IDP Upgrades and Downgrades: Week 8

Takes a look at which IDPs are moving up or down in value this week.

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.

Email: rudnicki@footballguys.com
Twitter: @a_rudnicki

SEATTLE @ SAN FRANCISCO

Upgrades

DE Michael Bennett, SEA (4 solos, 1 asst, 3.5 sacks)
In perhaps the biggest game of any IDP this week, Bennett is now on a clear pace to put up the best numbers of his career. Through 7 games, he has already been credited with 19 solo tackles and 6.5 sacks. Always known as one of the best interior pass rushers, he is proving that he can do it from the DE position as well.

LB Aaron Lynch, SF (5 solos, 2 sacks)
The 49ers lost a lot of talent this offseason, but Lynch is one of the few young building blocks that remain. Despite having to play from behind almost every week, the 2nd year pro is still proving to be an effective pass rusher with 5 sacks through 7 games. The fact the 49ers defense is on the field for so many snaps each week is also helping him post better than expected tackle numbers with 21 solos on the year.

S Jaquiski Tartt, SF (7 solos, 2 asst)
Veteran starter Antoine Bethea left the game early with a shoulder injury, which created an opening for the rookie Tartt to see a season-high in snaps. He responded by posting an impressive total of 9 tackles in 48 snaps. Given how the 49ers season is headed, it wouldn’t be a surprise for them to turn the position over to their 2nd round pick soon.

Downgrades

S Antoine Bethea, SF (4 solos, 1 asst)
Bethea suffered a shoulder injury early in the game this week and was limited to just 30 snaps. He has been productive this year with 28 solo stops through the first 6 games, but he’s lost a step and isn’t making many plays in coverage. Even if he can return to health quickly, it seems likely the team will move onto the rookie Jaquiski Tartt at some point to see if he can become a long-term starter.

BUFFALO @ JACKSONVILLE

Upgrades

S Johnathan Cyprien, JAX (8 solos, 1 FF)
Cyprien was on the injury report with a calf injury last week, but he managed to play all 78 snaps and rank among the team leaders with 8 solo stops. The Jaguars linebackers make most of the tackles in this defense, but there should be enough to go around for Cyprien to post DB1 numbers when healthy.

S Corey Graham, BUF (8 solos, 1 asst, 1 INT, 1 PD, 1 TD)
In a year when most players on the Bills defense are disappointing for IDP purposes, Graham has been among the most productive players in the league thus far. The converted corner now is averaging an amazing 7 solo tackles and 2 assists per game, and he showed off his playmaking skills with a 44-yard interception return for a TD as well.

Downgrades

LB Nigel Bradham, BUF (1 solo, 1 PD)
Bradham continued his disappointing stretch of play with a no-show this week in London. He was on the field for 67 snaps (100%) and the Jaguars had 32 rush attempts, but he still only finished with a single solo tackle (and a PD in coverage). At this point, he’s looking like a player you can only start when the matchup is very favorable.

MINNESOTA @ DETROIT

Upgrades

DT Caraun Reid, DET (5 solos, 1 asst, 1 sack)
The 2nd year pro from Princeton has put together two solid weeks in a row since taking over for Tyrunn Walker at DT. He posted 4 solo stops a week ago, and then topped that this week with 6 tackles (4 for loss) and a key 3rd down sack in the red zone.

LB Eric Kendricks, MIN (6 solos, 2 sacks)
The rookie MLB is starting to show why many expected him to be one of the favorites for defensive rookie of the year. Although his snap count this week was rather low (48 snaps, 89% of total), he still managed to pile up 6 solo tackles and a pair of sacks. With 4 sacks in his last 3 games, he’s proving to be a very effective blitzer and that should help boost his fantasy value even higher.

Downgrades

CB Xavier Rhodes, MIN (2 solos)
The former 1st round pick had 18 passes defensed a year ago, but he’s no longer being thrown at as frequently this year. Through 6 games, he has just 3 passes defensed and he’s only been credited with 15 solo tackles in his last 5 games. If a matchup with the Lions can’t spike his numbers more than this, seems like he’ll be a tough player to count on.

