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.
NEW ORLEANS @ DALLAS
DE Cameron Jordan, NO (3 solos, 4 asst, 2 sacks, 2 TFL, 2 QH, 1 FF, 1 FR)
With two more sacks this week, Jordan now has 4 in his last two games and is once again looking like an elite fantasy defensive end. This was his fourth multi-sack game of the season and his 10 sacks rank among the top-10 in the league.
CB Marshon Lattimore, NO (9 solos, 1 asst, 1 FF, 1 FR)
Lattimore came into the year as one of the top-ranked fantasy cornerbacks in the league but got off to a slow start. He’s been heating up of late, however, and now has 17 solo tackles, 2 forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, plus an interception and 4 passes defensed over his last 3 games. With some promising matchups against Mike Evans and Antonio Brown coming up, he should remain a valuable starter for the fantasy playoffs.
DT David Onyemata, NO (4 solos, 3 asst, 3 sacks, 2 TFL, 2 QH, 1 FF)
Like many teams, the Saints favor a rotational approach on the defensive line so Onyemata has only played a little more than half of the defensive snaps the past few weeks. Considering he came into the game with 2.5 sacks over his last 1000 snaps prior to this week, it’s unlikely we’ll see more multi-sack games from him moving forward. The seven tackles he was credited in this game were the same amount he had in the prior five games combined.
BALTIMORE @ ATLANTA
LB Deion Jones, ATL (13 solos, 2 asst, 1 sack, 1 TFL)
Jones finally made his return to the lineup this week and filled up the box score with 15 tackles plus a sack on 64 snaps (79%). He was certainly helped by the matchup as the Ravens ran the ball 49 times, but it’s a promising sign of what Jones can do the rest of the year. Note that De'Vondre Campbell led all Falcons linebackers in snaps this week but he only collected 6 tackles on 70 snaps compared to 6 on 52 snaps for Foyesade Oluokun.
LB Matt Judon, BAL (1 QH)
Judon followed up his 3-sack game against the Raiders last week with a disappointing game this week. This represents the sixth time this year he’s been held to 1 or fewer solo tackles but the first time he was shut out on the stat sheet apart from a single quarterback hit that most leagues don’t award points for. With tough matchups against the Chiefs and Chargers coming up as well, it’s probably safe to assume we won’t see a lot more production from him this year.
DENVER @ CINCINNATI
S Sua Cravens, DEN (4 solos, 1 asst, 1 QH)
Cravens set a season-high for playing time this week as he was on the field for 34 snaps (50%) and finished 3rd on the team with tackles. An ankle injury forced linebacker Josey Jewell to the bench early, which likely created an opening for Cravens. The injury to Chris Harris Jr may also shift players around and open up more playing time for Cravens in the weeks ahead. Although he’s still not a strong fantasy option, he’s a solid stash option in dynasty leagues given his profile as a safety/linebacker hybrid.
LB Nick Vigil, CIN (2 asst, 1 FR)
Vigil returned to the lineup this week after sitting out 5 games with a knee injury. While he played a full workload of 57 snaps (97%), he was limited to just 2 assisted tackles in the game along with a fumble recovery. As the best linebacker on the Bengals, he will likely bounce back next week against the Chargers if his playing time remains that high.
DT Geno Atkins, CIN (1 QH)
The sack numbers for Atkins appear to have dried up right around the same time as the Bengals season started to take a turn for the worse. While he posted 6 sacks in the first 5 games, Atkins has just 1 sack in his last 7 games. The tackle numbers have also been disappointing as he’s been credited with 1 assist or fewer in 4 of those 7 games.
CB Chris Harris Jr, DEN (1 solo)
Harris lasted just 11 snaps this week before leaving with a broken leg. It was later diagnosed as a hairline fracture of his fibula and it appears he will not be placed on I.R. since he may be able to return in time for the playoffs if the Broncos qualify. His season is over for fantasy purposes though and it comes just as he was starting to heat up with 10 solos and 2 interceptions over the prior two games.
