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, 1 asst, 3 sacks, 3 TFL, 3 QH on 68% of snaps)
One week after posting 8 tackles and 2 sacks against the Steelers, Hargrave topped it with a 3-sack game against the Texans. He quickly went from being a depth option to a must-start in leagues that require a defensive tackle.
DT DaRon Payne, WAS (4 solos, 2 asst, 1 sack, 4 TFL, 2 QH on 94% of snaps)
Payne is likely to cash in with a huge contract as he’s headed for unrestricted free agency this offseason. At just 25 years old, he’s already in his 5th year as a pro and enjoying a breakout season with 5.5 sacks through 9 games. He’s also been remarkably consistent with at least a partial sack in 6 of 9 games played.
DE Kwity Paye, IND (7 solos, 1 asst, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 1 QH on 73% of snaps)
Paye sat out the last 3 games with an ankle injury but he returned this week and was able to handle a full workload. He led his team in tackles with 8 stops, including 7 solos, and also picked up his 4th sack in 6 games played.
DE Jerry Hughes, HOU (4 solos, 1 asst, 2 sacks, 2 TFL, 2 QH on 65% of snaps)
The Bills let Hughes walk in free agency after upgrading with the Von Miller signing, but he’s found new life in his home state of Texas. He now has 7 sacks in 8 games played and this was his third multi-sack game of the season.
DE Dawuane Smoot, JAX (2 solos, 2 sacks, 2 TFL, 2 QH on 49% of snaps)
Smoot doesn’t get as much attention (or playing time) as Josh Allen or Travon Walker but now has nearly as many sacks as both of them combined. The pass rush specialist now has 3.5 sacks in his past two games but has the Chiefs and a bye coming up next.
EDGE Josh Uche, NE (5 solos, 1 asst, 3 sacks, 3 TFL, 2 QH on 40% of snaps)
Uche has not played very much this year but he’s a former 2nd-round pick who still has some untapped potential. He likely earned himself a bigger role going forward based on his effort his week though as he collected 3 sacks on just 25 snaps in an easy win over the Colts.
EDGE Matt Judon, NE (4 solos, 2 asst, 3 sacks, 3 TFL, 4 QH on 68% of snaps)
Judon is once again proving to be one of the best pass rushers in the league. Last year, he had 12.5 sacks by week 13 but failed to record another in his last 4 games as he seemed to wear down. He’s improved on that pace this year and now has 11.5 sacks after week 9 with multi-sack games in 3 of the past 5 weeks.
LB Blake Martinez, LV (8 solos, 3 asst on 91% of snaps)
Martinez saw a huge increase in playing time this week as he filled in for Divine Deablo, who left early with an injury. Martinez has 4 tackles in each of the past two games in a limited role but he collected 11 stops with 8 solos on 63 snaps, which ranked 5th among Raiders defenders. Deablo went on injured reserve Monday with an arm injury, which creates an opening for Martinez.
LB Jack Sanborn, CHI (7 solos on 88% of snaps)
In the first week after Roquan Smith was traded away, Sanborn was the biggest benefactor as he started at middle linebacker and played all but 7 snaps. While he isn’t likely to match Smith’s production, he’s going to have an opportunity to showcase himself and has limited competition right now.
LB Derrick Barnes, DET (4 solos, 8 asst, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 1 QH, 1 PD on 68% of snaps)
Barnes has averaged fewer than 30% of the snaps this year but he saw an increased workload this week and made the most of it. He played 50 snaps and helped keep the Packers offense in check with 12 combined tackles plus a sack and a pass deflection that bounced off his helmet and led to an interception. His increased playing time came at the expense of rookie Malcolm Rodriguez, who only played a season-low 26% of the snaps.
LB Drue Tranquill, LAC (8 solos, 2 asst, 1 sack, 2 TFL, 1 QH on 100% of snaps)
Tranquill has shown some flashes in the past since joining the Chargers as a 4th round pick, but he’s clearly taken another leap in his development this year. He’s putting up top-10 numbers and getting a chance to blitz more with 3 sacks in his last 3 games.
LB Bobby Wagner, LAR (8 solos, 5 asst, 1 TFL, 1 BL on 100% of snaps)
Although he has been a productive starter, Wagner has not played up to his normal standards for most of the year. While he was helped by the Buccaneers offense throwing the ball 58 times, it was encouraging to see him come up with 13 tackles on 57 tackle opportunities.
LB Ja'Whaun Bentley, NE (6 solos, 3 asst, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 2 QH on 73% of snap)
Bentley has struggled with inconsistency throughout his career, like many Patriots players, but he’s been productive of late. Across his last 3 games combined, he has 12 solo tackles, 10 assists, plus a sack and interception despite sitting in some obvious passing situations.
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