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.
Myles Jack LB (JAX): There are not many good things coming out of Jacksonville lately but Myles Jack may finally be living up to the high draft pick the Jaguars used to get him. Jack had a huge week last week against the Jets collecting 8 solos, an assist, and of course the scoop and score touchdown. That will not be what you get every single week but if you look back to week one against the Texans Jack also had 8 solos and 6 assists in that week as well. Jack also has a favorable matchup against a Pittsburgh team that is finally content running the ball. Le'Veon Bell is not the easiest ball carrier to tackle but Jack will add value due to sheer volume. This could be the first week that Jack breaks the 10-solo tackle threshold and could be a viable starter in any format the rest of the season.
Kyle Van Noy LB (NE): There are not many good things coming out of the Patriot’s defense so far, this season but Kyle Van Noy is starting to be one of them. After losing Dont'a Hightower early in the season the Patriots needed someone to step up and so far, it has been Van Noy. In his last two games, Van Noy has 17 solos, 4 assists, and a sack. The Patriot’s defense is going to get better as the season wears on, especially as it starts to get cold in Foxboro. Look for Van Noy to continue to perform for the rest of the season.
Ray-Ray Armstrong ILB (SFO): Armstrong is another linebacker on a team that has underperformed to this point. He is going to have more opportunities for tackles due to the sheer volume of work the 49er’s defense gets. With 8 solos, 2 assists, and a sack last week against Arizona, look for Armstrong to continue to build his career. Armstrong has already set career marks in both solo tackles and assists as well as adding his second career interception. With a favorable matchup against the Colts this week, Armstrong may be worth an add to see if his career resurgence is the real thing.
Nick Vigil LB (CIN): Nick Vigil was a beneficiary of the Burfict suspension as it gave him a chance to play more. Now that Burfict is back the Bengals have realized what they have in Vigil. Vigil has already set career highs in solo tackles, assists, sacks, and his first career interception. Burfict also publicly endorsed Vigil as a starter going forward. The Bengals get a Buffalo offense that likes to run the ball and should give ample opportunity to rack up the tackles. Playing time will be something to monitor with Vigil going forward but as long as he is on the field he is worth the start.
Yannick Ngakoue DE (JAX): It is rare to see a Jacksonville player on any fantasy football list let alone two in the same week on defense. However, Yannick Ngakoue is showing an ability to get after the quarterback and force fumbles that should not be ignored. With 4 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, and one fumble recovered on the season, Ngakoue is quietly putting together a good season. The overall tackle total is very low and all of his value comes in sacks and forced fumbles. The Jacksonville defense likes to play fast and take risks. If this trend continues he will be a boom or bust play for the rest of the season. If you are in need of a defensive end and are willing to roll the dice, Ngakoue could pay off in the short term.
Emmanuel Ogbah DE (CLE): Emmanuel Ogbah had dual positions in Yahoo for both LB and DE. This gives some flexibility in filling the needs of your roster. The Browns have kept games closer than usual this season and opposing offenses have not run the ball as much as last season. However, Ogbah is facing a Jets offense that has only seen success running the ball and this should give him ample opportunity for tackles. This is another candidate where the overall tackle total is less than impressive but he has added sacks in back to back games. With the eventual debut of Myles Garrett on the other side, Ogbah may see more openings for the rest of the season.
Tyvon Branch S (ARI): Tyvon Branch will not be a sleeper much longer as he continues to put together a very solid season. With 32 solos, Branch leads the league in tackles at the moment. It would be very rare to find the league leader in tackles on waivers but Branch is only owned in 41% of leagues in Yahoo. Branch is a must add if he is available and would be an immediate starter. Branch’s value comes from his ability to come up and play the run as he does not sit back in coverage very often. Branch has a solid matchup against the Eagles this week and is a must add in any format if available.
Micah Hyde S (BUF): For the third straight week a player from Buffalo has made this list. This just shows how versatile that defense is. Hyde is currently tied with Malik Hooker for the league lead in interceptions with 3. Hyde is also utilized in the return game and has the potential to take one to the house at any time. Teammates have given him the nickname “swiss army knife” with his ability to do anything on the field. Hyde does not have the tackle total you would like out of a safety but his ability to create turnovers cannot be ignored. After a two-interception game against Matt Ryan and the Falcons last week, Hyde would be a good addition for anyone having issues with bye weeks.
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