NEW ORLEANS @ INDIANAPOLIS

Upgrades

S Dwight Lowery, IND (5 solos, 4 asst)
Lowery had a surprisingly productive season in 2014 when he posted 60 solo tackles in his only year with the Falcons. He got a small raise with the Colts this offseason and is now putting up some of the best numbers in the league at his position. Due primarily to a high snap count in most weeks along with a weak front 7, Lowery is getting more tackle opportunities than you’d typically expect for a free safety and the injury to Mike Adams this week helped as well.

Downgrades

DE Henry Anderson, IND (1 asst)
Anderson has settled into seeing about 50 snaps per week over the past 3 games, but his production has tailed off dramatically. Sunday was his second game in a row with just a single assisted tackle. The rookie looked great early in the year, but that type of pace was not sustainable for a player with little surrounding talent.

CB Brandon Browner, NO (1 solo)
Browner played 100% of the snaps this week against a QB who threw the ball 44 times, but all he could manage was a single solo tackle. He’s one of the most penalized corners in the league, which probably encourages QBs to go after him most of the time but it also tends to wipe out plays that he would normally use to improve his stats.

PITTSBURGH @ KANSAS CITY

Upgrades

LB Ryan Shazier, PIT (3 solos, 1 asst, .5 sack)
Shazier returned to the starting lineup this week for the first time since week 2. While his production wasn’t too noteworthy, it was a good sign that he played 59 defensive snaps and showed no signs of being limited. He should be in for a big game next week when the Bengals visit.

LB Tamba Hali, KC (4 solos, 1 asst, 2 sacks, 1 FF)
Hali has become a forgotten member of the Chiefs defense due to all the attention that Justin Houston gets, but he showed this week that he can still contribute. He posted 5 tackles with a pair of sacks in just 43 snaps, which was one of his lightest workloads of the year. Perhaps he can be more effective with fewer snaps, and the Chiefs would probably like to get Dee Ford more work as well.

Downgrades

LB Ramik Wilson, KC (DNP)
The rookie had looked impressive against the Vikings a week ago, but he was held out this week while recovering from a leg injury. Josh Mauga took his place in the starting lineup once again, but Wilson should hopefully get the job back when he’s healthy.

S Ron Parker, KC (1 solo, 2 asst)
Parker has lined up for the Chiefs at both safety spots and at corner this year, but it seems that versatility isn’t exactly helping his fantasy output. Over the last 3 games, he has just 6 solo tackles and 2 assists which is a far cry from the 80-solo pace he had in 2014. The ineffective play of the corners in Kansas City this year is having a negative impact on the safeties.

HOUSTON @ MIAMI

Upgrades

DE J.J. Watt, HOU (6 solos, 1 asst, 2 sacks)
The consensus #1 overall IDP was coming off a pair of disappointing games, and the game ended up being a huge blowout loss but Watt still managed to post one of his best games of the year. With 26 solos and 6 sacks in 7 games, he’s far off his 20-sack pace of last year, but still a clear choice as the #1 fantasy DE.

DT Ndamukong Suh, MIA (5 solos, 1 asst, 2 sacks, 2 PD)
It took him until his 6th game and 2nd coach with his new team, but Suh finally added his first sack as a Dolphin. This was clearly his best game of the year and it looks like the coaching change has provided a big spark to the Dolphins on both sides of the ball. The defensive line will have a huge test next week in a trip to New England, but things should get much easier after that.

LB Jadeveon Clowney, HOU (7 solos, 1 asst, 1 sack)
The former #1 overall pick returned to the lineup this week and manage to pick up the first sack of his young career. The sack came at a time when the Texans were trailing 41-0, but hopefully this is a sign of more good things to come from him. He should have a great chance to add to his sack total next week when the Titans visit.

