As the season progresses it is hard to find those diamonds in the rough or that guy that no one has heard of. This week we are going to examine the plethora of injuries across the league and who the most likely successor is to that starting job as well as highlight some prime matchups as well as surprising performers to this point. This article will also highlight a few long-term and speculative players that could see their value rise over the course of the season.
- Nick Kwiatkoski LB (CHI): 3 solos, 1 assist, 65% defensive snaps
- Drue Tranquill LB (LAC): DNP ruled out due to calf injury
- Jerome Baker LB (MIA): 4 solos, 7 assists, 100% defensive snaps
- Jaleel Johnson DT (MIN): 4 solos, 2 assists, 1 sack
- Derek Wolfe DE (DEN): 0 tackles, 73% defensive snaps
- Clelin Ferrell DE (OAK): 1 solo, 1 pass defended, 65% defensive snaps
- Khari Willis SS (IND): 3 solos, 59% defensive snaps (left game due to concussion)
- D.J. Swearinger Sr SS (OAK): 5 solos, 2 assists, 60% defensive snaps
- Nik Needham CB (MIA): 6 solos, 2 passes defended, 1 forced fumble, 99% defensive snaps
And let's look at Week 12.
Clay Matthews OLB (LAR):
He was off to a great start this season before breaking his jaw and almost looked like the fearsome pass rusher of old. Many people have forgotten about or written him off since the injury, but he still has at least a sack in six of the seven games he has played this season. Matthews and the Rams take on a Baltimore offense that has allowed the third-most points to rushing ends in the NFL. It is not a great matchup for the Rams defense, but Matthews could make some noise coming off the edge this week.
Neville Hewitt ILB (NYJ):
Hewitt is another linebacker coming back from an injury that has a great matchup against the Raiders this week. He had 5 total tackles and an interception in his first game after missing the last 4 due to injury. The Raiders love running Josh Jacobs up the middle and there should be plenty of opportunity for tackles this week on a team that is very thin at middle linebacker. Look for Hewitt to get back on track this week.
Nathan Gerry LB (PHI):
Gerry had a monster week against the Patriots with 10 tackles, a tackle for a loss, and a sack after playing 99% of defensive snaps. In his past four games, he has 31 total tackles, 2 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks. If that is not enough, he takes on a Seahawks team that averages 30.7 rushing attempts per game and has allowed several big plays this year to opposing linebackers. You should not bet on the Philadelphia defense, but Gerry is in line to continue his impressive streak of games.
Chad Thomas DE (CLE):
There were a lot of ugly things that happened at the end of the Browns game last week and several players were suspended. With Myles Garrett and Larry Ogunjobi missing time, Thomas should continue to see more playing time for the defense. There is also the chance that Olivier Vernon misses more time with a knee injury and that would further increase the value for Thomas. He had 5 solos and 2 tackles for loss last week and has a chance for an even bigger game this week.
Maxx Crosby DE (OAK):
It was a swing and a miss on which defensive end from Oakland against the Bengals last week after Crosby outperformed Celin Ferrell to the tune of a 4-sack game. He was all over the Cincinnati backfield and had his best game of the season. In week 12, the Raiders have a solid matchup against a struggling Jets offensive line and Crosby has a great chance of moving his sack streak to three straight games.
Javon Hargrave DL (PIT):
Falling in line with the monster 4-sack game that Crosby had against the Bengals last week, we turn to Hargrave for Pittsburgh this week against the same banged up Cincinnati offensive line. In his past two games, he has 16 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, a sack, and a forced fumble. That is a great two-game stretch for any defensive lineman, and he is walking into one of his best matchups of the season. The Bengals have allowed 23.5 sacks to defensive linemen this season and Hargrave is a good bet to add to that number this week.
Juston Burris S (CLE):
There is a lot of upheaval in the Cleveland defense due to suspensions this week, but what was lost was the injury to Morgan Burnett. Burris had a great game last week on only 57% of defensive snaps to the tune of five tackles, a sack, an interception, and a forced fumble. This will be his first chance at a full starting role since Week 3 and it comes against the lowly Miami Dolphins. Look for Burris to solidify his hold on the starting safety job this week.
Eddie Jackson S (CHI):
There is not a lot going right for the Bears this season, but Jackson looks to be putting up some of his best numbers of the season. Last week he notched 6 total tackles and a forced fumble against the Rams and 3 weeks ago he had 11 total tackles against the Eagles. This week he has a top tier matchup against a Giants team that has allowed an average of 27.6 tackles a game to defensive backs and a total of 10 big plays. Look for Jackson to keep his streak going and the Bears defense to have one of their better games of the season.
Kenny Moore II CB (IND):
Moore has been on a hot streak of late with 20 solos, a sack, an interception, and a fumble recovery in the past 3 weeks. He left the Colts game early with a shin injury last week and is listed as questionable against the Texans this week. If he gets the go on Thursday night, Moore has a good matchup against Houston and should continue his streak of strong play. Watch the injury report and if Moore is good to go, he should fall in the DB2 range this week.