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.
DENVER @ ARIZONA
LB Todd Davis, DEN (6 solos, 4 asst, 1 TFL, 1 INT, 2 PD, 1 TD)
Davis doesn’t appear to stand out much when he plays but he’s been remarkably consistent all year. Although he doesn’t play a full-time role, he’s averaged around 75% of the defensive snaps each week and has been much more productive than fellow inside linebacker Brandon Marshall. While his numbers this week were helped by the fact he returned his first career interception for a touchdown, Davis is averaging 5 solos and 2 assists per game.
DT Corey Peters, ARI (0 tackles)
After a week that saw him register 2 sacks, Peters was a no-show this week. He was shut out completely on the stat sheet despite playing 44 snaps (75%).
S Darian Stewart, DEN (1 solo)
Stewart only lasted 7 snaps before leaving the game with a neck injury. Apparently, this was the third stinger he has in his past three games, which may warrant him taking some time off to try and fully recover. Will Parks filled in for him and finished with 4 tackles on 60 snaps.
TENNESSEE @ L.A. CHARGERS (in London)
LB Denzel Perryman, LAC (6 solos, 2 asst, 1 INT, 1 PD)
Perryman is not quite an every-down linebacker for the Chargers but he saw 82% of the snaps this week and has been right around that level in most games. While his numbers have been somewhat assist-heavy, he is averaging 7 combined tackles per game and has been trending up of late. Coverage isn’t a strength of his, but he did come up with an interception in the red zone this week on a deflected pass.
LB Rashaan Evans, TEN (1 solo)
Evans is one of the only highly drafted rookie linebackers who has been a disappointment thus far. The Titans drafted him in the first round but he’s been outplayed by last year’s cover specialist Jayon Brown. Evans received more playing time the past few weeks with Wesley Woodyard out of the lineup but things didn’t go all that well for him. This week, he started alongside Woodyard but only played 18 snaps compared to 32 for Brown, who led the team with 7 tackles plus a sack. Seems apparent the Titans best lineup at this point includes Woodyard and Brown with Evans potentially limited to obvious running situations.
NEW ENGLAND @ CHICAGO
S Patrick Chung, NE (6 solos, 1 asst, 1 QH, 1 PD)
Chung has been seeing more time playing up in the box to provide additional support against the run and it’s showing up in the box scores. He had 11 tackles against the Colts in week 5 and led all Patriots in tackles this week with 7. The Patriots often work out of a 3-safety package with Chung working closer to the line while Duron Harmon and Devin McCourty play further back.
LB Khalil Mack, CHI (1 solo)
Mack has been playing with an ankle injury that is pretty clearly limiting his effectiveness. He suffered it at some point during last week’s loss to the Dolphins and missed most of the practice time leading up to this week’s game against the Patriots. He managed to play 54 snaps (84%) this week but spent more time in coverage than rushing the passer and generated little pressure on Tom Brady.
BUFFALO @ INDIANAPOLIS
S Mike Mitchell, IND (7 solos, 1 FF, 1 INT, 2 PD)
Mitchell has made a seemingly easy transition to a full-time role for the Colts. Signed just a couple weeks ago to provide additional depth, he saw 51 snaps (91%) this week and finished 2nd on the team with 7 solos while also adding an interception and forced fumble in the game. The injury to Clayton Geathers looks like it may linger, which could keep Mitchell in the starting lineup for a while.
S Clayton Geathers, IND (DNP)
Practiced in full on Wednesday last week, which fueled optimism he’d be able to return to the lineup but he missed practice on Thursday and was held out of the game. At this point, it certainly seems possible the Colts may want to let him rest through the week 9 bye and the play of Mike Mitchell makes that easier to do.
CB TreDavious White, BUF (2 solos)
White has played shutdown defense for the Bills this year while often being asked to shadow the opponent’s top receiver. He’s played so well that he’s rarely even thrown at, which has kept his fantasy-relevant numbers down considerably. Over his last 3 games, he has just 5 solo tackles with no passes defensed and he has yet to record his first interception this year. Despite playing great, a lack of targets leaves him as little more than a low-level fantasy option right now.
HOUSTON @ JACKSONVILLE
LB Jadeveon Clowney, HOU (7 solos, 2 sacks, 2 TFL, 4 QH, 1 FR)
Clowney rebounded from a couple of quiet weeks with a huge game against the Jaguars this week. While his tackle numbers have been underwhelming prior to this week, the upside of a multi-sack game like this is what gives him his fantasy value.
S Tyrann Mathieu, HOU (4 solos, 1 asst, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 1 QH, 1 INT, 1 PD)
Mathieu earned a reputation as a playmaker during his time at LSU and with the Cardinals. Although he posted an interception and fumble recovery in week 1, he hadn’t made any big splash plays until this week when he added a sack and interception.
S Barry Church, JAX (2 asst)
Church was a highly productive fantasy safety during his time with the Cowboys but he’s finding things much tougher in Jacksonville. He failed to reach 60 solo tackles last year and is on pace to barely top 50 this year. There simply aren’t enough opportunities available while playing on one of the best defenses in the league.
