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.
INDIANPOLIS @ TENNESSEE
DT DaQuan Jones, TEN (4 solos, 1 asst, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 1 QH)
Despite previously going on the Covid-IR list, Jones has not missed any games this year and has regularly played more than 70% of the defensive snaps. He’s capable of getting to the quarterback more than most nose tackles in the league and has seen a recent uptick in production with 8 solos, 4 assists, and 1.5 sacks over the last two games.
DT Denico Autry, IND (2 solos, 2 asst, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 1 QH)
Autry appears to be on a hot streak of late. With another sack this week, he now has four over his last three games and six in nine games played for 2020. With DeForest Buckner drawing plenty of attention, Autry should continue to draw plenty of favorable matchups.
CB Kenny Moore II, IND (1 solo)
Moore has played very well as the nickel back for the Colts this year but he played a season-low 54% of the snaps this week. His only tackle came on special teams and he left the game early with a rib injury that could keep him out of next week’s matchup against the Packers.
TAMPA BAY @ CAROLINA
DE Jason Pierre-Paul, TB (2 solos, 1 asst, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 2 QH, 1 INT, 1 PD)
At 31 years old, Pierre-Paul continues to play at a high level and has been one of the truly elite fantasy ends this season while often playing 90+% of the snaps. After posting zero points in Week 7, he’s bounced back with 12 solos, 5 assists, and 2 sacks over his last three games plus an interception this week.
DE Yetur Gross-Matos, CAR (2 solos, 3 asst, 1 TFL)
The Panthers rookie recently missed three games while recovering from a high-ankle sprain, but he made his first career start this week in place of the injured Stephen Weatherly. Tampa put up over 200 yards on the ground, but Gross-Matos had one tackle for a loss and five stops overall while playing a season-high 46 snaps (61%).
CB Donte Jackson, CAR (1 solo, 1 asst)
Jackson apparently aggravated a toe injury during the game this week and was limited to just 19 snaps (25%). While he has played in all 10 games thus far, he’s seen less than half of the defensive snaps in half of them due to the recurring injury. They may consider resting him to give him a chance to fully heal.
HOUSTON @ CLEVELAND
DT Sheldon Richardson, CLE (2 solos, 4 asst, 1 sack, 2 QH)
Richardson posted eight sacks back in 2014 and hasn’t come close to matching those numbers since then. With another sack this week, however, he’s posted 3.5 sacks in nine games and also has 17 combined tackles over his last three games to rank among the best players at his position.
WASHINGTON @ DETROIT
LB Jamie Collins Sr, DET (9 solos, 4 asst, 2 FF, 1 FR)
Collins hasn’t been able to make as many big plays in Detroit as we’ve seen from him in prior years. He did post a sack and interception in Week 2 and Week 3 but had gone quiet until this week when he led the way with 13 tackles while also forcing a pair of fumbles and recovering one. The Washington offense generated 66 tackle opportunities with Alex Smith targeting J.D. McKissic 15 times.
S Jayon Kearse, DET (8 solos, 1 asst)
Tracy Walker hasn’t played up to his normal levels this year and only saw 36 snaps (41%) this week after missing last week with a foot injury, even though he was a full participant in practice on Thursday and Friday. That gave Kearse the chance to handle close to a full-time role for the second week in a row. He made the most of those chances and collected 11 solos and 6 assists over the past two games.
CB Kendall Fuller, WAS (6 solos, 2 asst)
Fuller sat out the first two games of the year but has played all but 3 snaps the rest of the year. He offset low tackle numbers early on with big plays as he picked off 4 passes over a 3-game stretch. That trend has reversed in recent weeks, however, as he’s now collected 11 solos and 3 assists over his last two games. This week, he tied for the team lead in tackles with 8 stops despite facing just 46 tackle opportunities from the Lions offense.
CB Jeff Okudah, DET (3 solos, 1 TFL)
The Lions were back to nearly full strength at the cornerback position this week, which pushed their talented rookie back to the bench for most of the game. Nickel back Justin Coleman collected 10 tackles on 80 snaps (91%) while Desmond Trufant played the entire game. That left Okudah (39%) and Oruwariye (61%) to split time at the other cornerback spot.