L.A. RAMS @ DETROIT
DE Aaron Donald, LAR (5 solos, 2 sacks, 4 TFL, 4 QH, 1 FF)
Donald continues to prove himself as the best defensive player in the league. With two more sacks this week, he now has 16.5 sacks in his last 9 games. He looks almost unblockable at times as he continues to get to the quarterback despite teams likely game-planning to stop him.
DE Dante Fowler Jr, LAR (5 solos, 1 sack, 3 TFL, 1 QH)
Fowler bounced back from an ineffective game against the Chiefs when he was credited with just 3 assists on 65 snaps. He saw 90% of the snaps that week and was on the field for 86% of the snaps this week, which should allow him to remain a viable fantasy option the rest of the season and possibly beyond.
S John Johnson III, LAR (9 solos, 2 asst)
Johnson led the Rams in tackles for the second game in a row with identical stat lines of 9 solos and 2 assists. He hasn’t come up with any big plays since an interception in week 7, but he’s getting plenty of tackle opportunities and is currently on pace for nearly 80 solo tackles.
DE Ezekiel Ansah, DET (1 QH)
Ansah was shut out this week but saw a season-high snap count with 41 snaps (59%). He has a great matchup coming up against the Cardinals next week and should remain a strong fantasy option.
LB Jarrad Davis, DET (2 solos, 3 asst, 1 QH)
Davis continues to underwhelm as a fantasy linebacker despite playing all but 9 defensive snaps this season. The addition of Damon Harrison figured to make things easier on him but it hasn’t led to any noticeable uptick in production. He’s been credited with just 3 solos and 5 assists over his last two games and is on pace for just 70 solo tackles, making him a low-end LB3 in most scoring systems.
LB Devon Kennard, DET (0 tackles)
Kennard had played 100% of the defensive snaps in nearly every game this year but he was forced to leave the game after just 30 snaps (43%) this week with a hip injury. Eli Harold replaced him and added a sack on his 39 snaps.
ARIZONA @ GREEN BAY
DE Dean Lowry, GB (2 solos, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 1 QH, 1 PD)
Lowry is a 6’6”, 300-pound lineman so it’s impressive that he was on the field for 59 of 62 defensive snaps this week. He also saw 55 defensive snaps a week ago and has registered 3 sacks in his last 4 games.
LB Gerald Hodges, ARI (12 solos, 1 asst)
Hodges took over as the full-time middle linebacker this week following the injury to Josh Bynes. He played all 76 snaps along with fellow linebacker Haason Reddick and proved that he can be productive when given the opportunity with 13 tackles in a surprising win over the Packers in Green Bay.
CB David Amerson, ARI (5 solos, 1 asst, 1 PD)
Amerson replaced the recently-released Bene Benwikere as the starter opposite Patrick Peterson this week and seemed to pick up right where he left off. He played the entire game this week and should remain a viable streaming option in the weeks ahead.
LB Kyler Fackrell, GB (2 asst)
Fackrell blew up with 3 sacks against the Seahawks in prime time in week 11 but unfortunately, he hasn’t been able to build off that. In his last two games, he has been credited with just 2 solos and 2 assists despite playing 79% and 92% of the defensive snaps.
CLEVELAND @ HOUSTON
DT Larry Ogunjobi, CLE (0 tackles)
Ogunjobi had regularly played more than 90% of the defensive snaps for the Browns earlier this year and had a very productive first half of the season. His production had cooled off in the second half, perhaps as he hit a rookie wall and his playing time had also declined in the last few games. Ogunjobi was forced to leave the game after just 33 snaps this week with a biceps injury and was shut out on the stat sheet.
LB Jamie Collins Sr, CLE (2 solos, 2 asst, 1 TFL, 1 QH)
In the past two games since Joe Schobert has returned to a full-time role, Collins has had two of his least productive games of the year. He was credited with 4 tackles on 73 snaps last week and this week had 4 tackles on 76 snaps. The Texans ran the ball 39 times in this game so it’s not like there was a lack of opportunity for him either.
