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.
GREEN BAY @ ARIZONA
DE Zach Allen, ARI (2 solos, 4 asst, 1 sack, 1 QH)
Allen got off to a slow start this year and missed the prior two games due to Covid, but he’s trending upwards. With another solid outing this week, he’s now posted 5 solos, 5 assists, and 2 sacks in his last two games played. With J.J. Watt now out for the year, he should also see a heavier workload going forward as he played a season-high 78% of the snaps this week.
CB Rasul Douglas, GB (9 solos, 1 INT, 2 PD)
Douglas was recently signed off the Cardinals practice squad to provide depth while the Packers were missing Jaire Alexander and Kevin King with injuries. After playing 80+% of the snaps the past two weeks, he played the entire game this week and finished with a team-high 9 solo stops as well as the game-saving interception. He could lose his spot if the other players get healthy
DT Kenny Clark, GB (2 asst)
Clark earned an upgrade following a 2-sack game in week 6 but he’s been nearly invisible on the box scores since then. He played a remarkable 90% of the defensive snaps this week but finished with just 2 assists. When combined with him getting shut out on 60 snaps last week, it’s a concerning trend for fantasy teams that rely on him.
LB Zaven Collins, ARI (0 tackles)
The rookie had played more than 50% of the snaps in two of the past three games but he was limited to just 4% of the snaps this week. He left the game early with a shoulder injury and was replaced by Tanner Vallejo, who collected 2 solo stops on 29 snaps (40%).
CAROLINA @ ATLANTA
LB Shaq Thompson, CAR (8 solos, 2 asst, 1 TFL, 1 INT, 1 PD)
Thompson returned to the lineup this week after sitting out the prior 3 games with a foot injury. He didn’t handle a full workload (66%) but made a big impact with 10 tackles plus an interception on just 35 snaps. Jermaine Carter was less impactful and only collected 6 tackles despite playing 14 more snaps.
S Erik Harris, ATL (5 solos, 2 asst, 2 PD)
Most of the production in Atlanta goes to their top-2 linebackers but Harris has still managed to be remarkably consistent. He missed one game but has collected 35 combined tackles with 27 solo stops in the other 6 games. There haven’t been any big plays but he does have 7 passes defensed, which is a positive sign and indicates he’s been around the ball quite often.
S Sean Chandler, CAR (0 tackles)
Chandler has been quite productive while filling in for Juston Burris and came into the week with 18 combined tackles over his past two games. He was shut out this week, however, on 47 snaps and it appears that Burris could return to the lineup next week after practicing with the team last week
MIAMI @ BUFFALO
DT Christian Wilkins, MIA (4 solos, 2 asst, 2 TFL, 1 PD)
Wilkins has been one of the few bright spots for a Dolphins defense that hasn’t played up to expectations. Through 8 games, he has been credited with 25 solo tackles, 14 assists, and 2 sacks which makes him one of the most productive defensive tackles in the league.
DT Ed Oliver, BUF (1 solo, 1 asst, 1 TFL)
There were hopes that Oliver could turn into an Aaron Donald-type in the middle of the Bills defensive line. While he’s shown some flashes and can make an impact that often goes unnoticed on the stat sheet, he seems unlikely to become much of a factor in fantasy leagues. He’s in his 3rd year and has an excellent supporting cast around him but has just 12 solos, 2 assists, and 0 sacks through 7 games.
LB Duke Riley, MIA (3 solos, 2 asst)
Riley’s production this week likely won’t earn him much attention on waiver wires, but it’s worth calling out that he played 92% of the snaps while filling in for an injured Jerome Baker. This was a change from last week where Sam Eguavoen played 84% of the snaps. Baker could return from a knee injury next week though, so the increased workload for Riley may be short-lived.
SAN FRANCISCO @ CHICAGO
S Talanoa Hufanga, SF (4 solos, 1 asst, 1 TFL)
The rookie 5th round pick got his first career start at strong safety in place of the injured Jaquiski Tartt. While his numbers won’t blow you away, he held up well and should remain in the lineup for a couple more weeks since Tartt is on IR.
S Eddie Jackson, CHI (0 tackles)
Jackson started the game on Sunday but only lasted 2 snaps before leaving with a hamstring injury. That allowed DeAndre Houston-Carson (5 solos, 1 asst, 1 PD) a chance to play a full-time role, even after the return of Tashaun Gipson Sr had sent him back to the bench.