JACKSONVILLE @ GREEN BAY
LB Christian Kirksey, GB (4 solos, 3 asst)
Kirksey returned to the starting lineup this week after missing the previous five games with a pectoral injury. Despite some impressive play from the backups at times, he played all 64 snaps and appears entrenched as a core player when healthy.
CB Sidney Jones, JAX (6 solos, 3 asst, 1 FF, 1 INT, 2 PD)
The Packers came into this game with just 3 turnovers all year but Jones forced a pair of them himself this week. In addition to tying for the team lead in tackles with 9, he added an interception and forced fumble. If we ignore Week 7 when he saw limited playing time, he has collected 17 solos, 4 assists, 2 interceptions, and 8 passes defensed in his last four games.
PHILADELPHIA @ NEW YORK GIANTS
LB Alex Singleton, PHI (9 solos, 7 asst, 1 TFL)
After playing just 73% of the snaps over the previous two games, Singleton was the only linebacker to play all 71 defensive snaps this week. The Giants offense ran the ball 36 times and generated 60 tackle opportunities, which contributed to his huge game with 15 tackles on defense and one more on special teams. The upcoming schedule looks very favorable and should vault him up into LB2 territory.
BUFFALO @ ARIZONA
LB A.J. Klein, BUF (10 solos, 1 asst, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 1 QH)
Klein turned in his second strong effort in a row this week with 11 combined tackles and a sack while playing more than 90% of the snaps. With Matt Milano injured, the Bills have been forced to rely on Klein more than they hoped to but he has risen to the occasion while often being moved to middle linebacker to try and give him less ground to cover. That has helped to free up Tremaine Edmunds from blockers a bit more even though the Bills run defense remains a clear area of weakness as they allowed 217 yards on the ground.
LB De'Vondre Campbell, ARI (1 solo, 2 asst, 1 TFL)
Campbell averaged just below six solo tackles per game over the first eight starts this year. This week was the first time he finished with fewer than four solo tackles or six combined as he was forced to leave the game early with a calf injury. He played just 39 snaps (53%) and was replaced by rookie Isaiah Simmons, who added four tackles on 32 snaps.
DENVER @ LAS VEGAS
LB Nicholas Morrow, LVR (4 solos, 1 asst, 1 sack, 2 QH, 1 FF, 2 PD)
With Cory Littleton sitting out due to Reserve/COVID-19 this week, Morrow got a chance to start and played all 71 snaps. He came through with a strong effort, including 5 tackles with a sack, forced fumble, and several passes defensed. Safety Jeff Heath also picked off two passes in the game to give him 3 in his last 5 games.
DE Clelin Ferrell, LVR (1 solo, 1 TFL, 1 QH)
Ferrell was taken fourth overall last year, and the Raiders have become much more competitive but he has not played much of a role. He’s often played close to 70% of the defensive snaps this year but has yet to record even a partial sack through nine games played. Patience among dynasty players is likely running out.
LB Bradley Chubb, DEN (1 solo, 1 TFL)
Even though the Raiders offense generated 41 rush attempts and 57 tackle opportunities, Chubb was only able to come up with one solo tackle in the game. He has consistently played more than 70% of the snaps each week and had a recent stretch of 5.5 sacks over four games. Apart from the sacks, however, he has not made many contributions to the box score and the upcoming matchups don’t look very favorable for him.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS @ MIAMI
CB Xavien Howard, MIA (1 solo, 2 asst, 1 INT, 2 PD)
With another interception this week, Howard now has five in just nine games played this year. While his tackle numbers aren’t great and can lead to some inconsistency on a weekly basis, the playmaking more than makes up for it. Having Byron Jones playing opposite him also makes it hard for quarterbacks to avoid throwing in his direction and should keep him among the better fantasy options each week.
LB Kyzir White, LAC (3 solos, 3 asst, 1 TFL)
White 80% or more of the defensive snaps in three of the last four games with 57% in the remaining game. Despite handling a three-down role, he’s been surprisingly unproductive with just 11 solos and 12 assists in that span. Miami’s offense generated 32 rush attempts in this game so it was disappointing that White and Kenneth Murray combined for just 5 solos and 10 tackles in total.
