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.
PHILADELPHIA @ CAROLINA
LB Mychal Kendricks, PHI (12 solos, 5 asst, 1 TFL)
Kendricks already figured to play more than usual with a matchup against the run-heavy Panthers offense this week. After Jordan Hicks left the game with an ankle injury at halftime, however, Kendricks was bumped up a 3-down role and had his best game in some time. He was involved in 15 tackles on 55 defensive snaps in the game, while also adding 2 more solo stops on 6 special teams snaps. Even though he has been stuck in a 2-down role, Kendricks is a talented player who could get an opportunity to showcase it more if Hicks winds up missing any time.
DE Mario Addison, CAR (2 asst)
Addison missed some practice time leading up to the Thursday night game, but he was healthy enough to start. However, he only saw 24 snaps in the game which was a season-low for him. He posted 8/4/2 in the first 3 games but has gone 1/3/1 in the 3 games since then while playing through a knee injury.
LB Luke Kuechly, CAR (4 asst)
Kuechly was limited to just 30 snaps (48%) before leaving with what appeared to be a concussion. Given his history of concussions, there is certainly cause for some concern here about whether he'll be able to return. As of Sunday, he was still apparently in the league's concussion protocol although there were conflicting reports about the severity.
LB Jordan Hicks, PHI (2 solos, 2 asst)
Hicks left the game after just 34 snaps (41%) with an ankle injury. Mychal Kendricks replaced him in the team's nickel packages and Joe Walker replaced him in the base defense. Early reports indicated he would likely be able to practice and play this week, so monitor his health if you plan on starting him.
MIAMI @ ATLANTA
DE Cameron Wake, MIA (2 solos, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 2 QH)
Despite being 35 years old and playing on a bad team, Wake is getting it done. He picked up at least a partial sack this week for the 4th game in a row and has 12 solo tackles through 5 games, which puts him on pace for the best season he's had since 2012.
LB Deion Jones, ATL (6 solos, 5 asst, 1 INT, 1 PD)
Jones is improving on the great rookie season he had last year and likely headed for another LB2 finish. While his numbers (28 solos, 10 assists through 5 games) don't jump out, he has been very consistent from week to week and appears to be trending up as the Falcons are trending down.
CHICAGO @ BALTIMORE
LB Matt Judon, BAL (12 solos, 2 asst, 2 sacks, 4 TFL, 2 QH)
Judon came into the game this week as mostly a part-time player with 0 sacks on the year before exploding for 12 solo tackles and a pair of sacks against the Bears. While it's unlikely the Ravens defense will face 54 rush attempts on a regular basis, he's been moved into the starting lineup and being asked to play in all situations rather than just as a pass-rush specialist. He posted 21 sacks during his last year in college and the fact he was on the field for 70 snaps (88%) is a great sign for his future value.
S Adrian Amos, CHI (6 solos, 2 asst, 1 TFL, 1 INT, 2 PD, 1 TD)
Amos has been one of the most productive players in the league since he joined the starting lineup 3 weeks ago. The strong tackle numbers were mostly expected given the issues that have depleted the Bears linebacker group, but he added a new dimension this week with a 90-yard interception return for a touchdown, which was the first interception of his brief career.
LB Kamalei Correa, BAL (0 tackles)
Correa was a 2nd round pick a year ago who could not take advantage of the opportunity presented to him. After splitting snaps early on, it appears that he's been passed over by Patrick Onwuasor as Correa saw just 7 defensive snaps this week while contributing 33 on special teams.
CLEVELAND @ HOUSTON
DE Myles Garrett, CLE (2 solos, 3 asst, 1 sack, 2 TFL, 4 QH)
Garrett saw his playing time increase to 33 snaps (50%) this week as the Browns are taking a cautious approach with their top draft pick as he returns from an ankle injury. Despite only playing half the game, Garrett made his presence felt with 5 tackles (including 2 for a loss), a sack, and 4 hits as well as a pressure on Deshaun Watson that led to a pick-6 for Jason McCourty.
CB Johnathan Joseph, HOU (2 solos, 1 asst, 1 TFL, 2 INT, 3 PD, 1 TD)
The Texans were missing two key players up front but it didn't seem to hurt them against the Browns. Joseph stood out with a pair of interceptions, including an 82-yard return for a touchdown in the first half.