S Jimmie Ward, SF (6 solos)
Ward had a productive game with 5 solo stops on defense on 64 snaps (91%), but he left the game late with a quad injury that could keep him out for next week’s game against Arizona. Tavon Wilson filled in for him.
PITTSBURGH @ CLEVELAND
LB Malcolm Smith, CLE (9 solos, 1 asst, 1 PD)
Smith warrants an upgrade mention as he finished with an impressive 10 tackles plus a pass deflection while filling in for the injured Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoa. Be careful not to overvalue him, however, as he did all that while playing just 54% of the snaps.
S John Johnson III, CLE (1 solo, 3 asst)
The veteran safety hasn’t made much of an impact on his new team this year. Through the first 8 games, he has been credited with just 17 solo tackles and 11 assists and has a single interception in the big play column. Unfortunately, he was knocked out of the game after playing just 39% of the snaps this week with a neck injury so his status for next week remains in doubt. Grant Delpit (4 solos, 1 asst on 50 snaps) should take on a bigger role in his absence.
PHILADELPHIA @ DETROIT
LB T.J. Edwards, PHI (8 solos, 5 asst, 2 TFL, 1 QH)
Edwards took over for Alex Singleton in the middle of the Eagles defense this week and exploded for 13 tackles on just 41 snaps (66%). It’s not clear if this is a permanent change or a 1-week trial, but there is a lot of opportunity for whoever emerges as the primary option going forward.
LB Alex Singleton, PHI (1 solo)
Singleton lost his place in the starting lineup this week and wound up playing just 21 defensive snaps (34%). His only tackle came on special teams while T.J. Edwards (66%) and Davion Taylor (63%) handled most of the workload at linebacker. Even Eric Wilson was a surprise inactive this week so it appears the Eagles are making some significant changes to the position. This was a quick fall for Singleton, who was leading the league in tackles after week 6 and still posted 9 stops last week even though his playing time had been declining the past few weeks.
LA RAMS @ HOUSTON
LB Ernest Jones, LAR (7 solos, 2 asst, .5 sack, 1 TFL, 2 QH, 1 INT, 1 PD)
After trading Kenny Young to the Broncos, the rookie Jones moved up on the depth chart and got an opportunity to showcase himself against the Texans. He wound up making a huge impact while playing 92% of the snaps, including a partial sack and an interception. The 3rd round pick looks ready to handle a key role the rest of the way and has a favorable schedule coming up.
LB Von Miller, LAR (DNP)
Miller was inactive for the Broncos on Sunday and traded to the Rams on Monday. While his overall fantasy numbers haven’t stood out this year, he does have 4.5 sacks and remains a very effective pass rusher despite having little help in Denver. Aaron Donald has turned lesser players into stars in the past, so this should be a great opportunity for Miller to boost his sack total.
CB Desmond King, HOU (DNP)
King has posted strong numbers when in the lineup this year but he was a healthy scratch this week for disciplinary reasons. That pushed Vernon Hargreaves III back into the lineup, who finished with 7 tackles on 64 snaps (100%).
TENNESSEE @ INDIANAPOLIS
LB Bobby Okereke, IND (10 solos, 2 asst)|
While Darius Leonard tends to be the biggest tackle producer in the Colts defense, Okereke is proving to be a capable fantasy linebacker in his own right. Although he disappointed last week with just 4 tackles, he has posted at least 8 combined tackles in 5 of his last 6 games.
S Dane Cruikshank, TEN (1 solo, 1 asst)
Cruikshank came up huge last week in a win over the Chiefs but he was sent back to a reserve role this week with the return of Amani Hooker. Cruikshank wound up seeing the lowest workload (25%) he’s had since week 1 and left the game in the 4th quarter to be checked for a concussion.
CINCINNATI @ NY JETS
S Vonn Bell, CIN (5 solos, 4 asst, 1 FF, 1 FR)
Bell doesn’t contribute much in terms of sacks or interceptions, which prevents him from posting huge weeks compared to some of his peers at the safety position. He’s been an extremely productive and consistent tackler this year, however, and now has 38 solo tackles and 14 assists through 8 games to rank among the top-10 at his position.
LB Quincy Williams, NYJ (1 solo, 1 PD)
Williams cleared the concussion protocol in time to suit up this week but had a rather underwhelming showing with just 1 solo stop and 1 pass defensed. Perhaps more concerning is that he only wound up seeing 59% of the defensive snaps after frequently playing over 90% earlier this season. The one change is that Jarrad Davis was healthy this week and saw 68% of the snaps in his Jets debut.
