This article attempts to highlight players whose production was significantly better or worse than normally expected. 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. 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 and trade decisions. If you have any questions on specific players or situations, feel free to email me or reach out via twitter.
CLEVELAND @ CINCINNATI
DE Desmond Bryant, CLE (2 solos, 1 sack)
Bryant set a career high with 5 sacks back in 2011 so his upside is relatively limited for fantasy purposes, but he’s currently riding a nice hot streak. With a sack against the Bengals who have one of the best offensive lines in the league, he now has a sack in 3 straight games.
DE Carlos Dunlap, CIN (4 solos, 2 sacks)
A breakout for Dunlap has been hinted at in the past based on his pressure metrics, but he’s finally realizing his potential. With 2 more sacks against the Browns this week, he’s now up to 8.5 on the year and looks headed for a top-5 finish at his position. The most impressive part of his year is the consistency as he’s posted a sack in 6 of 8 games.
MIAMI @ BUFFALO
DE Jerry Hughes, BUF (3 solos, 1 FF, 1 FR, 2 sacks)
Hughes was probably close to getting benched after taking his 7th personal foul penalty of the season on a late hit out of bounds, but he made up for it with a huge finish. He had a strip sack and fumble recovery on one huge play, then drew a key holding penalty on the next series to force a punt, and later finished off the game with another sack that forced a field goal attempt.
CB Leodis McKelvin, BUF (6 solos, 1 PD)
McKelvin was recently activated off the PUP list and got the start at safety alongside Corey Graham this week. The Bills have struggled a bit against interior receivers so his addition inside should provide an upgrade, and he’s always been a reliable tackler. He wound up playing about two thirds of the snaps this week, but could take on a bigger role as he gets more comfortable with the new position.
DT Marcell Dareus, BUF (1 asst)
Dareus continues to be a pretty huge disappointment this year after signing a huge contract extension last month. Up until this week, he was still posting consistent tackle numbers each week but he has just 1 sack in 7 games and none in his last 5 games.
LB Jelani Jenkins, MIA (3 solos)
It’s not clear exactly why Jenkins is struggling so much after a great start, but he has only been credited with 3 solo tackles in 5 of his last 6 games. It’s not a question of opportunity as he was on the field for 100% of the snaps this week and the Bills had 36 rush attempts, but he is just not around the ball nearly as much as he used to be.
GREEN BAY @ CAROLINA
DT Kawann Short, CAR (4 solos, 1 asst, 1 sack)
The huge year for Short continues after a 1-week letdown. He was a non-factor against the Colts last week, but picked things back up this week with 5 tackles and a sack. That gives him 6 sacks over the last 4 weeks and helps him stand out as the most dominant fantasy DT in the league thus far.
LB Jake Ryan, GB (6 solos, 4 asst)
The rookie who had only seen a handful of snaps all year was thrust into a full-time role early in the game to replace an ineffective Nate Palmer. He responded with 10 tackles in just 38 snaps to lead all players in the game. He could be the long-term solution at ILB for the Packers, and now it looks like he’ll get a chance to show what he can do.
S Kurt Coleman, CAR (4 solos, 2 asst, 1 sack)
Coleman is playing FS in Carolina and has been putting up some impressive numbers lately. Over the past 3 games, he has been credited with 14 solos, 5 assists, along with an interception, sack, and 3 passes defensed. After a productive stint with the Eagles back in 2012, he was a little-used reserve for the past couple seasons before emerging as a starter again in Carolina.
CB Damarious Randall, GB (5 solos, 1 INT, 2 PD)
Randall continues to come up big for the Packers. They were without #1 CB Sam Shields this week, but Randall held up pretty well and picked off Cam Newton late in the game to give the Packers a chance to tie things up. The rookie corner is being tested regularly and getting more playing time of late, which has helped him post 18 solos, 2 INTs, and 5 passes defensed in his last 3 games.
S Micah Hyde, GB (1 solo)
With Morgan Burnett back to a full-time role on defense, Hyde was limited to just 19 (28%) snaps this week. He had put up some strong numbers while filling in for Burnett over the first couple months, but it looks like he’ll be limited to some subpackage snaps going forward and will need a great matchup (or another injury) to be worthy of starting again.
ST LOUIS @ MINNESOTA
DT Linval Joseph, MIN (7 solos, 3 asst, .5 sack)
Shariff Floyd has been a disappointment this year and missed his third straight game this week. That is giving Joseph an increased opportunity to make plays, and he has responded with 14 solos, 5 assists, and a half sack in the last 3 weeks.
DE Robert Quinn, STL (DNP)
Quinn missed the game this week with a knee injury. He wasn’t able to practice all week, so it wasn’t a surprise but it’s still a bad sign. It was the first game he missed since his rookie year in 2011, but hopefully the week of rest will help him get ready for the stretch run in the fantasy season.
