Haason Reddick saw action in sub-packages and had a nice game at 5-2 with a pass breakup. Now that he is at or near full health, Reddick was on the field for 85% of defensive snaps. He is certainly roster-worthy in 12-team leagues that start three and his stock is heading in the right direction.
Buccaneers corners accounted for 18 solo stops and 3 pass breakups versus Carolina last week. With Cam Newton’s status in question, we may have to throw those numbers out. If he does play, however, rookie corner Byron Murphy would be a strong sleeper play.
Deion Jones returned to a near every-down role in Week 2, seeing action on all but a handful of plays. He looked like the Jones we have come to expect, producing six tackles and an assist. At the very least it is now safe to plug him into our lineups.
Even with Jones on the field for over 90% of the action, DeVondre Campbell still saw 85% of the snaps and posted another solid stat line of 6-2-0. The only fear with Campbell being the potential for his playing time to shrink. As they had done in the preseason, Atlanta used a lot of big nickel against Philadelphia with Damontae Kazee also seeing 85% of the action.
After being on the field virtually full time in Week 1, Tak McKinley and Vic Beasley Jr had their playing time reduced from 85% in game one to less than 70% in Week 2. That is still enough opportunity for many edge defenders to be successful but these two have shown no signs of stepping up their production.
Baltimore played a lot of dime against the Cardinals multi-receiver spread offense. As a result, neither Chris Board nor Kenny Young was on the field much. What little playing time there was for a second linebacker, was split nearly evenly between the two.
The Buffalo secondary was busy against the Giants. Corners Levi Wallace and Tre’Davious White each finished with eight tackles while third safety Siran Neal went 6-2-0 on the day. This was a matchup based situation so do not be baited into believing these numbers are the beginning of a trend. Neal only played 24 snaps in the game.
Looks like the Cardinals are going to be a great matchup for corners this year. Their offense brings back memories of the old run and shoot days. In Week 2 Brandon Carr capitalized with six tackles, an assist, a sack, and a pass breakup while Marlon Humphrey went 5-1-0 with a pass defended. The week before, Rashaan Melvin had eight tackles against Arizona. Three other corners had four tackles against them in those two games. The moral of this story, start James Bradberry or Donte Jackson this week if you have them. On the other side of that coin, downgrade your Panthers linebackers this week against the Cardinals. Baltimore’s every-down middle linebacker Patrick Onwuasor managed two tackles and two assists in Week 2.
The Denver offense may not have scored a lot of points but they were able to keep the ball and run a lot of plays. That helped both Roquan Smith and Danny Trevathan to big games. Each of them piled up nine solo tackles. Eddie Jackson got in on the party as well going 6-4 with a pair of pass breakups. Through two games the Bears defense has not lived up to expectations but their players are putting up good numbers. Do not hesitate to play these guys again this week against a Washington team that will ride Adrian Peterson often.
The Bengals are hurting at linebacker and will continue to struggle defensively until they can get their hands on a stud in the middle. Preston Brown had an interesting stat line against San Francisco, finishing at 4-10-0. Unfortunately, most of his tackles were at least five yards down the field. Meanwhile, Nick Vigil was nearly shut out after posting good tackle totals in Week 1. These guys are going to give us decent tackle numbers on most weeks but there is simply no big-play potential to be tapped here. Look for the team’s safeties to put up strong numbers again all this season.
Defensive end Carl Lawson left Sunday’s contest with a hamstring injury and may not be available for a while. With Kerry Wynn in concussion protocol, the team is short on players to spell Carlos Dunlap and Sam Hubbard. This duo was already seeing plenty of snaps but they may get an even bigger slice of the pie this week.
It is hard to be patient with players like Olivier Vernon who have done nothing through two weeks. If you can afford the roster space to wait on him, I suggest giving Vernon another week before giving up. The last time he played end in a 4-3, Vernon had four tackles and no sacks going into week five (that’s when I cut him). He finished the season at 41-20-7.5
Apparently, the Cowboys coaching staff was not impressed with what looked like excellent play by Taco Charlton during the preseason. He has been inactive for each of the first two games and was dangled as trade bait before being outright released on Wednesday. There are a lot of teams out there looking for help at defensive end so he is not likely to be unemployed for long.
