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.
JACKSONVILLE @ TENNESSEE
DT Malik Jackson, JAX (0 tackles)
Played 43 snaps (64%) but was held completely off the stat sheet this week. Definitely a disappointment when you consider the Titans had 43 rush attempts in the game. This marks the second game in a row he's been held without a tackle. Perhaps the inevitable coaching change in Jacksonville will bring some life to some of the talented players they have.
LB Brian Orakpo, TEN (0 tackles)
Orakpo played 42 snaps (58%), but was also shut out completely from the stat sheet this week. He's a streaky player who recently posted 6.5 sacks in a 5-game stretch, but appears to have gone cold with 2 assists in his last 2 games.
CB Perrish Cox, TEN (DNP)
Sustained a concussion in week 7 that kept him out of the Thursday night game, but he's expected to play in week 9 against the Chargers.
WASHINGTON @ CINCINNATI (in London)
DE Chris Baker, WAS (5 solos, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 2 QH, 1 FF)
Baker continues to play a high number of snaps each week, as he was up to 67 (76%) this week in an OT game. That helped him post some impressive numbers with 5 solos, a sack, and a forced fumble, but he needs more consistency to warrant a pickup in most leagues.
LB Will Compton, WAS (8 solos, 2 asst, 1 TFL, 1 INT, 1 PD)
Like most, Compton was helped by the OT game as he was on the field for all 88 defensive snaps and finished tied for the game lead with 10 combined tackles in front of a very tough crew. What helped him stand out even more, however, were the big plays as he came up with a 4th quarter interception in the red zone and also helped force a fumble in OT that was credited to Chris Baker.
New England @ Buffalo
LB Elandon Roberts, NE (4 solos, 1 asst)
The Patriots shocked everybody by trading star LB Jamie Collins Sr to the Browns on Monday, which could mean that Roberts will be promoted to a 3-down role. Roberts was in the starting lineup this week over Collins, but saw just 28 snaps compared to 48 for Collins. He posted 5 tackles in those 28 snaps, and should make an excellent waiver wire pickup if he happens to still be available. As for Collins, he should remain a high-end fantasy LB in Cleveland, assuming he can get acclimated to their scheme quickly.
S Robert Blanton, BUF (8 solos, 3 asst)
With the serious injury suffered by Aaron Williams last week, Blanton was moved into a full-time role at strong safety this week and it showed. He was very active throughout the game and saw a lot of time playing up in the box while Corey Graham patrolled the deep secondary. He’s now got 15 solos in his last 2 games, and could be a nice pickup in the short-term at least.
DE Jabaal Sheard, NE (2 solos)
This was supposed to be a huge year for Sheard, but he is not quite living up to expectations. He did have a small streak of productive games earlier this year, but has just 4 solos, 3 assists, and a half sack in his last 4 games. Playing time doesn’t appear to be an issue, but the Patriots also don’t seem to have a complimentary pass rusher to play opposite him as they did a year ago with Chandler Jones.
LB Lorenzo Alexander, BUF (1 solo)
Alexander has been a great story this year with 9 sacks through his first 7 games, but he was limited to just 21 snaps (30%) this week after leaving with a hamstring injury. He feels he’ll be ready to play in week 9 when the Bills travel to Seattle on Monday night, but the Bills may also want to work in their 1st round pick Shaq Lawson (who got his first career sack this week).
ARIZONA @ CAROLINA
DT Star Loutulelei, CAR (5 solos, 1 asst, 3 sacks, 3 TFL, 2 QH, 1 FF)
People shouldn’t overreact over this huge game, but he clearly warrants a mention among the upgrades. Loutulelei came into this week with just 2 solos and 1 sack in the first 6 games of the year, and blew those numbers up completely in a big win over the Cardinals.
CB Daryl Worley, CAR (7 solos, 4 asst, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 1 QH, 1 PD)
The Panthers rookie 3rd round pick does not have a lot of competition in the Panthers secondary, but they held up well against Arizona this week and he led the way with 11 tackles plus a sack. The Panthers also got a boost from Leonard Johnson, who made his debut as the team’s nickel back and finished with 8 tackles and a sack.
S Tyrann Mathieu, ARI (1 solo)
This has been a disappointing year for Mathieu as he has rarely looked the player we saw a year ago. Things took a turn for the worse this week as he suffered a shoulder injury that limited him to just 16 snaps and is expected to keep him out for 3 to 6 weeks. He was replaced in the lineup by D.J. Swearinger Sr.
NY JETS @ CLEVELAND
LB Julian Stanford, NYJ (3 solos, 3 asst, 1 TFL)
The former practice squad player got the start at ILB next to David Harris and wound up being the only Jet to play all 72 defensive snaps. The Jets were without Darron Lee at ILB, so Stanford wound up having to carry the load and obviously held up well enough for the coaches to trust him.
LB Demario Davis, CLE (2 solos, 4 asst)
Davis looked like a key pickup for the Browns this offseason, but he hasn’t played particularly well and has been overshadowed by Christian Kirksey as the team’s only 3-down linebacker. Now that the Browns have traded for Jamie Collins Sr from the Patriots, it seems likely that Davis could see himself pushed to a reserve role.
DETROIT @ HOUSTON
CB A.J. Bouye, HOU (5 solos, 1 PD)
Bouye grades out as one of the top cover corners in the league according to Pro Football Focus this year, and it’s starting to show up in the box scores too. Last week, he posted 11 tackles and he added 5 more this week. He’s likely to be one of the more sought after players in free agency this offseason, and has a chance to make himself a lot of money if he can carry this momentum through the rest of the season.
