Karlos Dansby continues to put up decent numbers while Haason Reddick continues to share time with Josh Bynes at the other ILB spot. In Week 2 Reddick once again played about 80% of the snaps. Deone Bucannon could be back in the near future after returning to practice on a limited basis last week.
Robert Nkemdiche made his 2017 debut playing 19 uneventful snaps against the Colts. He will be on the watch list over the next few weeks as he works back into the starting role.
If there was any doubt about Tyvon Branch after Week 1, he removed it by playing every snap again in Week 2 and posting a respectable 4-3-0 with a pass defended despite a weak matchup with the Colts.
The Falcons defense took a big hit in Week 2 when Vic Beasley Jr went down with a serious hamstring injury. Early reports have him missing at least a month. Rookie Takkarist McKinley took on a bigger role after Beasley left and may be in line for his first NFL start in Week 3. Adrian Clayborn was also banged up in the game, but the lack of news suggests it was nothing serious.
Jerry Hughes bounced back from a slow Week 1 going 4-2-2 against the Panthers. He should be an every week starter in most circumstances and this week's matchup with Denver is no exception after Broncos lost Garrett Bolles to a high ankle sprain. Hughes also has matchups with the Bengals, Jets, and Saints in the next seven games.
Ramon Humber turned in another solid outing at 7-4-0 while Preston Brown gave us a really strange box score of 0-7-0. Some of this can be explained by Humber playing better than expected but I believe a lot of it comes down to opponents picking on Humber. As we always say here at Footballguys, two weeks in a row is a trend. Buffalo is going to be an average team at best so expect Humber to continue having plenty of opportunities. That said I am still confident Brown will bounce back with solid numbers on most weeks.
I have been high on Micah Hyde all summer but it is now becoming apparent Jordan Poyer is the Bills safety to have. He is being used both as an in the box run defender at times and a pass rusher in blitz packages. Through two games Poyer is 10-2-2 with an interception and 5 passes defended. He is leading all Buffalo defenders with 38.5 points. Snatch him up if you can.
Marcel Darius is off to a disappointing start and is now gimpy with a bad ankle. He has the talent and potential to bounce back strong but it does not feel as if that will happen anytime soon.
Luke Kuechly has bailed out fantasy owners with big plays in each of the first two games but he is currently on pace for 64 solo tackles. In his defense, there was little opportunity in Week 2 when the Buffalo offense ran only 54 plays. He may not reach 100 solo stops this year but the only thing to really worry about here is the potential for a season-ending concussion.
Julius Peppers had a big game going 4-2-2 against the Bills but don't let yourself become a points chaser. He was on the field for 32 snaps so nothing has changed with the Panthers rotation at end. Mario Addison led the way with 38 snaps followed by Peppers at 32 and Charles Johnson with 30.
Nick Kwiatkoski was off to a great start with 4 tackles on the first sixteen snaps before suffering a Pectoral injury that will land him on IR. If you picked him up in a dynasty league and can put him on IR, Kwiatkoski is a player that may be worth hanging onto. The strong play he exhibited in limited action might open the door for a starting role in 2018.
Meanwhile, the Bears are left hurting at the inside linebacker position. Danny Trevathan's workload increased in Week 2 when he played 60 of 71 defensive snaps but neither his production (3-1-0) nor presence on the field was particularly impressive. Thus far Trevathan is not showing the explosiveness he had earlier in his career before the injuries started to pile up. It is hard to say if he will finally take on an every-down role this week.
In place of Kwiatkoski, the Bears used Christian Jones on 47 plays and Jonathan Anderson on 12. Both players have been unimpressive when given starting opportunities in the past but the situation merits some attention none the less.
Safety Eddie Jackson led the team in tackles at 7-1-0 while fellow safety Quentin Demps finished at 6-1-0. There was not much expectation for the Chicago safeties entering the season but the situation at inside linebacker could shed a different light. Demps has plenty of years in the league proving he will never be a consistent fantasy option but Jackson becomes an interesting prospect to keep an eye on.
