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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 Ernest Jones (LAR vs TEN) 3 solos, 1 assist, 62% defensive snaps
- LB Shaq Thompson (CAR vs NE) 6 solos, 4 assists, 1 tackle for loss, 69% defensive snaps
- LB Willie Gay Jr (KC vs GB) 1 solo, 1 assist, 65% defensive snaps
- DE Jonathan Greenard (HOU vs Mia) 3 solos, 1 tackle for loss, 1 pass defended, 59% defensive snaps
- DE Trey Hendrickson (CIN vs CLE) 1 solo, 1 sack, 1 tackle for loss, 1 QB hit, 71% defensive snaps
- DE Zach Allen (ARZ vs SF) 1 solo, 1 pass defended, 80% defensive snaps
- S Nasir Adderley (LAC vs PHI) 6 solos, 1 assist, 1 pass defended, 91% defensive snaps
- S Erik Harris (ATL vs NO) 7 solos, 1 assist, 100% defensive snaps
- S Talanoa Hufanga (SF vs ARZ) 2 solos, 1 assist, 100% defensive snaps
This Week’s Linebackers
LB T.J. Edwards (PHI vs DEN)
Edwards is coming off back-to-back double-digit tackle games and has seen a huge jump in playing time. Edwards went from 66% to 96% over the past 2 weeks. Edwards is assuming the role that Alex Singleton had before the change in defensive scheme and that places him squarely in the LB2 conversation. This week he has a great matchup against a Denver team that pushes the ball through the tackles and has worked Jerry Jeudy into the mix on short bubble screens. There is a great opportunity for another double-digit total tackle game this week as Edwards sees his defensive snaps increase.
LB Josh Bynes (BAL vs MIA)
Bynes is looking to make a late-career push and his play is demanding more snaps in this defense. He had a breakout game against the Vikings last week with 11 total tackles. This week he will take on a Miami offense that has struggled in the passing game. Bynes will be tasked with chasing down Myles Gaskin and stopping the short passing game. Look for another solid performance again this week with a defensive snap percentage over 75%.
LB Myles Jack (JAX vs IND)
Jack has looked great after the Bye week and is coming off a game with 5 solos, 2 assists, and a tackle for loss. He is playing his way squarely into LB2 consideration each week and has a plus matchup against a run-heavy offense in Indianapolis. Jack has not quite turned into the elite player hoped when he was drafted but he has turned the corner this season. Jack should be consistent the rest of the way but has a great matchup this week against the Colts.
This Week’s Defensive Linemen
DT Jeffery Simmons (TEN vs NO)
The Titans' defensive line put on a clinic last week against the Rams and will have a great opportunity against a New Orleans offense that is in flux. After the injury to Jameis Winston, there are all sorts of questions about this offense and that plays right into Tennessee’s favor. If Taysom Hill is under center look for several tackle opportunities for this line and if it is Trevor Siemian again, look for sacks. This is a great matchup for this defense as they continue to plow through playoff teams from last season.
DE Yannick Ngakoue (LV vs KC)
Ngakoue is on fire right now. He has 2 sacks in 3 of his past 4 games and is getting after the quarterback at a better rate than anyone in the league. He finished with 2 solos, 2 sacks, a tackle for loss, and a forced fumble in week 9. He is playing out of his mind right now and has a great matchup against a Chiefs offense that has struggled this season. Patrick Mahomes II has made a lot of mistakes and the offensive line has allowed a lot of sacks. Look for Ngakoue to be in the backfield often and causing all sorts of chaos again this week.
DE Marcus Davenport (NO vs TEN)
It has been a shaky start to the season for Davenport who has been injured. He has just 2 sacks in 4 games so far this season but was able to finally turn it on in week 9. He had 3 solos, 3 assists, a sack, a tackle for loss, and a forced fumble last week. With the offense struggling, this defense is going to see the field a lot the rest of the season and that will provide ample opportunity for a healthy Davenport. Ryan Tannehill is not a mobile quarterback and Davenport should have no problem getting into the backfield this week.
This Week’s Defensive Backs
S Ashtyn Davis (NYJ vs BUF)
After a loss to Jacksonville last week the Bills are going to come out angry this week. That should include pushing the ball down the middle of the field as Josh Allen looks to get back on track. Enter Davis who has played very well in recent weeks. Marcus Maye has been lost for the season and Davis is slated to take that opportunity. He is coming off a game with double-digit total tackles and is poised to make a difference the rest of the season.
S Jayron Kearse (DAL vs ATL)
You are not going to find the big play out of Kearse, but you are going to get a consistent tackle floor every week and that is how you win matchups. Kearse had 9 total tackles and a pass defended last week and has a great matchup against an Atlanta team with just 1 viable receiver at the tight end position in the offense. Kearse has been reliable all season and should be started where needed this week.
S Kamren Curl (WFT vs TB)
Curl was a staple in this article last season as a rookie. He is widely available again this season and is playing well. Landon Collins has forced him into more of a roving free safety type position and this allows him to make plays all over the field. This week he gets a matchup against a Tampa Bay offense looking to get back on track. Curl is going to give you consistent tackles and has the big play ability to take over a matchup. Start him with confidence this week with Tom Brady looking to sling the ball all over the field.