This article immediately highlights defensive players whose production was significantly better or worse than normally expected for the prior week of games. Note there is sometimes limited information available when this article is written, but I will try to give everyone an early look at players who are moving up or down in value among IDP circles. When warranted, I'll also call out some players under No Change to explain why the stat lines may be misleading. It isn’t easy to give waiver advice for IDPs since there is such a wide variety of lineups and scoring systems, but hopefully, the information provided can help inform your waiver, trade, and upcoming lineup decisions. If you have any questions about specific players or situations, please email me or reach out via Twitter.
JACKSONVILLE @ CINCINNATI
CB Tyson Campbell, JAX (4 solos, 4 asst, 1 TFL)
Campbell has now posted 8 combined tackles in consecutive weeks and looks like a clear standout among rookie cornerbacks. Even though his upside is limited by a lack of big plays, he appears to have a very high floor and should continue to be targeted by opposing quarterbacks.
LB K'Lavon Chaisson, JAX (1 solo, 1 QH)
The Jaguars selected Chaisson in the first round a year ago in hopes of rebuilding their defensive line. He played 568 snaps as a rookie but finished with just 12 solo tackles and 1 sack. More was expected of him this year with a shift to a 3-4 base that appeared to fit him better, but he’s gone sackless through 4 games and has 9 combined tackles while playing about 45% of the snaps each week.
WASHINGTON @ ATLANTA
S Erik Harris, ATL (4 solos, 2 asst, 1 QH, 3 PD)
Harris left the game late with an injury so monitor his status for next week, but he warrants a mention here after a strong game. He was extremely active and credited with 6 tackles (including a quarterback hit) while also knocking down 3 passes. It would be better if he could bring in an interception, but with 5 passes defensed in the last two weeks, he’s showing a knack for being around the ball a lot.
LB Jon Bostic, WAS (2 solos, 4 asst)
Bostic appeared to suffer a serious injury to his arm and was scheduled for an MRI on Monday. He posted 6 tackles on 33 snaps (43%), and his absence should create an opportunity for rookie Jamin Davis who has been brought along slowly to this point. Davis is a much better player than Bostic in coverage, so he should develop into a capable 3-down option. Cole Holcomb also left the game briefly with an injury scare but returned and still played 85% of the snaps.
HOUSTON @ BUFFALO
CB Desmond King, HOU (8 solos, 1 asst, 1 TFL, 1 FF)
King has been playing as the team’s nickel back in recent weeks but he was moved into the starting lineup this week in place of a benched Vernon Hargreaves III. He responded with 9 tackles with a forced fumble and could provide some value in the short-term if he can hold onto a full-time role.
LB Matt Milano, BUF (2 asst)
The Bills defense didn’t allow the Texans to do much in this game as they posted their second shutout in 3 weeks, but they lost a key piece when Milano left the game with a hamstring injury. He played just 36% of the snaps and was replaced by A.J. Klein, who could be forced to take on a bigger role next week in a key matchup against the Chiefs.
CB Vernon Hargreaves III, HOU (1 solo)
Hargreaves is one of those corners who posts strong fantasy numbers because they are often picked on by opposing quarterbacks. The risk, however, is that they may not hold onto their starting job for very long and that happened this week as he was benched in favor of Desmond King.
DETROIT @ CHICAGO
DE Charles Harris, DET (3 solos, 1 asst, 1 sack, 2 QH, 1 FF)
There have been very few IDP standouts for Detroit this year but Harris is quietly emerging as an impact player. The former first-round pick of the Dolphins is on his third team but now has sacks in three straight games and played 90% of the snaps this week. He will be relied upon heavily following a devastating injury to Romeo Okwara.
LB Robert Quinn, CHI (5 solos, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 2 QH, 1 FF)
Even though 2020 wound up being a huge disappointment for Quinn, he’s proving his worth this year. Through 4 games, he’s been credited with 4.5 sacks and has played nearly 80% of the snaps over the past two games.
LB Alec Ogletree, CHI (10 solos, 2 asst, 1 TFL, 1 PD)
With the pending return of Danny Trevathan, it was assumed that Ogletree would return to a reserve role. After posting 12 tackles on 56 snaps this week, however, he could warrant a longer look here.
DE Romeo Okwara, DET (2 solo, 1 asst, 1 TFL)
Okwara has been the Lions' best pass rusher for years and set a career-high with 10 sacks in 2020. He posted 3 tackles on just 14 snaps (24%) this week before leaving with an injury that was later confirmed to be a torn Achilles. That is a huge blow to the Lions defense as they have also been forced to play without Trey flowers the past two weeks.
