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.
NY JETS @ INDIANAPOLIS
S Ashtyn Davis, NYJ (7 solos, 3 asst, 2 FF)
With Marcus Maye done for the year, Davis will likely move over to more of a strong safety role on a defense that has been struggling to stop anybody. Over the past three games, Davis has not played particularly well but he has been productive with 19 solos, 5 assists, and a pair of forced fumbles.
CB Kenny Moore II, IND (8 solos, 1 asst, 1 PD)
Moore came into the season as one of the top-ranked fantasy corners and he has not solidified his ranking thus far. This was his fifth game out of 9 with 7 or more solo tackles and puts him on pace to finish with 100 in 17 games.
S Marcus Maye, NYJ (2 solos, 4 asst)
Maye suffered a season-ending Achilles injury on Thursday night and will leave a big hole in the Jets secondary. While he hasn’t always played up to his potential, he was one of the more talented players on this defense and a reliable fantasy option. This also couldn’t come at much worse of a time for him personally as he is scheduled to become a free agent after this year. Sharrod Neasman replaced him in the game but wasn’t credited with any stats on his 20 snaps (32%).
MINNESOTA @ BALTIMORE
CB Cameron Dantzler, MIN (10 solos)
Dantzler was a starter as a rookie last year but was buried on the depth chart when this year began. An injury to Patrick Peterson has created a new opening for him and he is taking full advantage with 17 solo tackles and a pair of pass deflections in the past two games.
CB Bashaud Breeland, MIN (1 solo, 1 asst, 1 PD)
Breeland has been a reliable but low-end fantasy starter this year but was forced to leave the game early this week. He lasted just 27 snaps (28%) before leaving with a groin injury, which could keep him out of next week’s matchup against the Chargers. Kris Boyd (4 solos, 1 asst) filled in for him and saw his first playing time since Week 1.
S Harrison Smith, MIN (DNP)
Smith was a late scratch on Sunday after a positive Covid test, and there are reports that he is unvaccinated. If true, that means he will be forced to miss next week’s game against the Chargers as well. Cornerback Camryn Bynum (9 solos, 3 asst, 1 INT, 1 PD) filled in for him and stuffed the box score after getting a surprise start in a game that went deep into overtime.
CB Anthony Averett, BAL (1 asst)
Averett has been quite productive this year as the starting corner opposite Marlon Humphrey. The numbers for both starting cornerbacks were way down this week despite a game that went deep into overtime. If you look closer at the game log though, you will notice that the Vikings got out to a big lead and then took the air out of the ball, which left limited opportunities for the Ravens cornerbacks. Kirk Cousins only completed 17 passes and just 5 of them went to Justin Jefferson or Adam Thielen.
NEW ENGLAND @ CAROLINA
S Jeremy Chinn, CAR (5 solos, 6 asst, 2 TFL, 1 FF)
The Panthers have made significant upgrades to their cornerback position and have one of the best pass-rushing tandems in the league. That combination should help funnel more plays to the middle of the field and help Chinn get back to being one of the most productive IDPs in the league. With 11 tackles this week, he’s now been credited with at least 8 tackles in 3 of the last 4 games.
CLEVELAND @ CINCINNATI
LB Anthony Walker, CLE (12 solos, 2 asst, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 1 QH)
Walker had his best game as a Brown this week but he’s been quite productive all year. He did miss 3 games while on injured reserve but his production in the other 6 games is 37 solos and 20 assists, which would be a 100+ solo, 50+ assist pace.
DENVER @ DALLAS
LB Baron Browning, DEN (4 solos, 2 asst, 1 QH)
Browning’s stat line didn’t stand out, but it was reassuring to see him play all 62 defensive snaps in the game. Kenny Young (1 solo, 2 asst) also got the start at inside linebacker with him but was limited to a 2-down role and played just 41 snaps (66%).
LB Jonathon Cooper, DEN (3 solos, 1 asst, 2 sacks, 2 TFL, 2 QH)
The Broncos traded Von Miller and were missing Malik Reed due to an injury, which led to a big opportunity for Cooper. The rookie seventh-round pick came through with a pair of sacks in a surprising win over the Cowboys.
CB Trevon Diggs, DAL (1 solo, 1 asst, 1 PD)
Diggs was one of the most productive IDPs in the league during the first half of the season, but this was his second disappointing game in a row. After posting 7 interceptions with 21 solo tackles over the first 6 games he has just 2 solos and 1 assist (with a pass defensed) over the past two games. The dropoff could also be related to an ankle injury that he has been playing through.
