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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.
NEW ORLEANS @ ATLANTA
DT David Onyemata, NO (2 solos, 2 asst, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 1 QH)
The Saints welcomed back Sheldon Rankins this week but then lost Malcolm Brown after just four snaps. That allowed Onyemata to retain his recent workload as he played 48 snaps (72%) and continued his impressive play. Over his last 6 games, he has only had one poor showing while collecting four sacks with an interception.
CB A.J. Terrell, ATL (8 solos, 1 asst, 1 TFL, 1 FF, 1 PD)
Terrell has likely been the best rookie corner in the league this year and looks like a nice building block for the Falcons after they drafted him 16th overall. He missed two games due to COVID-19 earlier this year but has been coming on strong from a fantasy perspective with 16 solos and two forced fumbles over his last three games. He had his hands full with Michael Thomas in two of those games but also has matchups with the Buccaneers and Chiefs left on the schedule so should remain busy.
DE Marcus Davenport, NO (DNP)
Davenport is having a difficult season as he missed the first four games of the year while recovering from an injury. He collected just 1.5 sacks in seven games played but had none in his last four, and then he was held out this week while recovering from concussion symptoms that showed up mid-week. Cameron Jordan (88%) and Trey Hendrickson (69%) handled most of the workload in his absence.
LB Kwon Alexander, NO (3 solos, 2 PD)
Alexander went from playing 90% of the defensive snaps a week ago to just 48% this week. There were no reports of him being injured so this appeared to be more of a scheme/matchup issue as the Saints made heavy use of their defensive backs this week with a fourth safety D.J. Swearinger Sr playing 36% of the snaps.
DETROIT @ CHICAGO
DE Romeo Okwara, DET (4 solos, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 1 QH, 1 FF)
There haven’t been many great fantasy options on this Lions defense in 2020 apart from Jamie Collins, but Okwara has quietly put together a productive season. With another sack this week, he now has seven on the year and they have all come in his last 10 games. Perhaps even more important is the fact he played nearly every snaps (96%) this week after playing closer to two-thirds in the prior three games.
LB Khalil Mack, CHI (0 tackles)
Mack played 55 snaps (81%) this week but was completely shut out on the box score. He is playing through a back injury that appears to be limiting his effectiveness. After missing practice for several days last week, he still managed to play but wasn’t able to contribute much. He recorded 6.5 sacks from Week 2 to Week 8 but has now gone sackless over his last four games.
INDIANAPOLIS @ HOUSTON
DE Justin Houston, IND (4 solos, 3 sacks, 2 TFL, 3 QH, 1 FF)
The Colts have been a strong defense this year but Houston has been very streaky. He posted 3.5 sacks over his first four games but then went quiet for five games that saw him collect just one solo, two assists, and no sacks. With his explosion this week, he now has four sacks (with eight solos) over his last three games and looks like a strong option for the fantasy playoffs again.
DE J.J. Watt, HOU (5 solos, 1 asst, 1 sack, 4 TFL, 1 QH)
Watt played 99% of the snaps for the third time this season and collected his fifth sack of the year. While he hasn’t produced up to his normal standards, Watt continues to be a workhorse and has been a top-five fantasy defensive end over the past several months.
DT DeForest Buckner, IND (4 solos, 2 sacks, 2 TFL, 3 QH)
Buckner missed last week’s game due to COVID-19 restrictions but clearly showed no ill effects this week as he posted perhaps his best game as a Colt. He handled a normal workload (83%) but collected his first sack since Week 6 and then soon added another. While his numbers this year don’t stand out too much for an elite player, he ranks second among all defensive ends since Week 6.
CINCINNATI @ MIAMI
LB Kyle Van Noy, MIA (8 solos, 3 sacks, 5 TFL, 3 QH, 1 PD)
Van Noy was a productive pass rusher during his time in New England and collected two sacks in his first three games with the Dolphins before going sackless for six straight outings. He picked up a sack last week against the Jets but was questionable coming into this week with a hip injury. That turned out to be a non-issue for him as he played 90% of the snaps and exploded for a huge game that saw him collect eight solo stops, three sacks, and five tackles for loss.
