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.
BUFFALO @ NY JETS
DE Muhammad Wilkerson, NYJ (3 solos, 3 asst, 2 sacks)
Wilkerson had gone a couple games without a sack but he picked up 2 against the Bills to give him 7 on the season. He’s going to come close to matching the best numbers of his career (43 solos, 10.5 sacks in 2013), which is pretty good timing considering his contract is up at the end of the year.
LB Demario Davis, NYJ (6 solos, 2 asst, 1 sack)
The numbers this week were helped out by the matchup, but it was a much needed effort following some underwhelming games. Davis is off the tackle pace he posted last year and hasn’t been coming up with any big plays, so hopefully the sack this week is a sign of more to come.
S Bacarri Rambo, BUF (3 solos, 2 FF, 1 FR, 1 INT, 1 PD)
Rambo only played 17 defensive snaps in this game but showed off his big play tendencies with 2 forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, and an interception. He’s yet to carve out a clear niche in the Bills defense, but they have an opening for somebody to emerge at the safety spot next to Corey Graham.
DE Mario Williams, BUF (0 tackles)
The disappointing year of Mario Williams added a new chapter this week as he was too sick to play and only lasted 8 snaps before heading to the locker room for treatment. With just 3 sacks in 9 games, he’s on pace for one of the worst years of his career. Given his age and lack of production in the new defense, the Bills may start to look for ways to get out of his contract this offseason if he doesn’t turn things around soon.
JACKSONVILLE @ BALTIMORE
DT Brandon Williams, BAL (3 solos, 1 sack)
Williams continues to be one of the more consistent fantasy options at the DT position this year in balanced scoring systems. With 25 solo tackles in 9 games, he’s averaging nearly 3 per game and also picked up his 2nd sack of the year this week.
CB Davon House, JAX (3 solos, 5 asst, 2 INT, 4 PD)
House came up with a huge effort to help the Jaguars pull off an upset of the Ravens this weekend. He has been the weaker of the two starting CBs in Jacksonville this year, but has been close to the ball a lot. The two interceptions were his first of the year, and he is also now up to 16 passes defensed in 9 games to rank 2nd in the league.
DE Chris Clemons, JAX (0 tackles)
Through 9 games this year, Clemons has just 8 solo tackles and 2 sacks. His playing time also appears to be on a steady decline as Andre Branch and Jared Odrick continue to see most of the work at DE for Jacksonville. Clemons is 34 years old and it looks like his best days are far behind him at this point.
DETROIT @ GREEN BAY
DE Jason Jones, DET (3 solos, 1 sack, 1 PD)
Jones doesn’t get a lot of attention but he has been playing better of late. He has 9 solos and 2 sacks over his last 3 games, and could make a decent backup option in deeper leagues.
LB Tahir Whitehead, DET (7 solos, 1 asst, 1 sack, 1 PD)
The Lions made some lineup changes after their bye week, and the most noticeable was probably the insertion of Tahir Whitehead to the starting lineup. He played a full-time role and saw 81 snaps as he took over for Josh Bynes in the nickel defense. Similar to what we saw last year, Whitehead can certainly be productive if given regular playing time and it wasn’t clear why it took this long to give him the opportunity.
LB Nate Palmer, GB (6 solos, 2 asst)
After being benched last week against the Panthers, Palmer got the start and responded with one of his better efforts of the year. Meanwhile, rookie Jake Ryan went back to the bench.
S Isa Abdul-Quddus, DET (8 solos)
Abdul-Quddus started over James Ihedigbo at strong safety and saw all but 3 defensive snaps in the game. This was a surprise considering that most of his contributions to this point had come on special teams, but Ihedigbo hadn’t been playing up to expectations of late.
LB Josh Bynes, DET (2 solos)
Bynes had been mildly productive while playing a full-time role for the Lions this year, but he has seen a steady drop in playing time of late and was on the field for just 46% of the snaps this week. It looks like Tahir Whitehead has replaced him as a 3-down LB.
LB Jake Ryan, GB (0 tackles)
Ryan gave a glimpse of his future last week as he took over for a benched Nate Palmer, but Ryan returned to the bench this week. Looks like he will have to wait a bit longer for his opportunity but he remains a long-term buy.
S James Ihedigbo, DET (0 tackles)
Ihedigbo only saw 3 defensive snaps this week and it doesn’t appear to be injury-related. He was replaced by Abdul-Quddus who posted 8 solo tackles in the game. It’s not clear if this is permanent change, but it does seem as though the coaches weren’t particularly happy with the play of Ihedigbo and decided to make a change during the team’s week 9 bye.
MIAMI @ PHILADELPHIA
DE Derrick Shelby, MIA (3 solos, 1 asst, 1 sack, 1 FF)
After taking over for Cameron Wake at DE, Shelby saw an impressive 77 defensive snaps (80%) this week. He picked up his first sack of the year and was also credited with a forced fumble on the play.
DT Ndamukong Suh, MIA (7 solos, 1 asst, 1 sack)
It took him some time to get going, but Suh has been on quite a tear over his past 4 games. In that span, he has 13 solo tackles, 6 assists, and 4 sacks. Even with the absence of Cameron Wake, it looks like he’s back to being an elite fantasy DT.
