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 about specific players or situations, feel free to email me or reach out via twitter.
WASHINGTON @ DALLAS
LB Anthony Hitchens, DAL (12 solos, 3 asst, 3 TFL)
Hitchens continues to pick up the slack while Sean Lee sits out. His huge game on Thursday night this week 27 solos and 10 assists over the last 4 games. Lee is expected to return next week which will certainly create more competition for tackles, but Hitchens should hold onto his 3-down role and remain a viable starter in balanced or tackle-heavy scoring systems.
LB Martrell Spaight, WAS (1 solo)
Spaight played primarily on special teams this week as he was only on the field for 8 defensive snaps. Zach Vigil, who was only signed a couple weeks ago off the street, got the start at inside linebacker and played 53 snaps. That doesn't bode well for the long-term prospects of Spaight, even though Mason Foster and Will Compton are headed for free agency this offseason.
CB Orlando Scandrick, DAL (0 tackles)
Scandrick injured his back early in the game this week but managed to play through it for some time. He lasted 51 defensive snaps (85%) but failed to record a tackle or any other stat. It looks like he'll miss a week or two at least.
MINNESOTA @ ATLANTA
DT Grady Jarrett, ATL (3 solos, 2 asst, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 1 QH)
Jarrett hasn't been making as many tackles lately as we saw from him earlier this season but he has made up for it with his pass rush. He demonstrated his potential in a huge Super Bowl performance, and now has 2 sacks over his last 3 games. With 2 of his next 3 games coming against Drew Brees and the Saints, he may not be able to build on those sack totals much though.
LB Eric Kendricks, MIN (8 solos, 2 asst, 1 PD)
Kendricks missed practice time last week with a hip injury and posted just 2 solo tackles (and 4 assists) in his last 2 games combined. Despite those red flags, he came through with a huge outing against the Falcons with 10 combined tackles out of just 38 tackle opportunities the Falcons offense generated. Looks like he's back to a high-end LB2.
DE Adrian Clayborn, ATL (1 solo, 1 QH)
Clayborn continues to struggle since posting his huge 6-sack game in week 10. Apart from a fumble recovery for a touchdown, he has just 2 solo tackles to show for his last 3 starts. Furthermore, he was only on the field for 31 snaps (47%) this week as the Falcons used a rotation of 5 or 6 edge rushers.
DETROIT @ BALTIMORE
S Eric Weddle, BAL (2 solos, 1 asst, 1 sack, 1 INT, 1 PD, 1 FF, 1 TD)
Weddle averaged 80+ solo tackles over a 7-year period with the Chargers earlier in his career, but saw those numbers fall off considerably when he signed in Baltimore to play free safety. He has helped maintain his fantasy value by becoming more of a playmaker, which he took to a new level this week. In addition to a pick-6, Weddle also had a strip sack in the game. With 3 interceptions in his last 4 games, he's providing a big spark to the Ravens secondary as they travel to Pittsburgh next week.
CB Quandre Diggs, DET (5 solos, 1 PD)
The Lions surprised everybody by starting their nickel corner Diggs at strong safety in place of the injured Tavon Wilson. He wound up playing the majority of the game at safety, and although he doesn't have the size you would typically want for the position he's a tough player and sound tackler. Could provide a boost to his fantasy value if he holds off Myles Killebrew for the rest of the year.
CB Marlon Humphrey, BAL (5 solos, 2 asst, 1 INT, 1 PD)
Humphrey was questionable with a thigh injury but wound up playing a huge part in the game. He led the team in tackles, picked off his second pass in two games (only played 7 snaps last week), and now moves into a full-time role due to the injury suffered by Jimmy Smith on Sunday. The 16th overall pick out of Alabama had a slow start to his career but obviously has talent and should be tested quite often by the Steelers next week.
CB Jimmy Smith, BAL (2 solos, 1 TFL)
Smith was carted off late in the first half on Sunday with an Achilles injury. He's headed to I.R. and will be lost for the rest of the year. That's a big blow to the Ravens defense, although his fantasy value was minimal.
NEW ENGLAND @ BUFFALO
DE Eric Lee, NE (2 solos, 2 asst, 1.5 sacks, 1 TFL, 3 QH, 1 INT, 2 PD)
The Patriots signed Lee off the Bills practice squad just two weeks ago and he is quickly becoming an essential piece of their defensive front. Trey Flowers sat out with a rib injury this week so Lee took his place in the lineup and gave the Bills fits. He had a sack last week and added 1.5 more this week along with an interception near the goal line.
CB TreDavious White, BUF (4 solos, 1 asst, 1 INT, 1 PD)
White was matched up with Rob Gronkowski on several occasions in the second half and came up with an interception on one of those plays. Unfortunately, he was the victim of a late hit to the head from Gronkowski after the play and had to leave the game with a concussion. White has been huge all year with 15 passes defensed and would leave a big hole in the Bills secondary if he can't play next week.
