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 Christian Kirksey (HOU vs IND)
Kirksey has been a consistent performer since his time back in Cleveland. He has been largely overlooked this season because he is playing on a very bad Houston team. He is coming off a game with 12 total tackles and has a plus matchup against a Colts team that has started to run the ball again. This defense is going to continue to see the field a lot for the rest of the season and that will do nothing but give Kirksey more opportunity. He is a great start this week and should be considered a strong play the rest of the season.
LB Anthony Barr (MIN vs CAR)
It was not the strong start everyone had hoped for in Barr’s return for the Vikings in week 5, but most importantly he played 100% of defensive snaps. He bumped Nick Vigil down to 37% of defensive snaps in his return and has a solid matchup against the Panthers this week. Barr has been a star for the Vikings in the past and is a great plug and play option this week with many teams hitting their Bye weeks for the first time this season. Look for solid production from Barr this week and the rest of the season.
LB A.J. Klein (BUF vs TEN)
This is going to come down to the health of Matt Milano this week. Klein is the next man up in his absence and has a great matchup this week against the Titans. Milano was inactive against the Chiefs and Klein stepped in and made a difference. The Titans are currently allowing the most fantasy points to opposing linebackers with their run-heavy offensive attack. Watch the injury report in Buffalo and if Milano is inactive fire up Klein with some major upside this week.
DL Charles Harris (DET vs CIN)
It has been quite the runaround for Harris in his time in Detroit. He has played in 4 games and has a sack in each of them so far this season. This is already a season-high for Harris and he has a great matchup this week against Cincinnati. The injury to Romeo Okwara is going to lead to more playing time for Harris the rest of the season as well. He is going to be a sack-dependent play but has a great matchup against an offensive line ranked in the bottom half of the league.
DL Gregory Rousseau (BUF vs TEN)
Rousseau was mentioned earlier this season and continues to go overlooked in most leagues. He has started every game this season for the Bills and has 3 sacks on the season. His defensive snap percentage has fluctuated between 38 and 66% but continues to perform no matter how much he is on the field. This week he gets a great matchup against a Titans offensive line that has given up the 3rd most sacks and loves to run the ball up the middle. Rousseau has a great chance at notching a sack and there should be plenty of opportunity for tackles this week as well.
DE Harold Landry (TEN vs BUF)
Landry already has 4.5 sacks this season and is on pace for a double-digit season. He is coming off a week with 6 solos, an assist, 2 sacks, and 2 tackles for loss. The Bills offense is high powered but there should still be plenty of opportunity for Landry off the edge. He is the rare pass rusher with a higher tackle floor and will become increasingly valuable as Byes start to ramp up every week. Start Landry this week and consider rostering him for the rest of the season.
S Julian Blackmon (IND vs HOU)
It has been a strong start to the season for Blackmon. He has 29 total tackles, a pass defended, and a forced fumble so far this year. The biggest asset is he has played an average of 97% of defensive snaps so far this year. His best game was in week 4 against Tennessee where he had 11 solos. Blackmon has a great matchup this week against the Texans who have allowed the 11th-most fantasy points to opposing safeties. Look for another solid game from Blackmon this week.
DB Taron Johnson (BUF vs TEN)
Johnson may not be long for this list as he continues to shine for the Bills defense. He had 12 total tackles and a pass defended against the Chiefs last week and has knocked down a ball every week so far this season. The Bills’ high-powered offense is going to make other teams have to throw the ball and that will continue to provide opportunity for Johnson.
S Tracy Walker (DET vs CIN)
Walker has a blistering start to the season and then fell off until last week. He had 7 solos, 2 assists, 1 tackle for loss, and a pass defended against the Vikings. He gets a plus matchup against a Bengals’ offense that likes to throw the ball and challenge safeties across the middle. Look for Walker to continue to get back on track with another strong matchup this week.
- LB Jamin Davis (WFT vs NO) 2 assists, 23% defensive snaps
- LB Alec Ogletree (CHI vs LV) 6 solos, 52% defensive snaps
- LB Pete Werner (NO vs WFT) 8 solos, 5 assists, 99% defensive snaps
- DE Everson Griffen (MIN vs DET) 2 solos, 2 assists, 1 tackle for loss, 2 QB hits, 1 forced fumble, 2 sacks, 72% defensive snaps
- DL Matt Judon (NE vs HOU) 2 solos, 2 assists, 2 tackles for loss, 3 QB hits, 1 fumble recovery, 2 sacks, 90% defensive snaps
- DE Emmanuel Ogbah (Mia vs TB) 1 assist,50% defensive snaps
- S Caden Sterns (DEN vs PIT) 1 solo, 29% defensive snaps
- DB Eric Stokes (GB vs CIN) 3 solos, 1 assist, 1 pass defended, 97% defensive snaps
- DB Byron Murphy (ARZ vs SF) 3 solos, 1 pass defended, 1 interception, 71% defensive snaps