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.
PITTSBURGH @ CLEVELAND
DE Chad Thomas, CLE (3 solos, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 1 QH, 1 PD)
Thomas didn’t receive much playing time earlier this year but has seen an uptick the past two weeks with the injury to Olivier Vernon. Over the past two games, he has played just under 80% of the defensive snaps and has collected 5 solos with 2 sacks.
DT Javon Hargrave, PIT (7 solos, 2 asst, 2 TFL)
Not often you see a nose tackle lead his team in tackles for a game but it happened this week with Hargrave and the Steelers. His 9 combined tackles were 4 more than inside linebackers Devin Bush and Vince Williams had in the game. That gives Hargrave 16 tackles (9 solos) with a sack over his last two games combined, which are also the two games that saw him handle his heaviest workload of the year with 56 snaps in each.
LB Joe Schobert, CLE (7 solos, 3 asst, 1 sack, 2 TFL, 2 QH, 2 INT, 4 PD)
Schobert had a game for the ages this week as he piled up 10 tackles with a sack and two interceptions. Although his production had tailed off slightly in the weeks leading up to this game, he showed that he’s still an elite fantasy linebacker and could easily finish as the highest-scoring IDP in the league.
DE Myles Garrett, CLE (1 solo, 3 QH)
Since posting 10 sacks in his first 7 games, Garrett has gone sackless in his last three games and has now been suspended indefinitely for an incident late in the game where he attacked Mason Rudolph with his own helmet. It seems likely his season is over but he will try to appeal the decision this week. Defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi (1 solo, 1 sack, 2 QH) was also suspended for a game for his actions in the same incident.
HOUSTON @ BALTIMORE
LB Brennan Scarlett, HOU (6 solos, 2 asst, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 1 QH)
Scarlett posted 2 sacks in week 9 before the bye and then followed that up with another strong effort this week. All Texans defenders were helped by the Ravens offense generating 57 tackle opportunities in the game with 36 rush attempts, but Scarlett came up with the team’s lone sack of Lamar Jackson. That gives him 3.5 sacks in his last 4 games to go along with 16 solos and 6 assists.
LB Matt Judon, BAL (7 solos, 2 sacks, 3 TFL, 4 QH, 1 FF)
Judon led the way as the Ravens harassed Deshaun Watson all day and piled up 7 sacks. He has been up and down for much of this season but appears to be heating up of late and his playing time has remained high all year long.
LB Patrick Onwuasor, BAL (2 solos, 1 asst, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 1 QH)
Onwuasor’s numbers this week were up, but they mask a noticeable drop in his playing time. He began the year as a core part of the Ravens defense but has been little more than a part-time player since returning from injury several weeks ago. He was only on the field for 9 defensive snaps (15%) this week while L.J. Fort (48%) and Josh Bynes (39%) saw more extensive playing time, although none are likely playing enough to be reliable fantasy options.
ATLANTA @ CAROLINA
CB Desmond Trufant, ATL (6 solos, 1 asst, 1 TFL, 1 INT, 1 PD)
Trufant returned to the lineup this week after sitting out the prior 4 games with a turf toe injury. He hadn’t been very productive earlier this year but put up a strong game this week in an easy win over the Panthers. With Trufant back, Blidi Wreh-Wilson returned to the bench.
DE Adrian Clayborn, ATL (2 solos, 1 asst, 2 sacks, 2 TFL, 3 QH)
Clayborn picked up two sacks this week to give him three in his last two games, which may make him an appealing waiver wire target for some. He has played just over 50% of the snaps over the past two games, which is up slightly from his normal workload, but he’s also 31 years old and left the game early this week with a groin injury. Takkarist McKinley saw a drop in playing time this week to just 35% of the snaps after playing 80% the past two games but returned to the game in the second half from a shoulder injury.
DALLAS @ DETROIT
DE Michael Bennett, DAL (2 solos, 1 asst, 2 sacks, 1 TFL, 1 QH)
Bennett has played more than 60% of the defensive snaps in all 3 games since joining the Cowboys but was regularly seeing less than 30% of the snaps during his time with the Patriots. He’s clearly making an impact on the field as well with 7 solo tackles and 3 sacks during the last three games, giving the Cowboys another impact pass rusher to add to their front line.
S Tracy Walker, DET (5 solos, 1 asst)
Walker returned to practice on a limited basis on Friday after sitting out the past two games with a knee injury. While he wasn’t ready to take on a full workload, he was highly productive during the snaps he did play as he was credited with 6 tackles on just 23 snaps (31%) so it should be safe to count on him next week against Washington.
DE Trey Flowers, DET (3 QH)
Flowers wasn’t credited with a tackle or sack this week, which will likely frustrate fantasy players who had been riding his current hot streak (four sacks over his previous three games). Note that he still played a normal workload of 55 snaps (74%) and was credited with three quarterback hits in the game, suggesting he was somewhat unlucky and should bounce back next week.