S Jessie Bates, CIN (10 solo, 3 asst, 1 FF)
There aren’t many safeties in the league who lead their team in tackles, but it’s even rarer to see it from a free safety. While Vonn Bell currently leads the Bengals with 90 combined tackles, Bates is at 89 and 63 of those are solo stops (compared to 50 for Bell). Additionally, Bates has three interceptions and 13 passes defensed and ranks among the elites at his position thanks to his remarkable consistency since entering the league in 2018.
LB Elandon Roberts, MIA (1 solo)
Roberts started to emerge and saw a season-high 78% of the snaps back in Week 11 but he played just 18 snaps last week against the Jets and then just eight this week before leaving with a chest injury. Jerome Baker has been part of the team’s nickel packages over the past two games but the roles do change on a weekly basis so it’s hard to count on either option.
JACKSONVILLE @ MINNESOTA
LB Joe Schobert, JAX (5 solos, 7 asst, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 2 QH, 1 INT, 2 PD, 1 TD)
Schobert wasn’t making many big plays earlier this year, but he has been a top-five linebacker since Week 6. In that time (seven games), he has 39 solo tackles, 29 assists, 1.5 sacks, 2 INTs, and a touchdown.
S Josh Jones, JAX (7 solos, 3 asst)
The Jaguars IDPs were boosted by an overtime matchup that saw the Vikings offense generate 38 rush attempts and 70 tackle opportunities. Jones was activated after spending the past few weeks on injured reserve and wasted no time returning to his old role. He played all 91 snaps and collected double-digit tackles for the fourth time in seven outings where he played a full game this year.
LB Eric Kendricks, MIN (DNP)
Kendricks had only missed one snap all year but tweaked his injured calf while warming up for the game and was unable to play. That meant former Broncos linebacker Todd Davis (three solos, eight asst) got the start at middle linebacker and he wound up playing all 71 snaps.
LAS VEGAS @ NY JETS
DE Clelin Ferrell, LV (4 solos, 2 asst, 2 sacks, 3 QH, 2 FF, 1 PD)
Last year’s fourth overall pick has been a huge disappointment this year and missed the last two games while recovering from COVID-19 with severe symptoms. He was able to take advantage of the matchup against the Jets to turn things around, however, and both of his sacks resulted in fumbles by Sam Darnold. He’ll try to keep it rolling next week against the Colts who appear to be down to their third-string left tackle.
LB Neville Hewitt, NYJ (9 solos, 3 asst, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 1 QH)
Hewitt continues to pile up big numbers while playing all but three snaps for the Jets defense this year. He’s on pace for nearly 90 solo tackles and 50 assists and collected his second sack in the past two games this week. Gregg Williams was fired for calling an all-out blitz at the end of the game that helped the Raiders pull out a miracle win, but Hewitt isn’t likely to see a change to his role under Frank Bush, who was the inside linebackers coach.
S Ashtyn Davis, NYJ (5 solos, 1 asst)
Davis has played every snap except one over the past four games, but he was knocked out of the game early this week with a foot injury. He collected six tackles on 44 snaps and was replaced by Matthias Farley, who came up empty on 34 snaps.
CLEVELAND @ TENNESSEE
DE Myles Garrett, CLE (2 solos, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 1 QH)
Garrett missed the past two games while recovering from severe COVID-19 symptoms and it wasn’t clear how much he’d be able to contribute. He wound up seeing a workload close to normal levels with 72% of the snaps and also contributed a sack in the fourth quarter to give him 10.5 in 10 games played this year.
LB Rashaan Evans, TEN (3 solos, 3 asst, 1 TFL, 1 QH)
Evans played 100% of the defensive snaps this week in a very favorable game script where the Browns offense generated 36 rush attempts and 62 tackle opportunities. Thus, it was quite disappointing to see him finish with just three solo tackles and six stops overall, which ranked behind two defensive tackles. While it’s only been two games, Evans has not been able to take advantage of the injury to Jayon Brown.
S Karl Joseph, CLE (3 solos, 1 FR)
Joseph’s day was boosted by a fumble recovery but that helped mask the fact he was only on the field for 42 of 72 snaps (58%). He was part of a time-share at safety with Sheldrick Redwine this week and hasn’t been particularly productive since taking over for Ronnie Harrison anyway (10 solos in three games).