INDIANAPOLIS @ JACKSONVILLE
DT Denico Autry, IND (6 solos, 1 asst, 3 sacks, 3 TFL, 4 QH, 2 FF)
Autry has missed a lot of time to injury this year, but when he’s played he’s generally been very productive. The former defensive end has proved to be even more effective rushing the passer from the interior. He’s now up to 6 sacks in 8 games on the year and has averaged around 70% of the defensive snaps per game.
S Barry Church, JAX (DNP)
Church was apparently a healthy scratch this week as he was on the active roster but did not take a single snap on defense or special teams. The team apparently wanted to give rookie Ronnie Harrison a longer look, and that figures to continue after the defense shut out Andrew Luck and the Colts.
BUFFALO @ MIAMI
CB Xavien Howard, MIA (3 solos, 1 asst, 2 INT, 2 PD)
With his third two-interception game of the year and second in as many weeks, Howard now has 7 interceptions on the season to lead the league. The young corner has been dominant at times and clearly has a knack for making big plays.
CHICAGO @ N.Y. GIANTS
DE Akiem Hicks, CHI (6 solos, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 2 QH, 1 PD, 1 TD)
With a huge game against the Giants, Hicks now has 15 solos and a pair of sacks in his past three games. Throw in the touchdown he added on offense this week and he certainly looks like a strong DE2 once again.
DT B.J. Hill, NYG (3 solos, 3 sacks, 2 TFL, 3 QH)
The rookie 3rd round pick has become a key part of the defensive line rotation, especially after the trade of Damon Harrison. He hadn’t recorded a sack since week 4 but exploded for 3 of them this week in an overtime win. Fortunately, Hill averages over 3 solo tackles/game over his last 8 games so he can be productive even in games when he doesn’t get to the quarterback.
LB Alec Ogletree, NYG (5 solos, 5 asst, 2 INT, 2 PD, 1 TD)
The year hasn’t exactly gone according to plan for Ogletree but he appears to be saving his best for last. Including his huge game this week, he now has 14 solos, 9 assists, 3 interceptions, a sack, and two touchdowns in the past three weeks.
CAROLINA @ TAMPA BAY
LB Lavonte David, TB (10 solos, 2 asst, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 1 QH, 1 PD)
David made a quick return to the lineup after missing just two games with a sprained MCL and was able to play all 70 defensive snaps. He made a huge impact on the game, leading all tacklers with 12 and also adding a sack. If you pro-rate his numbers when healthy, he’d be on pace for 105 solo tackles in a full 16-game season, which pretty comfortably puts him in LB1-range.
DE Mario Addison, CAR (1 asst, .5 sack, 1 QH)
Addison had 7.5 sacks in his first 8 games of the season but has gone cold since then. Over his last 5 games, he’s played at least 66% of the defensive snaps in each but has been credited with just 2 solos, 6 assists, and a half sack.
LB Shaq Thompson, CAR (3 solos, 1 QH, 1 PD)
Thompson played well in the game but unfortunately was only on the field for 25 snaps (38%), which was a season-low for him. The coaches obviously still trust Thomas Davis more in nickel packages, which makes it frustrating to rely on Thompson.
S Justin Evans, TB (2 solos)
The safety also returned to the starting lineup after missing the last two games but lasted just 25 snaps (36%) before aggravating his toe injury. That likely puts his status for next week’s game against the Saints in jeopardy.
KANSAS CITY @ OAKLAND
DE Allen Bailey, KC (4 solos, 3 asst, .5 sacks, 1 TFL, 1 QH, 1 FF)
Most of the attention on the Chiefs defense goes to players like Justin Houston and Dee Ford, but they have also gotten impressive contributions from Chris Jones and Allen Bailey as well. Bailey has clearly turned things up of late with 2.5 sacks in his last 3 games along with several big plays, including a fumble return for a touchdown.