LB Kelvin Sheppard, MIA (8 solos, 3 asst)
With Jelani Jenkins forced to leave the game early due to an aggravation of an ankle injury, Sheppard got a chance to play a 3-down role. He played 70 snaps in the game and wound up leading all players in the game with 11 total tackles. If Jenkins is unable to play next week, Sheppard could make a nice short-term pickup.
S Walter Thurmond, PHI (5 solos, 1 asst, 1 sack, 1 FF)
Thurmon is a corner playing safety for the Eagles and he started off the year great with 3 INTs in his first 5 games. He had gone cold for the next 3 games, but woke up with a huge game this week that saw him add a sack and forced fumble in the end zone that gave the Dolphins a safety.
LB Jelani Jenkins, MIA (5 solos)
Jenkins only lasted 17 snaps in the game before he was forced to leave with an aggravated ankle injury. He did post 5 solo stops in limited playing time, which was a great sign based on how he had been playing. Monitor his practice reports this week before using him next week against Dallas.
CLEVELAND @ PITTSBURGH
S Will Allen, PIT (9 solos, 2 asst, 1 FF)
Allen continues to post impressive numbers whenever he is in the lineup. He missed 3.5 games to injury, but is averaging 6 solo tackles per start in the rest.
S Michael Mitchell, PIT (5 solos, 1 INT, 2 PD)
Mitchell had a reputation for being a big hitter and little else when the Raiders drafted him in the second round back in 2009. He’s improved quite a bit in coverage since then, and is making the most of his opportunities with 3 interceptions in the last 5 games.
CB Antwon Blake, PIT (1 solo)
Blake has been one of the most productive corners in the league all year, but he was a non-factor for fantasy purposes this week. It could be said that facing Johnny Manziel hurt his chances, but the Browns QB did complete 33 passes in the game for 372 yards. Blake was on the field for 68 snaps so it’s concerning that he didn’t finish with more than a single solo stop.
CHICAGO @ ST LOUIS
DT Aaron Donald, STL (3 solos, 4 asst, 1.5 sacks, 1 FR)
Donald went through a bit of a cold spell with just a single sack and 9 solo tackles in his previous 5 games. Although it came in a blowout loss this week, at least he blew up with a stat line that almost matched his total from the last 5 games combined. Obviously he remains an elite fantasy DT, but hopefully he can string together some more good games.
LB Shea McClellin, CHI (6 solos, 2 asst, 1 FF, 1 FR)
After missing the previous 3 games, McClellin looked dominant in his return against the Rams this week. He helped limit Todd Gurley to 45 yards on 12 carries and forced a fumble by Tre Mason that he also recovered.
DE Robert Quinn, STL (0 tackles)
Quinn was not in the starting lineup for the Rams this week but he did play. Unfortunately, he only saw 15 snaps in the game as he’s still clearly being bothered by the knee injury that kept him out last week.
LB Pernell McPhee, CHI (DNP)
McPhee was held out this week with a knee injury after missing practice all week. The Bears have relied heavily on him all year, but were able to pick up an easy win over the Rams without him and the extra rest should probably help him next week against Denver.
DALLAS @ TAMPA BAY
DT Tyrone Crawford, DAL (3 solos, 2 asst, 1 sack)
More games like this were expected from Crawford after he signed a 5-year, $45 million deal back in September. The sack was his 3rd of the year, and he’s now posted 16 tackles and 2 sacks in his last 5 games.
S Barry Church, DAL (9 solos, 2 asst)
Church continues to impress while playing through a high ankle sprain. With Sean Lee out of the lineup this week while recovering from a concussion, Church helped pick up the slack and was credited with 11 tackles for his second double digit game in the past 3 weeks.
CB Jude Adjel-Barimah, TB (6 solos)
Tampa revamped their secondary recently when they inserted the rookie Adjel-Barimah into the starting lineup and released veteran Tim Jennings. The undrafted free agent was promoted from the practice squad earlier this year, and found himself matched up with Dez Bryant quite a bit this weekend. As with most rookie corners, he should be tested by opposing QBs regularly.
DT Gerald McCoy, TB (1 solo)
McCoy has now gone 4 games in a row with no sacks and just a single solo tackle in each. He’s playing through a shoulder injury that likely limits his effectiveness and the absence of an edge rusher like Jacquies Smith on the outside (has missed last 2 games) probably hurts as well.
CAROLINA @ TENNESSEE
LB Avery Williamson, TEN (7 solos, 7 asst, .5 sack)
Williamson has not been posting great numbers in recent weeks despite playing a full-time role for the Titans. That changed this week as he was everywhere against a run-heavy team like the Panthers and finished with an impressive 14 combined tackles while adding a partial sack. The 23 years old likely has a bright future ahead of him if he can just improve his consistency.
LB Zach Brown, TEN (2 solos)
Brown was limited to just 16 snaps (24%) this week as the Titans faced a run-heavy offense in Carolina. He’s been splitting time with Wesley Woodyard who is better against the run and saw more 66% of the snaps this week as a result.