DT Aaron Donald, STL (1 solo)
Donald remains an elite player at his position, but he’s not getting to the QB as much lately. He posted 3.5 sacks in the first 3 games, but has just 1 sack in his last 5 games. He’s also not contributing much elsewhere in terms of tackles with just 9 solos and 2 assists in those 5 games.
S Harrison Smith, MIN (0 tackles)
Probably don’t want to overreact too much here, but I’m sure fantasy owners will wonder how one of the league’s elite safeties could finish a game without any tackles. It wasn’t an issue of playing time as Smith was on the field for 74 snaps (100%), but the Rams offense was a tough matchup as they relied very heavily on the run game and the Vikings front seven held Gurley in check.
WASHINGTON @ NEW ENGLAND
S Dashon Goldson, WAS (6 solos, 4 asst)
Washington has dealt with a rash of injuries in the secondary this season, but Goldson has remained the one constant. He has been posting some impressive tackle numbers as well with 27 solos and 20 assists over the last 4 games. Those would be strong numbers for a linebacker, much less a free safety.
LB Dont'a Hightower, NE (1 solo)
Hightower started the game and played 62% of the snaps, but was limited to just a single solo tackle as Washington couldn’t really get anything going on offense. With the game out of reach in the second half, he was rested more than usual, and that also contributed to a disappointing game but he should bounce back soon.
CB Bashaud Breeland, WAS (1 asst)
Breeland played through a hamstring injury this week, which kept him out of the starting lineup and limited him to just 32 (40%) defensive snaps. Disappointing considering they had a bye last week and were facing a great matchup in the Patriots, but he had been playing well and will hopefully be able to do more against the Saints next week.
TENNESSEE @ NEW ORLEANS
LB Wesley Woodyard, TEN (6 solos, 2 asst, 1 sack)
Despite only playing about half the snaps, Woodyard continues to post impressive numbers week after week. Over the past 5 games, he has collected 33 solo stops, 11 assists, and 2 sacks.
LB Brian Orakpo, TEN (3 solos, 1 asst, 2 sacks, 1 PD)
It took him some time to get going, but Orakpo is finally starting to make a consistent contribution to the Titans defense. With 2 sacks this week, he is up to 4 sacks in his last 4 games along with 13 solo tackles.
S Jairus Byrd, NO (7 solos, 3 asst)
While he has yet to record an interception with his new team, Byrd is showing clear signs of improvement. He had a forced fumble and fumble recovery last week, and then wound up tying for the team lead with 10 tackles this week. The potential is there for him to put up impressive numbers, but his time in New Orleans has been plagued by injuries.
S Da’Norris Searcy, TEN (2 solos, 1 asst)
Searcy showed signs of recovering from a horrible start to the season with a couple solid games in a row, but he has slipped back into irrelevance again. He posted just 3 solos and 3 assists in the last two games, and has still failed to record any type of big plays.
JACKSONVILLE @ NY JETS
LB Lorenzo Mauldin, NYJ (2 solos, 2 asst, 2 sacks)
Despite only playing 19 snaps (29%) as a pass rush specialist, Mauldin had a big impact on the game with 4 tackles and a pair of sacks. He also was credited with 4 hurries in the game, which is a promising sign for the rookie OLB and an indicator that he deserves more playing time.
CB Marcus Williams, NYJ (3 solos, 1 asst, .5 sack, 2 INT, 3 PD)
Williams proved to be a very valuable reserve for the Jets this week as he initially replaced Dion Bailey at safety and picked off one pass. Then after Antonio Cromartie went down with an injury, Williams shifted to corner where he added a 2nd interception. He also added 4 tackles and a half sack in the game.
LB Davis Harris, NYJ (3 solos, 1 asst)
It was another underwhelming week for Harris as he only managed 4 tackles, but it was due in large part to the fact the Jaguars only had 19 rush attempts. After a huge start to the season with 2 sacks and 2 forced fumbles in the first 4 games, Harris has no big plays in the last 4 and he’s looking like more of a matchup-dependent player than expected.
OAKLAND @ PITTSBURGH
CB Antwon Blake, PIT (8 solos, 1 asst, 1 FF, 2 PD)
Blake is struggling in coverage, but that’s actually a good thing for his fantasy value as QBs keep going after him each week. He’s posted 8 or more solo tackles in 3 of his last 4 games while also contributing 5 passes defensed and some big plays along the way.
CB D.J. Hayden, OAK (11 solos, 2 asst)
Hayden was obviously helped by facing off against Antonio Brown for much of the game this week, but he has now posted 3 strong games in a row. Over the past 3 weeks, he has 24 solo tackles with a sack, INT, and forced fumble.
LB Khalil Mack, OAK (0 tackles)
As a rookie, Mack was one of the best LBs against the run in the league. He is still playing very well in that regard, but has taken on more responsibilities as a pass rusher. When that happens, he’s more likely to put up some games like this where he didn’t show up on the stat sheet. He did have some QB hurries in the game, but felt like he should have done more in a game where the Steelers had 30 rush attempts and 50 pass attempts.