LB Nicholas Morrow, OAK (7 solos)
Morrow has been sharing time with Jason Cabinda at middle linebacker but he plays in the nickel packages. The Chiefs offense likes to spread teams out, which kept Oakland in sub-packages for much of the game and allowed Morrow to see 65 snaps (92%). He tied for the team lead with 7 solo tackles and should continue to get extensive playing time in an audition for 2019.
N.Y. JETS @ TENNESSEE
DE Jurrell Casey, TEN (3 solos, 1 asst, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 1 QH)
Casey was on the field for a season-high 63 defensive snaps (91%) this week and recorded a sack for the second week in a row. That gives him a sack in two straight games and his schedule looks very favorable during the fantasy playoffs.
S Jamal Adams, NYJ (10 solos, 1 asst, 1 sack, 1 QH, 1 FF)
Adams continues to pile up tackles in bunches. With double-digit solo tackles this week, he’s now on pace for 90 and looks like one of the only true long-term fixtures for this Jets defense. The lack of a talent around him should keep him among the elite safeties for many years to come.
MINNESOTA @ NEW ENGLAND
LB Eric Kendricks, MIN (8 solos, 8 asst, 1 INT, 1 PD)
Kendricks has seen his total tackle numbers improve from 93 as a rookie in 2015, to 109 in 2016, and 114 last year. With 27 solos and 17 assists in his last 4 games, he’s currently on pace to finish the year with 126 combined tackles this year. While he hasn’t been much of a big play threat in his career, he did pick off his first pass of the year this week as well.
DE Adrian Clayborn, NE (0 tackles)
Clayborn had a 3-game stretch from weeks 7 to 9 of this season where he collected 2.5 sacks. In the other 9 games combined, he has been credited with just 2 solos and 1 assist despite often playing 40% of the defensive snaps.
SAN FRANCISCO @ SEATTLE
DT DeForest Buckner, SF (3 solos, 4 asst, 2 sacks, 2 TFL, 2 QH)
Buckner added two more sacks this week to give him 9 on the season and 4.5 in his last 4 games. The 49ers don’t have much left to play for at this point but he’s at least producing for fantasy players who counted on him to be one of the elite young players at his position.
LB Bobby Wagner, SEA (8 solos, 4 asst, 1 sack, 2 TFL, 2 QH, 1 INT, 2 PD, 1 FF, 1 FR, 1 TD)
It would be hard to find anyone who could top this game from an IDP perspective as Wagner really did make an impact all over the field. Not only did he have double-digit tackles but he also contributed a sack, forced a fumble, recovered a fumble, and ran back a touchdown 98 yards for a touchdown. He now has a remarkable 41 solo tackles and 27 assists over his last 6 games for an average of 11.3 combined tackles per game.
L.A. Chargers @ PITTSBURGH
LB L.J. Fort, PIT (9 solos, 3 asst)
The Steelers started Jon Bostic in the game but he only saw 11 snaps in the game compared to 52 for Fort. Fort brings some much-needed speed to the inside linebacker group in Pittsburgh and showed that he probably deserves a bigger role than he’s had for much of this year with a team-high 12 tackles.
CB Desmond King, LAC (9 solos, 1 asst, 2 PD, 1 PR TD)
King had a huge game against the Steelers this week, which was helped in part by the matchup while also adding a 73-yard punt return touchdown in the fourth quarter to tie the game. He came into the game with just 5 solos and 1 assist over his previous three games combined though. Also, after picking up 4 sacks as a rookie in 2017, he has yet to record one this year.
LB Jon Bostic, PIT (1 asst)
Bostic saw a huge reduction in playing time this week as he was only on the field for 11 defensive snaps (17%). That is why he finished with just 1 assisted tackle in the game while L.J. Fort led the team with 12 combined tackles on 52 snaps (83%).