SAN FRANCISCO @ CHICAGO
LB Danny Trevathan, CHI (10 solos, 1 asst, 1 TFL)
There was a large disparity in offensive plays and tackle opportunities in this game and the Bears defenders were helped by the 62 tackle opportunities generated by the 49ers offense. Trevathan returned to the lineup after sitting out the last 3 games and was able to play 66 snaps (88%). As long as he's healthy, Trevathan looks like a high-end LB2 in most scoring systems. Fellow inside linebacker Christian Jones also had a huge game with 13 tackles plus a sack despite playing just 69% of the defensive snaps.
LB Lamarr Houston, CHI (3 solos, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 1 QH)
Houston was claimed off waivers from the Texans last week and picked up a sack in his first game back with his old team. He didn't start, but wound up playing 68 of 75 defensive snaps after starter Pernell McPhee left early with an injury.
DT DeForest Buckner, SF (0 tackles)
Buckner and the rest of the 49ers defense were limited by the ineffective Bears offense, who only generated 33 tackle opportunities in the game. Despite playing a high percentage of snaps each week, however, low tackle numbers have become more of a trend for him. Over his last 4 games, he has just 5 solos and 2 assists with 4 of those solos coming in a single game. He also posted 6 sacks as a rookie but has just 1.5 this year and 0 in his last 7 games.
TAMPA BAY @ GREEN BAY
DE Will Clarke, TB (3 solos, 2 sacks, 1 TFL, 2 QH, 1 PD)
Clarke is a former 3rd round pick of the Bengals who posted 4 sacks for them a year ago. He was a late cut this preseason and was picked up by Tampa. He was mostly a depth player early this season but injuries have opened up more opportunity as he has gone over 30 snaps in each of the past two weeks. He was the only player on Tampa's defense who took advantage of the great matchup this week, adding 2 sacks.
DT Kenny Clark, GB (4 solos, 2 asst, 2 sacks, 1 TFL, 2 QH, 1 FF)
The Packers took advantage of a depleted offensive line for the Buccaneers and sacked Jameis Winston 7 times, which was the most the team had in a game since 2004. Clark was a first-round pick a year ago who hasn't made much of an impact yet and missed last week's game with an ankle injury. He returned to post the first 2 sacks of his career in a strong effort that included a strip sack that was returned for a defensive touchdown in the first half.
LB Clay Matthews, GB (6 solos, 1 asst, 2.5 sacks, 1 TFL, 3 QH)
Matthews has not been nearly as productive over the past couple seasons as he was early in his career and he missed last week with a groin injury. He looked great this week with 7 tackles and 2.5 sacks. That brings him up to 6 on the season and he should be able to build on that number next week against the Browns.
INDIANAPOLIS @ JACKSONVILLE
LB Paul Posluszny, JAX (10 solos, 4 asst, 1.5 sacks, 2 TFL, 1 QH)
With Telvin Smith Sr out while recovering from a concussion, Posluszny moved back into a full-time role this week. He played all but 1 snap and finished with 14 tackles, which doubled the total of the next highest player on the Jaguars defense. He can obviously still be productive in a full-time role.
LB Myles Jack, JAX (2 solos, 2 asst)
Even without Telvin Smith Sr in the lineup, Jack's stat line remained underwhelming. He played every snap in the game but was often beaten to the ball by Posluszny. While Jack has great range, he sometimes struggles shedding blockers and chasing down plays he should be able to make. Despite playing a full-time role, he's been credited with 4 or fewer tackles in 4 of his last 5 games and is likely not a viable fantasy starter right now.
DENVER @ MIAMI
S Justin Simmons, DEN (4 solos, 3 asst, 1 INT, 1 PD, 1 TD)
While this year continues to slip away from the Broncos, perhaps one silver lining is that they appear to have found a long-term solution at safety. Simmons continues to play hard and put up great numbers despite getting little help from the players around him. He returned an interception 65 yards for a touchdown this week in one of the only bright spots for the team.
CB Cordrea Tankersley, MIA (2 asst)
The rookie corner has been starting for some time but he suffered a shoulder injury and ankle injury this week that limited him to just 8 defensive snaps. Nickel corner Bobby McCain took over for him and posted 3 solos with a sack and 3 passes defensed as the Dolphins contained the Broncos passing attack.
KANSAS CITY @ N.Y. JETS
LB Justin Houston, KC (1 QH)
Houston was a non-factor on Sunday in a high-scoring loss to the Jets. Despite facing 36 pass attempts, the Chiefs were not able to generate any consistent pressure on Josh McCown. While some fluctuation is expected for a 3-4 OLB, Houston played 80 snaps in the game so it's disappointing to see him get shut out. With just 1 sack in his last 4 games, he is slumping like the rest of the team.
LB Julian Stanford, NYJ (2 solos, 2 asst)
Stanford started at inside linebacker in place of the Darron Lee, who was suspended for a violation of team rules after arriving late to practice. Stanford was on the field for all 46 snaps but the Chiefs offense only generated 32 tackle opportunities in the game so his numbers weren't as high as they might have been in a better situation.
HOUSTON @ TENNESSEE
LB Benardrick McKinney, HOU (5 solos, 2 asst, 1 sack, 1 TFL)
McKinney has not performed up to expectations this season but has started to show signs of life in recent weeks. He had 9 tackles in week 11 against the Cardinals and then led the team with 7 tackles this week in a game where the Titans only generated 25 rush attempts and 42 tackle opportunities.
