As the season wears on and there is more data to go through it can be hard to find those diamonds in the rough or guys that not everyone else is on yet. Each week we will take a look at guys who are still widely available across leagues, have potential matchup value this week. Or maybe a long-term, guys to stash on your bench and see how the season shakes out. With the myriad of injuries across the NFL, there are young guys getting their chance to make an impact. Each week we will also take a look back at some of the top performers from last week’s list and see if they are worth keeping. We will highlight a list of defensive lineman, linebackers, and defensive backs each week.
Adrian Clayborn DE (ATL): This would have been a great pick last week as Clayborn went out and recorded a franchise record 6 sacks in a single game, but we cannot predict them all. Clayborn had a monster day against the vaunted Dallas offensive line and will get to face a banged-up Seattle front this week on Monday Night Football. We cannot expect him to repeat his performance from a week ago, but he will at least have the opportunity to get after Russell Wilson. Clayborn also added 6 solos last week which accounts for almost half of his tackles on the year. This may have been a fluke game, but it is worth buying in if you are in need of help along the defensive line.
Michael Brockers DT (LAR): The entire Rams defense is going to have a tough time getting after Case Keenum and the Vikings, but Brockers has been a consistent performer all season long. The former first-round pick has made a living plugging holes and making it difficult for opposing running backs. With 3 sacks on the season and 6 games with at least 4 total tackles, Brokers is a solid high floor/low ceiling option this week. If you must fill a DT spot this week, take a look at Brockers and the Ram’s defensive front.
Trey Flowers DE (NE): Flowers has had a tough time getting back on track after recording 2 sacks during the Pats season opener. However, the Pats will be taking on a banged-up Dereck Carr and an Oakland offense that has no identity. Look for the Patriots to draw up several blitzes and stunts to help get lineman and linebackers free shots to the quarterback. Flowers only has 4 games with under 5 fantasy points and has consistently put up 5 or more total tackles per game.
Christian Jones LB (CHI): The strong play of Christian Jones has increased his snap count in recent weeks and provided him with more opportunity to make plays. He has rounded himself into a 3-down linebacker and a major run stopper for the Chicago defense. Jones had a season-high 9 solos and 2 assists in week 7 against Carolina and came out of the Bye with 8 solos and an assist against Green Bay. Detroit may not be known for running the ball, but Jones will have his opportunities to make plays the entire game. Jones is a must start for the rest of the season if he has not already been picked up in your league.
Derrick Morgan LB (TEN): Morgan has underperformed all season long but will have ample opportunity this week to change that. The Titans take on the Steelers this week on Thursday Night Football. Morgan does not register as many tackles as you would like to see from an OLB but with the way Pittsburgh runs the ball and how Le’Veon Bell likes to bounce it outside, that should change this week. Teams traditionally run the ball more on Thursday night after having a short week and that should be no exception this week. Look for Morgan to register a season-high in tackles this week and be a great streaming option if you need a linebacker.
Nigel Bradham LB (PHI): Bradham is considered another linebacker of opportunity this week against a Cowboys offense that has no identity after losing Ezekiel Elliot and Tyron Smith. With a weak run game and no one to protect Dak Prescott, this is the perfect opportunity for someone to step up for the Eagle’s defense. Adrian Clayborn had 6 sacks last week for Atlanta against Dallas, look for Bradham to find some success as well.
Kenny Vaccaro S (NO): Vaccaro has been hampered by injury the past two weeks but has been cleared and looks to be healthy again. He started the season as the starting strong safety but has played more slot corner in recent weeks. With 7 passes defended, 3 interceptions, and a touchdown on the season, Vaccaro has a high ceiling every week for a surprisingly stout Saints defense. The Washington Redskins have not shown any sort of running game and Kirk Cousins loves to try and fit the ball into small windows. Vaccaro should have ample opportunity to play the ball and rack up tackles down the field this week.
Brent Grimes CB (TB): The Tampa Bay secondary has been terrible all season long and teams are going to continue to push the ball down the field through the air. However, this week Tampa takes on a Miami team that is lead by Jay Cutler. Miami’s offense has been in disarray all season and Cutler continues to make questionable decisions with the football. Grimes will have stiff competition with the like of Jarvis Landry, Devante Parker, and Kenny Stills, but they still have Cutler throwing them the ball. Grimes is a low floor, high ceiling play this week if you are in need of a defensive back.
Mike Hilton CB (PIT): Pittsburgh will take on the Titans for this week’s Thursday Night Football game. The game will start out being a battle of who can run the ball and most likely turn to Tennessee trying to play catchup through the air. This is where Hilton will step in and have a chance to make his mark on the game. With Marcus Mariota banged up and a subpar core of receivers, the Pittsburgh secondary should be favored against the Titans. Hilton should be right in the middle of the defense and has a great opportunity to play the ball. Hilton is interception dependent this week but has a great opportunity to get one.
Tyson Alualu DE (PIT): Alualu almost disappeared entirely for a Steelers team that struggled against the Colts. 1 assist is not going to turn many heads or earn you more playing time.
Tyrone Crawford DT (DAL): The Cowboys defense was beaten handily by Atlanta and with 1 solo, Crawford did not do anything to help.
Danielle Hunter DE (MIN): Hunter saved his day with a sack on the Redskins last offensive play of the game. He had just 4 solos before that final play.
De’Vondre Campbell LB (ATL): Campbell may not have matched his teammate with 6 sacks, but he did record 11 solos and 2 assists to lead Atlanta in tackles against the Cowboys.
Leonard Floyd LB (CHI): Floyd did not put up the big numbers expected but he did have a respectable 3 solo, 1 assist, and half sack performance.
Anthony Barr LB (MIN): Barr had a letdown game just like the rest of the Vikings defense and only tallied 3 solos.
Keanu Neal S (ATL): With 5 solos and an assist, Neal was out shadowed by the success of the rest of the Atlanta defense.
Darqueze Dennard CB (CIN): Dennard saved his day with his first interception of the season to go along with 4 solos and a pass defended.
Johnathan Cyprien S (TEN): Cyprien still does not quite look healthy and registered 3 solos and an assist in a Titans victory.
Outside of Hunter, Campbell, and Dennard, there were not a lot of successes from last week. At this point in the season, there is a lot of data points on players and it is difficult to find sleepers or guys no one has heard of outside of injury replacements. There are still 4 teams on a Bye this week but there are some good options out there to fill the holes in your team. We will check back next week to see how these picks did.