Tyrone Crawford got the start opposite DeMarcus Lawrence in Week 2 but Robert Quinn will be back from suspension this week and should be inserted immediately. This could be good news for Lawrence who was the focal point of Washington’s blocking scheme last week and was shut out. Both players should be able to get something going against a Dolphins offense that has already allowed seven sacks.
Xavier Woods came back to earth a bit in Week 2 but still had a solid game at 4-6. Unfortunately, he is going to miss some time with an ankle injury he suffered late in Sunday’s contest. Kavon Frazier is the expected starter in his place.
The Miami offense generated 32 plays resulting in a tackle being awarded last week. That is not much opportunity, especially for a team like Dallas with a pair of stud linebackers to feed. We can not expect big production from Leighton Vander-Esch or Jaylon Smith in this one. If you have to start one of them, keep your fingers crossed and hope for a big play or two.
Josey Jewell put up good numbers in the opener but did not look particularly good doing it. His three tackles and three assists against the Bears were a closer match for his so-so play. Denver hopes to have Todd Davis back this week after his slow healing calf injury. If he is not limited, Davis should jump right back into the full-time role, possibly pushing Jewel into two-down service.
Justin Simmons had a big day against Chicago going 8-1 with a pair of pass breakups. So far this season has been more of the usual for Simmons who tends to be up and down from week to week. He had one tackle and two assists against Oakland in Week 1. That said, Jacksonville should be a plus matchup if you have Simmons rostered.
When Tracy Walker went off in the opener it was easy to write him off as a one week wonder. As we like to say here at Footballguys, once is a fluke but twice is a trend. When he followed up by going 7-3 against the Chargers in Week 2, it was time to start paying attention. Walker is still playing well of the ball most of the time but he is making quick decisions and flying up to the play on a regular basis. If he is still available, put him on your free agent list this week.
Jahlani Tavai continues to play well as the Lions wait for Jarrad Davis to come back. Tavai posted six tackles, three assists and forced a fumble on 46 of a possible 67 snaps against Los Angeles. We can only hope he gets a shot at playing every down sometime in the near future.
Christian Jones saw more action than any Detroit linebacker not named Devon Kennard on Sunday. Jones played 90% of the time but managed a meager one tackle and three assists. It will be interesting to see what happens once Davis returns.
Defensive end Trey Flowers is off to a pedestrian start with two tackles and an assist through two games, but be patient if you can afford too. Flowers is battling a nagging sore shoulder that is clearly affecting his play. If he is not able to get back on track soon it will be time to move on.
Damon Harrison saw an increase in workload Week 2 when he was up around half the defensive snaps. That is much better than Week 1 but Harrison is used to playing a lot more.
Green Bay Packers
Recently acquired B.J. Goodson started at inside linebacker against the Vikings and saw action on 58% of the snaps. It is hard to say if this was by design or due to the injuries at the safety position. Darnell Savage was in a walking boot after the game while big nickel safety Raven Greene landed on IR with an ankle injury. With these guys out, Green Bay will probably move Tramon Williams to free safety but they are short on quality options for a number three.
It is too early to give up on J.J. Watt but it is not too early to be concerned. It is understandable that he did nothing versus the Saints who protect their quarterback as well as anyone, but two assists and a fumble recovery versus Jacksonville with a backup quarterback is a real head-scratcher. The Chargers have given up five sacks in two games so if Watt pulls another vanishing act in Week 3?
A strong safety playing with a bad shoulder is like a running back playing on a sore ankle. That is what we seem to have with Justin Reid at this point. He went large against New Orleans but came out of that game gimpy, and it showed against Jacksonville. Reid was in position to make more plays but was less aggressive than normal. He even seemed to pull up once or twice when he saw that a teammate was going to make the play. The Chargers have been a mediocre matchup for safeties thus far and the absence of Hunter Henry from their lineup is not going to help. Watch the late week practice reports this week and consider sitting Reid if he is limited.
Whitney Mercilus is off to a great start. He added two more sacks and a pair of forced fumbles while playing 64 of a possible 67 snaps in Week 2. That gives Mercilus 34 fantasy points in two games to go with his defensive player of the week award.
Darius Leonard is in concussion protocol and did not practice on Wednesday. Keep a close eye on this situation. If he is not cleared in time, look for Bobby Okereke to start in the middle and Anthony Walker to move outside in place of Leonard.