NEW ENGLAND @ LA CHARGERS
LB Kyzir White, LAC (6 solos, 3 asst, 1 TFL)
The Chargers opened up in a formation with 5 defensive linemen and 5 defensive backs and Kyzir White as the lone linebacker. He didn’t play a full-time role but wasn’t far off with 84% of the snaps and collected 9 tackles on 63 snaps compared to 4 tackles from Drue Tranquill on 57 snaps (76%).
LB Matt Judon, NE (4 solos, 1 asst, 1.5 sacks, 1 TFL, 2 QH)
Judon was very good with the Ravens but often saw a limited workload since they preferred to use a rotational approach. His prior career high was 9.5 sacks in 2019 but he now has 8 sacks in 8 games during his first year in New England. Free agent signings rarely work out this well, but he’s proving to be one of the best pickups of the offseason.
JACKSONVILLE @ SEATTLE
DE Josh Allen, JAX (5 solos, 1 asst, 2 sacks, 4 TFL, 2 QH)
Allen has been quite productive this year, but this was his first multi-sack game of the season. It gives him 14 solo tackles, 6 assists, and 2.5 sacks over his last 3 games. The matchups do look more difficult in the weeks ahead, but his tackle numbers provide reassurance that he can be started against anybody with confidence.
LB Bobby Wagner, SEA (7 solos, 7 asst)
Wagner continues to amaze and produce like one of the best linebackers we’ve ever seen. At 31 years of age, he’s showing no signs of slowing down and could be headed for perhaps the best season of his career. Through 8 games, he has been credited with 52 solo tackles and 41 assists which puts him on pace for nearly 200 combined tackles if he plays all 17 games.
WASHINGTON @ DENVER
LB Baron Browning, DEN (5 solos, 3 asst, 1 TFL)
The Broncos traded for Kenny Young last week and gave him a start but also appeared to leave him out of their nickel packages. They also moved the rookie Browning ahead of Justin Strnad on the depth chart and had him play 68 of 70 snaps. With Von Miller being traded away, it looks like Denver may be more concerned with playing for the future so it would make sense for a young player like Browning to get a lot of run in the second half.
S Landon Collins, WAS (5 solos, 3 asst, 1 sack, 2 TFL, 1 QH)
A week after playing just 43% of the snaps, Collins saw his workload increase to 89% this week. While that still trailed both starting safeties, it was a little more than rookie linebacker Jamin Davis (79%). With 8 tackles and a sack, Collins is showing that he can be very productive and can use the upcoming bye week to get more comfortable in his new role as a linebacker.
DE Montez Sweat, WAS (2 QH)
Chase Young isn’t the only talented edge rusher struggling in Washington. Sweat has 4 sacks on the year so he’s been mildly productive, but he’s also come up empty in 2 of the last 3 games and saw a season-low 58% of the snaps this week.
TAMPA BAY @ NEW ORLEANS
LB Lavonte David, TB (6 solos, 2 asst)
It was very reassuring to see David return to action from an ankle injury. He could have easily sat out this week to get another week of rest during the upcoming bye week but he played all 76 snaps and helped keep Alvin Kamara in check.
LB Pete Werner, NO (3 solos, 1 asst, 1 TFL)
The rookie 2nd-round pick has been productive since taking on a bigger role in week 3, but he has also seen his playing time drop the past two weeks with the return of Kwon Alexander. Alexander’s workload went from 0% to 44% the past few games while Werner has been headed in the opposite direction from 99% to 54%. He’s still likely a long-term building block for them but Alexander offers more playmaking and his experience should give him an edge in the short term.
DALLAS @ MINNESOTA
LB Micah Parsons, DAL (10 solos, 1 asst, 4 TFL, 1 QH)
Parsons is proving to be a difference-maker as he helped the Dallas defense keep the game under control so they could pull out a late victory. He was likely held back somewhat by the move to defensive end earlier this year but has looked more comfortable at linebacker with each new week of experience. While some growing pains are expected for a rookie, he has undeniable instincts and can fly to the ball as we saw this week with him posting 10 solo stops and 4 tackles for a loss.
DE Danielle Hunter, MIN (3 solos, 2 asst)
Hunter was on his way to another huge season this year but he suffered a torn pectoral muscle this week and will be lost for the rest of the year. This is a huge loss for the Vikings defense, who was not the same without him in 2020. D.J. Wonnum figures to see the biggest boost in playing time, but he should also be less effective without Hunter around to draw all the attention.