first 3 games. For a player who had 17 sacks over the past two years, it's concerning that he's only seeing a little over 40 snaps per game on average.
CB Ken Crawley, NO (8 solos, 1 asst, 1 TFL, 2 PD
Crawley was inactive during the first two weeks of the season but got the start this week in place of injured rookie Marshon Lattimore. He posted impressive numbers in a rare strong showing from the Saints defense, but it's not clear how he'll fit in once Lattimore returns.
PITTSBURGH @ CHICAGO
LB Ryan Shazier, PIT (11 solos, 1 TFL, 2 FF, 1 FR)
Shazier has always had LB1 fantasy potential, but injury issues and the presence of Lawrence Timmons likely held him back at times. Now he's getting a chance to be the focal point of the Steelers defense, and showed what he can do on Sunday with 11 solos and several forced fumbles.
LB Danny Trevathan, CHI (8 solos, 2 asst)
With Jerrell Freeman and Nick Kwiatkoski out injured, Trevathan has very little competition for tackles in the middle of the Bears defense. While there are certainly concerns about his durability, he was on the field for 62 snaps here and helped keep LeVeon Bell in check.
LB Leonard Floyd, CHI (1 asst)
Many expected big things from Floyd this year, but he is off to a very slow start. Through 3 games, he has yet to record a sack and he's not making a significant impact against the run either with just 0 solo tackles and 3 assists in the last 2 games.
S Sean Davis, PIT (1 asst)
Davis saw 39 snaps on defense this week before leaving with an ankle injury. The Bears running game certainly seemed to take advantage as they piled up 220 yards on the ground. J.J. Wilcox wound up playing 35 snaps in reserve and finished with 5 tackles and an interception.
ATLANTA @ DETROIT
DE Adrian Clayborn, ATL (2 solos, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 1 QH)
With Vic Beasley out for some time, the remaining Falcons pass rushers will get more opportunities. The veteran Clayborn has seen his playing time rise from 25 to 41 to 50 snaps (71%) this week, and he now has sacks in back to back games. Should make a nice short-term pickup if you need help at defensive end. Rookie Takkarist McKinley (2 solos, 1 sack, 2 TFL, 1 QH, 1 PD) saw a similar workload and likely has more pass rushing potential for those in big play leagues.
S Glover Quin, DET (5 solos, 3 asst, 1 INT, 1 PD, 1 TD)
As a free safety in the Lions defense, I would have expected Quin's production to be inconsistent from week to week. He's put together three strong showings in a row at this point, however, and ranks as one of the most productive IDPs in the entire league with 15 solos to go along with several big plays including a pick-6 this week.
S Miles Killebrew, DET (8 solos, 1 asst)
With Tavon Wilson missing this week, Killebrew got the start at strong safety and led the Lions in tackles with 8. He's been productive in limited subpackage snaps, and would likely be capable of posting very strong numbers consistently if given a full-time role.
LB Duke Riley, ATL (0 tackles)
I couldn't find any report of an injury, but Riley was only on the field for 26 snaps (37%) this week. With Devondre Campbell seeing 52 snaps, it looks like he has taken over for Riley in the team's nickel package as the rookie still has room to grow.
DE Ezekiel Ansah, DET (0 tackles)
I'm sure a lot of people were disappointed by this stat line after his 3-sack outing in week 2. He was playing with a knee injury, however, and was limited to just 33 snaps (49%).
CLEVELAND @ INDIANAPOLIS
DE Emmanuel Ogbah, CLE (2 solos, 4 asst, 1 sack, 1 QH)
A week after writing him off for his slow start, Ogbah bounced back with a very productive game against the Colts. With 6 combined tackles and a sack on 50 snaps, perhaps we will start to see more returns from the 33rd overall pick in 2016.
CB Rashaan Melvin, IND (2 solos, 2 INT, 4 PD)
Melvin emerged last year as a key piece of the Colts secondary, and his 6'2" frame helps him match up with some of the league's bigger WRs while also coming up to support the run. He posted 6 solos in the first two games this year and then blew up with a pair of interceptions this week. Vontae Davis and Quincy Wilson were both out with injuries, but as long as he's in a full-time role he's a strong streaming option.
