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.
TAMPA BAY @ CAROLINA
LB Shaquil Barrett, TB (3 solos, 3 sacks, 3 TFL, 4 QH)
Barrett never reached his full potential in Denver, mostly due to the excellent talent ahead of him there. With nearly 60 snaps per game, he’s playing close to a full-time role for the first time in his career. With 4 sacks through 2 games, he is quickly establishing himself as the best pass rush threat in Tampa and appears headed for a breakout year.
LB Luke Kuechly, CAR (8 solos, 9 asst, 2 TFL, 1 PD, 1 safety)
Kuechly has been an elite fantasy linebacker for many years but a 17-tackle effort is worth mentioning here. Cam Newton also hasn’t looked like his normal self so far, which could mean more time on the field for this defense each week and may be enough to push Kuechly back up to the top of the overall IDP rankings.
CB Vernon Hargreaves III, TB (11 solos, 1 asst, 1 PD)
Hargreaves has often been very productive when he’s on the field as opposing teams have a tendency to target him in the passing game. After missing nearly the entire 2018 season to injury, the former 1st round pick is taking advantage of a fresh start under a new coaching staff. He had a pick-six last week and then added 11 solo stops this week, including a game-saving tackle on Christian McCaffrey at the end of the 4th quarter.
LB Devin White, TB (2 asst)
The 5th overall pick in the draft is having a rough start to his career as he was sick leading up to the opener and then left this week’s game after just 6 snaps on the Panthers first drive of the game. White suffered an MCL sprain in his knee that doesn’t appear to be serious but could still keep him out or limit his effectiveness in week 3. Kevin Minter replaced him and finished with 8 tackles on 73 snaps (92%).
ARIZONA @ BALTIMORE
S Budda Baker, ARI (8 solos, 3 asst, 1 FF)
The Ravens offense generated 59 tackle opportunities in this game after posting 70 a week ago, so the matchup was certainly quite favorable. Baker tied for the team lead in tackles, however, which is a great indicator that we should expect more of the same from him despite the changes to the coaching staff. Although he’s listed as the team’s starting free safety, he lines up closer to the line of scrimmage than you’d expect and is excellent at diagnosing plays and aggressively supporting the run. With 15 solo tackles through 2 games and a high snap count expected each week, Baker could lead all safeties in tackles.
S Earl Thomas, BAL (1 asst)
The Cardinals passed the ball 40 times in this game with a rookie quarterback, which should have provided an excellent matchup for Thomas but he failed to take advantage and finished with just 1 assist. He did pick off a pass last week against Miami, but so far he’s been credited with just 1 solo and 1 assist on over 100 snaps. That’s not a good sign for his fantasy outlook this year so it’s probably time to look elsewhere if you were hoping for a resurgence given the Ravens' weakness at inside linebacker.