JACKSONVILLE @ INDIANAPOLIS
CB Kenny Moore II, IND (8 solos, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 1 QH, 1 PD)
Moore left the game briefly with a shin injury on Sunday but still managed to lead the Colts in tackles with eight solo stops, including a sack. He has been one of the most productive cornerbacks in the league over the past month with 24 solos with a sack, interception, and fumble recovery over the past four games. The matchups coming up also look pretty favorable with games against the Texans, Buccaneers, and Saints. The Jaguars offense only generated 9 rush attempts and 33 completions in the game this week so most of the tackle stats came from the secondary.
DE Calais Campbell, JAX (1 solo, 1 QH)
Campbell was listed on the injury report with a back problem this week, although he still played through it and saw a normal workload of 54 snaps (79%). Perhaps more concerning is the fact he was limited to just 1 solo tackle in a game where the Colts offense generated 36 rush attempts and 54 tackle opportunities. Campbell has been an elite fantasy defensive end since joining the Jaguars but his numbers are showing a dropoff this year and he’s on pace to finish with fewer than 40 solo tackles for only the second time this decade.
BUFFALO @ MIAMI
S Reshad Jones, MIA (1 solo, 5 asst)
While Jones didn’t stand out on the field, it was encouraging to see him back on the field after missing the last four games with a cracked rib. He only played 48 snaps (67%) but did collect 6 tackles and should hopefully be back to a full workload next week in Cleveland.
CB Nik Needham, MIA (6 solos, 1 FF, 2 PD)
The Dolphins got a very productive game from corner Jomal Wiltz (seven solos, three assists) for the second time in three weeks, but Needham is the one who really stands out here. He’s been a full-time starter for the past three games and has collected 17 solos, 5 passes defensed plus a sack, interception, and a forced fumble in that same span.
DE Trent Murphy, BUF (0 tackles)
In a game where the Bills defense collected seven sacks spread across 8 different defenders, it was disappointing to see Murphy get completely shut out on the stat sheet. After playing 77% of the defensive snaps a week ago, he saw his workload reduced to just 49% this week while Shaq Lawson saw an increase from 46% to 62%.
LB Lorenzo Alexander, BUF (1 solo, 1 TFL, 2 QH)
Alexander has been surprisingly productive for most of his time with the Bills, but he’s 36 years old and the incredible run has to end at some point. It appears he may be starting to slow down as his production has dried up of late with just four solos and four assists over his last four games combined. He also saw a reduction in playing time this week as he was only on the field for 24 snaps (35%) as the Bills spent most of the game in their nickel packages.
DENVER @ MINNESOTA
DE Shelby Harris, DEN (5 solos, 3 sacks, 2 TFL, 3 QH, 1 FF)
Harris has defensive tackle eligibility in many leagues, which makes him worthy of some consideration. While he isn’t likely to repeat his three-sack game anytime soon, he has been a steady source of tackles this year and his play this week likely earned him a bigger role. Meanwhile, Derek Wolfe was shut out on the stat sheet despite playing 12 more defensive snaps than Harris.
DE Danielle Hunter, MIN (2 asst, 2 QH)
Hunter has been an elite defensive end all year but he has hit a cold spell of late. He posted eight sacks in his first eight games but has just four solos, threes assists, and a half-sack over his last three. This week, he was on the field for a season-high 77 snaps but had another quiet outing despite the Broncos offense generating 40 pass attempts.
NEW ORLEANS @ TAMPA BAY
S Marcus Williams, NO (3 solos, 1 INT, 2 PD, 1 TD)
Williams had an impressive rookie with 57 solo tackles and 4 interceptions back in 2017 before taking a step back in 2018. His tackle numbers aren’t great since he plays free safety but he has once against emerged as a big-play machine on the back end of the Saints defense. He picked off his fourth interception of the year this week and returned it 55 yards for a touchdown to seal the game. Williams is currently tied for second in the league with 12 passes defensed on the year and has a matchup looming with Kyle Allen who has thrown nine interceptions over his last four games.
LB Shaquil Barrett, TB (1 QH)
Barrett had an incredible start to the year with nine sacks in the first four games but has mostly been a non-factor since then. He does have 2.5 sacks in his last six games but has been credited with just nine solos in that same span with one or fewer solos in four games despite often playing more than 90% of the defensive snaps.
NY JETS @ WASHINGTON
LB James Burgess Jr, NYJ (5 solos, 4 asst, .5 sack, 2 TFL, 1 QH)
Since joining the starting lineup at inside linebacker, Burgess has only sat out four snaps in the last four games combined. He has also been a consistent source of tackles over the past three games with 22 combined and now has a half-sack in back-to-back games.
