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.
- Anthony Walker LB (IND): 2 solos, 4 assists, 1 QB hit, 79% defensive snaps
- James Burgess Jr LB (NYJ): 10 solos, 3 assists, 1 TFL, 1 pass defended, 100% defensive snaps
- Donald Payne LB (JAX): 8 solos, 8 assists, 100% defensive snaps
- Carlos Dunlap DL (CIN): 5 solos, 1 QB hit, 2 passes defended, 88% defensive snaps
- Ed Oliver DL (BUF): 3 solos, 2 assists, 50% defensive snaps
- Bruce Irvin DL (CAR): 2 assists, 76% defensive snaps
- Malcolm Jenkins S (PHI): 4 solos, 1 TFL, 1 forced fumble, 2 passes defended
- Mike Hughes CB (MIN): 3 solos, 1 pass defended, left with an oblique injury, 41% defensive snaps
- Andrew Wingard S (JAX): 2 solos, 2 assists, 1 QB hit, 73% defensive snaps
Kevin Pierre-Louis LB (CHI):
With Roquan Smith going on the IR with a pectoral injury and Danny Trevathan missing time because of an elbow, Chicago finds itself very thin at linebacker. Most people are going to go and grab Nick Kwaitkoski if he is available, but we want to look deeper than that. Pierre-Louis had five total tackles, a tackle for loss, a pass defended, and a quarterback hit after filling in for Smith last week. Pierre-Louis will go overlooked this week and should see a jump from his 63% of defensive snaps last week against the Packers.
Donald Payne LB (JAX):
We sang his praises last week and he delivered with another double-digit tackle performance. Myles Jack is officially on the IR and the Jaguars have fully embraced Payne. He has 29 total tackles, a tackle for loss, and a sack in the past two games while playing 99 and 100% of defensive snaps in that span. He is taking on a Raiders offense that has allowed 200 solo tackles to opposing linebackers and could be without their best rushing threat in Josh Jacobs again this week. Look for another solid performance by Payne this week.
Joe Walker LB (ARI):
Walker came away with his second-best game of the season last week with seven solo tackles against Pittsburgh. While we would like to see double-digit tackle numbers or a few more boxes checked on the stat sheet there was something else that jumped out. This was his second consecutive week with 100% of defensive snaps played. Walker has gone from a primarily special teams player to a full-time starter in recent weeks and has a great matchup against Cleveland. If you are looking for something a little different grab Walker and run with him this week.
Jason Pierre-Paul DE (TB):
It was a down week with just a single solo tackle last week, but he has a great matchup this week against Detroit. He is still widely available in most leagues and has played 75% of more of the defensive snaps in each of his last five games. Pierre-Paul has five solos, two sacks, and a forced fumble in his last three games and will be taking on a Detroit offensive line that has allowed 10.5 sacks to opposing defensive ends over the past four games.
Chris Jones DT (KC):
In a league where you have to roster a defensive tackle, Jones would be a good bet this week. He is coming off back to back games with a sack and has seven total for the season. Jones continues to average nearly 75% of defensive snaps played per game and will be taking on a Broncos team that has struggled this season despite the hot start by Drew Lock. Jones does not have particularly strong tackling numbers, but he has shown an ability to get after the quarterback this season.
Jaleel Johnson DT (MIN):
Johnson has played well with a limited snap count this season. He has played about 33% of defensive snaps per game but has still shown an ability to get after the quarterback. He had a sack last week against Detroit and will be taking on a Chargers offense that has failed to protect Philip Rivers this season. The Vikings will be rotating linemen to try and keep up with Austin Ekeler and Melvin Gordon III this week and Johnson may see one of his most productive games of the season.
Tavon Wilson FS (DET):
Wilson is another player we highlighted earlier in the year that is still widely available in most leagues. Since week 10, Wilson has put up 25 solos, 11 assists, a sack, and a fumble recovery. This week he takes on a Tampa Bay offense that allowed the Colts safeties to rack up 26 total tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble. With Jameis Winston leading the league in turnovers by a large margin, there is a good chance someone from Detroit comes away with an interception.
Quandre Diggs S (SEA):
Diggs is coming off his best game of the season by far. He came down with 2 interceptions and returned one for a touchdown to go with five total tackles last week against the Rams. Not only is he playing well at the right time for Seattle, but he also gets a great matchup against Carolina. In the last four games, Kyle Allen has been sacked 21 times and thrown 7 interceptions. Three of those interceptions came against Falcons safety Damontae Kazee and Diggs is in line to have another big game this week.
Justin Simmons S (DEN):
Simmons has been an iron man for the Broncos in that defensive secondary. He has played every defensive snap for the Broncos so far this season and has come away with three interceptions to show for it. This week he takes on a Kansas City team that loves to air it out and a team he had success against earlier in the season. In their last matchup, Simmons had eight total tackles and a pass defended. Combine his volume of snaps and success against the Chiefs earlier in the season and he is in line for a big game this week.