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.
First, let's look at last week's offerings.
Kyzir White LB (LAC): 4 solos, 3 assists
It was a quiet game for White as he failed to reach double-digit tackles. He had 4 solos and 3 assists for 7 total tackles. His 8 solos and 1 tackle for loss in Week 1 look to be his ceiling going forward.
Blake Cashman LB (NYJ): 2 solos, 4 assists, .5 sack, 1 pass defended
The overall tackle numbers were not there for Cashman, but he quietly had a good day filling in for C.J Mosley. The Browns offensive line has not been able to protect Baker Mayfield at all this year and he was even able to chip in half a sack. Cashman still has some work to do in order to move up the depth chart. He saw 69 defensive snaps this week, up from 23 in week 1.
Devin Bush LB (PIT): 3 solos, 4 assists, 1 fumble recovery
As he continues to carve out a role for himself in the Steelers defense, Bush had a solid game this week that should earn him more snaps going forward. The 3 solos and 4 assists were not a major accomplishment, but his first fumble recovery with a return of 11 yards was. Bush was knocked out of bounds just before crossing into the end zone and almost added a touchdown to his line. Bush should only see his snap count increase over the course of the season and his numbers get better.
Sam Hubbard DE (CIN): 3 solos, 3 assists, 0 sacks
The Bengals defense was unable to stop anyone for the 49ers this week and Hubbard was unable to build on the 2 sacks he had week 1. Hubbard had 3 solo tackles and 3 assists this week and did not register a QB hit. The defense was on the field a lot, but it was mostly watching San Francisco move the ball downfield at will.
Quinton Jefferson DT (SEA): 1 solo
It was not a great game for Jefferson at all. He registered a single solo tackle and could not build off the 2 sacks and 2 passes he defended in week 1. Jefferson played nearly 79% of snaps at mostly tackle this week and was unable to do anything with the volume.
Matthew Ioannidis DT (WAS): 1 solo, 2 assists
The quiet start to the season continues for Ioannidis. The Cowboys exploited the Redskins secondary and the bulk of Ezekiel Elliot’s runs went up the middle. Ioannidis did not get the projected amount of opportunity and did not reward anyone who had him in their starting lineup this week.
Jordan Whitehead S (TB): 3 solos, 3 assists, 1 pass defended
Six total tackles for Whitehead this week made for a very quiet week. His 7 solo tackles from week 1 projected a much bigger role this week, but things were made difficult by the 26 passes Cam Newton completed with the ground. It is hard to have tackles when the opposing quarterback struggles to complete any passes.
Juan Thornhill S (KC): 3 solos
The story out of Kansas City will always be the offense. Thornhill added 3 solo tackles to his stats for the year and has yet to defend a single pass in the air. Teams will be playing in catchup mode often against the Chiefs and there should be plenty of balls to make plays on for the rest of the season. Hopefully, this proves to be an outlier for Thornhill the rest of the season and he sees his numbers get better.
Marqui Christian S (LAR)
Unfortunately for anyone who rolled the dice on Christian, Eric Weddle cleared concussion protocol and started this week. Christian did not have a single play that registered on the stat sheet and does not appear to be a viable option at all going forward barring a significant injury to Weddle.
Now, let's look at this week's candidates.
Kevin Minter LB (TB)
The Buccaneers lost rookie Devin White after only 6 snaps on Thursday night and Minter stepped in to replace him. He looked good with 8 total tackles and should see the same production or more against a Giants offense that will go run heavy after switching to rookie quarterback Daniel Jones. Minter should step into an every-down role and has a legitimate chance at double-digit tackles this week.
Quincy Williams LB (JAX)
This may be your last chance to grab Williams as the team has already cut him loose on offenses around the league. Williams led the team in tackles with 9 last week and out performed Myles Jack on the other side. He is a great play this week and has value the rest of the season as he gets more comfortable with the defense. A struggling offense will also keep him on the field more and provide more opportunity for points.
Shaquil Barrett LB (TB)
There is a good chance Barrett is already gone after being named defensive player of the week with his 3 sack, 3 tackle for loss, and 4 quarterback hits last week, but the edge rushing outside linebacker is a great play this week if available. He will take on a Giants offense that is starting a rookie quarterback and should be able to pin his ears back and rush the passer all game long. Look for Barrett to be a one-man wrecking crew again this week and add to his already stellar sack numbers.
Stephon Tuitt DT (PIT)
Coming off a big week where he had 2.5 sacks against Russell Wilson, Tuitt is going to see the field even more going forward with the pressure put on the defense now that Ben Roethlisberger is injured. The San Francisco 49ers have yet to give up a sack this season, but they do seem committed to trying to run through the tackles this season. Tuitt should have opportunity for 5 tackles this week and a sack out of the defensive tackle position.
Benson Mayowa DE (OAK)
It is not often that we will push a guy who saw his snap count go down from week to week, but Mayowa continues to produce no matter what the Raiders do. He had 2 sacks in week 1, then 1.5 sacks in week 2, and will try and chase down Kirk Cousins this week who has been holding on to the ball way too long this season. It could be a very productive day for the Raiders defensive line if Cousins continues to struggle this week.
Robert Quinn DE (DAL)
Coming off a 2-game suspension for PED use, Quinn should have fresh legs against a Miami offense that has given up the most sacks in the NFL (10) at this point in the season. They have also given up a staggering 23 quarterback hits and nothing seems to be going right for the Dolphins. Quinn may not see a full snap count this week, but Dallas has struggled up front and will need his help down the stretch, especially as they are shopping Taco Charlton for picks. Look for Quinn to play just enough this week to notch a sack or 2.
Terrell Edmunds S (PIT)
After totaling 75 tackles in his rookie year, Edmunds is already on pace to surpass those numbers this year for the Steelers. With 18 total tackles (13 solos) he has looked great stopping the run and should only be able to play to his strengths even more with the addition of Minkah Fitzpatrick. Edmunds lacks the big play ability from the safety spot but has a great matchup against the 49ers this week who have allowed 55 tackles to opposing safeties this year.
Darnell Savage S (GB)
It is not often that we highlight a defensive player for Green Bay, but Savage has immediately stepped in as an every-down strong safety. With 6 solos and a forced fumble against the Vikings last week, Savage is getting better every week. He takes on a Denver offense that lacks any sort of identity right now and should have plenty of opportunity for tackles. Savage is a name that will keep popping up for the rest of the season in Green Bay.
Tre Boston S (CAR)
There are several things working on Boston’s favor this week and should help produce a big game for him. The Panthers are squaring off against his old team in the Cardinals and their new air raid offense is producing tackles of opposing DBs at the highest rate in the league. The Cardinals have lined up with 4 receivers 91 times already this season and DBs are averaging 32.5 tackles per game through 2 weeks. Boston has played well since stepping in as the starter and is in line to have a sneaky good game this week.