After the numbers he put up last year, it was a surprise to see Denico Autry get so little love this past draft season. He has picked up right where he left off with six tackles, two assists, two and a half sacks, and a forced fumble through two games. This guy is a dependable DL2 with DL1 upside every week. If he has fallen through the cracks somehow, pick him up and play him every week.
Al-Quadin Muhammad has also gotten off to a fast start and is worthy of consideration in many deeper leagues. The only fear with him is the eventual return of Jabaal Sheard which would potentially push Muhammad into a rotational role.
Everyone is wondering what is wrong with Clayton Geathers? While I am not able to answer that question as it pertains to him in particular; what I have seen is a reduced role and the veteran being outplayed by rookie Khari Willis. Geathers was on the field for 89% of the plays in Week 1 then saw the number slide to 70% in Week 2. Meanwhile, Willis’ playing time nearly doubled against the Titans. Geathers has looked sluggish and slow to react compared to Willis thus far. Unless something gives, the rookie could find his way into the starting lineup over the next couple of weeks.
With Yannick Ngakoue unable to go and Marcel Darius back in action, the Jaguars shifted Calais Campbell back outside against Houston. Unfortunately, it had little impact on his production. Keep in mind he is battling through a foot injury.
Rookie weak-side linebacker Quincy Williams was able to go against Houston in spite of the sore knee. He had a strong outing, leading the team in tackles at 6-3-0 while playing every snap. If this kid is still available, grab him and start him this week against the Titans who are a quality matchup for linebackers.
The Jaguars were not able to generate enough pass rush in Week 2 without turning to the blitz. Their two sacks by defensive backs and one from the linebacker position are somewhat uncharacteristic of a Jaguars defense that is accustomed to getting plenty of pressure from the front four. Ronnie Harrison took full advantage from the safety position, going 4-4-1 on the day. His solid production through two weeks is not a fluke.
Kansas City Chiefs
Managers in corner required league should give Bashaud Breeland a long look. This guy is productive wherever he goes and is coming off a game with seven solo tackles, an assists and an interception.
Los Angeles Chargers
Adrian Phillips had a nice game going before breaking his forearm. He was placed on IR Wednesday but may be able to return in late November. Meantime Jaylen Watkins looks to be the next man up. Watkins is more of a free safety, however, so we could see Rayshawn Jenkins move over the to prominent fantasy position of strong safety. The best move he would be to take a week and see how it pans out, but someone is going to make plays at that position.
Thomas Davis had another big game and is clearly the top IDP target at linebacker in Los Angeles, at least for now. Kazir White is going to be a factor though. The only time White is coming off the field is in dime sub-packages, so he is getting plenty of opportunities. As the season progresses we will all but surely see him outproduce Davis a few times.
Brandon Facyson had another strong game (6-2) and is quickly emerging as a solid target for corner required leagues.
The Dolphins continue to blow up their roster, and it shows on the field. They have suffered two embarrassing losses and continue to purge talent by trading Minkah Fitzpatrick to the Steelers. With Reshad Jones on the mend from an ankle injury and Bobby McCain limited in practice this week with a sore shoulder, Steven Parker and Walt Aikens could be Miami’s safeties in Week 3. Chances are McCain will be able to go but this is still a thin position. Heck, the entire defense is thin. Whoever gets the call is going to be on the field a lot, so if they are even average, there will be some useful production.
Box score production for has been sparse for Anthony Barr in recent years, but over the first two games of this season, he has looked like the guy we saw early in his career. At the very least he is worth keeping an eye on over the next few weeks as a possible by week filler.
Anthony Harris followed a monster Week 1 (two interceptions) with a solid Week 2 that included five tackles and an assist. The 5-1-0 is closer to what we can expect on a regular basis but he is playing well and should be on a roster in nearly any league that starts three defensive backs.
New England Patriots
That Patriots opened against Miami in a 3-4 with Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins as the edge defenders, Elandon Roberts and Don’t’a Hightower at the inside linebacker positions. By the end of the game five linebackers played at least 46% of the snaps but none of them saw more than Kyle Van Noy’s 82%. Jamie Collins had a huge game, doing most of his damage in the big play columns. Collins managed three tackles and two assists which was fairly strong considering the blowout and was tied for the team lead. He added half a sack, two interceptions, and a score to finish as the fantasy game’s top linebacker for the week.
