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.
- Nathan Gerry LB (PHI): 7 solos, 4 assists, 100% defensive snaps
- Najee Goode LB (JAX): Suffered foot injury, 3% defensive snaps
- Rashaan Evans LB (TEN): 8 solos, 2 assists, 97% defensive snaps
- Taco Charlton DE (MIA): 3 solos, 1 assist, 1 sack, 98% defensive snaps
- Jarran Reed DT (SEA): 2 assists, 85% defensive snaps
- Tyson Alualu DE (PIT): Bye week (highlighted early for week 8)
- Maurice Canady CB (BAL): DNP hamstring injury
- Tashaun Gipson Sr S (HOU): 1 solo, left the game with a back injury, 12% defensive snaps
- Taylor Rapp S (LAR): 5 solos, 1 assist, 98% defensive snaps
Now, on to Week 8!
Benardrick McKinney LB (HOU):
McKinney has played very well so far this season. He ranks inside the top 20 at the linebacker position and has 53 tackles, .5 sacks, a forced fumble, and 2 fumble recoveries this season. McKinney takes on an Oakland offense that has been very generous to opposing linebackers and has allowed 61 tackles and a few big plays. For comparison, Blake Martinez had 16 total tackles against Oakland last week. Look for a double-digit tackle week for McKinney.
Lorenzo Alexander LB (BUF):
Watch the injury report out of Buffalo and if Matt Milano is ruled out again, Alexander is the play. He is coming off his most productive week of the season with a 10 total tackle performance and has shown the ability to get after the quarterback in the past. Alexander is a viable option if Milano remains out. He played 96% of defensive snaps last week and could be in line for similar work against the Eagles.
Todd Davis LB (DEN):
This may be the last call for Davis who seems to finally be back and healthy from injury. He was drafted in most leagues and is not widely available. The defense has not been great for Denver so far this season and the offense has not done them any favors. Davis is rounding back into full-time form and should see plenty of opportunities this week against the Colts. Indianapolis has been stingy about letting up sacks, but their power run game should allow for a lot of tackles up the middle. Look for Davis to get back to his elite status this week.
Jabaal Sheard DE (IND):
The time is now for Sheard and the Indianapolis defense against a very poor Denver offensive line. They allowed 9 sacks last week in their loss to Kansas City and have not been able to hold on to the football. Most of the attention on the Colts defensive line goes to Justin Houston and that should leave plenty of 1-on-1 opportunities for Sheard on the other side. He is in line for a sack and a tackle for loss this week and even more if Denver plays the way they did last week.
Dante Fowler Jr DE (LAR):
It is hard to ignore what he did last week against Atlanta with his 7 total tackles, 3 sacks, and a forced fumble. Fowler has not been great at taking advantage of teams paying so much attention to Aaron Donald until last week. He has a great matchup against a Cincinnati team that has allowed 24.5 sacks this season and has absolutely no rushing attack. Look for Fowler to get back on the sack train again this week.
Jeffery Simmons DT (TEN):
It has been a long road back from a torn ACL in February, but Simmons looked every bit the part of the first-round pick he was last season. Simmons notched 4 solos, 2 tackles for loss, and a sack in his debut and will face a Tampa Bay offense that has not quite put it all together yet this season. Jameis Winston has been known to hold on to the ball too long and their rushing attack has gone nowhere this season. Simmons may not score high in the tackle department this week but look for him to register at least a sack.
Marquise Blair S (SEA):
Blair has done a lot to improve his stock in the last week and is benefitting from an injured teammate in front of him. Blair filled in for Bradley McDougald to the tune of 8 total tackles and a pass defended last week on 100% of defensive snaps. Watch the injury report out of Seattle and if McDougald cannot go again this week then Blair is a must-start against an Atlanta team that has been one of the most generous to opposing defensive backs. Blair has played his way to a bigger role in the defense but is only a starter if McDougald is out this week.
Terrell Edmunds S (PIT):
We talked about Edmunds previously after big weeks early in the season, but he has fallen flat since. Edmunds registered 28 total tackles in the first 3 weeks of the season and then just 14 in the next 3. The Steelers are coming off their Bye week and are taking on a Miami offense that has been one of the worst in the league all season. Edmunds has played almost 100% of all defensive snaps this entire season and is in line for a big week against the Dolphins.
Ken Crawley CB (NO):
The Saints are going to have to put someone out there against Arizona and Crawley looks to be the next man up after injuries to Eli Apple and Patrick Robinson. The Cardinals love to throw the ball and will most likely target the weak link opposite of Marshon Lattimore. If Crawley gets the tap to start this week, he should see plenty of opportunities to make plays and have a good game in the tackle department.