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): 0% defensive snaps, Roquan Smith returned to the lineup
- Clay Matthews LB (LAR): 4 solos, 1 assist, 1 sack, 64% defensive snaps (suffered broken jaw out 6-8 weeks)
- David Mayo LB (NYG): 5 solos, 4 assists, 97% defensive snaps
- Isaac Rochell DE (LAC): 1 assist, 33% defensive snaps
- Chase Winovich DE (NEP): 1 solo, 1 assist, 1 sack, 29% defensive snaps
- Emmanuel Ogbah DE (KC): 2 solos, 4 assists, 80% defensive snaps
- Xavier Woods S (DAL): 5 solos, 2 assists, 96% defensive snaps
- Montae Nicholson S (WAS): 5 solos, 2 assists, 1 interception, 1 pass defended, 100% defensive snaps
- Erik Harris S (OAK): 6 solos, 1 pass defended, 100% defensive snaps
Now, on to this week's sleeper candidates!
Uchenna Nwosu LB (LAC):
Last week, we predicted that Isaac Rochell would see the extra work with Melvin Ingram III out, but it was Nwosu that saw the biggest jump in playing time. He had a season-high 93% of defensive snaps played and rewarded the Chargers with five solos, two assists, a sack, and a forced fumble. Look for the Chargers to attack the Steelers 3rd string quarterback and blitz often.
Vince Williams LB (PIT):
All of the attention in Pittsburgh has gone to rookie Devin Bush, but it was Williams who filled in when Mark Barron left with a hamstring injury. Barron was sent for an MRI after reporting the hamstring was still sore. Williams stepped up with four solos, five assists, and a sack last week and has a great matchup against a run heavy Chargers offense. If Barron misses time, Williams should be in for another big week.
A.J. Johnson LB (DEN):
An injury to Josey Jewell gave Johnson the chance to start last week and he exploded with six solos, three assists, and an interception in the end zone. The big factor here is the health of Jewell and whether or not Johnson even plays. Watch the injury report heading into the weekend and if Jewell doesn’t go, Johnson is a great play against the Titans.
Brandon Graham DE (PHI):
The Philadelphia defense broke out last week and it was Graham that led the charge. He managed 4 solos, 2 assists, and 3 sacks against the lowly Jets offense and has a great matchup again this week. Minnesota has allowed 8.5 sacks to defensive linemen this year and Kirk Cousins has held on to the ball way too long all year. Look for Philadelphia to play to its strong offensive line this week and get after the quarterback against the Vikings.
Robert Quinn DE (DAL):
We hit on Quinn earlier this year, and he rewarded everyone with a sack. This week he has an even better matchup against a Jets offensive line that has allowed a league high 23 sacks and gave up 8 sacks to defensive ends last week alone. Quinn has the chance for a big week as Dallas tries to get back on track against the Jets.
Mario Addison DE (CAR):
Usually, we try and chase tackles rather than sacks since that stat is more reliable week to week, but Addison has registered at least half a sack in the past four weeks and already has 6.5 this season. Addison also takes on a Tampa Bay offense that likes to air it out and a quarterback that has been known to turn the ball over. Look for Addison to continue his streak this week and be a solid play in leagues that score high in regard to sacks.
Byron Murphy CB (ARI):
Patrick Peterson has to sit out one more game and this could be the last we see of Murphy for a while. He has been targeted by opposing offense often (24 times) and has 28 total tackles this season. Murphy registered 9 total tackles and a pass defended last week and will face a Falcons offense that loves to target the outside. Look for Murphy to make the most of the last week he has a starting job.
Will Redmond S (GB):
The Green Bay defense has played well so far this season, but Redmond is now the last man standing at safety with Darnell Savage suffering a high ankle sprain and Raven Greene already on the IR. Redmond stepped in last week and had six solo tackles on 76% of defensive snaps. He should draw the start on Monday against the Lions and could be a sneaky play this week with four teams on a Bye.
Isaiah Oliver CB (ATL):
It is safe to say that the volume of the Arizona offense makes just about any opposing corner a good play. The Cardinals are allowing the second-most points to the corner position this year and Oliver has six or more tackles in three of his five games this season. Arizona is going to continue to air it out, and Oliver has a good chance of registering his season high for tackles this week.