S Matthias Farley, IND (2 solos, 1 asst, 1 TFL)
Farley remains the team's starting strong safety, and the Browns offense only provided 44 tackle opportunities this week. However, Farley went from playing 100% of the snaps a week ago to just 66% this week. It looks like Darius Butler is eating into his playing time somewhat, which could impact Farley's week to week consistency.
TAMPA BAY @ MINNESOTA
LB Kendell Beckwith, TB (6 solos, 2 asst)
The rookie Beckwith has filled in admirably for Kwon Alexander at middle linebacker. He was the only Tampa defender to play all 74 snaps this week, and the injury to Lavonte Davis likely creates an opportunity for him to stay in the lineup even after Alexander returns.
DE Noah Spence, TB (0 tackles)
The 2nd year pass rusher looked ready to take on a bigger role than expected based on his usage in their season opener. Unfortunately, he suffered a dislocated shoulder in the game this week that limited him to just 21 snaps. This is the third time he suffered the same injury in the past year, so will likely need to wear a harness.
LB Lavonte David, TB (4 solos, 3 asst, 1 TFL, 1 QH)
David was off to a strong start this year but suffered a high ankle sprain late in the game that is expected to keep him out for about a month. Kendell Beckwith is expected to fill in for him, assuming Kwon Alexander returns next week.
HOUSTON @ NEW ENGLAND
DE Jadeveon Clowney, HOU (6 solos, 2 sacks, 4 TFL, 3 QH, 1 FR)
The Texans harassed Tom Brady all game and finished with 5 sacks and 8 QB hits, but the standout player was clearly Clowney. It took awhile for the former #1 overall pick to reach his potential, but he showed flashes last year and should be headed for a breakout season.
LB Kyle Van Noy, NE (9 solos, 2 asst)
Van Noy stays on the field in all situations and was very active this week. When you consider the Texans offense provided 56 tackle opportunities, it's a positive sign that Van Noy was involved in making the tackle about 20% of the time. Elandon Roberts also had a productive day with 9 tackles on 57 snaps, but his role is less secure.
LB Benardrick McKinney, HOU (3 solos, 2 asst, 1 QH)
McKinney is playing the same role he did previously, but his tackle numbers have dropped off from where they were last year. Through 3 games, he has just 11 solo tackles (and 11 assists), which is surprising for such a strong run stopper who plays every down. Fortunately, he has 2 sacks and a forced fumble that have helped make up for the lower than expected tackles.
MIAMI @ NY JETS
DE Leonard Williams, NYJ (1 solo, 1 asst, 1 QH)
The defensive line was supposed to be the strength of this Jets team, but their two-star players have been very underwhelming. Muhammad Wilkerson has 0 sacks and 8 tackles in 3 games, while Leonard Williams has 0 sacks and 9 tackles in the same time period. This should have been a prime opportunity for them too since they played with a lead for much of the game.
S Marcus Maye, NYJ (0 tackles)
Maye played all 63 defensive snaps for the Jets but simply wasn't involved in the play very often as the Dolphins couldn't sustain much of an attack. Still disappointing considering the Dolphins trailed almost the entire game and Jay Cutler has 26 completions on 44 attempts.
NY GIANTS @ PHILADEPHIA
LB Keenan Robinson, NYG (7 solos, 3 asst)
Robinson didn't start the game but saw extensive playing time in his first game of the year after clearing the league's concussion protocol. Rookie Calvin Munson started the game but only saw 23 snaps, and it's likely the team would feel more comfortable with Robinson if B.J. Goodson misses any more time.
CB Jalen Mills, PHI (9 solos, 3 asst, 2 PD)
Although I'm not sure it was a particularly wise choice, the Eagles decided to let Jalen Mills shadow Odell Beckham this week. It certainly helped both of them become more productive, and it will be interesting to see if they take a similar approach against Keenan Allen next week.
DT Fletcher Cox, PHI (1 solo)
Cox is certainly one of the elite defensive tackles in the league, but he was knocked out of the game early with a calf injury. He only managed to play 17 snaps, but the injury isn't expected to keep him out for long.
LB Jordan Hicks, PHI (1 asst)
Hicks only lasted 14 snaps before leaving the game with an ankle injury. He had played every defensive snap until that point, but his absence created an opportunity for Mychal Kendricks who finished with 7 tackles and a pair of pass deflections in 48 snaps.
