This article attempts to immediately highlight defensive players whose production was significantly better or worse than normally expected for the prior week of games. Note there is sometimes limited information available when this article is written, but I will try to give everyone an early look at players who are moving up or down in value among IDP circles. When warranted, I'll also call out some players under No Change that tries to explain why the stat lines may be misleading. It’s difficult to give waiver advice for IDPs since there is such a wide variety of lineups and scoring systems, but hopefully, the information provided can help inform your waiver, trade, and upcoming lineup decisions. If you have any questions about specific players or situations, feel free to email me or reach out via twitter.
NEW YORK GIANTS @ NEW ENGLAND
LB Alec Ogletree, NYG (9 solos, 3 asst, 1 sack, 2 TFL, 2 QH)
After sitting out most of the prior 3 games with a hamstring injury, Ogletree returned to the lineup this week and played 81 of 82 defensive snaps. While he was certainly helped by a game script that saw the Patriots offense generate 68 tackle opportunities, it was reassuring to see him lead the way for the Giants with 12 tackles and add his first sack of the year.
DE Michael Bennett, NE (0 tackles)
Bennett has 2.5 sacks on the year, but he has not made much of an impact for the Patriots in most of their games this year. After seeing just 15 sacks a week ago, he was on the field for a season-low 11 snaps (22%) this week. The Patriots seem perfectly content to rely on a rotational approach upfront which is going to keep Bennett from approaching fantasy relevance.
CAROLINA @ TAMPA BAY
DE Gerald McCoy, CAR (2 solos, 1 asst, 2.5 sacks, 2 TFL, 4 QH, 1 PD)
McCoy hadn’t made much of an impact prior to this week and his playing time has been limited to around two-thirds of the defensive snaps, but he showed that he can still contribute. With 2.5 sacks and 4 quarterback hits on just 45 snaps, he dominated against his former team.
LB Devin White, TB (8 solos, 1 asst, 1 TFL)
While the game got quickly out of hand for the Buccaneers, they did a good job keeping Christian McCaffrey contained. He ran the ball 22 times for just 31 yards, and the rookie White was a key part of slowing down the league MVP candidate. White had missed most of the last four games yet was on the field for 65 of 66 defensive snaps and led the way with 9 tackles. He’s a special talent who should be highly productive despite a rough start to his career.
CB James Bradberry, CAR (10 solos, 2 INT, 4 PD)
Thanks to a particularly poor effort from Jameis Winston that saw him throw 5 interceptions, Bradberry moved into the top-5 of fantasy cornerbacks for the year. He’s always been above-average in terms of his tackle production, but an improved pass rush this year may help spark his playmaking numbers as well. Bradberry set a career-high with 15 passes defensed last year but already has 10 (with 3 interceptions) in just 6 games played this year.
CINCINNATI @ BALTIMORE
LB Germaine Pratt, CIN (5 solos, 1 asst)
Given the struggles of the Bengals defense this year, the coaches decided to give the rookie 3rd round pick more playing time. He was on the field for 31 defensive snaps (38%) this week and added 5 tackles (plus another on special teams). Pratt has the speed to play a 3-down role and should eventually supplant Preston Brown (4 solos, 2 asst) in the nickel packages as the middle linebacker saw a season-low 69% of the snaps this week.
CB Maurice Canady, BAL (9 solos, 1 PD)
The Ravens came into the year with one of the best groups of cornerbacks in the league, so Canady wasn’t expected to contribute much. He opened the year on the practice squad but injuries to Jimmy Smith and Tavon Young created an opening that he has taken advantage of. After posting 7 tackles and forcing a fumble on 55 snaps (92%) last week, he posted 9 tackles on just 37 snaps (60%) this week.
CB Dre Kirkpatrick, CIN (1 solo, 1 asst)
Kirkpatrick has been credited with at least 5 solo tackles in every game prior to this week when he was forced to leave after just 17 snaps (21%). He was carted off the field with a leg injury and reportedly had a knee brace on after the game. The Bengals don’t have much depth at the position, but B.W. Webb and Tony McRae figure to see more playing time if Kirkpatrick misses time.
