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.
KANSAS CITY @ DENVER
DE Frank Clark, KC (5 solos, 2 sacks, 2 TFL, 1 QH, 1 FF)
Clark hasn’t made the type of impact that was expected of him early on, but he led the way to a 9-sack outing for the maligned Chiefs defense this week. Given the game script, there were plenty of snaps to go around for Clark and the other Chiefs edge rushers like Alex Okafor (2 sacks on 50 snaps) and Emmanuel Ogbah (1 sack, 2 PD on 43 snaps) to all put up strong games.
LB Anthony Hitchens, KC (5 solos, 1 asst, 2 sacks, 1 TFL, 2 QH, 1 FF)
Hitchens had missed most of the past two games with a groin injury but was healthy enough to start on Thursday night. He was joined in the starting lineup by Reggie Ragland, who helped hold the edge and force more plays inside for Hitchens to clean up. The numbers for Hitchens this week were clearly helped by his two sacks, but he also did it on just 32 snaps (48%) so there’s room for growth when he returns to a full-time role next week against the Packers.
LB A.J. Johnson, DEN (2 solos, 1 asst)
Johnson had a quiet outing this week but he was still in the starting lineup and on the field for 69% of the defensive snaps. Josey Jewell (3 snaps) and Joseph Jones (3 snaps) got in the game late, but Johnson still appears to be in a 3-down role here. The Chiefs offense only generated 48 tackle opportunities in the game, which limited the upside for most of the Broncos IDPs this week.
LB Von Miller, DEN (0 tackles)
Miller has seen at least 85% of the snaps in every game this year but his production is down across the board. Apart from his 2-sack game against the Jaguars in week 4, he has collected just 10 solos, 4 assists, and a half-sack in the other 6 games. While he has a proven track record that suggests he’ll pull out of this slump eventually, it’s likely safe to move on in standard scoring leagues if there are better options available.
LA RAMS @ ATLANTA
LB Dante Fowler Jr, LAR (6 solos, 1 asst, 3 sacks, 3 TFL, 3 QH, 1 FF, 1 PD)
The Rams defense welcomed Jalen Ramsey this week and his former teammate from Jacksonville had perhaps the best game of his career. He finished with 3 sacks with a forced fumble, while also leading the Rams with 7 combined tackles and adding a pass deflection. Ramsey should provide a clear upgrade in the secondary over Marcus Peters, which should provide more time for Fowler (and Aaron Donald) to get to the quarterbacks in the weeks ahead.
S Taylor Rapp, LAR (5 solos, 1 asst)
John Johnson III was placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury, which creates an opportunity for Rapp to take on a bigger role. His 6 tackles may not stand out, but he led all Rams defenders in snaps this week with 54 (98%) and the Falcons offense only generated 42 tackle opportunities. The promising rookie had been productive in a part-time role already and should become a reliable every-week option now.
CB Isaiah Oliver, ATL (2 solos, 2 asst)
Oliver has not done a good job of replacing Robert Alford in the Falcons secondary this year and the team appears to be losing patience with last year’s second-round pick. As with most corners, his poor play has allowed him to be productive but that only lasts until the team decides to replace him. Oliver was in a time-share with veteran journeyman Blidi Wreh-Wilson (8 solos on 34 snaps) this week and saw his playing time drop to 59% of the defensive snaps. If that continues, it will be difficult to rely on either option going forward.