Jordan Willis got the start at end replacing Michael Johnson (concussion) but it was Chris Smith who stole the show. Willis had a tackle and 4 assists on 45 snaps while Smith went 3-3-1 in 34 opportunities. Both players are probably better options than Johnson who has been rather average for the past couple years. Watch to see if Smith gets a bigger piece of the playing time pie this week and move on him if he continues to impress.
After playing well in Week 1 Joe Schobert did a disappearing act go against Baltimore. The ugly numbers, however, were more a reflection on the Ravens offensive game plan than a regression by Schobert who played all 68 defensive snaps. The Colts are hardly a great matchup at this point but I still expect respectable production from him in Week 3.
The Browns continue to keep all three linebackers on the field in most situations. Jamie Collins Sr played 55 snaps and had a strong outing before leaving with a concussion. Watch the injury reports later this week to see if he clears protocol.
Emmanuel Ogbah has done nothing on 96 snaps over the first two games. That may well change when Myles Garrett returns and becomes the focus of offensive blocking schemes. If you can find a better use for the roster space I would move on from Ogbah until he shows us something.
Keep an eye on Derrick Kindred who has put up strong point totals in both games thus far.
Jaylon Smith started in the middle and played 68 of 77 snaps against Denver. Basically, he came off the field on long passing downs. His numbers were a little backward at 3-7-0 but Smith is looking solid and healthy. On most weeks he should be a quality starter but the Cardinals minus David Johnson are not likely to provide many opportunities.
Demarcus Lawrence is on fire with 9 tackles, 3 assists, 4 sacks and a forced fumble in two starts. He is obviously not going to keep up that pace but I can see him finishing among the top five defensive ends.
After a horrible 2016 season, Brandon Marshall appears to be back to pre-injury form. At 11-4-0 through two games he is on pace for 88 solo stops. Marshall has not yet turned in a big game to get himself noticed and will still be on the waiver wire in some leagues.
Jarrad Davis left the Monday night game with a concussion and is questionable for Week 3. If he is not cleared in time look for Tahir Whitehead to line up in the middle with Jalen Reeves-Maybin starting on the weak side.
The Lions also finished the game without strong safety Tavon Wilson who left in the first half with a shoulder injury and was not able to return. If he is out for Week 3 is will open the door for Miles Killebrew to step in and play full-time. The Falcons should be a strong matchup for both linebackers and safeties so watch the practice reports as the week rolls along.
Ezekiel Ansah appears to be back with a vengeance. His 6 tackles, 3 sacks and a forced fumble against the Giants added up to the best fantasy total of his career to date. Ansah obviously looked healthy and is an every week must start going forward, even against the Falcons who are a tough matchup for defensive ends.
Green Bay Packers
After playing virtually full-time in Week 1, Blake Martinez was back in a part-time role Week 2, playing 38 of 58 defensive snaps. Green Bay's defense looked more like the 2016 unit with Joe Thomas seeing nickel snaps along with a third safety. Josh Jones took over as the third safety when Kentrell Brice was forced out with a groin injury. Be patient with Morgan Burnett who has been sub-par so far. He is one of the league's most productive strong safeties so the numbers will come. That said I would probably sit all Green Bay defenders this week against a pedestrian Bengals offense.
Zach Cunningham made his first start in Week 2 but he was not working full-time. Cunningham produced 4 tackles on 43 of a possible 64 plays. The Texans usually leave both inside backers on the field in most sub packages so it will be interesting to see if Cunningham's snap count increases over the next couple weeks.
With injuries mounting at inside linebacker the Colts started Jeremiah George beside Jon Bostic in Week 2. George was not an every down player; instead, the Colts lined up in a lot of nickel with Nate Hairston as the third defensive back. At this point, strong safety Mathias Farley is the only defender worth starting in most leagues.
After Week 1 the Jaguars coined the phrase "Sacksonville" in honor of their team record 10 sack performance. In Week 2 they were closer to Sacklessville with Myles Jack the only one to get home against the Titans. The question going forward becomes which is the real Jacksonville Jaguars? This week should go a long way toward answering that question as the Jaguars face a Baltimore squad that has allowed 3 sacks in two games. Calais Campbell is always going to be a must-start regardless of matchup while Yannick Ngakoue, Donte Fowler Jr. and Malik Jackson are going to be on the bubble for Week 3. If you have good players with better matchups it might be a good idea to go that way.
