IDP Upgrades and Downgrades: Week 3

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

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. 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

NY JETS @ BUFFALO

Upgrades

LB Preston Brown, BUF (7 solos, 9 asst, 1 TFL, 1 FF)
LB Zach Brown, BUF (8 solos, 6 asst, 1 TFL, 1 QH)
The Bills defense saw 60 tackle opportunities in this game, including 35 rush attempts, so high tackle numbers were expected in front of a notoriously generous stat crew. Both inside linebackers still managed to impress with 15 solos and 15 assists combined. Given the struggles the Bills are having on both sides of the ball, both players could be headed for some very big years.

Downgrades

S Calvin Pryor, NYJ (2 solos, 2 asst)
In contrast to the Bills, the Jets defense has not seen very many tackle opportunities for 2 straight games. Their defense is good at getting off the field while the offense is doing a great job of sustaining drives, which leaves fewer opportunities for IDPs. Pryor has been one of the early victims with just 4 combined tackles through 2 games.

SAN FRANCISCO @ CAROLINA

Upgrades

CB Jimmie Ward, SF (5 solos, 4 asst, 1 TFL)
Ward played primarily nickel corner in the past, but the 49ers are now using him as a starter. That means more a full complement of snaps, but he also moves inside in nickel situations which keeps him very close to the action and allows him to play like a 3rd safety quite often. Unlike many starting outside corners, he’s very capable of coming up to support the run and should be able to post more strong games like this one.

Downgrades

LB Thomas Davis, CAR (3 solos)
Davis tends to be inconsistent playing next to Luke Kuechly, who chases down plays all over the field. Through 2 games, Davis has played nearly every snap against a pair of run-heavy teams but he has just 7 solo tackles to show for it. He had similar stretches in the second half of 2015 as well so don’t panic, but he’s looking like a less reliable LB3 type.

BALTIMORE @ CLEVELAND

Upgrades

DE Timmy Jernigan, BAL (4 solos, 2 asst, 1 sack, 2 TFL, 3 QH)
Jernigan seemed poised for more of a breakout year in 2015 following the trade of Haloti Ngata, but he only managed 18 solos and 4 sacks. He appears to be a year late, but is finally reaching his potential as he’s exploded for sacks in back to back games along with 6 solos and 2 assists to start the 2016 year.

Downgrades

S Ibraheim Campbell, CLE (1 solo)
Campbell only saw 20 snaps on defense while missing time with a hamstring injury. That created an opportunity for rookie Derrick Kindred, who started the second half and wound up seeing 60 snaps. There is potential for Campbell to post some strong numbers behind a questionable LB group, but he’ll need to stay on the field to take advantage obviously.

TENNESSEE @ DETROIT

Upgrades

DE Devin Taylor, DET (4 solos, 3 asst, 1.5 sacks, 2 TFL, 2 QH, 1 Safety)
The Lions lost their best defender in Ezekiel Ansah to injury early in the game, but Taylor made it hard to notice. He picked up a sack on the first drive of the game, and followed that up with a safety on the second drive. Taylor showed off his pass rush skills last year with 7 sacks but he is now rounding into a complete player.

Downgrades

DE Ezekiel Ansah, DET (0 tackles)
Ansah left the game after just 3 snaps to an ankle injury. It was not immediately clear if he’d be likely to miss next week’s game, but it might be wise to wait and see how healthy he is before returning him to your lineup anyway.

LB DeAndre Levy, DET (DNP)
After losing almost all of 2015 to injury, Levy played in the opener and seemed on track for a rebound year. Unfortunately, he missed practice all week with a quad injury and was held out of the game, fueling some speculation that he could be shut down long term. That would be a big blow to the defense, and a further boost to Tahir Whitehead.

KANSAS CITY @ HOUSTON

Upgrades

CB Marcus Peters, KC (2 solos, 5 asst, 2 INTs, 4 PD)
Any concerns that Peters great rookie season may have been a fluke were likely put to rest this week. He gave up a couple big plays to DeAndre Hopkins, but battled throughout the game and wound up with 7 combined tackles, 2 interceptions, and 4 pass deflections. For fantasy purposes, he does have a tendency to give up plays and then make big plays himself and that’s about the best combination you can ask for from a fantasy corner.