SEATTLE @ TENNESSEE
LB Wesley Woodyard, TEN (8 solos, 2 asst, 2 TFL, 2 QH)
Woodyard led all Titans linebackers with 60 defensive snaps (80%) this week, and he wound up leading the team in tackles as a result. They are basically using a 3-man rotation at inside linebacker, but it's starting to look like the veteran Woodyard is clearly the best fantasy option over Avery Williamson (34 snaps) or rookie Jayon Brown (44 snaps).
DE Cliff Avril, SEA (1 solo)
Avril is a tough player to rely on from a fantasy perspective because most of his production comes from sacks. He had 11.5 sacks last year but was only credited with 20 solo tackles and 19 assists. We are seeing that taken to a new extreme so far this year as he's picked up 1 sack and just 2 solo tackles through 3 games. It's not an issue of playing time either as he was on the field for 53 snaps this week (73% of the game).
CINCINNATI @ GREEN BAY
LB Carl Lawson, CIN (3 solos, 1 asst, 2.5 sacks, 2 TFL, 3 QH)
The Bengals have an abundance of young pass rushers, and Lawson may have been overlooked due to the limited playing time he received in the first two games. He put an end to that with this performance, however, as he snagged 2.5 sacks while playing nearly 80% of the game.
S Josh Jones, GB (11 solos, 1 asst, 2 sacks, 3 TFL, 2 QH)
The rookie safety had his coming out party this week as he exploded for 11 solos with a pair of sacks. The Packers shifted Morgan Burnett to slot cornerback, which opened a spot for Jones at linebacker. They also inserted Marwin Evans in at strong safety and wound up using four safeties for almost the entire game.
S Morgan Burnett, GB (3 solos, 2 asst, 1 TFL)
Burnett still played every defensive snap this week, but they came primarily as a slot cornerback instead of the hybrid safety/linebacker role we expected. If those roles continue, it may not be a great sign for the value of Burnett moving forward. He's still potentially a low-end starting safety for fantasy purposes but not quite the top-5 elite option he could have been.
CB Darqueze Dennard, CIN (7 solos, 3 asst, 1 sack)
The former 1st round pick is serving as the team's nickel back, and it looks like he was picked on by Aaron Rodgers this week in their comeback victory. Those numbers look great, but now that Adam Jones is back it's unlikely he'll be able to sustain that type of production.
KANSAS CITY @ LA CHARGERS
DE Melvin Ingram, LAC (6 solos, 3 sacks, 3 TFL, 3 QH)
While the Chargers haven't had great results on the field, it is readily apparent that the move to a 4-3 defense has done wonders for Ingram. He topped out at 10 sacks in 2015 but has a chance to blow way past that number this year with 5.5 sacks already recorded through just 3 games.
CB Terrance Mitchell, KC (9 solos, 2 INT, 4 PD)
Mitchell is relatively unproven as a starting corner, but he's getting a chance to play a full-time role opposite Marcus Peters. That is contributing to him seeing a steady dose of targets, and it led to one of the biggest IDP scores this week.
CB Jason Verrett, LAC (DNP)
Verrett decided to undergo season-ending knee surgery and was placed on injured reserve over the weekend. That pushed Trevor Williams up into an every-down role, and likely means teams will have less reason to test Casey Hayward.
S Ron Parker, KC (1 solo, 1 asst)
Parker exploded with 10 solo tackles in week 1 but has just 2 in the two games since then despite seeing 70+ snaps in each. The injury to Eric Berry has not helped him as it seems he's playing more of a deep coverage role to prevent any big plays while Daniel Sorenson and nickel safety Eric Murray are both playing closer to the box.
LB Korey Toomer, LAC (7 solos, 1 asst, 1 PD)
Toomer was back in the starting lineup at MLB this week and posted 8 tackles on 42 snaps (79%). Since Hayes Pullard was inactive with an injury, however, it's likely he'll take the spot back once he's healthy.
OAKLAND @ WASHINGTON
LB Cory James, OAK (6 solos, 6 asst, 1 TFL, 1 FF)
James played all 68 snaps and piled up plenty of tackles as the Washington offense generated 60 tackle opportunities. The MLB spot in Oakland has been a rotating door while James has remained a steady presence on the weakside.
LB Martrell Spaight, WAS (3 solos, 6 asst, 1 FR)
Mason Foster sat out with an injury and Will Compton got the start in his place, but Spaight wound up playing 90% of the snaps instead. Foster isn't expected to be out much longer though, so Spaight will most likely return to the bench next week.