SEATTLE @ CLEVELAND
CB Travis Carrie, CLE (9 solos, 1 asst, 3 TFL)
Carrie has played all but two defensive snaps for the Browns over the past four weeks while filling in for the injured Denzel Ward. During that time period, he has been heavily targeted by opposing quarterbacks and has posted 6 or more solo tackles in 3 of the 4 games. In addition to his team-leading 10 tackles this week, 3 of them came behind the line of scrimmage showing how active he was against the run.
S Bradley McDougald, SEA (1 solo)
McDougald has taken over as the leader of the secondary in Seattle but his production has been underwhelming thus far. Despite playing all but 4 snaps this year, he has yet to register 5 solo tackles in a game and that was taken to an extreme this week as he finished with just 1 solo stop on 69 defensive snaps. Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright don’t let many plays get behind them, which keeps McDougald outside the ranks of fantasy starters at the deep safety position.
NEW ORLEANS @ JACKSONVILLE
LB Najee Goode, JAX (4 solos, 2 asst, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 1 QH, 1 PD)
The Jaguars benched rookie Quincy Williams and replaced him with Goode at weakside linebacker this week. While Williams had not played well, that was likely to be expected from a rookie who missed a lot of time during the preseason with an injury. Goode is an 8-year veteran but most of his contributions have come on special teams or as a backup, so his upside is clearly limited.
CB Tre Herndon, JAX (6 solos, 3 asst, 1 TFL)
Herndon has been filling in for Jalen Ramsey and continues to be picked on by opposing quarterbacks. At this point, it’s not clear what will happen with Ramsey as he continues to sit out with a back injury while waiting for his trade request to be honored. There’s a good chance Herndon will remain in the lineup and remain a quality fantasy option as teams will prefer to throw at him rather than A.J. Bouye.
S Vonn Bell, NO (1 solo, 2 asst)
The breakout season that appeared to be coming from Bell may have been a mirage. He posted several big plays in a 2-week span that shot him up to the top of the fantasy rankings, but his underlying numbers have regressed in the past two weeks. During that span, he has collected just 4 solos and 3 assists and looks more like a matchup-dependent #3 safety than a reliable every-week starter at the position.
CB Eli Apple, NO (2 solos, 1 PD)
With 62 solo tackles and 14 passes defensed last year, the former 1st round pick was expected to be productive playing opposite a shutdown corner like Marshon Lattimore. Through 6 games this year, however, he’s only been credited with 1 pass defensed and he hasn’t topped 3 tackles in a game since week 2.
HOUSTON @ KANSAS CITY
S Tyrann Mathieu, KC (10 solos, 1 PD)
Mathieu has been a productive fantasy option for much of his career and he appears to be heating up after a slow start with his new team. After posting just 5 solo tackles in the first 3 games this year, he’s added 19 solos with a sack and interception in his last 3. Injuries are starting to pile up for the Chiefs defense, which likely means we can expect more of the same from Mathieu in the weeks ahead.
S Tashaun Gipson Sr, HOU (3 solos, 2 asst, 1 INT, 1 PD)
Gipson has a reputation as a playmaker dating back to the start of his career when he posted 11 interceptions in 27 games with the Browns. While he hasn’t been able to replicate that type of success to this point, part of the reason has been the fact he was playing for the Jaguars the past three seasons. A move to Houston this year should lead to many more pass attempts faced and give him more opportunities to make plays on the ball. He now has a 2-game interception streak and has some favorable matchups coming up on the schedule (IND, OAK, JAX), so he could be worth a look if you are in need of help at the position.
CB Kendall Fuller, KC (1 solo)
Fuller was one of the most productive fantasy corners in the league through 4 weeks but he was a non-factor last week and then left the game early with a thumb injury this week. He finished with just 1 solo stop on 34 snaps (37%) and was replaced by Morris Claiborne (3 solos). Watch the injury reports to determine how much time, if any, Fuller will miss.