Paul Posluszny had a much bigger role with 44 snaps in Week 2. That is a good sign he could have some value as at least a matchup-based third starter going forward. Telvin Smith Sr bounced back strong as expected with 6 tackles, 2 assists, and a pick.
Kansas City Chiefs
Chris Jones exploded for 4 tackles, 3 sacks, a pair of forced fumbles, and a pick in Week 2. The huge numbers won him defensive player of the week and have some fantasy owners falling all over themselves trying to pick him up. Let someone else be that owner. Jones is a good player who probably deserves to be on a roster in most leagues but all the planets had to align just right for all those plays to happen. Just a week earlier he played a dozen more snaps and failed to even make a tackle. If you do pick him up and/or are considering starting Jones this week, check out the late week practice reports before doing so. He checked out of Sunday's game for a while and it looked like he was being checked for either a concussion or neck injury.
After Eric Berry's injury, the Chiefs safety situation was high on our Week 2 watch list. We can now confirm that Daniel Sorensen will play full-time. In fact, we get the best possible situation for him. Sorensen is lining up at strong safety in base packages but still moving up to linebacker depth in sub packages. Eric Murray is coming on as the fifth defensive back and working from a strong safety alignment.
Derrick Johnson recorded only 2 tackles against the Eagles but we should not overreact to the low number. Philadelphia ran the ball all of ten times in the game with LeGarrette Blount never touching the ball. Johnson may be nearing the end of a great career but he is not done yet. He will have a lot more opportunity this week against Melvin Gordon III.
Los Angeles Chargers
Hayes Pullard was the surprise starter at middle linebacker in Week 1 and recorded a respectable 5-3-0 from the position in Week 2. I am seeing a lot of owners scoop him up this week but there are two things you need to know before doing so. Pullard was on the field roughly 62% of the time in Week 2, and the Chiefs have thus far been the absolute worst matchup for inside linebackers.
As everyone knows by now I have been high on Jahleel Addae this season. He rebounded from a lousy Week 1 with a solid 5-1-0 and a pass breakup in game two. I like his matchup this week after seeing the safety position average 11 solo stops against the Chiefs through two games. Addae could have a busy day chasing Kareem Hunt around. Tre Boston had an even better day against the Dolphins but free safeties are generally too hit or miss for my liking. If Boston has another solid game I will reconsider my position on him.
Los Angeles Rams
Aaron Donald came in late but he showed up in great shape. He was short of a full workload in Week 2 but it should be business as usual in Week 2 against a San Francisco offense that has already allowed 6 sacks.
The Lawrence Timmons mystery continues. He has been suspended by the team but the public still knows little about what is going on other than he failed to show up for Sunday's game. The Dolphins compensated by playing Mike Hull and Kiko Alonso full-time against the Chargers. Hull looked surprisingly solid on the field while totaling 7-3-0 in the box score. Rey Maualuga is still nursing a bad hamstring recent trade acquisition Stephone Anthony was not able to earn a starting spot on the league's worst defense. I like Hull's chances of another solid outing against a Jets offense that has been better than most expected.
It is painfully true that Danielle Hunter has accounted for all of 5 assists through two games. Do not be the owner that gives up on him. Opposing offenses know how good he is so they have been staking their blocking schemes toward him. While that is working to keep Hunter in check, Everson Griffen has been lighting it up from the other side. History is filled with similar situations where big production from the other side eventually forces offenses to be honest. Hunter is going to get his, and I am confident it will start soon. Bench him if you feel the need but I can tell you he will be in my lineup everywhere I have him this week.
Owners in tackle required leagues may want to note that Tom Johnson has been starting and leads the team's interior linemen in snaps thus far. He has been a strong inside pass rusher in years past and is worth keeping on the radar.
New England Patriots
Elandon Roberts surprisingly got the call over David Harris at middle linebacker in Week 2. Roberts's 7-1-0 has a lot of owners looking at him as a possible waiver add. Be aware, however, Robert was on the field for 36 snaps in Week 2.
