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.
Kendell Beckwith (TB)
Tampa is in complete disarray in regard to their linebacker situation. There is a chance they bring in some outside help for the injury-riddled position, but Beckwith looks like the best internal option right now. He is returning from ankle surgery in training camp and was not activated the first dal eligible. However, with the current state of the position, he is worth a speculative add and a wait-and-see kind of approach. If he plays well in the coming week then the position should be his for the foreseeable future.
Adarius Taylor (TB)
In keeping with the mess caused by the Kwon Alexander injury and the uncertainty with Beckwith’s injury, Taylor should slide right into the starting role for the time being. He should see reps from the strong side and play almost every down for Tampa this week. He is a solid play due to the predicted high volume. The situation in Tampa is worth watching for the rest of the season, but Taylor is the safest bet if you need help immediately.
Elijah Lee (SF)
With the injury to Reuben Foster’s troublesome shoulder, there is a chance he misses some games and there is a vacancy at linebacker. Lee would be the next man up and have proven to be a solid contributor in an every-down role. He had 10 total tackles in his last game starting (week 2) and should be a relatively safe LB3/4 this week if he gets the start.
Ronald Blair III (SF)
The stats are not quite there for Blair yet, but he has all the tools to succeed in the league. He has an explosive first step and is timing the snap better and better each week. He has 1.5 sacks so far this season and is averaging about 3 tackles per game. He excels at registering tackles for loss and is a great pick up if your league rewards those. Blair is a long-term pickup that will help you in dynasty type formats.
Vincent Taylor (MIA)
We are diving deep into the depth charts for Taylor and really focusing on a single category. He is a great play if your league employs more than one tackle and if they reward tackles for loss. He is probably never going to light up the stat sheet with tackles of sacks, but he is a good plug and play when you are dealing with bye weeks.
Taco Charlton (DAL)
Maybe it is because I am hungry, and the guy’s name is Taco, but Charlton had a lot of potential coming out of college. He has a single sack so far this season and has not racked up a lot of playing to this point, but the Cowboys need to try something different if they want to start winning games. Look for Charlton to get more involved as the season progresses.
Will Parks (DEN)
The Broncos have seemed like a dumpster fire to this point aside from last week. The defense finally steps up and then they lose Darien Stewart to an injury. If he is held out, it should be Parks filling in. If given the chance this week, he will face a high-powered Kansas City offense that loves to air the ball out. He should have plenty of opportunity downfield to make tackles if he is given the start.
Damarious Randall (CLE)
It is not always safe to roster a Brown’s player, but the defensive unit has played better this season. He put up a monster game last week with 11 solo tackles and is poised to make a long-term difference for the Browns. He also has an inconsistent offense working in his favor and that should keep him on the field longer. The more the defense is on the field, the more opportunity for Randall to rack up the points.
Darryl Roberts (NYJ)
Despite the final score of the game last week, Roberts had the most productive game of any Jets player. He had 11 total tackles (10 solos) and played 100% of defensive snaps. Injuries have forced him to play more in recent weeks and if that continues, he will have plenty of opportunities again next week. Roberts is worth the speculative add but watch the injury report for the Jets and see if Trumaine Johnson or Buster Skrine are slated to come back.
NaVorro Bowman (FA): Still unsigned
Even with the rash of injuries the Browns have faced at the linebacker position, Bowman remains unsigned. He was brought in for a workout and the Browns have remained quiet on what their intentions are. This is a situation to watch closely but he is not worth the roster spot as a stash-and-see play.
Genard Avery (CLE): 2 solos, 1 QB hit, 1 fumble recovery
Despite playing nearly 78% of defensive stats this week and the added opportunity of overtime, Avery did not deliver in the tackle department. He recovered a fumble and returned it for 5 yards and was able to put a hit on the quarterback but did not get a sack. It was a disappointing showing for Avery. He remains a viable option due to the amount of playing time, but he will need to rack up more tackles going forward to be a starter for your team.
Vincent Rey (CIN): 0
In a surprise move, Rey did not register a single defensive stat against Kansas City. He played 25 downs on special teams, but not a single snap on defense. The 46 snaps or 63% he played the week prior were apparently no indication of an increased role with the defense. The coaching staff did not come out and say anything about his availability. He does not appear to be a viable option going forward.
Frank Clark (SEA): Bye Week
Clark was recommended last week as a “this was the last time you are going to be able to pick him up” kind of move. Seattle was on a bye this week and with 5.5 sacks already this season there is a good chance he is already not available. Jump on the Clark train before it is too late.
Corey Liuget (LAC): 3 solos, 1 TFL
The Chargers did not find the same success against the Titans offensive line as the Ravens had a week prior, and Liuget was no different. He did not register a sack but did manage a tackle for loss. His tackle total was right on pace with his season average, but he did not continue the sack train from the week before. The Chargers defense has had their up and downs and Liuget is going to be a boom or bust sack dependent play every week.
Mike Mitchell (IND): 7 solos, 1 interception, 2 passes defended, and a forced fumble
Mitchell was the biggest home run on the sleepers list from last week. He was wreaked havoc all over the field and not only racked up the tackles, but also forced 2 turnovers. It was only his second game of the season, but he played like a seasoned pro against the lackluster Buffalo offense. Do not expect this type of result from Mitchell every week, but he should be on your radar going forward.
Jordan Lucas (KC): 2 solos, 1 assist
It was a very lackluster effort from Lucas this week. He was burned by AJ Green a few times and only managed 3 total tackles and no pass defenses. The Kansas City defense played its best game of the season, but Lucas did not play a big role in that.
Brian Poole (ATL): 1 solo, 3 assists, 1 tackle for loss, 1 QB hit
It was a rather underwhelming performance by Poole this week. The team came away with a highly contested win, but he did not factor into it very much on the defensive side of the ball. He played almost no role in coverage down the field but was able to hit Manning on a blitz. Poole was coming off a game with his first interception of the season but was not able to ride that momentum.