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.
- Kevin Pierre-Louis LB (CHI): 5 solos, 80% defensive snaps
- Donald Payne LB (JAX): 11 solos, 2 assists, 1 pass defended, 100% defensive snaps
- Joe Walker LB (ARI): 5 solos, 2 assists, 1 forced fumble, 83% defensive snaps
- Jason Pierre-Paul DE (TB): 1 solo, 75% defensive snaps
- Chris Jones DT (KC): 1 solo, 3 QB hits, 81% defensive snaps
- Jaleel Johnson DT (MIN): 1 solo, 1 tackle for loss, 1 sack, 23% defensive snaps
- Tavon Wilson FS (DET): 6 solos, 92% defensive snaps
- Quandre Diggs S (SEA): 3 solos, 5 assists, left game with leg injury, 49% defensive snaps
- Justin Simmons S (DEN): 6 solos, 2 assists, 1 interception, 1 pass defended, 100% defensive snaps
Sean Lee OLB (DAL):
With Leighton Vander Esch not anywhere close to returning for Dallas, Lee has a chance to build off of his solid game last week against the Rams. Lee has dealt with his own injuries and surprised many by coming back last week to the tune of four tackles, a sack, and an interception. It is a pivotal game for Lee and the Cowboys this week, look for him to turn back the clock and have another productive game if he can stay healthy.
Will Compton ILB (OAK):
The Raiders elected to give Compton a chance to play in an every-down role last week and he responded with nine total tackles. The Chargers looked lost last week against the Vikings and struggled in almost every aspect of the game. Look for them to get back to running with Melvin Gordon III and Austin Ekeler this week and providing ample opportunities for linebackers to score tackles in the middle of the field. Compton played well enough to keep his every-down role going forward and should provide adequate numbers due to volume alone.
Ryan Anderson OLB (WAS):
Sometimes we just have to go with the hot hand and ignore the fact that a player is on a bad team. Anderson has four sacks in his last four games and is coming off the first multi-sack performance last week while filling in for an injured Ryan Kerrigan. If Kerrigan is out again this week, Anderson will be a very solid play against a Giants offensive line that has not protected anyone while playing quarterback. Watch the injury report on Kerrigan and suit up Anderson in the hopes of a big play on Sunday if he is out.
Josh Allen DE (JAX):
It is that point in the season where we start to circle back to some players that we recommended before. Allen keeps rolling along after putting up another sack last week and is currently leading the team with 10. He left the game last week with a shoulder injury and only played 39% of defensive snaps, but he should be good to go this week against a poor Atlanta offensive line. In their past three games, they have allowed 16 sacks with 11 of those coming against the opposing defensive line.
Maxx Crosby DE (OAK):
We all saw what the Vikings defensive line did against the Chargers last week and that makes this one of the best matchups for any defensive line heading into week 16. Crosby has been a force for the Raiders with a team-high 8.5 sacks as well as leading the team in quarterback pressures and hits. He played 77% of defensive snaps last week and is making a push for defensive rookie of the year. Look for Crosby to get home on Rivers this week and add to his sack total.
Shelby Harris DE (DEN):
It has been a rough go of things for the Broncos defense. After losing Derek Wolfe, Harris has stepped up in a big way. Von Miller continues to draw double teams on the other side and Harris has been the biggest beneficiary. He put up three tackles and two sacks last week while playing 84% of defensive snaps. Harris and the Broncos defense take on a beaten-down Lions offensive line that has allowed 13 sacks in their past three games. Harris may be the one to give you that big sack in your fantasy playoffs.
Tyrann Mathieu CB (KC):
The honey badger is hardly considered a sleeper in most circles, but he has largely flown under the radar this season. He is owned in only 26% of leagues right now and has proven to be very durable all season. Mathieu has played 100% of defensive snaps in all but four games this season and is coming off a game with five solos, a sack, and two passes defended. The Bears provide a plus matchup with an offense that has been struggling. Look for Mathieu to have another solid game this week.
Jourdan Lewis DB (DAL):
There is no game with more on the line than Dallas and Philadelphia this week. Someone is going to have to step up for one side and Lewis is a prime candidate on defense. He has been playing both corner and safety and is averaging a solid 5.6 tackles per game between the two. He seems to make a big play every week and has recorded three sacks and an interception over the past three weeks. Philadelphia is missing almost all of their key receivers and the Dallas secondary should have a field day against what is left on that roster.
Sam Beal CB (NYG):
The Giants released Janoris Jenkins and slotted Beal into the starting role last week. Miami attacked him with everything they had, and it resulted in an eight-solo and three-assist performance. Washington is less likely to air the ball out as much as the Dolphins did, but they should still attack Beal as one of the weaker links in that defense. All that means he should have another solid tackling day as he tries to make up for blown coverages.