Kyle Van Noy finished 3-1-0 in the Week 2 box score despite continuing as the team's three-down weakside linebacker.
New Orleans Saints
In terms of playing time, nothing has changed at the Saints linebacker position. When it comes to production and on-field success, that was not the case in Week 2. A.J. Klein looked a lot more like the player I saw in Carolina last season. He looked slow, was late to the party often, missed a tackle or two and was taken advantage of in coverage at times. The end result being one tackle and one assist on 76 snaps. Alex Anzalone was the most productive of the Saints linebackers going 4-1-1 on 59 plays while continuing to give way to Craig Robertson for a couple series.
I have mixed feelings about starting Klein this week. He is coming off a bad game and the matchup is not looking good after Navorro Bowman and Preston Brown combined to go 3-9-0 against the Panthers. On the other hand, we are always seeing players have big games against former teams. Just look at what Joe Haden did against the Steelers in Week 1. If you have another strong play I would probably go with it. If your other options are not so great I would play the emotion card and stick with Klein one more week and see what happens.
Even though he is missing a few snaps each game I am inclined to believe in Anzalone this week and going forward. He played pretty well in a three-down role against the Patriots and weakside linebackers are now 14-4-0 against Carolina. The Saints are painfully young on defense but I strongly believe Anzalone is going to be a quality long-term starter for them.
Maybe the biggest defensive news coming from the Saints in Week 2 was the benching of Kenny Vaccaro in the second half. In his post-game conference, Sean Payton said he pulled Vaccaro because he wants more consistency from the position. What Payton did not say is if the move was motivational and Vaccaro will be back in the lineup Week 3, or if it is a permanent move. From my perspective, they have no one better at this time, so Vaccaro will probably get another chance. Unless we get some definitive word, however, it is not worth the risk to put him in your lineup this week.
New York Giants
Rookie Calvin Munson did a fine job filling in at middle linebacker Week 2. The Giants should have B.J. Goodson back against the Eagles but we will store Munson's quality play in the file for the next time he gets a chance. The Eagles were a horrible matchup for Derrick Johnson in Week 2 but they have already expressed their intent to get LeGarrette Blount involved in the offense this week. If they indeed get Blount rolling, Goodson could be in line for another double-digit solo line.
New York Jets
You might remember back in the preseason when I predicted Marcus Maye would out produce first-round pick Jamal Adams at the safety position for the Jets. So far that has indeed been the case with Maye having a 4.5 point lead two games in. Maye also managed to lead the team in tackles against the Raiders and is currently tied with Demario Davis for the second most solo stops on the team. The moral of this story is; Maye is playing well and though he has not yet put up eye-catching numbers, he is worthy of consideration if you have a need at the position.
Corey James looked much better in Week 2 and appears to finally be over the sore knee that slowed him for about a month. His production of 5-2-0 against the Jets will not have owners making him a priority waiver add but those are actually decent numbers with that matchup. He is probably on a roster in most twelve team leagues starting three backers, but if James happens to be available find a way to squeeze him onto your roster. I think the move will pay off over the next several weeks; especially when attrition makes quality linebackers scarce on the waiver wire.
Gareon Conley played 46 of a possible 56 snaps as the third corner in Week 2. With Sean Smith missing time due to a sore neck, we could see Conley ascend to the starting job soon. In that case, the rookie corner rule would come into play. He was 2-1-0 with a pass defended against the Jets.
I was a little surprised to see fantasy owners bail on Rodney McLeod after a disappointing 2-1-0 in the opener. He had a tackle and an assist on the first series against the Chiefs and seemed on the way to a good day when he was forced out with a hamstring injury. Corey Graham took over the position and went the rest of the way. Both Graham and McLeod missed practice Wednesday with hamstring injuries so the Eagles may have to hit the bottom of their depth chart this week. Once healthy I think McLeod will earn his way back onto a lot of rosters.