LB Leighton Vander Esch, DAL (7 solos, 5 asst, 1 TFL)
Vander Esch has mostly been a non-factor this year while playing a part-time role. While he did play a season-high 51 snaps this week, it still represented just 65% of the snaps. His numbers were very impressive as he was credited with 12 tackles but that was driven in large part by the game script as the Broncos offense generated 41 rush attempts and 64 tackle opportunities.
BUFFALO @ JACKSONVILLE
DE Josh Allen, JAX (8 solos, 1 sack, 2 TFL, 1 QH, 1 INT, 1 PD, 1 FR)
It would be hard to find a defensive player around the league who had a bigger week than Allen, who seemed to be all over the field in leading the Jaguars to a huge upset win. He wound up leading all players in the game with 8 solo tackles while also adding a sack, an interception, and a fumble recovery.
CB Taron Johnson, BUF (2 solos)
The Bills nickel back is one of the more productive corners in the league due to his tackling ability, but he left the game after just 11 snaps with a concussion. Siran Neal (4 solos, 1 asst) replaced him but if Johnson misses next week, the Bills would likely activate Cam Lewis to fill in.
HOUSTON @ MIAMI
DE Emmanuel Ogbah, MIA (2 solos, 2 asst, 2.5 sacks, 2 TFL, 3 QH, 1 PD)
Things haven’t gone as expected for the Dolphins this year, but Ogbah has not been part of the problem. Despite getting little help from the rest of the front seven, he now has 5 sacks with 8 games left to play and a chance to top the career-high 9 sacks he posted a year ago. Ogbah also has 5 passes defensed over his prior 4 games as he’s been batting down a lot of passes at the line of scrimmage.
LB Zach Cunningham, HOU (2 solos, 6 asst, 1 QH)
Cunningham appears to have escaped from the coach’s doghouse as he returned to the starting lineup this week and played all 75 defensive snaps. With Christian Kirksey on IR with a broken thumb (and on a short-term contract), there is an opportunity for Cunningham to win back the trust of the coaching staff. Kamu Grugier-Hill (5 solos, 3 asst, 1 TFL, 1 FF) also continues to play well and played 96% of the snaps this week.
ATLANTA @ NEW ORLEANS
DE Marcus Davenport, NO (3 solos, 3 asst, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 2 QH, 1 FF)
Davenport missed 4 games earlier this year but returned to the lineup in week 7. He’s seen his playing time slowly increase over the past few games to the point he played 73% of the snaps this week. He was credited with 6 tackles and a sack, and his return also appears to have helped Cameron Jordan who posted a sack for his third week in a row.
S Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, NO (1 solo, 1 asst, 1 PD)
Even though he’s a 3rd-string safety, the Saints rely pretty heavily on Gardner-Johnson and regularly give him 90% of the snaps. This week, however, he only played 16 snaps (27%) after suffering a foot injury early in the game. P.J. Williams picked up the slack and added 3 tackles plus a pass defensed on 30 snaps.
LAS VEGAS @ NY GIANTS
DE Yannick Ngakoue, LV (2 solos, 2 sacks, 1 TFL, 2 QH)
After going sackless for the first 4 games of the year, Ngakoue has come alive and has 6 sacks over his last 4. With multiple sacks in 3 of the prior 4 games, he’s providing a much-needed boost to the Raiders defense.
S Xavier McKinney, NYG (4 solos, 3 asst, 2 INT, 2 PD)
Even before Jabrill Peppers went on injured reserve with an ACL injury suffered in week 7, McKinney was starting to take over the Giants secondary. He’s teamed up with veteran Logan Ryan to provide playmaking and stability in the back of the Giants defense. This marks McKinney’s second multi-interception game in the past month and Ryan ranks among the league leaders with 47 solo tackles and 25 assists through 9 games played.
CB Damon Arnette, LV (DNP)
Arnette was on IR and hadn’t played since Week 4 but the former first-round pick was released on Monday. Video surfaced over the weekend that showed him making death threats while holding a gun. This leaves the Raiders without both of their first-round picks from 2020 after they cut Henry Ruggs III a week ago.
LA CHARGERS @ PHILADELPHIA
DT Linval Joseph, LAC (8 solos, 1 asst)
At 33 years of age, little was expected from Joseph but he’s been highly productive once again. Through 8 games, he has 23 solo tackles which puts him on pace to set a new career-high (albeit in a 17-game season). There isn’t much quality depth at the defensive tackle position, but he is proving that he still has something left while also handling a heavy workload each week.