LA RAMS @ ARIZONA
S Budda Baker, ARI (10 solos, 2 asst, 1 TFL)
Baker has been one of the most productive safeties in the league but he had posted underwhelming numbers in three of the past four games. While dealing with a groin injury He broke out of that mini-slump with a solid 12-tackle performance this week and hopefully, that means he’s back to 100% with the fantasy playoffs approaching.
CB Troy Hill, LAR (4 solos, 1 INT, 2 PD, 1 TD)
Hill isn’t nearly as talented as Jalen Ramsey, which results in him seeing more targets and allowing more receptions each week. With 51 solos and 67 combined tackles on the year, he ranks among the leaders at the cornerback position, but he took things to a new level with defensive touchdowns in back-to-back weeks.
NY GIANTS @ SEATTLE
DE Leonard Williams, NYG (2 solos, 1 asst, 2.5 sacks, 2 TFL, 5 QH)
The Giants defense was able to keep Russell Wilson in check and Williams was credited with five quarterback hits while adding 2.5 sacks. That brings him up to 8.5 on the season, which is a career-high and more than he had in his last three seasons combined. He now has 6.5 sacks over his last seven games, which is remarkable given that he only posted a half-sack in 15 games last year.
LB Tae Crowder, NYG (6 solos, 1 asst, 1 sack, 1 QH)
The rookie had 10 tackles with a fumble recovery touchdown back in Week 6 before suffering a hamstring injury that landed him on IR. He returned to action last week with just 13 snaps (27%) but saw his workload increase significantly this week with 39 snaps (54%). He got the start this week and responded with another strong showing, including 7 tackles and a sack.
LB Bobby Wagner, SEA (3 solos, 3 asst, 1 TFL, 1 PD)
Wagner remains an elite linebacker but this was his second game in a row with disappointing tackle production. Over the past two games, he has been credited with just six solo tackles and four assists while strong safety Jamal Adams has 16 solos and 4 assists in the same period. For the season, Wagner has averaged eight combined tackles/game with Adams in the lineup and 12 tackles/game without Adams in the lineup.
PHILADELPHIA @ GREEN BAY
LB Alex Singleton, PHI (8 solos, 4 asst)
There isn’t much to get excited about on this Eagles defense this year apart from what Singleton continues to do. He’s been a top-10 fantasy linebacker since becoming a full-time player for the Eagles in Week 6.
DE Kingsley Keke, GB (3 solos, 1 asst, 2 sacks, 2 TFL, 2 QH)
Keke had his second multi-sack game of the year, but his production this week came on just 24 snaps (39%). While he can be effective at times, he also came into the game with just two solos and one assist over his last five games while handling a similar role.
NEW ENGLAND @ LA CHARGERS
LB Kenneth Murray, LAC (12 solos, 2 asst, 1 sack, 2 TFL, 1 QH)
The first-round pick has been pretty quiet despite playing in a three-down role all year. Even though it came in a blowout loss, this may have been his breakout game as he was credited with 12 solo tackles and picked up the first sack of his career. The Patriots offense generated 43 rush attempts in the game but Murray’s 14 tackles were six more than the next highest Chargers player (Nick Vigil).
S Adrian Phillips, NE (7 solos, 5 asst, 1 PD)
Phillips has been the most consistent Patriots IDP all season long and he’s trending up of late with 16 solos, 5 assists, 1 INT, and 3 PDs over his last three games. The Patriots had three different safeties play at least 93% of their defensive snaps but Phillips often plays more like a linebacker and he helped shut out his former team in an easy Patriots win.
CB J.C. Jackson, NE (1 solo, 2 asst, 1 INT, 1 PD)
Jackson missed practice time last week with a hip injury but was able to start the game. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to finish as he aggravated the injury and left the game early for the second week in a row. He did come up with an interception in the game, however, which gives him seven on the year to rank second in the league behind Xavien Howard.
DENVER @ KANSAS CITY
S Tyrann Mathieu, KC (4 solos, 3 asst, 1 TFL, 2 INT 2 PD)
The Chiefs safety picked off two passes this week to give him five for the season, but three have come in his last two games. In a game that saw just a single sack between both teams combined, Mathieu stood out.