S Reshad Jones, MIA (8 solos, 1 INT, 2 PD)
Jones doesn’t get a lot of attention, but he has quietly been one of the elite fantasy safeties in the league over the past 3.5 seasons. His big play numbers have generally been on the low side, but he puts up huge tackle numbers year after year. This year is no different as he has 46 solo tackles through 6 games, but he also now has interceptions in back to back games and should benefit from an improved pass rush.

Downgrades

LB Jelani Jenkins, MIA (3 solos, 1 FF)
The Dolphins WLB enjoyed a breakout season in 2014 and appeared headed for LB1 status this year. With 16 solo tackles in the first two games, things were on track but they have gone off the rails since then. He has just 13 solo tackles and 4 assists in his last 4 games combined, but he has added a forced fumble and fumble recovery the past two weeks to offset things a bit.

NY JETS @ NEW ENGLAND

Upgrades

LB Dont'a Hightower, NE (10 solos, 1 FR)
Hightower returned to action this week and managed to play 99% of the snaps despite being a limited participant in practice all week due to a rib injury. He helped shut down Chris Ivory and the Jets running game and picked up 10 solo tackles plus a fumble recovery in the process.

S Marcus Gilchrist, NYJ (8 solos, 2 asst)
The strong numbers this week were certainly helped by the matchup as the Patriots completed 34 passes and only ran the ball 9 times. But Gilchrist has helped solidify the back of the Jets defense and the strong play of the corners gives him more freedom to make plays. Also, SS Calvin Pryor left the game with an ankle sprain this week so an injury there might open up some additional opportunities for Gilchrist.

Downgrades

LB Jerod Mayo, NE (0 tackles)
It’s amazing how far Mayo has fallen here. Last week, with Hightower injured, Mayo still only saw 29% of the snaps while Jonathan Freeny was out there in the nickel package and played 59% of the snaps. This week, it was Freeny who started and played in the base defense while Mayo was relegated to 1 snap on special teams. Maybe Mayo is not fully healthy, but it looks like he’s fallen to 4th on the LB depth chart and may need a new team to become fantasy relevant again.

CLEVELAND @ ST LOUIS

Upgrades

S Mark Barron, STL (10 solos, 6 asst)
The injury to Alec Ogletree has provided a huge boost to the value for Barron. The former top-10 pick has mostly been a situational player with the Rams, but he has seen his playing time climb over the past few games. He was everywhere this week as he finished with 16 combined tackles, which was twice as much as the 2nd leading tackler for the Rams.

Downgrades

DE Robert Quinn, STL (0 tackles)
Quinn missed some practice time last week with a knee injury, but he was listed as probable on the injury report. He managed to start the game, but saw just 37% of the snaps and was kept off the stat sheet. Hopefully he’s healthy enough to handle a full workload next week when the 49ers make a visit.

ATLANTA @ TENNESSEE

Upgrades

LB Justin Durant, ATL (6 solos, 2 asst)
After sitting out for 2 weeks, Durant returned to the lineup in a matchup with the Titans this week. Even though the Titans only provided 39 tackle opportunities in the game, Durant was still productive with 8 combined tackles. He’s clearly established himself as the most reliable LB in Atlanta this year, but has yet to provide any big plays so his upside is limited.

LB Wesley Woodyard, TEN (6 solos, 3 asst)
The Titans had all 3 ILBs healthy this week, but it was only Avery Williamson who saw an everydown role. So, he’s clearly the LB to own here going forward but Woodyard had the more impressive stat line with 9 tackles in just 42 snaps (56%). That gives him a remarkable 20 solos and 8 assists over the last 3 games. Zach Brown split time with Woodyard and finished with 5 tackles on 33 snaps himself.

Downgrades

S William Moore, ATL (1 asst)
Moore has been one of the more consistent fantasy safeties so far this year, but his numbers seemed to be on the decline of late. Unfortunately, he was knocked out of the game with a groin injury this week and saw just 20 snaps. Monitor his practice time this week, but it seems like an injury that may require some time to heal.