LB Thomas Davis, CAR (0 tackles)
Davis played 100% of the defensive snaps for Carolina this week, but it was only 46 as the Panthers defense only had 38 tackle opportunities. This marks the second time in the past 3 weeks that Davis posted tackle numbers that were much lower than expected. He’s having a great year regardless, but those types of outings are probably leaving fantasy owners frustrated.
NEW ORLEANS @ WASHINGTON
CB Bashaud Breeland, WAS (6 solos, 3 asst, 1 FF)
DeAngelo Hall returned to action this week but only saw 18 snaps (32%). Breeland saw limited snaps last week while playing through a hamstring injury, but he looked close to 100% this week as played nearly the entire game and posted an impressive 9 tackles with a forced fumble on 49 total snaps. He has been one of the few playmakers they have at corner.
LB Hau’oli Kikaha, NO (0 tackles)
Kikaha sat out last week with an ankle injury and was expected to return to a full workload this week. He aggravated the injury this week and had to leave the game after playing just 8 snaps. The Saints fired Defensive Coordinator Rob Ryan this week, but it’s unlikely they will make any drastic changes to their defensive scheme during the upcoming bye week.
MINNESOTA @ OAKLAND
DE Mario Edwards, OAK (8 solos, 3 asst, 1 sack)
The rookie defensive end was one of the lone bright spots in a loss to the Vikings this week. He picked up his first full sack of the year while also managing to lead all players in the game with 11 tackles. Khalil Mack gets most of the hype, but Edwards could wind up benefiting if offenses don’t worry about him as well.
DT Linval Joseph, MIN (5 solos, 3 asst, 1 sack, 1 FF)
Joseph was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week last week, and then followed it up with an even bigger game this week. With 12 solos, 6 assists, 1.5 sacks, and a forced fumble in the past 2 weeks, he’s playing at a whole new level.
LB Eric Kendricks, MIN (DNP)
Kendricks sat out his second straight game with a rib injury. Really disappointing considering the rookie was picking up steam and looking like a potential LB1. He will hopefully return soon to help fantasy owners in the stretch run.
CB David Amerson, OAK (1 solo)
Amerson went from waivers to the starting lineup for the Raiders earlier this year, but he was sent back to the bench this week. T.J. Carrie returned from the IR list this week and played a full-time role opposite D.J. Hayden. Carrie only posted 2 tackles in the game as the Vikings did not have much success in the passing game, but it looks like he will be the player to own here going forward.
KANSAS CITY @ DENVER
S Ron Parker, KC (4 solos, 1 asst, 1 INT, 1 PD)
While the tackle numbers haven’t been as high as expected from Parker this year, he has been getting more playmaking opportunities while seeing some time as a nickel corner in addition to his safety duties. Over the past 4 games, he has 2 interceptions and 2 sacks along with 6 passes defensed.
DE Allen Bailey, KC (DNP)
After missing practice late last week, Bailey was ruled out of the game on Sunday after aggravating his calf injury during the pre-game warmups. The Chiefs wound up not missing him at all, but hopefully this isn’t something that lingers.
NEW ENGLAND @ NY GIANTS
DT Malcolm Brown, NE (4 solos, 3 asst, 1 sack)
While he was only on the field for 33 snaps (44%), the rookie tackle made the most of them with 7 tackles and a sack. He hasn’t made a big impact yet, but the first round pick now has 2 sacks on the year and has a chance to develop into an impact player.
LB Jasper Brinkley, NYG (9 solos, 3 asst, 1 sack, 1 FF)
With Jon Beason going on IR and Uani Unga still out injured, it remained the Brinkley show once again this week. He looked great while piling up 12 tackles and adding a sack and forced fumble. The Giants have a bye coming up and Unga could force his way back into a nickel role, but Brinkley looks like a good fit.
DT Johnathan Hankins, NYG (DNP)
Hankins was placed on injured reserve last week with a torn pectoral muscle. He was a solid run stopper and a viable fantasy option in DT-required leagues, but it doesn’t seem like there’s any clear replacement candidate to consider here yet.
LB Jamie Collins Sr, NE (DNP)
Collins missed his second game in a row while dealing with a virus that has apparently left him very weak and unable to eat much. Even if he returns next week against the Bills, it’s unclear what type of condition he will be in. Jonathan Freeny took most of his snaps this week and posted 8 tackles with a PD.
ARIZONA @ SEATTLE
S Kam Chancellor, SEA (7 solos, 12 asst)
The Seattle defense had 64 tackle opportunities in the game so the numbers were pretty high across the board, but Chancellor’s stat line still stood out. With 19 tackles, he was basically involved in nearly 1 out of every 3 plays where a tackle could have been awarded for the Seattle defense. Pretty impressive and provide an indicator of how much he was missed during his early season holdout.
LB Markus Golden, ARI (0 tackles)
Golden averaged nearly 50 snaps per game over the past 4 games while filling in for an injured Alex Okafor. The Seattle offense wasn’t on the field for very many snaps this week, but Okafor returned to the lineup and saw 40 snaps compared to just 10 for Golden. The rookie 2nd round pick didn’t do a whole lot with his opportunity, but showed some flashed and may emerge again later on.
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