S Tracy Walker, DET (2 solos)
Walker has not had a great start to this season and saw his playing time reduced the past two weeks as a result. After playing nearly every snap in weeks 1 and 2, he’s been rotated out the past two weeks and played just 64% of the snaps. He should be one of the best players on this Lions defense, who has been struggling to find answers.
CAROLINA @ DALLAS
DE Randy Gregory, DAL (2 solos, 1 asst, 2 sacks, 2 TFL, 4 QH)
The injury to Demarcus Lawrence has left the Cowboys searching for help getting to the quarterback and Gregory looks like he can help in that regard. He missed week 2 due to Covid and came into this week with a questionable tag but looked great and picked up 2 sacks with 4 quarterback hits while playing just 54% of the snaps. Rookie Chauncey Golden also made an impact with 5 tackles and a half-sack on 71% of the snaps.
S Sean Chandler, CAR (3 solos, 6 asst)
With starting free safety Juston Burris on injured reserve, Chandler got the start and played 79% of the snaps. He was used all over the place and wound up finishing as the Panthers leading tackler with 9 stops (1 assist came on special teams).
CB Trevon Diggs, DAL (4 solos, 2 INT, 2 PD)
CB Anthony Brown, DAL (6 solos, 3 PD)
Diggs was projected to be one of the highest-scoring cornerbacks this year but he’s outperformed thus far and currently ranks as a top-10 IDP overall with 5 interceptions through the first 4 games. He did leave the game early with a back injury, but the Cowboys had a big lead and it appeared to be precautionary. Anthony Brown has been the bigger surprise here as he currently ranks among the top fantasy corners as well. He’s averaging nearly 7 combined tackles per game and should continue to see a steady stream of targets each week.
LB Jaylon Smith, DAL (1 solo)
After spending two games at defensive end, rookie Micah Parsons moved back to middle linebacker this week. That reduced Smith to a part-time role and he managed just 1 solo tackle on 28 snaps (41%). It appears he’ll need an injury or change of scenery to become fantasy-relevant again.
INDIANAPOLIS @ MIAMI
DE Kemoko Turay, IND (2 solos, 1 asst, 2 sacks, 2 TFL, 2 QH)
Turay is a former 2nd-round pick who has struggled with injuries for much of his career. He began the year buried on the depth chart but has seen his playing time steadily rise over the past few games from 19% to 34% to 46% this week. He’s playing mostly as a pass-rush specialist but his 2-sack game this week is encouraging while rookie Kwity Paye sat out with a hamstring injury.
DT DeForest Buckner, IND (3 asst)
Buckner has averaged 9.5 sacks/year over the past three seasons and has Defensive Player of the Year potential. Since posting a sack in week 1, however, he’s been rather underwhelming from a fantasy perspective. Over the past 3 games, he has played more than 80% of the defensive snaps but has just 3 solos and 0 sacks (with 10 assists).
LB Jerome Baker, MIA (2 solos, 2 asst, 1 QH, 1 PD)
As one of the few defenders in Miami to play 100% of the snaps each week, Baker is expected to lead the way when it comes to tackle production. While he’s showed his potential with 12 tackles in week 1, it’s also quite disappointing to see him credited with just 4 tackles this week to rank tied for 9th on his own team. With 7 sacks a year ago, he also showed great timing as a blitzer but has yet to record any sacks this year.
CLEVELAND @ MINNESOTA
DE Everson Griffen, MIN (3 solos, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 1 QH)
Griffen was a late addition to the Vikings this year but he has a long history of success with them. Although he’s not seeing a heavy workload and has averaged a little more than 50% of the defensive snaps, he has shown that he can still get to the quarterback with sacks in back-to-back games.
S Ronnie Harrison, CLE (1 solo)
Harrison got the start at strong safety as expected but left the game after just 2 snaps with a head injury. The coaching staff said he was not diagnosed with a concussion but was kept out of the game due to protocol, so monitor his status throughout the week. Grant Delpit played 97% of the snaps in his place but contributed just 2 assisted tackles in the game.
CB Greedy Williams, CLE (4 solos, 2 asst, 1 INT, 1 PD)
After missing most of last year with a shoulder injury, Williams got his first start since 2019 this week in place of injured rookie Greg Newsome II. He made the most of the opportunity and showed that he can produce when called upon but may head back to a reserve role next week.