DETROIT @ MIAMI
DE Romeo Okwara, DET (5 solos, 1 asst, 1 sack, 2 TFL, 1 QH)
Okwara continues to see a heavy workload each week and he picked up a sack for the third game in a row. The Giants apparently didn’t see enough from him to keep him but their loss has been the Lions' gain. While not known for his play against the run, Okwara is helping to offset the absence of Ezekiel Ansah in the pass rush department.
LB Raekwon McMillan, MIA (7 solos, 1 asst, 1 FF)
McMillan saw a reduction in his playing time over the past month as the Dolphins coaches apparently lost patience with his struggles against the pass. He saw 84% of the defensive snaps this week, however, which was the highest percentage since week 2. McMillan was helped by the fact the Lions were playing with a lead for most of the game and generated 35 rush attempts but he did lead the team in tackles.
S Minkah Fitzpatrick, MIA (2 solos)
The rookie has been a valuable contributor to the Dolphins defense at times this year but his role appears to be limited to a nickel back at the moment. Despite what appeared to a favorable matchup against Golden Tate, the game script wound up leaving him with his lowest snap count of the season. With just 9 solo tackles and 2 assists over the past three games, he’s not getting enough opportunities to help a fantasy team but remains a long-term hold in dynasty leagues.
MINNESOTA @ N.Y. JETS
S Jayron Kearse, MIN (4 solos, 1 asst, 1 sack, 2 TFL, 1 QH)
Kearse has seen limited snaps in most games this year but he has played well as part of the team’s “big nickel” package when given an opportunity. He saw his highest snap count this week and made the most of those 29 snaps (41%) while finishing 2nd on the Vikings in tackles while also adding a sack. Given the injury to Mike Hughes, there should be more playing time available for him in various packages even after Andrew Sendejo returns to the lineup.
CB Darryl Roberts, NYJ (10 solos, 1 asst, 2 TFL, 2 PD)
The Jets are dealing with a rash of injuries at the cornerback position so Roberts has been given a starting job. He gave up a touchdown early on to Adam Thielen but bounced back to play very well the rest of the game. Roberts finished with a game-high 11 tackles while mostly matched up against Stefon Diggs, who caught 8 passes but only turned them into 33 yards.
CAROLINA @ PHILADELPHIA
S Malcolm Jenkins, PHI (5 solos, 2 asst, 2 PD)
Jenkins isn’t a flashy player considering his only big play this year was a forced fumble back in week 2. However, he’s been extremely consistent with exactly 5 solo tackles in each of his last four games.
DE Michael Bennett, PHI (1 solo, 1 asst, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 3 QH)
Bennett had a strong game and looked dominant at times but he was held back by a disappointingly low workload. He played 75% of the defensive snaps the past two games but was limited to just 32 snaps (54%) this week for some reason. With the Eagles protecting a lead and facing 39 pass attempts from Cam Newton, it’s surprising that Bennett didn’t more chances in the game.
DE Mario Addison, CAR (2 solos, 1 sack, 2 TFL, 1 QH)
Addison picked up a sack to give him 4.5 in 6 games, but he was limited to just 18 snaps (27%) before leaving with a back injury. Wes Horton saw his playing time increase from 40% of the snaps a week ago to 73% this week but managed just 3 tackles with no sacks.
CLEVELAND @ TAMPA BAY
DE Carl Nassib, TB (2 solos, 2 sacks, 1 TFL, 1 QH, 1 PD)
Nassib saw a huge increase in playing time this week due to the absence of Vinny Curry. He was on the field for 63 snaps (93%) and took full advantage of a great matchup, finishing with two sacks against his former teammate Baker Mayfield.
LB Adarius Taylor, TB (5 solos, 2 asst, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 1 QH)
Taylor has been playing as the strongside linebacker in Tampa’s base defense this year but slid over to the middle to replace the injured Kwon Alexander at halftime this week. He figures to see the biggest increase in playing time and production as a result of the injury unless Kendell Beckwith can get back on the field sometime soon.
S Damarious Randall, CLE (11 solos, 1 asst)
Randall continues to be one of the year’s biggest surprises in 2018. He was characterized as a problem in Green Bay even though they played him out of position at corner. The Browns traded for him and immediately moved him to safety, where he has been one of the most productive defensive backs in the league. Injuries forced him to move to outside corner this week and all he did was lead the team in tackles for the second week in a row. He’s been credited with 30 solo tackles over his last 4 games and remains a clear #1 safety with the Steelers next on the schedule.
LB Kwon Alexander, TB (5 solos, 2 asst, 1 PD)
Alexander suffered a non-contact knee injury late in the first half that was later revealed to be a torn ACL. The timing is unfortunate for him given that he was in the last year of his rookie contract and headed for free agency in the offseason. Last year’s breakout linebacker Kendell Beckwith is still recovering from ankle surgery and Tampa also lost rookie Jake Cichy to a torn ACL this week. Adarius Taylor slid over from the strongside to the middle and posted 6 tackles with a sack on 42 snaps this week.
