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.
NEW ENGLAND @ ATLANTA
LB Kyle Van Noy, NE (5 solos, 3 asst, 2 sacks, 2 TFL, 2 QH, 1 INT, 1 PD, 1 TD)
Van Noy was having a quiet year for the Patriots up until last week when he posted 5 solo tackles with a sack and forced fumble. Then he took things to a whole new level this week with one of the biggest IDP games of the year. He dominated the Falcons despite missing some practice time last week with a groin issue and may once again be considered a LB3 with upside.
CB A.J. Terrell, ATL (4 solos, 5 asst, 1 INT, 1 PD)
Terrell has not had many big games this year due to a lack of big plays, but he has been a reliable source of tackles in most weeks. With a big game this year that included his first interception of the year, he’s now posted 12 solos, 9 assists, and 4 passes defensed in his last 3 games combined.
INDIANAPOLIS @ BUFFALO
S George Odum, IND (5 solos, 1 asst, 1 INT, 1PD)
The Colts have been playing without their top-2 safeties as Julian Blackmon and Khari Willis have both missed the past three games. Odum may not be a long-term solution but he has posted 5 solo tackles for 4 games in a row and had one interception and another waived off this week in a big win over the Bills.
LB Darius Leonard, IND (2 solos, 3 asst)
Leonard is one of the best IDPs in the league when healthy but he has clearly been playing at less than 100% despite missing very few snaps. He has been dealing with an ankle injury that limits his effectiveness and has just 6 solos with 5 assists over the past two games with no big plays.
WASHINGTON @ CAROLINA
DE Haason Reddick, CAR (4 solos, 1 asst, 1 sack, 1 TFO, 1 QH)
Reddick picked up another sack this week to keep him close to an average of 1 sack per game. He’s played 11 games this year and has only failed to record even a partial sack in just 3 of them. That consistency, along with strong tackle numbers, place him among the elite players at his position.
DE James Smith-Williams, WAS (1 solo, 5 asst, .5 sack, 1 TFL, 1 QH)
Smith-Williams and Casey Toohill have been filling in for the injured Montez Sweat and Chase Young. Toohill hasn’t shown much to this point but Smith-Williams was active against the run and now has 1.5 sacks in his last 3 games.
BALTIMORE @ CHICAGO
LB Tyus Bowser, BAL (4 solos, 1 asst, 2 sacks, 1 TFL, 2 QH)
The loss of Matt Judon in free agency created additional opportunities for other edge rushers in Baltimore this year. Veteran Justin Houston and rookie Jayson Oweh have shown some flashes but Bowser has played more snaps than both. While he hasn’t been consistent, this was his second multi-sack game of the year and he’s put up enough tackles in most weeks to not be a liability.
LB Robert Quinn, CHI (4 solos, 1 asst, 3.5 sacks, 3 TFL, 4 QH)
While Roquan Smith also stood out in this game with 17 combined tackles, he was already one of the highest-scoring IDPs in the league. Quinn, however, continues to put together a remarkable year. Even after Khalil Mack went on season-ending IR this week, Quinn managed to sack the quarterback 3.5 times to get to 10 in just 9 games played.
DETROIT @ CLEVELAND
CB Amani Oruwariye, DET (5 solos, 1 INT, 1 PD)
The Lions have struggled to put together a capable group of cornerbacks but Oruwariye looks like a keeper. He has excellent size for the position who can match up against bigger receivers while also showing strong playmaking skills. Despite playing for one of the worst teams in the league with a minimal pass rush, he picked off his 4th pass in 10 games and is on pace for 50 solo tackles.
LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, CLE (4 solos, 1 TFL)
The rookie linebacker played limited snaps a week ago in his return from a high-ankle sprain. He was expected to take on a bigger workload this week but re-injured his ankle and wound up playing just 14 snaps (29%). While he was very productive on those snaps and the coaches expect him to play, he may also be held back to rest up through the upcoming bye in week 13.
SAN FRANCISCO @ JACKSONVILLE
DE Arden Key, SF (1 solo, 1 asst, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 1 QH)
The former Raider only managed 3 sacks over 3 seasons with the team that originally drafted him in the 3rd round. While serving primarily as a pass-rush specialist with the 49ers this year, he now has an active 3-game sack streak. He’s a bit too one-dimensional to have much fantasy value in most leagues but could be worth a flyer in big-play scoring systems.