SEATTLE @ LOS ANGELES RAMS
LB Leonard Floyd, LAR (5 solos, 3 sacks, 2 TFL, 5 QH, 1 FR)
Floyd never reached his potential in Chicago after they selected him with a top-10 draft choice, but he is paying off for the Rams. After a relatively quiet start with just two sacks in the first six games, he has exploded for five sacks in his last three while regularly playing more than 90% of the defensive snaps. Aaron Donald was shut out this week, but the double-teams he generates helped free up Floyd and rookie Terrell Lewis (two sacks) to have huge games.
CB D.J. Reed, SEA (10 solos, 1 TFL, 1 FR)
With Shaq Griffin and Quinton Dunbar missing due to injuries this week, Reed got the start at outside corner and wound up leading the team in tackles with 10 solo stops. He also recovered a fumble after a strip-sack by Jamal Adams and added on a 49-yard kickoff return. Despite missing the first six games and playing a part-time role in his Week 8 debut, Reed now has 22 solo tackles plus an interception and fumble recovery in his three games as a Seahawk.
S Taylor Rapp, LAR (1 solo)
With the return of a healthy Jordan Fuller to the lineup this week, Rapp returned to a backup role. He posted strong numbers over the previous three games but saw just 12 snaps (18%) this week while the Rams had three different cornerbacks play at least 90% of the defensive snaps.
SAN FRANCISCO @ NEW ORLEANS
S Demario Davis, NO (8 solos, 4 asst, 1 sack, 3 TFL, 2 QH, 1 PD)
Davis was credited with just 11 solo tackles over the past three games combined as the Saints offense helped to keep their defense off the field. He bounced back this week with 12 tackles and his third sack of the year and will likely see more tackle opportunities given the injury to Drew Brees. Kwon Alexander (4 tackles) played 61% of the snaps this week in place of Alex Anzalone but likely won’t impact the production of Davis significantly.
LB Fred Warner, SF (5 asst)
Warner remains an LB1 as the focal point of the 49ers defense, but this was a disappointing stat line for him. He finished with just 5 assists in the game despite facing 30 rush attempts from the Saints offense as well as seven more completions by Alvin Kamara. When combined with his four-tackle game against Seattle in Week 8, he now has two disappointing games in his past three while Dre Greenlaw has eight tackles or more in each of them.
CINCINNATI @ PITTSBURGH
LB T.J. Watt, PIT (4 solos, 2 sacks, 2 TFL, 4 QH)
Watt took advantage of the matchup this week to add two more sacks to bring his total up to nine and leave him just a half-sack behind Myles Garrett for the NFL lead. Watt has recorded at least a partial sack in seven of his last eight games and remains one of the most consistently productive edge rushers in the league.
LB Josh Bynes, CIN (1 solo, 1 asst)
It’s not very clear why the Bengals continue to play Bynes more than any other linebacker each week. He hasn’t played particularly well and is 31 years old so shouldn’t be part of their long-term plans. Despite starting and playing 51 snaps this week, he was credited with just 2 tackles. Logan Wilson wasn’t much better this week as he picked up just a single solo tackle on his 35 snaps.
BALTIMORE @ NEW ENGLAND
DE Chase Winovich, NE (6 solos, 1 asst)
Winovich played just five snaps back in Week 8 but was on the field for a remarkable 65 snaps (98%) this week. He only took off for one play in the entire game, which is quite unusual for an edge rusher but he was also very effective and generated a ton of pressure on Lamar Jackson all night.
S Kyle Dugger, NE (7 solos, 5 asst)
The Patriots have taken things slowly with Dugger during his rookie season but he showed off some of his potential and versatility this week. He wound up playing 56 snaps (85%), which was 22 more than his previous high back in Week 2. He served as a third safety/big nickel who often lined up on the edge or in the box and was very productive with 12 tackles or nearly one in every four snaps played. Terez Hall also collected 10 tackles on his 55 snaps after starting at inside linebacker in place of Ja'Whaun Bentley.
DE Yannick Ngakoue, BAL (2 solos, 1 QH)
After playing two-thirds of the defensive snaps the past two games, Ngakoue only played 43% of the snaps this week. The matchup and weather didn’t do him any favors this week, but despite getting traded to a better team he has just three solos and no sacks in his last three games.