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 Tae Crowder (NYG vs NO)
This may be the only week you can consider Crowder a sleeper. After the season-ending injury to Blake Martinez, Crowder played 100% of snaps and ended up with 11 total tackles and a pass defended. He will assume control of this defense going into their week 4 matchup against the Saints and will have his hands full with Alvin Kamara and Taysom Hill. Crowder will be the most consistent tackle producer for this defense the rest of the season and is a name to take a long and hard look at this week before he is gone.
LB Nick Vigil (MIN vs CLE)
The Vikings defense has not been as good as it looked on paper coming into the season, but Vigil has been a great addition. He has played 100% of defensive snaps every week and has racked up 26 total tackles, a sack, and an interception returned for a touchdown. He has been a force in the middle for the Vikings and will be taking on a Cleveland team that loves to run the ball. After a dominating performance against the Seahawks last week, look for this defense to try and make another statement and for Vigil to continue to be right in the middle of it all.
LB Quincy Williams (NYJ vs TEN)
This may be a short-lived role for Williams with Jarrad Davis expected back in a few weeks, but the volume of snaps in the last 2 weeks makes for a good play in deeper leagues. He has played 92 and 94% of snaps in the last 2 weeks and is coming off a game with 6 solos, 2 tackles for loss, and a forced fumble against a Broncos team that steamrolled the Jets. Williams gets a great matchup against the run-heavy Titans and could approach double-digit total tackles this week. Williams is a solid play this week and will continue to be as long as he is getting consistent snaps.
DE Romeo Okwara (DET vs CHI)
Okwara had a breakout 2020, but the slow start to this season has him as an afterthought. He finally got on the board last week with a sack against the Ravens and will have an even better matchup against a Bears offensive line that allowed Justin Fields to be sacked 9 times. This has all the makings of a breakout game for Okwara.
DE Al-Quadin Muhammad (IND vs MIA)
The Miami offensive line has allowed 10 sacks through 3 weeks and will have to take on the tandem of Kwity Paye and Muhammad this week. Muhammad has played 70% of defensive snaps opposite Paye so far this year and is coming off a game with 7 total tackles and a tackle for loss. Add a sack for Muhammad in week 2 and he is quietly putting together a solid season. This is a plus matchup for Muhammad and the rest of the Colts defense.
DE Darrell Taylor (SEA vs SF)
Taylor has played really well early this season and has surprised many. He had a coming-out party against the Vikings with 6 total tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble. The rookie has 2 sacks on the season and has not topped 50% of defensive snaps in a game yet. His snaps are trending up and he has a good matchup against a San Francisco offensive line that was just overmatched by the Packers on Sunday Night. Look for his positive string of games to continue this week and for Taylor to become a viable starter for the rest of the season.
S Marcus Maye (NYJ vs TEN)
It has been a strong start to the season for Maye who ranks in the top 10 as both a DB and at the safety position. He is coming off a week with 7 solos and 2 assists and could start to creep into that double-digit tackle range if he can keep it up. The Jets offense has been terrible and that puts the defense on the field a lot. With 100% of defensive snaps played in every game so far this season, there should continue to be opportunities for Maye. A matchup against the run-heavy Titans could present a lot of tackle opportunity at the second level for the Jets with their defensive line playing poorly thus far this season.
S Brandon Jones (MIA vs IND)
It is amazing what some guys can do with limited snaps. Jones played 43% of the defensive snaps last week and walked away with 4 solos, 2 assists, 2 sacks, and 2 tackles for loss. The rotation of Jones with Eric Rowe and Jevon Holland makes it a tough situation to predict, but Jones has been the hot hand. The Dolphins will be taking on the Colts this week who seem to have no identity on offense. Jones should see opportunities chasing down Jonathan Taylor up the middle and trying to track down Carson Wentz's passes all over the field. Jones is the guy to bet on in Miami right now.
S Anthony Harris (PHI vs KC)
It was just a short time ago that Harris had 100 tackles in a season for the Vikings. He was then brought in on a 1-year deal and has put together back-to-back double-digit tackle weeks for the Eagles. He has been very assist-heavy so far but being the second guy to the ball can lead to more forced fumbles over the course of the season. Harris has a great matchup against the Chiefs this week and their potent offense. There should be plenty of opportunity for Harris in the middle as Kansas City tried to push the ball down the field. Look for another solid tackle performance this week with the increased opportunity.
- LB Denzel Perryman: 10 solos, 4 assists, 92% defensive snaps
- LB Nick Bolton: 3 solos, 4 assists, 79% defensive snaps
- LB Alex Anzalone: 5 solos, 1 tackle for loss, 1 QB hit, 100% defensive snaps
- DE Gregory Rousseau: 3 solos, 1 assist, 56% defensive snaps
- DE Payton Turner: 44% defensive snaps
- DE Trey Hendrickson: 1 solo, 1 assist, 1 tackle for loss, 2 QB hits, 1 sack, 72% defensive snaps
- S Grant Delpit: 1 assist, 38% defensive snaps
- S Nasir Adderley: 7 solos, 2 assists, 100% defensive snaps
- S Rayshawn Jenkins: 2 solos, 100% defensive snaps