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.
Last Week's Picks
- LB Christian Kirksey (HOU vs IND) 4 solos, 1 tackle for loss, 100% defensive snaps
- LB Anthony Barr (MIN vs CAR) 1 solo, 3 assists, 1 QB hit, 1 pass defended, .5 sack, 100% defensive snaps
- LB A.J. Klein (BUF vs TEN) 1 solo, 6% defensive snaps
- DL Charles Harris (DET vs CIN) 4 solos, 1 assist, 64% defensive snaps
- DL Gregory Rousseau (BUF vs TEN) 2 solos, 47% defensive snaps
- DE Harold Landry (TEN vs BUF) 5 solos, 3 assists, 1 tackle for loss, 2 QB hits, 2 sacks, 99% defensive snaps
- S Julian Blackmon (IND vs HOU) 5 solos, 1 tackle for loss, 100% defensive snaps
- DB Taron Johnson (BUF vs TEN) 4 solos, 2 assists, 94% defensive snaps
- S Tracy Walker (DET vs CIN) 3 solos, 1 assist, 1 pass defended, 85% defensive snaps
This Week's Linebackers
LB Cory Littleton (LV vs PHI):
It is amazing to see Littleton so widely available. He likely leads all available players in your league in both combined and solo tackles right now and is a great Bye week replacement or LB3 option in leagues that put a premium on tackles. The Philadelphia offense is a mess right now and the short pass game of Jalen Hurts plays into the strength of Littleton. Look for him to chase Miles Sanders all over the field and have the potential for a double-digit total tackle week.
LB Quincy Williams (NYJ vs NE):
This is a sheer numbers play. Williams is averaging nearly eight total tackles per game and is playing over 70% of defensive snaps. The Jets have already had their Bye week and he will have solid playing time the rest of the season if you need to fill a permeant roster spot. This week he will take on a very weak stable of running backs for the Patriots and has a very safe floor with his tackle numbers. Williams is not going to wow you with the big play, but he is going to be around the ball the entire game this week.
LB Ja'Whaun Bentley (NE vs NYJ):
Bentley exploded onto the scene last week with a 12-solo day against the Cowboys. These are the tackle numbers you want to chase and should be rewarded more in this defensive scheme. The major hang-up is the snap percentage for Bentley. He managed his 12 solos on just 45% of defensive snaps last week and that is not sustainable. He has topped out as high as 93% of defensive snaps this week and should have easily earned more playing time this week against the Jets. Chase the points and fire Bentley up this week with confidence.
This Week's Defensive Linemen
DE Jonathan Greenard (HOU vs ARZ):
Even with a matchup against the mobile Kyler Murray and the red-hot Arizona offense we are going to ride the streak of Greenard right now. Has three sacks over the past two games and four in the last four weeks. We also saw a season-high 6 total tackles last week as well as his highest defensive snap percentage (56). Murray loves to run and extend plays in the pocket. Greenard has a chance to come in and clean things up and will be worth the play if he can come away with at least 1 sack.
DE Maxx Crosby (LV vs PHI):
Crosby has not gotten the credit he deserves after a 10-sack performance last season. He has been constantly overlooked despite having five sacks this season already. He has been boom or bust with all of his sacks coming across two multi-sack games, but he has a great matchup with a poor Philadelphia offensive line this week. He exposed Denver with three sacks and a pass defended last week and has a great shot at chasing down Jalen Hurts this week. His defensive snap percentage has been 75% or higher every game except one this season and this should easily lead to another double-digit sack year.
DE Dexter Lawrence (NYG vs CAR):
Leonard Williams is the much bigger IDP name on this defense, but Lawrence is holding his own. With 20 total tackles, 2 tackles for loss, a pass defended, and half a sack he is quietly putting together a very productive season. This week he will take on a Carolina offensive line that has allowed the most fantasy points to opposing defensive ends. If you are in trouble with Byes or injuries and need a spot start, Lawrence is setting up for his best matchup of the season.
This Week's Defensive Backs
S Kyle Dugger (NE vs NYJ):
After another big week against Dallas, Dugger is quickly making his way off this list. He had eight solos, a pass defended, and an interception last week. He is getting snaps all over the field including at linebacker. This is going to inflate those all-important tackle numbers and make him a very attractive play every week. Dugger is not going to be considered a sleeper for much longer and this may be your last chance to grab him in a prime matchup against the struggling Jets.
S Kareem Jackson (DEN vs CLE):
It can be hard playing behind Justin Simmons, but Jackson is quickly making a name for himself in this defense. He ranks just ahead of Simmons in fantasy points and has a great matchup against a Browns team that has allowed the third-most points to opposing safeties. The status of Baker Mayfield is up in the air and things may go off the rails quickly in Cleveland. Jackson has a solid floor this week with big-play potential against an offense that is struggling.
CB Bryce Hall (NYJ vs NE):
Hall had five solos, an assist, and a tackle for loss against the Patriots in Week 2. He is playing nearly 100% of defensive snaps and the Patriots are coming off a game where they allowed the most points to opposing corners in the league. Hall has at least five total tackles in every game except Week 1 this season and has a safe floor against a struggling New England passing game. Fire him with confidence this week if your league requires starting corners.