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. When warranted, I'll also call out some players under No Change that tries to explain why the stat lines may be misleading. 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 about specific players or situations, feel free to email me or reach out via twitter.
BALTIMORE @ CINCINNATI
LB Kenny Young, BAL (5 solos, 3 asst, 1 TFL, 1 QH)
Star inside linebacker C.J. Mosley was carted off the field after just 3 defensive snaps on Thursday night. It was later revealed to a bone bruise that may not keep him out too long, but his absence created a huge opportunity for the rookie Young. After seeing 36% of the defensive snaps a week ago, his workload increased to 76% this week and he finished 3rd on the team in tackles. Fellow linebacker Patrick Onwuasor handled the full-time role after Mosley left and clearly gets a boost while Mosley is out but Young looks like he may be the more promising add/hold for the rest of the year and in dynasty leagues.
LB Hardy Nickerson Jr, CIN (5 solos, 3 asst, 1 PD)
With Preston Brown out injured, Nickerson got the start at middle linebacker and played a remarkable 84 defensive snaps (99%) in the game. While that every-down role likely won’t continue as the Bengals start to get players like Brown and Vontaze Burfict and Vincent Rey back, it’s a nice sign that the coaches trusted him and he held up pretty well. His father played 16 years in the league and was a four-time All-Pro selection so there’s certainly some intriguing dynasty stash potential here.
S Shawn Williams, CIN (6 solos, 2 asst, 1 sack, 1 QH, 1 INT, 1 PD)
Williams was ejected early last week for a late hit on the quarterback, but his replacement Clayton Fejedelem posted a huge game in his place. This week, it was Williams who posted big numbers against the Ravens with a sack and interception. If you combine the production from both players, it certainly looks like the strong safety position in Cincinnati is off to a great start. Williams has often been underwhelming in the box score but he’s a good run stopper who could be worth a pickup if available.
DE Michael Johnson, CIN (0 tackles)
The Bengals lost their starting defensive end to a knee injury very early in the game. He left after just 5 defensive snaps and is expected to miss a few weeks. That should create more opportunity for young pass rushers like Carl Lawson (60%), Sam Hubbard (59%), and Jordan Willis (58%). Hubbard, in particular, stood out this week as the rookie was credited with 5 tackles and a sack.
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