LB T.J. Edwards, PHI (5 solos, 7 asst)
Edwards saw his playing time increase for the fourth week in a row from 23% back in week 5 to 97% this week. He’s emerging as the full-time replacement for Alex Singleton and now has 13 solos and 12 assists over the past two games. Davion Taylor (6 solos, 2 asst) is also growing into a bigger role as he played a season-high 49 snaps (72%) this week.
DT Javon Hargrave, PHI (2 solos, 1 asst)
Hargrave got off to an incredible start this season with 6 sacks over his first 5 games. While he did have a history of success dating back to his time with the Steelers, it was always unlikely he’d be able to keep that type of production going throughout the season. Over his past two games, he has started to regress towards what we expected with just 2 solos and 2 assists.
GREEN BAY @ KANSAS CITY
DT Kenny Clark, GB (1 solo)
After a huge 2-sack performance in week 6, it appeared that Clark was tracking towards becoming an elite fantasy DT. Unfortunately, he’s only posted 1 solo and 2 assists in the 3 games since then and aggravated a back injury that limited him to just 37% of the snaps this week.
LB Nick Bolton, KC (1 solo, 4 asst)
Bolton has been one of the more productive rookie IDPs this year and had played at least two-thirds of all defensive snaps in every game but 1 before this week. Given how badly the defense has struggled though, it looks like the Chiefs decided to take a new approach this week. Bolton saw a season-low 27 snaps (43%), which was a similar workload to Ben Niemann (40%) and Anthony Hitchens (49%) with Willie Gay Jr (65%) coming closest to a true 3-down role. If this becomes a full 4-man rotation, it will be difficult to count on production from any of them.
ARIZONA @ SAN FRANCISCO
DE Arik Armstead, SF (2 solos, 8 asst, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 1 QH)
Armstead has been a major disappointment during the first half of this year, but he was extremely active this week. In addition to picking up his second sack of the season, he racked up 10 combined tackles as Arizona ran the ball 39 times. He’s been playing close to 80% of the snaps the past 3 weeks and should continue to see favorable matchups with Nick Bosa drawing most of the attention.
LB Markus Golden, ARI (3 solos, 2 asst, 3 sacks, 3 TFL, 3 QH)
Chandler Jones and J.J. Watt likely drew most of the preseason attention in Arizona while Golden flew well under the radar coming off a 4-sack season. After a relatively quiet start that saw him post 2 sacks over the first 5 games, he has exploded with 7 sacks over his last 4. His 5 tackle, 3 sack game this week came on just 28 snaps (47%), which was his lowest workload of the year.
CB Josh Norman, SF (2 solos)
Norman has been putting up great numbers of late with 14 solos, 3 forced fumbles, and an interception in his last two games. Much of that production came from the fact he was not playing very well in coverage and was targeted often by opposing teams. In any case, he started the game this week but was benched at halftime after taking a critical penalty late in the first half. Dre Kirkpatrick replaced him, and the 49ers may decide to make a change at the position soon given how quickly their season is slipping away.
TENNESSEE @ LA RAMS
DE Jeffery Simmons, TEN (3 solos, 3 asst, 3 sacks, 3 TFL, 4 QH)
Simmons wasn’t even healthy enough to practice on Thursday last week with an ankle injury, but he still managed to suit up on Sunday night. While he did wind up playing 62 snaps (79%) in the game, he didn’t need most of them as he collected 5 combined tackles with 3 sacks in the first half alone as the Titans pulled out to a big lead.
S Amani Hooker, TEN (8 solos, 4 asst)
Hooker’s stats were boosted by the game script here as the Rams wound up playing from behind nearly the entire game and passed the ball 48 times. Regardless, he’s only managed to play significant snaps in 4 games this year and has averaged 5.5 solo tackles and 2 assists in those games. The Titans also welcomed Jayon Brown back to the lineup this week and he was credited with 7 solo tackles on 55 snaps (71%).
LB Ernest Jones, LAR (3 solos, 1 asst)
A week after playing 92% of the snaps, the rookie saw his playing time reduced to 63% this week. Meanwhile, fellow linebacker Troy Reeder took most of the snaps in passing situations and was back up to 84% of the snaps. Reeder did not take advantage as he was credited with just 2 solo tackles and a pass defense, but it looks like the coaches trust the veteran a bit more in a 3-down role.