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 Isaiah Simmons (ARZ vs MIN)
It was never about talent with Simmons and had everything to do with Kliff Kingsbury not trusting a rookie LB with a major role last season. That seems to have changed in week 1 with Simmons playing 91% of defensive snaps and racking up 9 total tackles, 2 passes defended, and an interception in a week 1 win against Tennessee. The opportunity for tackles will skyrocket against a run-first Minnesota team in week 2 and with the offense focused on Chandler Jones after his 5-sack performance last week. Simmons will not be a sleeper for very long this season so jump on the train early.
LB Jordyn Brooks (SEA vs TEN)
It is easy to get forgotten about playing alongside Bobby Wagner at linebacker. However, Brooks was able to rack up 11 total tackles on 89% of defensive snaps in a week 1 victory for Seattle. He played all over the field and showed great vision and athleticism chasing down the ball carrier. He is going to see another run-heavy team in Tennessee in week 2 and should have another great chance at double-digit tackles again this week.
LB Cole Holcomb (WFT vs NYG)
The Washington defense is much better than most people will give them credit for. Holcomb is playing behind Chase Young and Montez Sweat and has Landon Collins patrolling behind him. This leaves a lot of opportunity in the middle for tackles with the offensive scheme centered around other plays. Holcomb played 100% of defensive snaps in week 1 and came away with 11 total tackles and a QB hit. In week 2 he will face a Giants offense that struggled offensively with a Saquon Barkley that does not look fully healthy. Look for Holcomb to produce as long as he is getting on the field with consistency.
DT Cameron Heyward (PIT vs LV)
If you are in a league that has more than one defensive lineman spot or requires a defensive tackle, then look no further than Heyward. Not only does he have a great matchup in week 2 against Las Vegas, but he plays in what will be one of the top defenses all season. With T.J Watt inked to a long-term deal and garnering most of the attention, Hayward will be free in the middle to plug holes and get after the quarterback. He is coming off a game with 4 total tackles, a sack, and a tackle for loss against the Bills. Look for Heyward to remain consistent this season.
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