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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. 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. I'm also going to try and group edge rushers together with the understanding that classification as a defensive end or linebacker will depend on your league setup/host. If you have any questions about specific players or situations, please email me or reach out via Twitter.
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN/EDGE RUSHERS
DT Javon Hargrave, PHI (6 solos, 2 asst, 2 sacks, 1 TFL, 2 QH, 1 FF on 61% of snaps)
Hargrave posted eight sacks last year, which looked like an outlier compared to the rest of his career. While he hadn’t come close to putting up similar numbers this year, he looked quite dominant this week with eight tackles and a pair of sacks and has a favorable schedule over the next few weeks.
DT Derrick Brown, CAR (5 solos, 7 asst, .5 sack, 1 TFL, 1 QH on 90% of snaps)
Brown continued his breakout season with a huge performance this week. He added 12 tackles and a partial sack in an overtime loss to Atlanta. Perhaps most impressive was the fact he remained effective despite playing a season-high 90% of the snaps.
DT Vita Vea, TB (4 solos, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 1 QH on 63% of snaps)
Vea has been one of the best run-stopping defensive tackles in the league but he appears to be adding a new dimension to his game. Through eight games this year, he has registered at least a partial sack in five games. His tackle numbers are still quite low, but he’s also posted three sacks over his last four games.
DL Leonard Williams, NYG (5 solos, 3 asst, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 5 QH on 92% of snaps)
While the Giants have enjoyed success on the field, it had been a mostly forgettable start to the year for one of their best players. Williams came into this week with zero sacks in four games played and a questionable tag due to an elbow injury, but he came through with eight tackles, five quarterback hits, and his first sack of the year while playing 92% of the snaps.
DE Payton Turner, NO (2 solos, 2 asst, 2 sacks, 2 TFL, 2 QH on 57% of snaps)
Turner missed the last three games and had been ineffective in limited snaps before that, but he woke up against the Raiders this week with a pair of sacks while playing a season-high 57% of the snaps. That ranked ahead of Marcus Davenport, who has not played very well this year.
DE Josh Paschal, DET (2 asst on 91% of snaps)
While the counting stats for Paschal this week were not impressive and won’t get him noticed, his playing time was. In just his second game as a pro, he ranked sixth among all Lions defenders with 91% of the snaps and even played four more snaps than Aidan Hutchinson.
EDGE ZaDarius Smith, MIN (7 solos, 3 sacks, 4 TFL, 3 QH, 1 PD on 69% of snaps)
Smith has been one of the most underrated free-agent pickups this year as he added three more sacks in a win over the Cardinals this week. He now has five sacks in his last two games and 8.5 on the year.
EDGE Uchenna Nwosu, SEA (5 solos, 1 asst, 2 sacks, 2 TFL, 2 QH, 1 FF on 80% of snaps)
The resurgence of the Seahawks defense has been led by the play of their secondary, but Nwosu has also played a role. With a pair of sacks this week, he’s already up to five on the season and has seen consistent playing time with 50+ snaps in all but one game this season.
EDGE Leonard Floyd, LAR (4 solos, 5 asst, 2 sacks, 2 TFL, 3 QH on 83% of snaps)
Floyd came into the week with just 10 solo tackles, 10 assists, and 0 sacks through 6 games but he showed up against the 49ers this week with 9 combined tackles and a pair of sacks. May be tough to build on this momentum in a game against Tampa Bay next week.
EDGE Dante Fowler, DAL (5 solos, 1 sack, 2 TFL, 1 QH, 1 PD on 47% of snaps)
Fowler never really lived up to his potential in Atlanta the past two years, but he joined a deep group of pass rushers in Dallas. He has not seen his extensive playing time in most games but has been effective as a pass-rush specialist with four sacks on 180 snaps.
EDGE Tomon Fox, NYG (6 solos, 2 asst, 2 TFL on 42% of snaps)
Fox is an undrafted rookie who saw a big increase in playing time this week as part of the team’s dime package. He played 42% of the snaps and likely earned himself more playing time.
LB Nicholas Morrow, CHI (5 solos, 1 TFL on 100% of snaps)
The Bears traded Roquan Smith to Baltimore on Monday, which will leave a huge opening in the middle of their defense. Morrow has already been a full-time player, but he will likely pick up most of the vacated tackles. Meanwhile, there isn’t a clear replacement for the other vacated snaps, but rookie Jack Sanborn is likely a player to watch.
LB Tremaine Edmunds, BUF (13 solos, 3 asst, 1 PD on 100% of snaps)
Edmunds is in the last year of his contract, and the Bills will need to decide if he’s going to be a core part of their future, given the cap constraints they have. He’s an elite coverage linebacker who still has room to improve as a run defender, but he took advantage of the Packers running the ball 31 times despite playing from behind and collected 16 tackles on 66 snaps.
LB T.J. Edwards, PHI (9 solos, 4 asst, 1 QH, 2 PD on 99% of snaps)
It is relatively rare for a linebacker on an elite team to be this so productive, but Edwards continues to impress. He added 13 more tackles this week and now has been credited with 27 combined tackles in his last two games combined.
LB Malcolm Rodriguez, DET (5 solos, 2 asst, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 1 QH, 1 PD, 1 FR on 68% of snaps)
The Lions defense remains a weakness, but Rodriguez is one of the few bright spots. The rookie registered his first career sack on the opening drive of the game and followed it up with a fumble recovery a few plays later. He only played 68% of the snaps, though, which was the lowest workload he’s seen since Week 1.
LB Isaiah Simmons, ARI (5 solos, 1 sack, 1 FF, 1 FR on 80% of snaps)
After a very disappointing start to the year, Simmons seems to be acclimating well to his new role. He’s a big-play threat who had a pick-six last week and then added a strip-sack and fumble recovery this week, but his tackle numbers have also improved of late.
LB Christian Harris, HOU (5 solos, 2 asst on 100%)
Only three Texans defenders played all 58 snaps this week, and the rookie linebacker was one of them. Christian Kirksey saw his playing time drop to 83%, so it looks like Harris is going to get a great chance to show what he can do in the second half of the season.
LB Micah McFadden, NYG (3 solos, 1 asst, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 1 QH on 42% of snaps)
The rookie was benched earlier this year but was given another opportunity this week and seemed to make the most of it. He added four tackles plus a sack on 27 snaps at inside linebacker, while Tae Crowder saw his playing time drop to a season-low 34% of the snaps. Jaylon Smith handled 84% of the snaps but had an underwhelming two solos with five assists.
LB Oren Burks, SF (4 solos, 3 asst, 1 TFL, 1 PD on 100% of snaps)
Dre Greenlaw sat out this week with a calf injury, which created an opening for Burks. The former Packer wound up playing all 58 snaps, while Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles didn’t play any after seeing 36 a week ago.
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