DE Ezekiel Ansah, DET (1 solo)
Ansah has now been back in action for 3 weeks, but has just 3 solos and 1 assist to show for it. After his 14.5 sack season in 2015, many expected him to solidify his place among the league’s elite pass rushers, but those plans were put on hold due to injury. Perhaps he’s not quite 100% healthy yet, but it looks like you may want to sit him until he shows something more.
LB Whitney Mercilus, HOU (1 QH)
In something of a surprise, Mercilus was the only Texans player to play all 61 defensive snaps for the Texans this week. Perhaps even more surprising is that he was held without any tackles or assists, but the Lions lack of a running game (just 14 carries for 58 yards) certainly contributed.
KANSAS CITY @ INDIANAPOLIS
LB Dee Ford, KC (3 solos, 2 asst, 3.5 sacks, 3 TFL, 4 QH)
Ford is on an odd streak where he alternates big games with disappointing games, but this was one of the biggest in his 3-year career. He also had a 2 sack game in week 6 so this gives him 5.5 in his last 3 games. The Chiefs are expected to get Justin Houston back sometime soon, but that may only help to free up Ford even more as he’s proving to be one of the more exciting young pass rushing talents in the league.
SEATTLE @ NEW ORLEANS
DE Frank Clark, SEA (3 solos, 3 asst, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 1 QH)
Seattle was missing Michael Bennett this week, and that allowed Clark to take on a much heavier workload than normal (82% of the snaps). Given that Bennett could miss more time after knee surgery, Clark has a great opportunity to build on his recent performance (7 solos, 4 asst, 2.5 sacks, 1 FF in last 2 games).
DE Michael Bennett, SEA (DNP)
Bennett missed the game this week and is expected to undergo knee surgery this week to clean up an injury. Sounds like it could keep him out of action for a few weeks, which means we may not see him again until week 10 or 11.
OAKLAND @ TAMPA BAY
DE Khalil Mack, OAK (6 solos, 1 asst, 2 sack, 2 TFL, 4 QH, 1 FF)
Mack had a slow start to the year, but he’s proving to be a special player who can overcome offenses building much of their game plans around slowing him down. With 2 more sacks this week, he’s now picked up 4 in his last 3 games and 5 in his last 5 games. What helps set him apart are the tackle stats he can put up as well, and he has 14 solos in his last 3 games.
CB Jude Adjei-Barimah, TB (6 solos, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 1 QH)
The young corner has been seeing more playing time of late and responding with some impressive numbers. This week, he played 63 snaps (67%) as the game went deep into overtime and posted his 2nd game in a row with 6 solo tackles and a sack. When a nickel corner posts a sack in back to back games, it shows off some interesting fantasy potential.
S Reggie Nelson, OAK (1 solo)
While most players saw their numbers improve this week with the overtime game, Nelson was one of the few who didn’t. Not only that, but he has shown a clear drop in his tackle numbers ever since Karl Joseph took over at the other safety spot. Consider that Nelson posted 21 solos in the first 3 games of 2016 but has just 5 in his last 3 games.
SAN DIEGO @ DENVER
S T.J. Ward, DEN (7 solos, 3 asst, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 2 QH, 1 INT, 1 PD)
When the Broncos lost Danny Trevathan to free agency this offseason, the one player it seems to have benefitted the most is Ward. He only posted 51 solo tackles in the 12 games he played last year, but he’s already up to 42 in just 8 games this year. He’s also making more big plays this year and proving to be one of the most consistent fantasy safeties in the league.
DE Corey Liuget, SD (0 tackles)
Something doesn’t seem right with Liuget as he’s now gone 8 games this year without recording even a partial sack. While his career high is only 6 as playing DE in the Chargers 3-4 front doesn’t give him a ton of great opportunity, he used to be a solid fantasy option due to his 2-way ability. Even his tackle numbers are down considerably with just 1 assist in his last 3 games despite seeing 50 snaps in the last 2.
LB Denzel Perryman, SD (1 solo)
A week after earning AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors, Perryman was limited to just 8 snaps this week before leaving with a hamstring injury. He was banged up coming into the game as well, so the team may want to consider giving him some rest.
GREEN BAY @ ATLANTA
DE Adrian Clayborn, ATL (3 solos, 2 sacks, 2 TFL, 2 QH)
Clayborn doesn’t start for the Falcons, but he still plays 40 to 50 snaps consistently each week, which is consistent with a starter’s workload. He’s also making it count with 3 sacks in the last 2 weeks, and looking like a nice comeback player with the surprising Falcons who needed a pass rusher to emerge.
S Kemal Ishmael, ATL (2 solos)
Ishmael was very productive earlier this year, and even saw some time at LB when the Falcons suffered a rash of injuries there. He’s been limited to just a single defensive snap over the past 2 games, however, so his only production is coming from special teams duties at the moment.
PHILADELPHIA @ DALLAS
DT Tyrone Crawford, DAL (3 solos, 3 asst, 1.5 sacks, 2 TFL, 3 QH, 1 FR)
Crawford is one of those players that likely changes hands several times throughout a fantasy season. He can string together a good game or two, but rarely keeps it up long enough to be held. That being said, he’s a good young player and possibly one of the better pass rushers on the Cowboys team so his DT eligibility gives him some added value.
CB Orlando Scandrick, DAL (3 solos, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 1 QH, 1 PD)
The Cowboys got back the player widely considered to be their best cornerback this week and he was in the starting lineup against the Eagles 3-WR set. While he only played 56 snaps (72%) in the game, he is the type of player who can be productive even if he’s not an everydown player. He typically works out of the slot so serves as basically an extra safety or defender over the middle of the field.
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