NY GIANTS @ NEW ORLEANS
LB Pete Werner, NO (6 solos, 4 asst, 1 TFL)
The rookie 2nd-round pick began the year playing behind Zack Baun but appears to have moved ahead of him on the depth chart. He looked good this week and was credited with 10 tackles on 40 snaps (63%), but he could go back to the bench when Kwon Alexander returns from injured reserve.
S Malcolm Jenkins, NO (8 solos, 4 asst, 1 TFL)
Jenkins has been a very productive player for a long time but often flies under the radar for fantasy purposes because he’s known more for his consistency than his splash plays. While most defenders start to slow down at his age (33), Jenkins is off to another great season. He has 18 solos, 7 assists, and a pick-six over his last three games and ranks among the elites at his position.
S Jabrill Peppers, NYG (0 tackles)
Peppers got the start in a 3-safety package for the Giants this week but he was shut out on the stat sheet while playing just 19 snaps (28%). He was held out of most of the game with a hamstring injury and Julian Love (1 solo, 5 asst) played 47 snaps (69%) in relief.
TENNESSEE @ NY JETS
DT Quinnen Williams, NYJ (6 solos, 1 asst, 2 sacks, 1 TFL, 2 QH)
Most of the Jets defenders had strong numbers this week since the Titans offense generated a remarkable 74 tackle opportunities in an upset win that went deep into overtime. Williams, however, followed up his strong game from a week ago and led a Jets pass rush that finished with 7 sacks and 14 quarterback hits.
LB Harold Landry, TEN (5 solos, 2 asst, 1 sack, 3 TFL, 1 QH)
The Titans signed Bud Dupree to try and boost their pass rush but through the first four games, they are still relying almost entirely on Landry. Fortunately, he’s coming through as he now has at least a partial sack in 3 of 4 games. He’s played all but 1 snap over the past two games, which is rare for an edge defender, and he’s also been active against the run with 21 tackles.
LB Jayon Brown, TEN (1 solo)
Brown appears to have been surpassed for the time being as he was healthy enough to play but only saw 19 snaps (31%) compared to 60 (98%) for David Long Jr Jr and 43 for Rashaan Evans (70%). Brown seems to be playing in clear passing situations with Evans handling the early-down work.
KANSAS CITY @ PHILADELPHIA
DE Mike Danna, KC (3 solos, 1 asst, 2 sacks, 2 TFL, 2 QH)
Frank Clark has missed 3 of 4 games this year and that has allowed Danna to play 70+% of the snaps in those games. In the past two weeks alone, he has collected 5 solos, 1 asst, and 3 sacks. The former 5th-round pick is quietly emerging as a very capable pass rusher and the heavy workload combined with a potent Chiefs offense is a recipe for success.
DT Javon Hargrave, PHI (3 solos, 3 asst, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 1 QH)
While many probably keep expecting Hargrave to regress back to his normal level, he just keeps putting up strong numbers every week. He’s only playing about two-thirds of the defensive snaps but already has 25 tackles and 5 sacks on the year. At this point, he’s a must-start every week even in leagues that group defensive tackles and defensive ends together.
CB Mike Hughes, KC (9 solos, 1 asst, 1 FF, 1 PD)
Hughes has been forced into playing a big role for the Chiefs due to injuries and the results for the defense have been pretty abysmal. They gave up 387 yards to Jalen Hurts and the Eagles this week and Hughes gave up several big plays. Assuming he holds onto the starting job another week, he should be in line for another big week with Josh Allen and the Bills coming up on the schedule.
ARIZONA @ LA RAMS
S Jalen Thompson, ARI (5 solos, 5 asst, 1 PD)
Budda Baker draws most of the attention in the Arizona secondary, but Thompson has been nearly as productive this year. Through 4 games, Thompson has been credited with 18 solos and 27 tackles overall compared to 21 solos and 30 tackles for Baker.
S Taylor Rapp, LAR (6 solos, 6 asst)
Rapp continues to produce in the back of the Rams defense. While his only big play was a partial sack in week 2, Rapp has been remarkably consistent with double-digit tackles in 3 of 4 games and 35 tackles overall.
LB Zaven Collins, ARI (0 tackles)
The Cardinals' first-round pick is trending in the wrong direction. After being anointed a stater in the summer, he was beaten out by Jordan Hicks in camp and now saw his playing time drop from 40% the past two weeks to just 4 snaps this week.
SEATTLE @ SAN FRANCISCO
S Quandre Diggs, SEA (5 solos, 2 asst, 1 INT, 2 PD)
Seattle’s pass defense has struggled this year, but that has also helped Diggs remain more productive than you’d typically expect a free safety playing behind Bobby Wagner and Jamal Adams to be. With another strong showing this week, including the first interception of the season for Seattle, Diggs is now up to 31 tackles through 4 games.
