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Let's face it, dynasty is tough. Owners in leagues of all sizes and scoring systems are always looking for an edge over their competition. The goal of this article is to highlight a trio of linebackers, defensive linemen, and defensive backs that can either help you right away or represent good grab-and-stash adds. These players were found in at least one of my many leagues (some 12-team, some 14-team, some 16-team), representing a variety of scoring (standard, big play, etc.). I try to not be too reactive to big scoring occurring in the prior week, but sometimes those outbursts can't be ignored. Hopefully, these players represent good value for your dynasty teams moving forward!
Jermaine Carter (CAR): Tahir Whitehead has steadily been losing snaps to Carter over the past month or so. Whitehead is 30 and on a one-year deal. Carter is significantly younger (25) and could certainly man the middle for the Panthers next year and for years to come. We know how productive Carolina linebackers can be. Shaq Thompson appears to be reaping the most benefits of Luke Kuechly's retirement, but there's certainly room for two 'backers to excel here. Following the Panthers' Week 13 bye, Carter could finish the season strong. Or if you're not in contention, Carter makes for a nice stash.
T.J. Edwards (PHI): Alex Singleton looks like he's there to stay, but he could certainly use a run-stuffing running mate like Edwards. Just 24 and out of Wisconsin, this two-down thumper has proved he can rack up tackles even if the opposing offense isn't relying on the run. Nate Gerry will be a free agent in 2021, so the Eagles could very well opt to run with the tandem of Singleton and Edwards moving forward. If so, Edwards could be a cheap source of 6-8 total tackles every week with the potential for more if he can add some more sacks and forced fumbles.
David Long, Jr. (TEN): And we'll round this out with a 2020-only suggestion; as Long will split time with "JAG" Will Compton for the remainder of the season with Jayon Brown shelved with an elbow injury. Long is by far the more dynamic linebacker of the pair, logging a couple of solos and a pass breakup last week while getting nearly half the snaps. The Titans' schedule is favorable in terms of potential linebacker production, so Long could be worth a flier, as he profiles closer to Brown much more than Compton.
Kerry Hyder (DE - SFO): Not much in the way of young linemen that have been standing out the past few weeks, so let's start this out with a suggestion that can help you out if you're gearing up for your league's playoffs. Hyder has been a sack machine in terms of snap count percentage and with the Niners suffering so many injuries on their defense, Hyder has been a regular contributor. Love the Week 14 and 15 matchups against Washington and Dallas. He's a solid DL2 in larger dynasty formats during that span. Looking past this year, though, his potential is limited by age and talent coming back.
Carl Lawson (DE - CIN): Hard to believe Lawson is only 25, as it seems like he's been in the league for a long time. With Carlos Dunlap gone and Sam Hubbard on the other side, Lawson should be a fixture for the Bengal defense this season and for seasons upcoming. And let's face it, the Bengals' offense is going to be very limited without Joe Burrow and a steady run game, so Lawson and his defensive running mates could see an uptick in snaps, and therefore more potential for stats that will help you out. Lawson had a productive Week 11 before falling back under the radar last week. Look for him to rebound with solid upcoming matchups. And in a thin position like DL, a guy like Lawson should be rostered or at least on your watchlist.
Tyquan Lewis (DT - IND): I just love guys like Lewis that can not only rack up some tackles every now and then, but sack the quarterback and knock down passes too, especially from the interior. Lewis is surrounded by talent and will rarely face double-teams. In leagues that split apart DT from DL, he's worth watching. Just 25 and with a solid pedigree from Ohio State, Lewis' best football could certainly be ahead of him.
Xavien Howard (CB - MIA): Howard leads the NFL with seven interceptions and could be in line for his eighth this week against the Bengals. If nothing else, he'll be in line for some tackles and even more pass breakups. And he should also be busy the following week against the high-flying Chiefs. His prospects look great to round the season out, and will be a solid CB2 in larger leagues that split apart CB from the DB spot.
Jayron Kearse (S - DET): Duron Harmon, while getting 100% of the snaps most weeks, is really "just a guy" and Tracy Walker's snaps have been dwindling in favor of Kearse. With Matt Patricia and Bob Quinn gone from the coaching and GM ranks, respectively, guys like Kearse will be auditioning for full-time gigs in 2021. This is a guy that could easily come out of nowhere and be a big-time producer for you in 2021 and beyond.
Jarrod Wilson (S - JAC): It's been a merry-go-round at safety for the Jags this season, and it looks like Wilson's finally back and healthy, and logging the most consistent snaps in their backfield. Wilson had a fairly solid 2019 season and was set to produce at a DB2 level in 2020, but has been outplayed by the likes of Andrew Wingard and Josh Jones. The talent here is with Wilson and he should show it for the final month of the season. He could very well be a solid contributor in 2021, so tack him onto your roster now.