CB Shaquill Griffin, JAX (1 asst, 1 QH)
The former Seahawk has played reasonably well in Jacksonville this year, but a lack of big plays has limited his fantasy upside. Unfortunately, he played a season-low 36 snaps (52%) this year as he left the game early with a concussion.
GREEN BAY @ MINNESOTA
DT Armon Watts, MIN (2 solos, 2 asst, 1 sack, 1 QH, 1 FF)
Watts is not as well-known as his linemates Dalvin Tomlinson or Sheldon Richardson but he’s making a bigger impact than both of them right now. He has out-snapped them for 4 games in a row and saw a season-high 81% of the snaps this week. Watts has also been quite productive with 3 sacks and 26 tackles over the past 6 games.
LB Preston Smith, GB (4 solos, 2 asst, 2 TFL, 3 QH, 1 FF)
Smith has not been very consistent at all this year, but he’s starting to heat up with 3 sacks over his last two games. There’s a chance Za’Darius Smith could return at some point soon too, which could make this pass rush even more potent down the stretch.
DE D.J. Wonnum, MIN (1 solo)
Wonnum has seen a recent uptick in playing time following the injury to Danielle Hunter and played 90% of the snaps in the past two games. Despite the heavy workload though, his production has been almost non-existent as he’s been credited with just 1 solo tackle in both games combined.
MIAMI @ NY JETS
LB Quincy Williams, NYJ (10 solos, 5 asst, 2 TFL)
Williams had his workload cut over the last 3 games with the return of a healthy Jarrad Davis. That seemed to hurt the Jets defense though so they went back to Williams this week and he responded with a remarkable 15 tackles on 63 snaps (89%).
S Brandon Jones, MIA (2 solos, 4 asst, 1 sack, 1 QH, 1 FF)
Jones has started to emerge as a reliable safety in Miami this year and was on his way to a huge game with 6 tackles plus a strip-sack. Unfortunately, he was forced to leave the game early with an elbow injury and only played 63% of the snaps. The severity of the injury was not clear right away so monitor the situation to see if he'll miss any time.
NEW ORLEANS @ PHILADELPHIA
DE Marcus Davenport, NO (6 solos, 4 asst, 1.5 sacks, 1 TFL, 4 QH)
Davenport is finally starting to live up to the promise he showed when the Saints traded up to draft him in 2018. He was expected to take on a bigger role following the loss of Trey Hendrickson in free agency but missed 4 games with a shoulder injury suffered in week 1. He’s played significant snaps in 6 games this year and has produced 5.5 sacks and 26 tackles with 4.5 sacks coming in the last 3 games alone.
LB T.J. Edwards, PHI (7 solos, 3 asst, 1 TFL, 1 INT, 2 PD, 1 FR)
Edwards has been incredibly productive since taking over at middle linebacker in week 8. Over the past 4 games, he has been credited with 25 solo tackles and 19 assists and he added two big plays this week with an interception and fumble recovery. The Eagles also rewarded him with a 1-year contract extension so it looks like the 25-year old undrafted player from Wisconsin could stick around.s
CB Darius Slay, PHI (1 solo, 1 TFL, 1 INT, 2 PD, 1 TD)
What has gotten into Slay? He’s only scored 1 touchdown through the first 8 years of his career and now has 3 touchdowns over his last 4 games. His prior two touchdowns came on fumble recoveries while this one came on an interception. He did leave the game later with a concussion though so will have to clear the protocol in order to try and keep his momentum going next week against the Giants.
LB Demario Davis, NO (1 solo)
Davis had an uncharacteristically quiet game with just 1 solo tackle this week despite playing all 78 defensive snaps. Even more concerning is the fact that the Eagles offense was able to generate 50 rush attempts for 242 yards in the game. It’s possible this was just an outlier or he was playing injured, but he’s also nearly 33-years old and may not have much time left as a 3-down linebacker.
HOUSTON @ TENNESSEE
LB Kamu Grugier-Hill, HOU (6 solos, 6 asst, 2 QH, 1 INT, 2 PD)
The Texans had 3 defenders finish with at least 11 combined tackles in this game but Grugier-Hill stood out with 2 quarterback hits and an interception. Although he hadn’t played a ton during his 5-year career coming into this season, the Texans have given him an opportunity to play a full-time role and he’s taken advantage.