WASHINGTON @ MIAMI
DE Taco Charlton, MIA (1 solo, 3 asst)
While his stat line didn’t stand out this week, his playing time certainly did. Charlton was on the field for 55 of the 59 defensive snaps (93%) this week, while Charles Harris only saw 12 snaps (20%). Certainly looks like Charlton is getting a great opportunity and we can likely expect reliable numbers from him each week with that type of workload.
DE Jonathan Allen, WAS (3 solos, 2 sacks, 2 TFL, 2 QH, 1 PD)
Allen missed most of the first two games with a knee injury but has started to make an impact of late. He picked up a sack last week against the Patriots while playing a season-high 58 snaps (74%) and then added two more sacks this week against the Dolphins. Matchups obviously don’t get much easier, however, and it should be noted that he only saw 37 snaps (49%) this week.
LB Ryan Kerrigan, WAS (1 solo)
Kerrigan has regularly played more than 80% of the defensive snaps this year but continues to underwhelm. He has been credited with just 8 combined tackles (and 1.5 sacks) in 6 games, making him of the least productive players in the league on a per-snap basis. He obviously has a proven track record that suggests he’ll bounce back eventually, but the season is going off the rails in Washington and it’s likely safe to cut him loose.
LB Sam Eguavoen, MIA (1 solo, 1 asst, 1 QH)
The Dolphins started Raekwon McMillan and Vince Biegel at linebacker this week, pushing the former CFL standout to the bench. While Eguavoen had started the first four games of the year, McMillan had outplayed him of late and was rewarded by the coaches following the week 5 bye. While McMillan stood out with 9 tackles in the game, he still saw just 51% of the snaps compared to 32% for Eguavoen so the two may be stuck in a time-share going forward.
PHILADELPHIA @ MINNESOTA
LB Eric Kendricks, MIN (8 solos, 2 asst, .5 sack, 1 TFL, 1 QH, 2 PD, 1 FF)
The Eagles offense only generated 50 tackle opportunities in the game with 22 rush attempts but the Vikings still had two linebackers combine for 20 tackles with 16 solo stops. While Anthony Barr had a good game, that type of production is a clear outlier for him. Kendricks, however, has been remarkably consistent this year with at least 5 solo stops in all 6 games and 38 overall. He’s also been much more active in coverage with 7 passes defensed already when his career-high is 8.
LB Nigel Bradham, PHI (1 solo, 1 asst)
Bradham had been the only 3-down linebacker for the Eagles this year but he was forced to leave the game early this week with an ankle injury. He wound up playing just 29 snaps (41%) in the game and there weren’t many details available on Monday morning regarding the severity of the injury. Nathan Gerry (4 solos, 2 asst) replaced him in the nickel packages and played a season-high 87% of the snaps this week while Kamu Grugier-Hill also saw a spike to 49% of the snaps as well.
ATLANTA @ ARIZONA
S Kemal Ishmael, ATL (5 solos, 1 asst)
The Falcons placed Jonathan Cyprien on injured reserve, removing one possible solution for their weakness at strong safety. Ishmael saw a season-high 69 snaps (100%) this week as a result. The Falcons played their top-3 safeties at least 80% of the snaps this week, but Ishmael is the best tackler of the group and figures to have the most week-to-week fantasy value if he can maintain this heavy workload.
CB Patrick Peterson, ARI (DNP)
Peterson was reinstated from his 6-game suspension for PEDs. That should send Tramaine Brock back to the bench or to a nickel back role while rookie Byron Murphy continues to start opposite Peterson. Most of the impact here will likely be to other players as Peterson has traditionally been a better NFL player than fantasy option, but he should provide a big boost to the Cardinals pass defense overall.
SAN FRANCISCO @ LOS ANGELES RAMS
DT Aaron Donald, LAR (4 solos, 3 asst, 2 sacks, 3 TFL, 3 QH, 1 FF)
Most Rams defenders got a boost to their numbers this week as the 49ers offense generated 67 tackle opportunities, but Donald generated the only two sacks. Coming off a season that saw him collect 20.5 sacks, he had a very quiet start to the 2019 season with just 1 sack in his first 5 games. That likely raised some concerns about how much attention he was getting from opposing offenses as he is likely the most double-teamed player in the league, but he proved this week that he can still dominate a game like very few other defensive players.