DE DaQuan Jones, TEN (2 solos, 3 asst, 1.5 sacks, 1 TFL, 2 QH)
While his stat line was very impressive and Jones now has 3.5 sacks over his last 2 games, he only saw 26 snaps in the game this week due to a shoulder injury. He was seen wearing a sling on his shoulder so he may not get a chance to keep his sack streak going next week against the Cardinals.
CLEVELAND @ L.A. CHARGERS
DE Joey Bosa, LAC (7 solos, 1 sack, 2 TFL, 1 QH, 1 FF)
Bosa is certainly proving that his rookie season was no fluke. He posted 10.5 sacks in 12 games as a rookie and now has 12.5 sacks in 12 games as a sophomore. Given that the Chargers now employ a 4-3 base defense and have perhaps the best depth at cornerback in the league, he is likely the #1 overall IDP in dynasty leagues.
LB Joe Schobert, CLE (7 solos, 5 asst, 1 sack, 1 TFL)
Schobert has likely been the biggest surprise breakout IDP in the league this year. This marks the 3rd straight game he has been credited with at least 10 combined tackles and the 7th time in his last 9 games. In addition to posting huge tackle numbers each week, Schobert has also been a big play machine with 2 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, and an interception over his last 5 games.
L.A. RAMS @ ARIZONA
LB Josh Bynes, ARI (8 solos, 1 TFL, 1 PD)
As expected, Bynes filled in for the injured Deone Bucannon this week and played all 58 snaps. While he didn't help slow down Todd Gurley much on his way to over 150 yards from scrimmage, Bynes has 16 solo tackles over his last 2 games. He may head back to the bench next week if Bucannon is able to return from his leg injury though.
LB Alec Ogletree, LAR (1 solo, 1 INT, 1 PD, 1 TD)
Ogletree wound up playing just 23 snaps (36%) this week, although he made them count with a 41-yard interception return for a touchdown. He suffered an elbow injury early on and tried to play through it but was eventually taken out. Watch his status this week to see if he'll be available for two big games coming up against the Eagles and Seahawks. Bryce Hager replaced him but only managed 1 solo on 41 snaps.
LB Ethan Westbrooks, LAR (3 solos, 1 asst, 2 sacks, 2 TFL, 2 QH)
Westbrook added 2 sacks as the Rams defense made things very uncomfortable for Blaine Gabbert on Sunday. He's a solid depth player but appears to be 4th or 5th on the depth chart for edge rushers so it's unlikely he'll be able to replicate this performance.
CAROLINA @ NEW ORLEANS
S Mike Adams, CAR (5 solos, 1 asst, 1 FF, 1 PD)
Adams hasn't been all that productive at strong safety this year likely due to the presence of Luke Kuechly in front of him. He saw a slight uptick in his numbers this week, however, as both Thomas Davis and Shaq Thompson were both playing injured.
S Vonn Bell, NO (2 solos, 1 asst)
Bell's previous pace was obviously unsustainable so fantasy owners shouldn't overreact to his low output this week. He was still on the field for all 57 snaps but he was shifted over to more of a free safety role as fellow safety Marcus Williams sat out with a groin injury.
N.Y. GIANTS @ OAKLAND
LB Bruce Irvin, OAK (7 solos, 1 asst, 1 sack, 2 TFL, 1 QH, 1 FF)
Irvin plays a lot of snaps for the Raiders but offers little value when he's not getting to the quarterback. He's had more success in that area of late, however, with 3.5 sacks over his last 4 games with 15 solos in the same time period.
DE Mario Edwards Jr, OAK (0 tackles)
Despite playing 36 defensive snaps (56%), Edwards was shut out this week. This marks the third game in a row where he has been a non-factor with just 1 assist in that span. Meanwhile, Denico Autry who sees a similar number of snaps each week has 5 solos and 3 sacks in the last two games.
LB B.J. Goodson, NYG (2 solos, 2 asst)
Goodson finally returned to the lineup this week after sitting out the previous 4 games. He only lasted 31 snaps (48%), however, before aggravating his ankle injury. Calvin Munson replaced him and finished with 5 tackles plus a sack on 32 snaps. The Giants also picked up Ray Ray Armstrong after he was cut by the 49ers but he only saw special teams snaps this week.
PHILADELPHIA @ SEATTLE
CB Byron Maxwell, SEA (4 solos, 3 asst, 1 INT, 2 PD)
Maxwell continues to play a huge role for Seattle since re-joining the team a few weeks ago. He started at the LCB spot normally held by Richard Sherman this week and had a strong game against one of his former teams in the Eagles. His physical style is a great fit in Seattle, and he could make a decent streaming option for owners who are desperate at the position.
DT Fletcher Cox, PHI (2 asst, 1 QH)
Cox is one of the most talented players at his position in the league and he's being paid like it but his production has been rather underwhelming. While he does have 5.5 sacks on the season, he only has a total of 10 solo tackles and 7 assists through 10 games. Furthermore, he has just 1 sack in his last 4 games, which certainly make it difficult to consider him an every week starter in DT-required leagues.