DE Carlos Dunlap, SEA (0 tackles)
Dunlap has 155 snaps this year but only has 1 solo and 2 assists to show for it. Seattle has been relying on a rotation at defensive end to try and keep everybody fresh, but it hasn’t translated into production for Dunlap yet. To make matters worse, he suffered a turf toe injury in the game this week and seems unlikely to be ready to play on Thursday night against the Rams.
DE Dee Ford, SF (2 solos, 1 asst, 2 sacks, 1 TFL, 2 QH, 1 FF)
While it’s natural to get excited about a 2-sack performance, you also need to consider that it came on a very small number of plays. Ford played a season-low 12 snaps (21%) this week and has been playing less than a third of each game on average. While those are typically high-leverage sacks for a pass rusher, it’s quite easy for him to post zero stats as he did in weeks 2 and 3 this year.
BALTIMORE @ DENVER
LB Justin Strnad, DEN (2 solos)
Strnad has replaced the injured Josey Jewell at inside linebacker and played 80% of the snaps in each of the past two games. After posting a reasonable output last week against the Jets, he was a no-show this week and finished with only 2 solo tackles on 59 snaps. Most of the tackles went to the safeties playing behind him as Justin Simmons and Kareem Jackson combined for 15 solos and 19 tackles overall.
LB Chris Board, BAL (6 solos, 3 asst)
In a game where the Broncos offense only generated 17 rush attempts and 41 tackle opportunities, Board stood out with his team-leading 9 tackles (although 2 came on special teams). While he did see a season-high 48% of the snaps this week, it’s worth pointing out that they didn’t come at the expense of Malik Harrison (52%) who has not played very well this year. Board is a capable backup but the team is invested in Harrison and seems willing to give him a long leash.
S Caden Sterns, DEN (3 solos, 2 sacks, 2 TFL, 2 QH, 1 PD)
The rookie safety blew up this week with a pair of sacks and pass deflection, but don’t rush out to pick him up. He’s still well behind Justin Simmons and Kareem Jackson at the position and his breakout performance came on a day where he played only 7 defensive snaps (10%).
PITTSBURGH @ GREEN BAY
LB T.J. Watt, PIT (3 solos, 1 asst, 2 sacks, 2 TFL, 2 QH, 1 FR)
Watt is a game-changer in every sense of the word. While he missed week 3 with a groin injury and most of week 2, it hasn’t slowed him down from a fantasy perspective. He’s picked up 5 sacks in 146 snaps over 3 games played this year. The Steelers offense is struggling but it seems like he gives this team and fantasy players a chance to win almost anytime he’s healthy.
CB Jaire Alexander, GB (0 tackles)
Alexander is one of the league’s best shutdown corners and is often asked to shadow the opposing team’s best receiver. That can limit his opportunities from a fantasy perspective so his fantasy value is much lower than his value to the Packers. Unfortunately, he was forced to leave the game early this week with a shoulder injury and was waiting on more tests to determine the severity. If he can’t play next week against the Bengals, that could be a nice boost for Jamarr Chase as well as rookie Eric Stokes, who broke out this week with 8 solo tackles and his first interception.
TAMPA BAY @ NEW ENGLAND
LB Matt Judon, NE (4 solos, 3 asst, 1 sack, 2 TFL, 2 QH)
The Patriots made some big splashes in free agency this year and Judon was a focal point of their offseason. The former Raven is a strong two-way player and proving to be a great signing early on as he now has 4.5 sacks over his past 3 games and saw a season-high 87% of the snaps this week.
CB Richard Sherman, TB (7 solos, 1 FR)
Sherman hasn’t been on the team for very long, but a rash of injuries forced him into the lineup this week. All he did was play 98% of the snaps and lead the team in tackles while also coming up with a big fumble recovery in the second half.
CB Carlton Davis, TB (1 solo, 1 PD)
Davis had only missed 2 snaps prior to this week but he left the game early with a quad injury. The initial reports sounded like he could miss some time so that will put even more stress on a depleted secondary that was already missing Sean Murphy-Bunting and Jamel Dean.
S Antoine Winfield Jr, TB (5 solos, 2 asst, 1 FF, 1 INT, 1 PD)
Winfield continues to be a huge part of the Buccaneers defense and he had another strong showing on Sunday night. Unfortunately, he missed the last two drives of the game as he left early with a concussion and will need to progress through the protocol quickly if he hopes to play next week against the Dolphins.