DE Dee Ford, SF (2 solos, 2 asst, 1.5 sacks, 1 TFL, 1 QH, 1 FF)
Ford added 1.5 sacks this week but it came on just 22 snaps (42%) as he continues to be used primarily as a pass-rush specialist. While he still has value, particularly in big-play scoring systems, his lack of playing time will make it difficult to rely on him on a weekly basis.
S Jaquiski Tartt, SF (1 solo, 1 asst, 1 TFL)
Like many of the 49ers defenders, Tartt’s early-season production has been disappointing. As the starting strong safety, he has been credited with just 12 solos and 8 assists. Part of the problem is the 49ers as a group have seen the fewest tackle opportunities in the league as their offense has done a great job of controlling games with their rushing attack and keeping the defense off the field.
TENNESSEE @ DENVER
LB A.J. Johnson, DEN (6 solos, 3 asst, 1.5 sacks, 1 TFL, 2 QH)
Another week, another strong game from Johnson as he led the team with 9 tackles on 61 snaps (87%) while also adding 1.5 sacks as an effective blitzer. The Broncos pass rush had a great game overall with 7 sacks, but only .5 of them came from Von Miller while defensive ends Derek Wolfe and DeMarcus Walker contributed two each. Johnson certainly looks like a great find for the middle of Vic Fangio’s defense.
LB Jayon Brown, TEN (1 solo)
Brown has been one of the few constants for the Titans defense but he lasted just 3 snaps this week before leaving with a groin injury. That created an opportunity for Wesley Woodyard (5 solos, 1 asst, 1 sack) to see his most extensive playing time of the season as he was on the field for the remaining 59 snaps. If Brown misses any time, Woodyard should make an excellent fantasy replacement.
DALLAS @ NEW YORK JETS
DE Robert Quinn, DAL (2 solos, 2 sacks, 2 TFL, 2 QH)
Quinn continues to look like an excellent addition to the Cowboys defense as he was one of the few defenders to make an impact this week. He added a pair of sacks while playing 76% of the snaps, which brings him up to 5 sacks in 4 games played. Meanwhile, Demarcus Lawrence has been very quiet with just 3 tackles and no sacks over his last two games.
CB Brian Poole, NYJ (8 solos, 1 asst)
The top-4 tacklers for the Jets this week were all defensive backs and nickel back Poole led the way with 8 solo stops. The Cowboys offense generated 63 tackle opportunities in the game, but no Jets linebacker finished with more than 5 tackles. As the nickel back, Poole spends a lot of time in the middle of the field where can play like a 3rd safety and that has helped him collect 22 solo tackles over his last games.
PITTSBURGH @ LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
LB Drue Tranquill, LAC (3 solos, 2 asst, 1 TFL)
The rookie has seen a steady rise in playing time over the past few weeks from 10 snaps to 20 snaps to 31 snaps, which suggests he’s getting closer to a 3-down role. They still rely quite heavily on Thomas Davis, but Denzel Perryman is little more than a 2-down run stopper and Kyzir White (2 solos) looks to be his main competition for playing time as he was on the field for 28 snaps this week.
DE Stephon Tuitt, PIT (1 QH)
Tuitt has been a pleasant surprise this year with 3.5 sacks in his first 5 games, but he only lasted 5 snaps this week before suffering a pectoral injury. He was scheduled for an MRI to determine the severity and would be a tough player to replace in the Steelers defense if he’s out for any significant length of time.
CB Joe Haden, PIT (1 solo, 1 asst, 1 PD)
Haden has been one of the more productive fantasy options at cornerback this year, but he lasted just 41 snaps (66%) this week before suffering a groin injury. With Steven Nelson also out injured this week, that forced Artie Burns (3 solos, 3 asst) into a full-time role.