Rookie Rasul Douglas was involved against the Chiefs. He played 39 snaps in the game, some of them as the second corner opposite Jalen Mills. With Ronald Darby on the shelf for a while, it will not be a surprise if Douglas squeezes past Patrick Robinson into a starting role. Douglas had 4 solo stops in his limited action versus Kansas City and is another candidate for the rookie corner rule.
Jordan Hicks followed a decent Week 1 with a lousy 1-2-0 in Week 2. Until we get some consistency from him one way or the other he is an exceptionally risky start. That said I would not be in too big a hurry to cut him unless there is a really good option to pick up.
T.J. Watt left Sunday's contest with a groin injury that is not believed to be serious. He has a chance of playing for the Steelers this week but even if he does I would lean toward sitting him until we see if he is bothered by the injury. Groin strains tend to linger and have slowed a lot of great pass rushers over the years.
Sean Davis led the team in tackles at 7-1-0 in Week 2. He spent a lot of time up near the line, was turned loose to blitz a few times and even worked at linebacker in some nickel sets. All this was encouraging and has me ready to plug Davis into my lineup this week despite what looks like a marginal matchup with the Bears.
Vince Williams gave us a good point total by going 4-0-1 on Sunday. I am very concerned about his long-term value however because he was on the sideline in a lot of sub package situations. At the end of the day, Williams had participated in less than 75% of the plays. If the Steelers continue to use this approach he is going to be a marginal matchup-based play on most weeks.
Mike Hilton played 55 snaps as the fifth DB which allowed the team to move Davis around the formation and play him up in the box regularly.
One interesting note from Seattle this week, Frank Clark played more snaps (35) than Cliff Avril (28). Avril was in the game on the opening play and I believe he may have been dinged which might explain the flip-flop of playing time. Clark is worthy of a starting job though so this is one we will check on in Week 3.
San Francisco 49ers
Arik Armstead has not yet had a box score breakout but he is on the verge. He was 1-3-1 against Seattle while his contribution on the field was significantly greater than the box score would suggest. He caught my eye as far back as the second preseason game and has continued to quietly impress every time I put on a 49ers game. If you have a need or room to add a high potential defender, Armstead is worth some consideration.
Not surprisingly, it did not take long for the injury-prone Eric Reid to go down. He tried to play through the knee injury but was unable to continue and has since been diagnosed with a torn posterior cruciate ligament that will keep him out at least a few weeks. This is exactly why I have been suggesting everyone hold onto Jaquiski Tartt who now takes over the playmakers role at strong safety. Put him in your lineup every week until/unless Reid returns. Jimmy Ward should get the call at free safety going forward.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Kwon Alexander left the Buccaneers game in the first quarter with a hamstring injury and was done for the day. He vowed to practice this week and play in Week 3 but believe that when you see it. Kendell Beckwith came on as the replacement and performed well, going 5-0-0 on 58 snaps. Chances are he will make at least one start while Alexander recovers.
With Alexander on the sideline, the old Lavonte David returned to the box score with a mark of 8-1-0. Minnesota is a plus matchup so expect a strong game from David this week.
T.J. Ward is nearly a sure thing to take over the starting strong safety job in short order but it did not happen in Week 2. Being new to the team/scheme Ward recorded 2 tackles on 28 plays in Week 2. His role should increase quickly and it would not be a shock to see him start this week, but it is not yet safe to put him in our lineups. Ward split time with Keith Tandy while Chris Conte played full-time at free safety.
After working as the third end in the rotation during the preseason Noah Spence got the start ahead of Robert Ayers in Tampa Bay's season opener. Spence was 2-0-1 on 45 of 54 snaps in the game and is a strong pickup target this week before everyone realizes his role has changed.
Safety Kevin Byard was the only Titans defender to play every snap in Week 2.
Both Mason Foster and Zach Brown were shaken up during the Week 2 game but both were able to return. Foster suffered a dislocated shoulder and is not expected play in Week 3 despite being a limited participant on Wednesday. He will seek a second opinion on the injury. Will Compton should get the call while Foster recovers.
Early in the week, there was speculation S'ua Cravens might be returning to the team. That possibility was quickly shot down when the team put him on season-ending reserve.
That's a wrap for this week. Best of luck in Week 3!
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