TAMPA BAY @ WASHINGTON

Upgrades

DE Chris Baker, WAS (1 solo, 5 asst, 1 FR)
Baker came into this year with just 2 career sacks while mostly lining up at NT in Washington. With Terrance Knighton signed to play inside, however, he has found a home at DE and has been surprisingly productive thus far. Not only does he have 3.5 sacks on the year, but he’s also been credited with 26 combined tackles (12 solo) and added several forced fumbles.

CB Bashaud Breeland, WAS (8 solos, 5 asst)
There aren’t many healthy corners left in Washington and Breeland is often banged up, but he’s doing just about all he can to try and keep the team above water. He’s been making a ton of plays the past couple games (2 INTs, 1 FF, 2 FR, 6 PD), and this week he tried to control Mike Evans and finished with 13 tackles. He did suffer a hamstring injury in the game, which could take some time to heal but fortunately they have the bye coming up.

Downgrades

LB Ryan Kerrigan, WAS (1 solo)
Washington was relying pretty heavily on Kerrigan this year following the loss of Brian Orakpo in free agency and season-ending injury to Junior Galette. Now it seems like they could be without Kerrigan too, as he suffered a broken hand this week that may require surgery. That figures to open up more playing time for rookie Preston Smith, but there’s a chance Kerrigan could avoid surgery and return soon after the upcoming bye.

OAKLAND @ SAN DIEGO

Upgrades

LB Malcolm Smith, OAK (11 solos, 1 sack, 1 INT, 2 PD)
Smith continues to post impressive numbers week after week. In addition to posting his 3rd sack in his last 4 games and an interception, Smith led all players in the game with 11 tackles. The former Seahawk has always looked impressive when given a chance to play, and he’s taking full advantage of the full time role in Oakland.

CB D.J. Hayden, OAK (10 solos, 1 INT, 1 PD, 1 FF)
While Hayden has not been a strong part of the Raiders defense to this point, that doesn’t necessarily hurt him from a fantasy perspective. He’s posted solid numbers in the past, but blew up with a huge game this week that may be a sign of bigger things to come from the former 12th overall pick. In addition to 10 solo tackles, he also picked off his first pass of the year and added a forced fumble in the game as the Raiders knocked off the Chargers.

Downgrades

S Eric Weddle, SD (DNP)
Weddle is obviously one of the few elite safeties in the league, but he sat out this week with a groin injury. He also managed just 3 solos and 1 assist in his last 2 games, so it looks like he could be a risky starting option until he is able to get through a full week of practice at least.

DALLAS @ NY GIANTS

Upgrades

LB Jon Beason, NYG (7 solos, 4 asst)
It took longer than expected, but Beason finally managed to start and play an entire game this week. He saw 60 snaps and put up 11 tackles, which is a great sign for his fantasy value going forward. Also probably helped that Uani Unga sat out this week with an injury.

Downgrades

LB Uani Unga, NYG (DNP)
Unga has been one of the bigger surprises of the 2015 season as he posted 42 combined tackles over the first 6 weeks. He sat out this week with a neck injury, however, and the veteran Jon Beason held up well. The Giants will likely continue to use Unga in their nickel packages, but that will make him tough to rely on from week to week as long as Beason is healthy and playing well.

PHILADELPHIA @ CAROLINA

Upgrades

DE Jared Allen, CAR (2 solos, 3 asst, 1 sack, 1 PD)
Allen missed last week’s game with a pinched nerve in his neck, but he got the start this week and played 93% of the snaps for his new team. He looked like his old self out there at times as he picked up his first sack as a Panther. If he continues to play that many snaps, he could make a low-end DE1 the rest of the year.

DT Kawann Short, CAR (6 solos, 2 asst, 3 sacks, 1 FF, 1 PD)
The Panthers may have found a dominant interior pass rusher that can take their defense to a new level. After posting 2 sacks against Seattle last week, Short was even more dominant this week as he picked up 3 more sacks in a convincing win over the Eagles. He didn’t show much in the first month of the season, but has looked unblockable at times lately.