DE Carl Nassib, CLE (1 solo, 2 asst, 1 QH)
Nassib was in the starting lineup as usual this week, but he has seen a noticeable decline in playing time with the return of Myles Garrett. With 33 snaps in each of the last two games, the 2nd year pro will have a hard time improving on the pedestrian numbers he's been putting up thus far.
LB Zach Cunningham, HOU (1 solo, 1 PD)
Cunningham had a quiet day on the stat sheet this week but much of that was driven by a lack of opportunity as the Browns only generated 22 rush attempts. He was on the field for 58 snaps (87%) which ranked 3rd on the Texans defense, so it doesn't appear as though his role has changed and I'd expect him to bounce back next week at Seattle.
GREEN BAY @ MINNESOTA
S Harrison Smith, MIN (3 solos, 2 asst, 1.5 sacks, 1 TFL, 2 QH, 1 INT, 2 PD)
Smith has been an elite safety for many years, but his production declined in recent years as the Vikings overall defense improved. He's often lined up deeper in the secondary and given more responsibility in coverage, which makes it difficult for him to post consistent tackle numbers each week. Although his tackle numbers are still relatively low (23 solos and 9 assists through 6 games), he's more than making up for it with big plays. He picked up 1.5 sacks this week as a blitzer and generated 3 interceptions in the last 4 games with a great chance for more as the Ravens and Browns are coming up next on the schedule.
LB Anthony Barr, MIN (1 asst, 2 QH)
While Barr was responsible for the injury to Aaron Rodgers, there wasn't anything wrong with the play. He was forced to leave the game himself after just 28 snaps, however, as he suffered a concussion. Barr has been playing well and if he's forced to miss any time, it looks like Emmanuel Lamur would fill in.
S Josh Jones, GB (2 solos, 1 PD)
Jones certainly remains a long-term hold in dynasty or keeper leagues, but his short-term value appears to be pretty low. Despite the fact that Morgan Burnett was held out this week, Jones did not get the start and actually saw fewer snaps (30) than he was getting when Burnett was healthy. Kentrell Brice got the start for Burnett but was credited with just two tackles on 75 snaps.
DETROIT @ NEW ORLEANS
DE Cameron Jordan, NO (4 solos, 1 asst, 2 sacks, 2 TFL, 2 QH, 1 INT, 3 PD, 1 TD)
Jordan continues to play at a very high level and he was able to take full advantage of a Lions team that has been struggling to protect Matthew Stafford. Jordan's 2-sack outing brings him up to 5 in 5 games this year, but he also had 3 tipped passes including one that he caught himself for a touchdown. The move to a 4-3 defense in New Orleans certainly appears to be helping him as he's on pace for a huge season that would likely be the best of his career.
DT A'Shawn Robinson, DET (4 solos, 3 asst, 1 INT, 2 PD, 1 TD)
This was a crazy game and Robinson's stat line proves it. It's rare to see a defensive tackle with an interception return for a touchdown. The big run stopper had 7 passes defensed a year ago and is up to 3 this year, so he clearly has a knack for getting his hands on the ball. He was also very involved against the run this week with 7 tackles to rank second on the Lions.
LB A.J. Klein, NO (3 asst, 1 PD)
Klein was one of just 2 Saints who were on the field for all 81 defensive snaps this week, but you couldn't tell from looking at his stat line. While the Lions offense did not generate very many tackle opportunities, there were certainly enough for Craig Robertson to post 11 tackles on just 62 snaps. Given the extensive playing time and 3-down role, Klein should have better days ahead in the near-term but it's hard to count on him given that he has just 7 solo tackles over his last 4 games.
S Glover Quin, DET (3 solos, 2 asst)
Quin has had a very productive start to the season but he was forced to leave the game early this week with a concussion. He managed to contribute 5 tackles in his 37 snaps (52%) while his replacement Charles Washington added 2 solos in his 35 snaps.
NEW ENGLAND @ NY JETS
CB Malcolm Butler, NE (4 solos, 1 QH, 1 INT, 3 PD, 1 FF)
The Patriots were missing 2 of their top 3 cornerbacks this week so it seemed likely that Butler would not see a lot of work to his side of the field. In a game that was surprisingly competitive, however, Butler came through with one of his best games of the year. He is one of the few Patriots defenders who has been playing at a high level and he now has 14 solos, 2 INTs and 5 PDs over his last 3 games.