NEW ORLEANS @ BALTIMORE
DE Alex Okafor, NO (2 solos, 1 asst, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 2 QH, 1 PD)
Okafor has been a pretty big disappointment this year with 0 sacks and just 6 solo tackles in the first 5 games. Although the Saints love to rotate a lot of players on defense this year, Okafor has seen more than 60% of the defensive snaps in every game since week 1. Since he’s coming back from a torn Achilles injury last year though, perhaps he just needed more time to get healthy. Coming off the bye week, he looked quick this week and picked up the Saints only sack against Joe Flacco while also adding a tipped pass. Many expect 1st round pick Marcus Davenport to pass him on the depth chart at some point, but Okafor had 43 snaps this week compared to 31 for Davenport.
LB C.J. Mosley, BAL (11 solos, 5 asst)
Mosley’s production has been hurt this year by the fact the Ravens defense had faced the fewest tackle opportunities in the league. He showed that he’s still capable of LB1 numbers this week though as he lit up the stat sheet with 16 combined tackles while going against a potent Saints offense that generated 62 tackle opportunities.
LB Kenny Young, BAL (3 solos, 1 asst)
Young has remained surprisingly productive despite a clear reduction in playing time. Over the last 3 weeks, he has seen 20 snaps or fewer in every game. Despite that lack of playing time, he’s been credited with 6 solos, 3 assists, and 1.5 sacks in that same timeframe. He looks like a nice stash for dynasty league players but appears to be a situational player now.
L.A. RAMS @ SAN FRANCISCO
DE Aaron Donald, LAR (8 solos, 1 asst, 4 sacks, 6 TFL, 5 QH, 1 FF, 1 FR)
Donald had a slow start to the year with 0 sacks in his first three games but he’s been close to unstoppable since then. With 4 sacks this week, he’s now up to 7 in his last 4 games and looks like he could even repeat as Defensive Player of the Year.
LB Cory Littleton, LAR (8 solos, 2 asst, 2 sacks, 3 TFL, 2 QH, 1 BK)
Many probably expected Littleton to see a drop in his production once Mark Barron returned to the lineup. We saw this week that clearly is not the case, however, as he was all over the field against the 49ers and also added in his first two sacks of the year. He’s now ranked among the top-5 in fantasy points among linebackers and one of the year’s biggest breakout IDPs.
S Adrian Colbert, SF (1 solo, 1 PD)
Colbert hasn’t been all that productive as the starting free safety for the 49ers this year but he left this week’s game after just 34 snaps (56%) with a high ankle sprain. The team announced on Monday they would place him on IR, thus ending his season. He’ll be replaced by rookie D.J. Reed, a 5th round pick who put up 6 tackles on just 30 snaps this week.
DALLAS @ WASHINGTON
LB Sean Lee, DAL (5 solos, 1 asst)
Lee returned to the lineup this week and saw 38 snaps (63%), pushing Leighton Vander Esche back to a reserve role (21 snaps, 35%). The two may continue to split time to try and keep Lee healthy, but Lee should see the bulk of the work as long as he remains healthy. Note that Jaylon Smith remained on the field for all but two snaps this week, so his role in passing situations certainly appears safe.
LB Zach Brown, WAS (8 solos, 1 asst, 1 TFL, 1 QH)
Brown had his most productive game of the season this week but he doesn’t quite warrant an upgrade since it came on a season-low snap count. He was only on the field for 35 of 66 (53%) defensive snaps while fellow inside linebacker Josh Harvey-Clemons saw a season-high 31 snaps.
S Montae Nicholson, WAS (2 solos)
Nicholson came into the year as a sleeper as he was expected to line up at strong safety for Washington this year. Over the past couple weeks, however, he’s seen very few snaps lined up in the box and he has just 4 solo tackles and 1 assist on 126 snaps as a result.
CINCINNATI @ KANSAS CITY
S Shawn Williams, CIN (9 solos, 3 asst, 1 INT, 1 PD)
Williams came into the game with a questionable designation as he suffered a concussion last week but he managed to play all 70 snaps. He was very active in run support with 12 combined tackles while also adding his second interception of the year. Given the injuries at linebacker, it’s likely he’ll continue to see a high number of tackle opportunities each week.
LB Anthony Hitchens, KC (3 solos)
Hitchens came into this game with 14 solos and 11 assists in his previous two games, so he’s clearly been very productive for the Chiefs. Given the defensive struggles they have had though, the coaches decided to try something new this week with Dorian O’Daniel taking over in the nickel defense. Hitchens had a very quiet day with just 3 solos on 38 snaps (64%) while O’Daniel made several nice plays and was credited with 4 solos on just 25 snaps.
LB Vontaze Burfict, CIN (2 solos, 1 TFL)
The Bengals defense had no answers for the explosive Chiefs offense in this game and Burfict looked a step slow throughout. He wound up leaving early with an injury so he didn’t play the entire game, but he still had a remarkably low 2 tackles on 44 snaps. Jordan Evans saw a large increase in playing time and posted 6 tackles on 54 snaps as Vincey Rey also missed the game.
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