Downgrades

LB Max Bullough, HOU (1 solo, 1 TFL)
Bullough got the start at MLB in place of the injured Brian Cushing this week, but he only wound up seeing 17 snaps. Looks like a just situational type role for him, which kills any chance for short-term value until Cushing returns.

MIAMI @ NEW ENGLAND

Upgrades

DT Ndamukong Suh, MIA (4 solos, 8 asst, 1 TFL)
With the Patriots getting out to a big early lead and then trying to run out the clock in the second half with their 3rd string QB, Suh had one of his most productive days as a Dolphin. He was credited with 12 combined tackles on just 61 snaps as the Dolphins tried to mount a late comeback. Suh was already considered an elite fantasy DT, but it’s nice to see him producing while many of his counterparts are not.

Downgrades

DE Jabaal Sheard, NE (1 solo, 1 QH)
Sheard posted 28 solo tackles and 8 sacks a year ago despite playing more of a part-time role. The trade of Chandler Jones was expected to create additional playing time and lead to a top-10 season, but so far his role hasn’t changed much. He saw 44 and 45 snaps in the first two games, which is enough to be a solid contributor but maybe not enough for the breakout season many were hoping for.

NEW ORLEANS @ NY GIANTS

Upgrades

LB Craig Robertson, NO (10 solos, 3 asst, 2 TFL)
Robertson never looked like anything special during his four years with the Browns, but he is off to a great start with the Saints. Through 2 games, he has picked up an amazing 18 solo tackles and 6 assists. Unfortunately, he may only be keeping the seat warm at WLB until Dannell Ellerbe returns from his injury, so watch the news reports carefully.

Downgrades

LB Kelvin Sheppard, NYG (1 solo, 1 PD)
The Giants linebacker group is tough to find any value from as none seemed to have any defined role coming into the year. Sheppard was signed in free agency to play MLB, but he struggles in coverage and was limited to just 10 snaps against the Saints this week. Meanwhile, Keenan Robinson didn’t start the game but wound up playing 84% of the snaps thanks to his strength in coverage.

CINCINNATI @ PITTSBURGH

Upgrades

S Robert Golden, PIT (5 solos, 3 asst, 1 PD, 1 FR)
Golden was one of just 3 Steelers defenders to play every defensive snap this week, and he’s looking like a potential IDP stud. He was very active against the Bengals and came up with a game-clinching fumble recovery late in the 4th quarter. The Steelers have high hopes for 2nd round pick Sean Davis, who saw a heavy workload this week as well, but Golden is more experienced and isn’t going to give up his spot without a battle.

Downgrades

None.

DALLAS @ WASHINGTON

Upgrades

CB Bashaud Breeland, WAS (9 solos, 1 asst, 2 PD)
Breeland is a good, physical corner who is probably going to see a lot more action to his side of the field as teams look to avoid Josh Norman. Last week, he saw plenty of work against Antonio Brown and this week it was Dez Bryant. He already has 19 combined tackles through just 2 games, and has clear CB1 potential given his situation.

Downgrades

LB Anthony Hitchens, DAL (3 solos, 1 QH)
Hitchens continues to start at MLB for Dallas while Rolando McClain serves his long-term suspension, but he’s not playing anything close to a full-time role. It looks like the Cowboys spent a lot of time in their dime package this week, but it’s more concerning that Justin Durant wound up with 29 snaps compared to just 23 for Hitchens.

TAMPA BAY @ ARIZONA

Upgrades

S Tony Jefferson, ARI (9 solos, 2 asst, 2 TFL, 1 QH, 1 FR)
For the second week in a row, Jefferson was on the field for every single defensive snap along with Deone Bucannon. The Cardinals don’t really have a traditional linebacking group that gets most of the tackles, which should allow Jefferson and Buccanon to compete to be the team’s leading tackler in most weeks. With 18 solo tackles and 3 assists through 2 weeks, he’s clearly on his way to having a huge season.

CB Marcus Cooper, ARI (5 solos, 2 asst, 2 INT, 3 PD, 1 TD)
The Cardinals traded for Cooper just a couple weeks ago and the former Chiefs player made a very impressive debut with his new team. He posted 7 tackles along with a pair of interceptions, including a 60-yard return for a touchdown. Arizona needs someone to emerge as a reliable option opposite Patrick Peterson, and it certainly seems like Cooper could be that guy.