Some of the spread-out playing time can be attributed to the lopsided score but chances are we will see the Patriots continue to use a lot of players at the second level. That will make all of these guys hit or miss on any given week but Collins is going to be our top option most of the time because he is such a big-play threat.
New Orleans Saints
The Saints rather quietly placed Alex Anzalone on IR this week. So quietly, in fact, we still do not know what ails him. What we do know is this opens the door for Kiko Alonso to get on the field at middle linebacker. All that remains to be seen is how long it takes Alonso to supplant A.J. Klein in sub-packages. Alonso is a free agent in a lot of leagues right now. Get him on your roster this week before everyone catches up on this news.
New York Giants
The Tae Davis era was a short one in New York. He was replaced at inside linebacker in Week 2 by Ryan Connelly who played 64 of a possible 76 snaps next to Alex Ogletree. Despite a quality matchup, neither of the Giants inside backers gave us much production. Who knows what is going to happen with the Giants defense here. Connelly may be a near three-down starter the rest of the way or they might cut him before Sunday’s game. Either way, he is on our watch list for Week 3.
New York Jets
Injuries and illness have left the Jets in shambles on both sides of the ball. Blake Cashman got the start for C.J. Mosley and lined up next to Neville Hewitt who replaced Avery Williamson. Both Cashman and Hewitt played every snap against Cleveland. Hewitt has been a pleasant surprise for both the Jets and IDP managers. His play on the field has been good enough to be an NFL starter and he is coming off a game with a team-leading four tackles, four assists, a sack, and a pass breakup. He should be on a team in nearly every IDP league by this point. Cashman has not yet made a big splash in the box scores but he held his own on the field in Week 2. With Mosley likely to miss at least another week or two, Cashman might be a decent short term pickup.
With Johnathan Abram on the shelf, Oakland turned back to musical chairs at the safety positions. Erik Harris and Curtis Riley each saw action with Karl Joseph dropping to 65% of the playing time after going for nearly 85% in Week 1. Lamarcus Joyner is the only dependable safety of the group in terms of playing time. He produced a solid six solo stops against the Chiefs while playing 90% of the snaps.
The loss of Abram seems to have also had an effect on the playing time at linebacker. Vontaze Burfict played all but two snaps while Tahir Whitehead saw a big bump in playing time, going 6-1 on 85%. WE should probably avoid all of this until/unless we start to see some week to week consistency in playing time and production.
One player we do not need to wait on in tackle required leagues is Johnathan Hankins. He has been on the field for 75% of the Raider defensive snaps to date and is coming off a solid outing at 4-1-0 with a batted pass. He is capable of consistently solid tackle totals and had 12.5 sacks over a four year period before joining the Raiders last season.
Benson Mayowa has been a pleasant surprise for Oakland. With three and a half sacks to date, he currently ranks third behind Myles Garrett and Shaq Barrett. Mayowa is a career backup with some experience as a spot starter, so it may be a little much to expect him to keep up the pace, but it is a great start for a team that had 13 sacks all of last season.
If you have Malcolm Jenkins on your roster it will be tempting to move on from him after a pair of forgettable outings. If there are quality options available, that might not be a bad idea. Jenkins has been inconsistent from year to year throughout his career. He was huge in 2015 with 87 solo stops and a good number of big plays, then slumped for two years. Last season he came on strong again and was a top-10 defensive back in many leagues. I will be hanging with him for another week or two before throwing in the towel, but only because I have other quality options at the position and can afford too.
Zach Brown’s snap count was up in Week 2 but still well short of 80%.
Mark Barron and Vince Williams were the starters at inside linebacker against Seattle. Barron played every down while Williams was lost to a hamstring injury early on, allowing Devin Bush to finish 3-4-0 with a fumble recovery on 63 of a possible 79 plays. We hate to see a player get hurt, but the loss of Williams for a few weeks will solve our dilemma with the Steelers linebackers for a while. Both Bush and Barron are viable LB3 options this week against San Francisco
Sean Davis had a solid five solo tackles in Week 2 but suffered a torn labrum during the game. Early this week the Steelers traded for Minkah Fitzpatrick to take his place at free safety for the rest of the season. Fitzpatrick was not able to produce useful numbers for IDP managers during his time in Miami but it remains to be seen is a change of venue will make a difference.