CB Morris Claiborne, NYJ (7 solos, 1 PD)
Claiborne has been asked to shadow the opposing team's #1 WR in many weeks this year and he's done a remarkable job. That also helps ensure that he sees plenty of targets each week, which is contributing to the spike we've seen from him over the past two weeks. During that span, he has 15 solo tackles with an interception to make him one of the most productive fantasy corners in the league.
DE Muhammad Wilkerson, NYJ (1 solo)
Wilkerson has not looked like himself this year as he's now gone 6 games without even a partial sack. Normally a very productive player against the run, he's also been credited with just 9 solos on the year. Based on recent reports, he's been dealing with shoulder and toe injuries that have kept him out of practice and are likely limiting his effectiveness.
SAN FRANCISCO @ WASHINGTON
DT Solomon Thomas, SF (7 solos, 2 asst, 1 sack, 2 TFL, 1 QH)
The rookie interior lineman picked up his first sack a few weeks ago and followed that up with a huge game this week. He led his team in tackles as they bottled up the normally efficient Washington running game and limited them to 2.8 yards per carry on 33 attempts.
CB Quinton Dunbar, WAS (6 solos, 2 asst, 2 PD)
Dunbar is a former college receiver who was converted to cornerback when he entered the NFL a few years ago. He got the start in place of an injured Josh Norman and held up very well here as Pierre Garcon only finished with 5 catches on 12 targets with many coming against Dunbar.
LB Mason Foster, WAS (1 solo, 1 asst, 1 QH)
Foster is coming off a surprising season that saw him record 89 solo tackles and 36 assists. The addition of Zach Brown this year appears to be limiting his opportunities, however, and that was rather obvious this week as Foster finished with just 2 tackles while Brown was credited with 8 even though they both played the exact same number of snaps.
LB Brock Coyle, SF (3 solos, 3 asst, 1 TFL)
With the surprising release of Navorro Bowman last week, the 49ers gave Coyle a start at middle linebacker this week. He was on the field for all 74 snaps (compared to just 61 for Ray-Ray Armstrong) but only posted 6 tackles. In any event, don't get too excited as it seems likely that Reuben Foster could return next week against Dallas and push Coyle back to a reserve role.
TAMPA BAY @ ARIZONA
LB Lavonte David, TB (3 solos, 1 TFL, 2 FF, 1 FR, 1 TD)
David made a remarkably fast recovery from his ankle sprain and wound up missing just 2 games. He got the start and was able to play nearly the entire game. The tackle numbers were disappointing considering Arizona had over 30 rush attempts in the game, but David made up for it by forcing several fumbles and running one back for a touchdown as Tampa tried to mount a late comeback.
S Chris Conte, TB (3 solos, 1 asst, 1 PD)
Rookie Justin Evans played the vast majority of defensive snaps this week while Chris Conte appeared to give way to T.J. Ward in the second half. Tampa has had a ton of issues with their pass defense this year, and it certainly seems like they may want to make some changes to try and get that fixed. T.J. Ward isn't known for his cover skills but is an experienced veteran who can help more against the run-heavy offenses coming up on the schedule.
LA RAMS @ JACKSONVILLE
LB Connor Barwin, LAR (7 solos, 1 sack, 4 TFL, 1 QH)
Barwin rebounded strongly from getting shut out a week ago. He played 51 defensive snaps and helped slow down the Jaguars running game after Leonard Fournett ripped off 75 yards on the first play of the game. With 3 sacks in his last 4 games, Barwin is also contributing nicely from a big play perspective.
S John Johnson III, LAR (2 solos, 1 asst, 1 TFL, 1 PD)
The box score numbers don't stand out for Johnson this week, but he did play the entire game. Following the release of Maurice Alexander last week, the rookie 3rd round pick appears to be the full-time starting strong safety and that's worth noting. He has 3 passes defensed over the last 2 games and has a promising matchup against the Cardinals next week.
DE Yannick Ngakoue, JAX (1 solo, 2 QH)
Ngakoue is playing heavy snaps each week but just doesn't have much to show for it. He has two big 2-sack games but has been nearly invisible in the other 4 games. As a result, he has just 8 solo tackles through 6 games despite seeing over 300 snaps.