Downgrades

LB Lavonte David, TB (0 tackles, 2 QH)
This is one of the strangest stat lines of the week, as David was held without a tackle despite playing all 66 defensive snaps. It wasn’t even a lack of opportunity as the Cardinals had 29 rush attempts in the game, so it’s very strange and concerning that a tackling machine like David was nearly invisible. He did come into the game with a shoulder injury so perhaps that played a role.

SEATTLE @ LOS ANGELES

Upgrades

DE Frank Clark, SEA (3 solos, 1 asst, 2 sacks, 2 TFL, 2 QH)
Clark was a 2nd round pick a year ago who made a limited impact as a pass-rush specialist. His playing time has increased slightly this year, but he is already showing off his explosive potential with 3 sacks through 2 games. Seattle is using him at a variety of different positions, which makes it very difficult for offenses to account for him.

Downgrades

CB Coty Sensabaugh, LA (1 solo)
Sensabaugh served as the team’s nickel corner in week 1 and posted 9 tackles on 81 snaps. He gave up a big play to Tyler Lockett early on and was replaced by Troy Hill. Whatever limited value he had is likely gone unless there’s an injury.

INDIANAPOLIS @ DENVER

Upgrades

DE Derek Wolfe, DEN (3 solos, 1 asst, 1.5 sacks, 1 TFL, 3 QH, 1 PD)
The Broncos lost one of their key interior pass rushers this offseason when Malik Jackson signed with the Jaguars. That figured to create some more opportunity for Wolfe, however, who is a solid 2-way player. He’s averaging over 50 snaps/game through 2 weeks, and demonstrated his potential this week with a huge game that filled up the stat sheet this week.

Downgrades

LB DeMarcus Ware, DEN (1 asst, .5 sack, 1 QH)
Ware posted a great game in the opener with 1.5 sacks and added another half sack this week. Unfortunately, he suffered a broken arm in the game and is expected to miss about a month. His fantasy value took a hit with the reclassification from DE to LB, but still had some potential in big play leagues.

ATLANTA @ OAKLAND

Upgrades

S Kemal Ishmael, ATL (13 solos, 2 asst, 1 PD)
The Falcons are still playing without rookie Keanu Neal while he recovers from knee surgery, but feel comfortable with Ishmael. He was impressive on Sunday as he cleaned up plays all over the field with 15 combined tackles on 73 snaps. Don’t overreact to this given that he could lose his starting spot when Neal returns, but it warranted a mention.

S Reggie Nelson, OAK (10 solos, 2 asst)
Nelson was often a productive player during his time with the Bengals, and now he’s in a perfect situation. Charles Woodson put up back to back 75+ solo seasons very recently in Oakland, and Nelson has similar potential. With 17 solos through 2 games, he’s already well on his way.

Downgrades

None.

JACKSONVILLE @ SAN DIEGO

Upgrades

DE Dante Fowler, JAX (5 solos, 1 asst, 2 sacks, 2 TFL, 2 QH)
Fowler had a quiet opener against the Packers but blew up with a pair of sacks against the Chargers this week. The former 3rd overall pick is healthy and ready to give the Jaguars the dominant edge rusher they have been looking for. There aren’t a lot of young defensive ends with elite potential, but Fowler certainly qualifies.

Downgrades

LB Denzel Perryman, SD (3 solos, 1 asst, 1 PD)
The Chargers coaches are frustrating fantasy owners as Perryman appears headed for a much smaller role than we were expecting. He saw just 32 snaps in both games so far, while Manti Te’o plays nearly a full-time role and even rookie Jatavis Brown saw 31 snaps this week as well. Seems like they are protecting Perryman in clear passing situations, which will significantly limit his fantasy potential.

GREEN BAY @ MINNESOTA

Upgrades

S Andrew Sendejo, MIN (9 solos, 2 asst)
There weren’t many tackle opportunities available for the Vikings defense on Sunday night, but Sendejo somehow found a way to make 11 of them. He has limited upside given much of the surrounding talent competing for tackles in the Vikings defense, but can serve as a short-term streamer in deeper leagues.

Downgrades

None.


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