CB Nolan Carroll, PHI (6 solos, 3 asst, 1 INT, 1 PD)
The Eagles defense has started to play better in recent weeks, and Carroll is one of the players sparking that turnaround. He returned an interception for a touchdown last week, and then added another interception this week while picking up 6 solo tackles in each game. Given the way the Eagles play on both sides of the ball, their corners should continue to post solid numbers in most weeks.

Downgrades

LB Connor Barwin, PHI (1 asst)
I’m not sure how much further Barwin can be downgraded at this point, but he continues to provide very little return for fantasy owners who may have invested something in him. He was on the field for 59 snaps (97%) this week, but only managed a single assist. That gives him just 4 solos and 2 assists with 0 sacks in his last 4 games despite playing a full-time role.

Summary of Players Mentioned (in alphabetic order)

Upgrades

DE Jared Allen, CAR (2 solos, 3 asst, 1 sack, 1 PD)
DE Chris Baker, WAS (1 solo, 5 asst, 1 FR)
DE Michael Bennett, SEA (4 solos, 1 asst, 3.5 sacks)
DE J.J. Watt, HOU (6 solos, 1 asst, 2 sacks)
DT Caraun Reid, DET (5 solos, 1 asst, 1 sack)
DT Kawann Short, CAR (6 solos, 2 asst, 3 sacks, 1 FF, 1 PD)
DT Ndamukong Suh, MIA (5 solos, 1 asst, 2 sacks, 2 PD)
LB Jon Beason, NYG (7 solos, 4 asst)
LB Jadeveon Clowney, HOU (7 solos, 1 asst, 1 sack)
LB Justin Durant, ATL (6 solos, 2 asst)
LB Tamba Hali, KC (4 solos, 1 asst, 2 sacks, 1 FF)
LB Dont'a Hightower, NE (10 solos, 1 FR)
LB Eric Kendricks, MIN (6 solos, 2 sacks)
LB Aaron Lynch, SF (5 solos, 2 sacks)
LB Ryan Shazier, PIT (3 solos, 1 asst, .5 sack)
LB Malcolm Smith, OAK (11 solos, 1 sack, 1 INT, 2 PD)
LB Wesley Woodyard, TEN (6 solos, 3 asst)
S Mark Barron, STL (10 solos, 6 asst)
S Johnathan Cyprien, JAX (8 solos, 1 FF)
S Marcus Gilchrist, NYJ (8 solos, 2 asst)
S Corey Graham, BUF (8 solos, 1 asst, 1 INT, 1 PD, 1 TD)
S Reshad Jones, MIA (8 solos, 1 INT, 2 PD)
S Dwight Lowery, IND (5 solos, 4 asst)
S Jaquiski Tartt, SF (7 solos, 2 asst)
CB Bashaud Breeland, WAS (8 solos, 5 asst)
CB Nolan Carroll, PHI (6 solos, 3 asst, 1 INT, 1 PD)
CB D.J. Hayden, OAK (10 solos, 1 INT, 1 PD, 1 FF)

Downgrades

DE Henry Anderson, IND (1 asst)
DE Robert Quinn, STL (0 tackles)
LB Connor Barwin, PHI (1 asst)
LB Nigel Bradham, BUF (1 solo, 1 PD)
LB Jelani Jenkins, MIA (3 solos, 1 FF)
LB Ryan Kerrigan, WAS (1 solo)
LB Jerod Mayo, NE (0 tackles)
LB Uani Unga, NYG (DNP)
LB Ramik Wilson, KC (DNP)
S Antoine Bethea, SF (4 solos, 1 asst)
S William Moore, ATL (1 asst)
S Ron Parker, KC (1 solo, 2 asst)
S Eric Weddle, SD (DNP)
CB Brandon Browner, NO (1 solo)
CB Xavier Rhodes, MIN (2 solos)


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