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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.
ILB Germaine Pratt (CIN):
It is easy to see his stat line from week 1 and think it was a fluke. He led the team with 12 tackles on just 76% of defensive snaps. The Bengals subbed Logan Wilson in on clear passing downs, and Pratt was still able to deliver. His snap to tackle ratio points to big things to come and he has a great matchup against the Browns on Thursday Night this week. With the Browns offense struggling to move the ball through the air, look for a lot of rushing attempts and for Pratt to be on the field more.
ILB Jon Bostic (WAS):
With an injury to Thomas Davis, Bostic was thrust into the lineup and played every down as the defensive leader. He had a very solid 8 total tackles and a sack against a porous Philadelphia offensive line. He is going to have a tougher time tracking down Kyler Murray but should have the volume again to produce tackles when stopping the run. Bostic is a cheap option this week that could approach double digit total tackles if the Cardinals get up early and run the ball.
LB Sione Takitaki (CLE):
There are issues all over the defense for the Browns early this season. An injury to Mack Wilson has opened the door for a rotation of linebackers to try and step up and fill the void. Takitaki led all linebackers with 93% of defensive snaps played and came away with 5 solos, 2 assists, and a QB hit. Look for the Bengals to try and get Joe Mixon going early this week to protect Joe Burrow and that should lead to plenty of tackle opportunities for Takitaki.
DE Aldon Smith (DAL):
Smith would not qualify as a sleeper 5 years ago, but the Cowboys had no idea what they were getting after he had been away from the game for so long. Smith came out to the tune of 11 total tackles and a big sack last week against the Rams. Dallas ran him out there at a higher rate than Everson Griffen and Demarcus Lawrence and could continue to do so as long as he is performing. Smith is even a great stash until the Cowboys play the Eagles and they're banged up offensive line later in the season.
DE Leonard Williams (NYG):
He had a great matchup to start the season against the Steelers and he came away with 3 solos, 1 assist, a sack, and 2 tackles for loss. Much like Smith for Dallas, it looked like Williams turned the clock back to 2016. Coming into week 2, Williams has another great matchup this week against the Chicago Bears and could be in for a repeat performance close to what he did in week 1.
DT Jeffery Simmons (TEN):
He may not have recorded a sack on Monday Night Football, but he was constantly in the back field and wreaking havoc all over the field against the Broncos. Simmons ended his night with 3 solos, 1 assist, and a fumble recovery. The Titans have a very good defensive front and with teams focusing on stopping Jadeveon Clowney, there should be a lot of room to operate for Simmons. Look for him to get his first sack very soon.
CB Cameron Dantzler (MIN):
With the day Davante Adams had against the Vikings in Week 1, it may seem hard to trust any corner on that team. However, Dantzler looked impressive as a rookie and Mike Zimmer has always been creative when he has athletic corners to work with. Dantzler played 82% of defensive snaps in week 1 and if those numbers continue, teams will start throwing his way and the opportunity for tackles will skyrocket. He is more of a season long pick up at this point but he is in a great position with the Vikings.
S Jeremy Chinn (CAR):
It is always nice to find a guy that seems to play all over the field. Chinn had a 50/50 split between safety and outside linebacker for the Panthers in week 1. He finished the game with 7 solos and an assist. He has gone widely overlooked to this point and had an opportunity to make a statement against a Tampa Bay offense that struggled at times last week. Chinn increases his tackle potential by playing a mixture of safety and outside linebacker and could approach double digit tackle numbers in the right matchup.
S Marcus Maye (NYJ):
If you have not already grabbed him it may be too late after the week 1 performance Maye had. He did his best to make the Jets not miss Jamal Adams with a 7 solo, 3 assist, 2 sack, 2 tackles for loss, 2 passes defended, and a forced fumble against the Bills. He was all over the field and looked to be playing defense by himself at times. He will not be a sleeper any longer after this week, and it may be your last chance to jump on board. Look for another solid performance against the 49ers in Week 2.