DT DaRon Payne, WAS (4 solos, 1 asst, 1 PD)
Payne had one of his more productive games of the year with five tackles on just 32 snaps. Unfortunately, he played just 45% of the snaps this week and left early with an ankle injury that leaves his status for next week in doubt.
ARIZONA @ SAN FRANCISCO
LB Dre Greenlaw, SF (8 solos, 2 asst, 1 TFL)
Greenlaw has moved into a full-time role following the injury to Kwon Alexander and has taken advantage of the opportunity. Over his last two games, he has been credited with 11 solos, 7 assists, and an interception while playing all but five snaps. Additionally, the 49ers defense has been on the field a lot more over the past two weeks than they were seeing for most of the year.
S Jalen Thompson, ARI (5 solos, 1 INT, 1 PD)
Thompson was taken in the supplemental draft this summer after losing his final year of eligibility and was known as an excellent tackler with big-play ability. He picked off his first pass this week and has started to emerge as the safety counterpart alongside Budda Baker following the release of D.J. Swearinger Sr, surpassing fellow rookie Deionte Thompson.
DE Nick Bosa, SF (1 solo, 2 asst, 1 TFL, 1 QH)
Not surprising that a rookie would be somewhat inconsistent, but Bosa has gone sackless in his last three games after posting six sacks in the previous four games. He also has some tough matchups coming up against the Packers, Ravens, and Saints that could slow down his climb to rank among the elite defensive ends.
CINCINNATI @ OAKLAND
DE Maxx Crosby, OAK (4 solos, 1 asst, 4 sacks, 3 TFL, 4 QH, 1 FF)
Crosby didn’t get as much hype as his fellow rookie pass rusher Clelin Ferrell in Oakland, but he has been getting more playing time and finally had a huge breakout with 4 sacks this week. The Raiders had the weakest pass rush in the league last year following the trade of Khalil Mack but now appear to have a couple of young building blocks in place.
LB Germaine Pratt, CIN (2 solos, 4 asst)
With the release of Preston Brown (who signed with the Raiders), the rookie Pratt has a clear opportunity to emerge as a three-down linebacker now. He started alongside Nick Vigil this week and wound up playing 48 snaps (69%). His production was somewhat underwhelming considering the Raiders offense generated 34 rush attempts and 62 tackle opportunities in the game but he’s a young player with added value in dynasty or keeper leagues.
DT Johnathan Hankins, OAK (1 asst)
Hankins continues to play about two-thirds of the defensive snaps each week but he has not made much of an impact lately. Over his last three games, he has been credited with just two solo tackles and four assists.
NEW ENGLAND @ PHILADELPHIA
DT Danny Shelton, NE (6 solos, 1 asst, 1 sack, 1 QH, 1 FF)
Shelton didn’t make much of an impact in New England last year but the former 12th overall pick has been a key to their defensive performance this year. He’s stout against the run and has even been getting to the quarterback as he has three sacks this year despite coming into the season with 1.5 career sacks in his previous four seasons combined.
S Terrence Brooks, NE (7 solos, 2 QH, 2 PD)
Brooks wound up leading the Patriots in tackles while adding two passes defensed despite only playing 36 snaps (48%) in the game. That type of tackle-per-snap ratio was impressive but unlikely to be replicated considering he’s a part-time player and could see less time if Patrick Chung can return soon.
LB Jamie Collins Sr, NE (1 PD)
Collins has been a huge part of the Patriots dominant defense this year, but his production and fantasy value appear to be regressing. Over his past four games, he had one huge game with 12 solos and 1.5 sacks against the Browns but has been nearly invisible in the other three with just three solos and two assists combined despite playing close to a full-time role in each of them.
CHICAGO @ LA RAMS
LB Roquan Smith, CHI (6 solos, 5 asst, 1 TFL, 1 INT, 1 PD)
Smith didn’t elevate his game this season to the level that was expected but he has shown steady improvement. Now that Danny Trevathan is out with an injury, there is a clear opportunity for him to emerge as the focal point of this defense. He did that on Sunday as was credited with 11 tackles while fellow inside linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski had just four (on a much lighter workload). Smith also picked off a pass to give him his first big play of the season, which is something he was known for coming out of college.
CB Troy Hill, LAR (6 solos, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 1 QH, 1 INT, 3 PD)
Troy Hill took over as a starting cornerback once Aqib Talib was injured but he saw a clear uptick in his production once the team shipped out Marcus Peters and brought in Jalen Ramsey. Having a true shutdown corner playing across from him should ensure that Hill continues to be targeted quite often. He had seven solo tackles and a pass defensed last week and followed that up with a huge effort this week that also included an interception.
LB Khalil Mack, CHI (0 tackles)
Mack was completely shut out on the stat sheet this week despite playing 85% of the snaps. In fairness, the Rams offense only threw the ball 18 times so he didn’t have as many opportunities to rush the passer as he normally does but with one sack over his last six games, he has been a pretty big disappointment.