Tremaine Edmunds was high on my breakout player list over the summer. After a marginal showing in Week 1, he blew up for eight tackles, three assists and a pass breakup against the Seahawks. It would be nice to see some consistency over the next few weeks but I feel pretty good about him at this point.
In Week 1 we saw all three of the Seahawks linebackers log at least 90% of the playing time. Week 2 was a different story. K.J. Wright led the team in tackles at 6-2 and played nearly full time alongside Bobby Wagner, but Mychal Kendricks had a reduced snap count to 68%. That is still a lot of plays to have three linebackers on the field, so there is hope, but it looks as if Kendricks may end up being a matchup based bye week flier after all.
After his big game against Cincinnati, Quinton Jefferson moved back inside to his familiar tackle position. Rashaan Green got the start at end with rookie L.J. Collier getting some passing down action. The coaching staff is optimistic they will have Ezekiel Ansah available in Week 3, but we have heard that song before. Believe it when you see it. Even if he does play, Ansah is not going to be 100% and he has a history of starting but not finishing games due to the bad shoulder. Avoid him until he shows something.
Delano Hill started for Tedric Thompson at free safety.
San Francisco 49ers
Neither Fred Warner nor Kwon Alexander reached 80% of the snaps against Cincinnati. While that was largely due to the lopsided score, especially in the case of Warner, it is noteworthy that Drue Greenlaw started in the nickel, ahead of Alexander. This is probably a case of the team watching the snap count of a player coming back from a major knee injury, but it is worth keeping an eye on if you have Alexander.
Arik Armstead started over Nick Bosa who is still nursing an ankle injury, but Bosa saw some action. Solomon Thomas had a bigger role in Week 2, going 2-1-1 and finally showing signs of being a serious contributor.
DeForest Buckner is among a long list of defensive lineman off to slow start this year. We see this just about every year with linemen. Soon as we cut him, he will have six tackles and two sacks in a game. Be patient for another week or two, then panic if he has not come around.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
With 11 tackles, an assist and a pick, Vernon Hargreaves was a prime candidate for IDP player of the week. Hargreaves was in the doghouse with the previous coaching regime but this is a player that put up good numbers as a rookie in 2016 before battling injuries for two seasons. We are not going to see double-digit tackles from him very often but he is likely to give us CB1 production on many weeks.
Devin White left early in the first quarter with a knee injury. While he avoided serious damage, White is expected to miss some time. Surprisingly he was replaced by Kevin Minter and not Deone Bucannon. Minter is a serviceable veteran player but is not a guy we should rush to pick up. It is surprising enough that he got the call over Bucannon, it would be a real stunner if Minter continues playing all three downs as he did on Sunday.
Shaquil Barrett on fire with four sacks in the first two games. His career-best of five in a season came in 2015. So the question is, fluke or fit? If it is a fluke, Barrett will soon turn back into a pumpkin. If it is a case of him finding a defensive scheme that can bring out the best in him, we could see solid production continue.
Mike Edwards replaced Darian Stewart at free safety in Week 2. He did not do much against the Panthers in terms of box score production but should have a much better stat line against the Giants who have been a great matchup for safeties through two weeks. Opponent’s safeties have totaled 28 solo tackles against the Giants to date. At the very least Jordan Whitehead is a must-play.
After an opener that saw Rahsaan Evans put up good numbers while Jayon Brown did relatively little, It was Brown’s turn in Week 2. He came to life with eight tackles, a pair of assists and a pass breakup against the Colts, while Evans took the back seat at 4-2-0. Wesley Woodyard is nursing a quad injury and his chances off playing against Jacksonville are not looking good. That means a full workload for both Brown and Evans against Jacksonville. The Jaguars should be a quality matchup providing they can get Leonard Fournette going.
Cole Holcomb and Jon Bostic were Washington’s starting inside linebackers in Week 2. Neither stood out in the box scores, which is not a good sign considering the strong matchup, but it is worth mentioning that Holcombe played 90% of the snaps while Bostic was limited to 79%.
Injuries to Quinton Dunbar and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie elevated rookie Jimmy Moreland to starter at the corner opposite Josh Norman. Moreland turned in a solid line of 6-0 with a pass breakup. Rodgers-Cromartie landed on IR this week and Dunbar is not looking good for Week 3 with his sore knee. Any rookie starting at corner in the NFL can envoke the rookie corner rule, let along a rookie seventh-round pick.
That does it for this edition. Best of luck to you this week.