PITTSBURGH @ KANSAS CITY
LB Dee Ford, KC (1 solo, 3 asst, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 1 QH)
Ford missed the past two games with a back injury but returned to action this week and picked up a sack while playing 34 snaps (53%). As he gets healthier, he should provide a boost to the Chiefs pass rush when they take on the Raiders next week.
DT Javon Hargrave, PIT (0 tackles)
The Steelers dominated time of possession in the game so there weren't many snaps to go around. Hargrave went from leading the team in tackles a week ago to getting shut out this week. He saw 21 snaps but the Chiefs starting running back only had 9 carries in the game so it's not a huge surprise that tackle numbers were down considerably for the Steelers defense.
LB Vince Williams, PIT (5 solos, 2 sacks, 2 TFL, 2 QH)
Williams was only on the field for 26 snaps (48%) this week before leaving with a hip injury, but he still managed to be extremely productive with 5 solos and a pair of first-half sacks. Ryan Shazier is drawing most of the attention on this defense, but Williams has quietly been putting up some impressive numbers in a part-time role (27 solos and 4 sacks).
LA CHARGERS @ OAKLAND
CB Travis Carrie, OAK (7 solos, 1 asst, 1 QH, 2 PD)
Carrie mostly works out of the slot but has been playing very well for Oakland as the outside corners have struggled. This week he was matched up frequently with Keenan Allen and that helped him pile up 8 tackles with a pair of pass deflections. Playing out of the slot also allows him to get more involved in run support, and given the weakness at linebacker, he should continue to see more tackle opportunities than most corners.
DT Corey Liuget, LAC (3 solos, 2 TFL)
Liuget has been pretty consistent since moving inside to defensive tackle in the Chargers new front, yet he hasn't recorded any sacks yet. Unfortunately, he only lasted 21 snaps (36%) this week before leaving with a back injury, which seems like the type of injury that may linger.
LB Jatavis Brown, LAC (1 solo, 2 asst)
Brown has been dealing with an ankle injury that has limited his effectiveness and durability. He was only on the field for 20 snaps (34%) this week, which was well behind Hayes Pullard (54) and Korey Toomer (34). His upside is still significant if he can get healthy, but seems like he may need some time to rest and the Chargers don't have a bye until week 9.
LB Nick Morrow, OAK (3 solos, 2 asst, 1 QH)
Morrow got the start at middle linebacker and took on a 3-down role in place of Cory James this week. James actually played through his knee injury but only made a brief cameo for 7 snaps. He should be back in his nickel role soon and the Raiders signed Navorro Bowman on Monday so Morrow will likely go back to the bench.
NY GIANTS @ DENVER
DE Jason Pierre-Paul, NYG (7 solos, 1 asst, 3 sacks, 3 TFL, 2 QH, 1 FF)
Pierre-Paul came into the year as a very highly ranked player at his position, but he hadn't quite lived up to expectations along with many of his teammates. While his tackle production has always been among the elite at his position, he showed this week that he can still pick up sacks in bunches. If he can build on this and the Giants get Olivier Vernon back soon, this could be a defensive line that teams need to worry about again.
S Justin Simmons, DEN (11 solos, 2 TFL, 2 PD)
Simmons entered the lineup following the release of T.J. Ward and didn't draw much attention as he normally plays free safety and isn't around the ball as much as Darian Stewart. That wasn't the case this week, however, as he was always around the ball. He finished with 11 solo tackles on 54 snaps, which is really impressive for a defensive back.
CB Eli Apple, NYG (5 solos, 3 PD, 1 FR)
Apple had been a weak link in a strong Giants secondary, but he had perhaps his best game as a pro this week. There was talk coming into the game that he could lose his starting role and it looks like it was a wake-up call. While you want a corner to play bad enough to see plenty of targets, you don't want him to be so bad that he gets benched and it looks like Apple has avoided a demotion for a little while.
S Landon Collins, NYG (1 INT, 1 PD)
Collins came into the game banged up with an ankle injury and only saw 52 snaps (64%). It was strange to see him finish with 0 tackles but he did help salvage things for his fantasy owners with his first interception of the season. Most likely they rested him in the game as the Giants pulled out to a big lead and he should bounce back next week against Seattle.