LB Jayon Brown, TEN (6 solos, 8 asst)
Since returning from IR, Brown has collected 20 solo tackles and 10 assists over the last 3 games combined for an average of 10 tackles/game. While it looked like David Long Jr has overtaken him as the focal point of this defense, his injury has given Brown another chance to showcase himself and the 26-year old should remain a key player even after Long returns.
CINCINNATI @ LAS VEGAS
DE Sam Hubbard, CIN (3 solos, 2 asst, 1 sack, 2 TFL, 1 QH, 1 FR)
Hubbard is one of the most productive tacklers at the defensive end position but his fantasy value has always been somewhat capped by lower sack totals. The improvements around him this year appear to be helping though as he now has 6 sacks in 10 games with 4.5 coming in his last 4 games.
S Jonathan Abram, LV (6 solos, 6 asst)
It’s somewhat rare for safeties to be drafted in the first round so Abram came into the league with high expectations. While he lacks some of the skills in coverage and playmaking that you’d like to see from an elite talent, he’s certainly putting up plenty of tackles. Through 9 games played, he’s averaged 4.5 solo stops and nearly 4 assists per game to put him on pace for around 150 combined tackles.
DE Maxx Crosby, LV (1 solo, 2 asst, 1 TFL, 1 QH)
Crosby continues to see a heavy workload with more than 70% of the snaps each week, but he’s been surprisingly quiet on the stat sheet. Apart from two huge games in week 1 and week 6 where he collected 5 sacks, he’s gone sackless in the other 8 games played. It’s also disappointing that the emergence of Yannick Ngakoue and his 7 sacks over the past 6 games hasn’t helped Crosby get to the quarterback more.
DALLAS @ KANSAS CITY
DT Chris Jones, KC (4 solos, 1 asst, 3.5 sacks, 2 TFL, 3 QH, 1 PD, 1 FF, 1 FR)
Jones was a one-man wrecking crew on Sunday as he made things very uncomfortable for Dak Prescott and the Cowboys. It was a low-scoring game and he helped the much-maligned Chiefs defense keep Dallas out of the end zone with 3.5 sacks as well as a forced fumble and recovery. He is one of the best pass-rushing tackles in the league and should enter the fantasy playoffs in peak form.
S Jayron Kearse, DAL (4 solos, 1 asst, 1 INT, 1 PD)
The Cowboys have given significant snaps to 4 different safeties this year but Kearse has been the most reliable with 603 snaps through 10 games. He doesn’t ever seem to put up the big games that draw a lot of attention, but he has also been remarkably consistent with at least 5 tackles in all 10 games. While not much of a playmaker, he did pick off his first pass of the season this week and appears to have some very favorable matchups coming in the weeks ahead.
LB Anthony Hitchens, KC (3 asst)
Hitchens has been a steady presence in the middle of the Chiefs defense for some time but it looks like he’s starting to be phased out. Over the past three games, he has seen his playing time drop to just 39% of the snaps as the Chiefs have turned to more of a rotational approach at linebacker with Willie Gay Jr, Nick Bolton, and Ben Niemann all playing key roles.
ARIZONA @ SEATTLE
CB Sidney Jones, SEA (8 solos, 3 asst, 1 TFL, 1 PD)
Jones started at outside corner in place of the injured D.J. Reed this week and finished with an impressive 11 tackles. He’s been targeted quite often whenever he’s been on the field this year, and an injury to rookie Tre Brown this week should keep him in the lineup going forward.
LB Zaven Collins, ARI (0 tackles)
While it’s far too early to write off Collins, this year is certainly looking like a redshirt/developmental season for the first-round pick. He saw a season-high 58% of the snaps back in week 7 when Jordan Hicks was injured, but only saw special teams duties this week after playing very little in recent weeks.
PITTSBURGH @ LA CHARGERS
LB Alex Highsmith, PIT (3 solos, 3 asst, 1.5 sacks, 1 TFL, 3 QH)
The Steelers were without T.J. Watt this week but Highsmith helped pick up the slack with 1.5 sacks. When combined with his 11 tackle output a week ago, he’s trending in the right direction with some big divisional matchups coming over the next two weeks.
LB Kenneth Murray, LAC (0 tackles)
Murray was in the starting lineup this week but somehow failed to register any stats in the box score. He was only on the field for 15 snaps (22%) while Drue Tranquill returned to action this week and wound up playing 44 snaps (64%). It wasn’t immediately clear after the game what led to the reversal, but it’s clearly a setback for Murray.