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.
LB Kenneth Murray (LAC):
Murray has been quietly flying under the radar all over the place. He is putting up strong tackle numbers and most importantly he is on the field a lot. He is firmly entrenched as the starter for this Chargers team and takes on a Tampa Bay offense that can be all over the place. Tom Brady loves to check it down and throw short crossing routes and that just adds to the tackle potential for Murray this week. It will be a great week to add to his 23 total tackles on the season.
LB K.J. Wright (SEA):
Hardly considered a sleeper in years past, Wright’s best days seem to be behind him. However, an injury to Bruce Irvin has opened the door for an uptick in production for Wright. He is coming off a 7 solo, 3 assist performance last week while playing 100% of defensive snaps. The Seahawks are going to be scouring the waiver wire to fill spots after all the injuries, but Wright looks safe right now. Give him a chance to get some low-cost tackles this week against Miami.
LB Ty Summers (GB):
Sometimes it just takes an injury in front of you to give a guy a chance. Summers came in after Christian Kirksey left with a shoulder injury and racked up 6 solos and 3 assists on 44 defensive snaps. Kirksey is expected to miss at least a week and could be a great addition this week against the Falcons on Monday Night. Summers was making defensive calls and took over as a leader of the defense. Look for his role to expand and for him to put up good numbers going forward.
DE Jonathan Allen (WAS):
We have talked about a lot of players on the Washington Football Team’s defensive front early this season and for good reason. The offense is not very good, and the defense is on the field for a ton of plays. Allen has been forgotten about with Chase Young and Montez Sweat, but with Matthew Ioannidis heading to the season-ending IR Allen is going to see a jump in playing time. He is coming off a 9 total tackle and a sack performance last week and has seen his percentage of defensive snaps increase each week so far this year. Look for Allen to try and stop the power running game for Baltimore this week with plenty of opportunity for tackles.
DE Kerry Hyder Jr (SF):
With the devastating injury to Nick Bosa and Dee Ford banged up, Hyder is starting to carve a role for himself in this defense. The undrafted linemen will get to take on a Philadelphia offensive line that has struggled mightily this season and he has a great chance to add to his 2 sacks on the season. The 49ers are hurting all over the field and will need everyone to step up to try and meet the lofty goals they had coming into the season. Hyder is in a great position to make his presence felt this week against the Eagles.
DE Ifeadi Odenigbo (MIN):
There is not much to celebrate on this Viking defense right now. With Danielle Hunter still banged up and not expected back, Odenigbo has seen his role increase. The tackles have not been there, and he does not have a sack yet this season, but he did register 5 QB hits last week and was finding success against Tennessee’s line. Houston has always struggled to protect Deshaun Watson, and this could be the week that Odenigbo breaks through and gets his first sack.
S Taylor Rapp (LAR):
Rapp was someone we talked about a lot last season for the Rams and I was excited to see him continue that this season. Then the Rams started Jordan Fuller at safety and that all went out the window. Flash forward to this past weekend and Fuller is out with an injury and Rapp regains his starting role to the tune of 7 total tackles. If Fuller misses any time, Rapp will be a great starting option in just about any format.
CB Mike Hilton (PIT):
If you are in a league that requires a CB, Hilton is off to an amazing start this season to the tune of 19 solos, 2 assists, a fumble recovery, 1 interception, 3 passes defended, and 2 sacks. They are sending him on blitzes and playing him close to the line of scrimmage. He is involved in just about everything the defense is doing right now. They will need him in a big way against Tennessee this week and his production should continue.
S Kareem Jackson (DEN):
He has been battling a back injury this week, but he is expected to suit against the Jets on Thursday Night. His back hurts because he has played 100% of defensive snaps so far this season and is doing everything he can to keep them in games. The Jets are a great matchup that he should be able to add to his 16 total tackles and a fumble recovery. Denver’s offense is going to make the defense be on the field a lot the rest of the season, and at the rate Jackson is playing, he will get a lot of tackle opportunities.
- LB Kevin Pierre-Louis (WAS): 1 solo, 3 assists, 78% defensive snaps played
- LB Troy Dye (MIN): IR with a mild foot sprain
- LB Joe Thomas (DAL): 4 solos, 4 assists, 100% defensive snaps played
- DE K'Lavon Chaisson (JAX): 2 solos, 1 QB hit, 39% defensive snaps played
- DE Stephon Tuitt (PIT): 2 solos, 2 assists, 1 tackle for loss, 1 sack, 70% defensive snaps played
- DE Akiem Hicks (CHI): 3 solos, 1 assist, 5 QB hits, 1.5 sacks, 82% defensive snaps played
- CB Troy Hill (LAR): 5 solos, 3 assists, 98% defensive snaps played
- S Chris Banjo (ARI): 3 solos, 1 assist, 1 tackle for loss, 1 QB hit, 27% defensive snaps played
- S Josh Jones (JAX): 7 solos, 1 assist, 100% defensive snaps played