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 Kyle Van Noy (NE vs ATL) 5 solos, 3 assists, 2 tackles for loss, 2 QB hits, 2 sacks, 1 interception, 1 touchdown, 78% defensive snaps
- LB Kyzir White (LAC vs PIT) 6 solos, 3 assists, 1 pass defended, 96% defensive snaps
- LB Alex Anzalone (DET vs CLE) 4 solos, 3 assists, 2 passes defended, 100% defensive snaps
- DE Odafe Oweh (BAL vs CHI) 2 assists, 1 QB hit, 69% defensive snaps
- DL Alex Highsmith (PIT vs LAC) 3 solos, 3 assists, 1 tackle for loss, 3 QB hits, 1.5 sacks, 84% defensive snaps
- DE Dorance Armstrong (DAL vs KC) 2 solos, 1 assist, 1 tackle for loss, 1 QB hit, 1 sack, 66% defensive snaps
- S Jalen Thompson (ARZ vs SEA) 5 solos, 1 assist, 1 pass defended, 100% defensive snaps
- S Jevon Holland (MIA vs NYJ) 6 solos, 1 assist, 1 pass defended, 1 fumble recovery, 97% defensive snaps
- S Godwin Igwebuike (DET vs CLE) 1 reception -4 yards, 3 kick returns 58 yards, 0% defensive snaps
This Week’s Linebackers
LB Germaine Pratt (CIN vs PIT)
The playing time has been all over the place for Pratt this season, but he is comfortably sitting above 64% of defensive snaps played over the past few weeks and this defense played well against the Raiders. Pratt has a safe solo tackle floor of 4-6 but has yet to reach double-digit tackles this season. He has a great matchup against a run-heavy Pittsburgh team and Najee Harris. Look for Pratt to give you safe but unspectacular tackle numbers again this week and bank the points if you are dealing with injuries or Byes.
LB Tyus Bowser (BAL vs CLE)
Bowser is coming off one of his best games of the season with 5 total tackles, 2 sacks, and a forced fumble. His overall tackle numbers are not spectacular for a linebacker, but he does have 4.5 sacks on the season. Bowser has a great matchup against a struggling Browns team that has lost its identity on offense. Nick Chubb is projected to be back and should provide for ample tackle opportunities at the second level.
LB T.J. Edwards (PHI vs NYG)
It would be a surprise if he was still available after the solid play of the past 4 weeks, but Edwards has been overlooked by many. He has 3 double-digit tackle games in his last 4, 1 interception, and 1 fumble recovery in that same time span. Edwards is playing like a LB1 right now and has a great matchup against the Giants this week. New York just fired their offensive coordinator and simply did not look good on Monday Night. Enter the surging Eagles and Edwards is in a great spot this week. He has over 90% of defensive snaps played in the past 3 games and should see that trend continue with the solid play.
This Week’s Defensive Linemen
DE Robert Quinn (CHI vs DET)
Quinn has absolutely turned it on in recent weeks. The 10-year veteran has a sack in back-to-back games and most recently had 3.5 against the Ravens last week. Quinn has also seen an uptick in solo tackles over the past 2 weeks with 4 in each game. Chicago has a great matchup against a Lions team starting a backup quarterback and Quinn is primed for another big game. Chase the points during the hot streak here and run Quinn out there. Even if your league has him as a linebacker.
DT Armon Watts (MIN vs SF)
Watts is coming off one of his best games with the Vikings and has seen a huge jump in playing time in recent weeks after the injury to Danielle Hunter. He had 4 total tackles, a sack, a QB hit, and a fumble recovery against Green Bay last week and played a season-high 81% of defensive snaps. The Vikings have a solid schedule the next 3 weeks starting with a matchup against San Francisco. Look for Watts to force more playing time for himself next season with a solid finish to this year.
DE James Smith-Williams (WFT vs SEA)
With the injury to Chase Young, Smith-Williams has seen the biggest jump in playing time. He is coming off a game with 6 total tackles, a tackle for loss, 1 QB hit, and .5 sacks with 86% of defensive snaps played against Carolina. The former seventh-round pick is fighting to stay on the roster and has started each of the last 2 games. A solid matchup against a Seattle team that is struggling to get back on track with Russell Wilson should provide ample opportunity for Smith-Williams to show he belongs.
This Week’s Defensive Backs:
S Eric Murray (HOU vs NYJ)
Murray has been handed the keys to the starting safety role for the Texans and is doing everything he can to keep it. He is coming off a surprise upset win against the Titans with 11 total tackles and a pass defended on 94% of defensive snaps played. Murray has been solid when in a starting role and has a great matchup against the Jets and Joe Flacco this week. Look for Murray to approach double-digit tackles again this week with ample opportunity for the big play against this struggling offense.
S Kareem Jackson (DEN vs LAC)
Jackson has started to play very well for the Broncos and has been solid in the tackle department over his past 4 starts. With lines of 7,9,7, and 9 total tackles in those contests, Jackson has a safe floor each week on the stat sheet. This week he takes on a Chargers team that loves to throw the ball across the middle and should provide for ample tackle opportunity. With games against the pass-happy Chiefs and the struggling Lions after that, he could be considered a multi-week play if needed.
CB Logan Ryan (NYG vs PHI)
There is a good chance people moved off of Ryan after missing last week due to a positive COVID test. As long as everything progresses this week he should be back out there against the Eagles. Ryan has been solid in the tackle department, and this is rare for the corner position. He has 9 total tackles 4 different times this season and a double-digit tackle game. The Eagles love to target Dallas Goedert across the middle and should provide for ample tackle opportunity on the outside to DeVonta Smith. Watch the reports this week and start Ryan with confidence if he is cleared to return to action.