LB Malcolm Smith, OAK (3 solos)
Just as Mack should have done more, it felt like Smith should have finished with a lot better than just 3 solo tackles in a game when the Raiders faced 30 rush attempts. May not be a new trend, but his tackle numbers have been somewhat low in 3 of the past 4 games and that’s making him overly reliant on big plays.
ATLANTA @ SAN FRANCISCO
LB Philip Wheeler, ATL (8 solos, 2 asst)
The Falcons just signed Wheeler on October 20th and he wound up starting for them and playing 73% of the snaps this week. With Justin Durant out injured, the Falcons chose Wheeler over Joplo Bartu, and he responded by leading all players in the game with 10 combined tackles.
DE Cornelius Carradine, SF (DNP)
Carradine showed some promise at time as a pass rusher despite limited playing time, but he appears to have fallen out of favor with the coaching staff in Chicago. He was dressed in the game this week but did not see the field.
NY GIANTS @ TAMPA BAY
DE Jason Pierre-Paul, NYG (2 solos)
After sitting out the first 8 weeks, Pierre-Paul finally returned to action this week and was on the field for 73% of the defensive snaps. He probably won’t be the player he was in the past given the serious hand injury he suffered, but with that much playing time it’s likely that he’ll at least be a decent contributor. Next week’s matchup against the Patriots looks pretty difficult though.
LB Jasper Brinkley, NYG (5 solos, 2 asst, 1 FF, 1 FR)
With Jon Beason going on injured reserve over the weekend, and Uani Unga inactive this week with a neck injury, it was Brinkley’s chance to show what he could do in the middle of the Giants defense. He responded with a solid 7 tackle game while also adding a forced fumble and fumble recovery. The experienced vet doesn’t offer a lot of upside, but he put up these numbers in just 34 snaps (54%) so he can be productive in the right situation.
S Bradley McDougald, TB (3 solos)
McDougald left the game early with a concussion this week and was limited to just 17 snaps. He had been putting up solid numbers for Tampa, but will now have to go through the league’s concussion protocol so his status for next week’s game against Dallas is in question.
DENVER @ INDIANAPOLIS
DE Kendall Langford, IND (3 solos, 3 asst, 1 sack)
As a 3-4 DE, Langford isn’t expected to provide much in the way of a pass rush but he picked up his 3rd sack in 6 games this week. The Colts don’t have much depth so he’s getting a lot of playing time each week, but his tackles are still underwhelming with just 12 solo stops in 9 games.
LB Danny Trevathan, DEN (6 solos, 13 asst, 1 PD)
Trevathan has been very productive at times this year despite playing only a 2-down role in the Broncos defense. He made plays all over the field this week and finished with an incredible 19 combined tackles. With the Colts providing 61 tackle opportunities, that means that Trevathan was involved in the tackle nearly one third of the time. With the Broncos playing from behind for a change, Trevathan saw more playing time this week than he had all year.
LB D’Qwell Jackson, IND (1 asst, 1 PD)
Jackson has been one of the most productive linebackers in the league this year with nearly 100 combined tackles through the first 8 games. He was hurt by a bad matchup this week, however, as the Broncos offense could not sustain many long drives and only finished with 14 rush attempts. Expect him to bounce back after the upcoming bye week.
LB DeMarcus Ware, DEN (1 solo, 1 sack)
Ware continued his strong play with a sack early on, but he was knocked out of the game with a back injury and is now expected to miss the next 2 to 4 weeks. Shaq Barrett is expected to fill in for him, and posted 6 tackles in 40 snaps this week.
CB Aqib Talib, DEN (1 PD)
Talib hasn’t provided much in the way of production for fantasy owners of late, but he was hit with a one-game suspension for poking at the eye of Colts TE Dwayne Allen this week. He said he would appeal the decision, but it’s probably not a bad idea to look for another option if he was on your team.
PHILADELPHIA @ DALLAS
LB Brandon Graham, PHI (7 solos, 2 sacks, 2 FF)
The big plays have not been there for the Eagles defense this year, and that is due in part to a disappointing pass rush. Graham tried to turn that trend around with a 2-sack game against the Cowboys this week, and that gives him 3.5 sacks in his last 5 games. Many owners probably gave up on him earlier this year, but it appears there may still be some signs of life for the young OLB.
LB Jordan Hicks, PHI (5 solos, 1 asst, 1 INT, 1 PD)
Hicks has been one of most productive rookies in the league this year, but unfortunately his season ended prematurely. He suffered a torn pectoral muscle in the game this week and was placed on injured reserve on Monday. Kiko Alonso played 29 snaps this week (1 solo), and will hope to take on a bigger role if his knee holds up.
LB Sean Lee, DAL (3 solos, 2 asst)
Lee was forced to leave the game early after suffering his second concussion of the year. He didn’t miss any time with the last one, but it has to be a significant concern to suffer two within a relatively short period of time.
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