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.
Mack Wilson LB (CLE): 3 solos, 4 assists, 1 pass defended, 100% defensive snaps
Ryan Connelly LB (NYG): 3 solos, 2 assists, 1 INT, 1 sack, 67% defensive snaps
Anthony Walker LB (IND): 7 solos, 3 assists, 1 sack, 100% defensive snaps
Josh Allen DE (JAX): 2 solos, 69% defensive snaps
Vic Beasley Jr DE (ATL): 1 solo, 2 assists, 84% defensive snaps
Brian Burns DE (CAR): 1 solo, 1 assist, .5 sack, 55% defensive snaps
Tre Flowers CB (SEA): 4 solos, 1 assist, 100% defensive snaps
Kemal Ishmael S (ATL): 1 solo, 8 assists, 63% defensive snaps
Khari Willis S (IND): 8 solos, 1 assist, 1 pass defended, 100% defensive snaps
And here are this week's picks.
Nick Kwiatkoski LB (CHI):
The Bears are playing it close to the chest on what is happening with Roquan Smith and Kwiatkoski was pressed into duty in Week 4. He took advantage of his opportunity with 10 total tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble. There is no telling what is going to happen with Smith but having Kwiatkoski ready to go if he is ruled out again is a great idea.
Clay Matthews LB (LAR):
The tackle numbers may not be out of this world right now, but Matthews has regained his ability to get after the quarterback. Through 4 games he has accumulated 5 sacks and has a great matchup this week against Seattle. Matthews has benefitted from teams paying so much attention to Aaron Donald on the other side that he has been able to run free. Look for Matthews to be chasing down Russell Wilson all game this week.
David Mayo LB (NYG):
After highlighting Ryan Connelly last week, the rookie went down with an ACL injury and will miss the remainder of the season. The next man up would have been Tae Davis, but he is also dealing with concussion issues and that just leaves Mayo. He played a season-high 36 defensive snaps last week and had 8 total tackles for his effort. The Vikings are pounding the ball with Dalvin Cook right now and that should give Mayo plenty of opportunity for tackles this week.
Isaac Rochell DE (LAC):
An injury to Melvin Ingram III means someone is going to have to step up at defensive end for the Chargers. There is not a lot of depth for the Chargers and Rochell is the next man up. He played just 15 defensive snaps last week but was able to record a sack. He should see a massive jump in playing time this week and a lot of one on one looks with Joey Bosa seeing all of the double teams. Rochell is a safe bet until Ingram comes back from injury.
Chase Winovich DE (NEP):
It is hard to trust someone who had single-digit defensive snaps last week, but Winovich continues to perform despite his number of snaps. He has at least .5 sacks in each of his last three games and has a great matchup against a Washington offensive line that has not been able to protect anyone. It would be nice to see him get more snaps per game, but as long as he is producing, he is a great option in deeper leagues with matchups against Washington and both New York teams in the next three weeks.
Emmanuel Ogbah DE (KC):
Alex Okafor injured his hip last week and was unable to return to the game. If he misses any time that would give Ogbah the start. He has seen his defensive snap percentage increase each week and he has 2.5 sacks so far this season. Ogbah had 6 tackles and a sack the last time he started against the Colts in 2017 and could be a sneaky play this week if Okafor misses time.
Xavier Woods S (DAL):
If you were lucky enough to have someone drop Woods after his reported hamstring injury, then jump at your chance to grab him now. He was projected to miss several weeks but was only out a single game. This is the same defensive back that had 11 total tackles and a forced fumble in week 1. Look for Woods to get back on track now that he is healthy and build off his performance from week 1.
Montae Nicholson S (WAS):
There is not a lot going right in Washington right now, but Nicholson is standing out on defense. He has already reached half of his tackle performance from last year in just 4 games and has equaled his tackle production from his rookie season. He is a good player on a bad team and has seen a lot of defensive snaps. Nicholson has been on the field for 74, 60, 63, and 78 plays through 4 weeks and may see even more this week against the Patriots. The volume will be there for Nicholson this week and he has a chance for a season-high in tackles.
Erik Harris S (OAK):
The linebacking group for the Raiders has been decimated with Vontaze Burfict being suspended for the remainder of the season and that leaves just Tahir Whitehead. He is most likely already gone and cannot do everything by himself. That leaves the group of safeties and Harris is coming off a good game last week where he had 7 total tackles and an interception returned for a touchdown. The Raiders will take on a struggling Bears offense and Harris should see plenty of work out of his safety spot this week.