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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.
DE Aidan Hutchinson, DET (3 solos, 1 asst, 2 sacks, 1 TFL, 1 QH, 1 FF, 1 FR, 2 PD on 84% of snaps)
It took him a little while to get going, but Hutchinson showed up this week with a pair of sacks and two pass deflections in a key win over the Falcons. He’s capable of making game-changing plays like this each week but just needs to become more consistent to reach his fantasy potential.
DE Rashan Gary, GB (3 solos, 3 sacks, 3 TFL, 4 QH on 38% of snaps)
Gary has seen his playing time slowly rise from just 16% in week 1 to 38% this week, but he still managed to collect 3 sacks on just 23 snaps. With that type of performance, he’s going to make it harder for the coaches to keep limiting his playing time.
DE Matthew Judon, NE (2 solos, 2 asst, 2 sacks, 2 TFL, 3 QH, 1 safety on 67% of snaps)
Judon has proven himself as an elite pass rusher with 28 sacks over the past two seasons combined, and he’s shown no signs of slowing down this year. With 2 more sacks on Sunday, including a safety to seal the victory, he’s doing what he can to keep the Patriots relevant.
DE Samson Ebukam, IND (4 solos, 1 sack, 2 TFL, 1 QH, 1 FF on 64% of snaps)
The Colts are 2-1 after a big win over the Ravens this week, and Ebukam is off to a strong start with his new team. His playing time is not far behind Kwity Paye, and he’s now posted a sack with a forced fumble two weeks in a row.
DE Leonard Floyd, BUF (2 solos, 1 asst, 2 sacks, 2 TFL, 3 QH on 48% of snaps)
Floyd has been a great pickup for the Bills to help sustain their pass rush while they wait for Von Miller to return. He’s only playing about half the game and doesn’t offer much in the way of tackle production, but his 3.5 sacks in 3 games lead the team.
DE Tuli Tuipulotu, LAC (4 solos, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 4 QH on 77% of snaps)
Joey Bosa is playing through a hamstring injury on a limited snap count, so Tuipulotu has seen a big increase in playing time over the past two weeks. The rookie 2nd round pick had a strong preseason and is taking advantage of the opportunity as he picked up 7 tackles with a sack last week and then added another sack this week with 4 quarterback hits.
DT Jarran Reed, SEA (4 solos, 4 asst, 1.5 sacks, 1 TFL, 3 QH, 1 PD on 53% of snaps)
Reed bounced around to several teams the past two years (KC, GB) but is back in Seattle, where he had some of the best moments of his career. The Panthers were not able to generate much offense from their running game, and Reed was a big part of that as he finished with 8 tackles and 1.5 sacks on 42 snaps.
DT Ed Oliver, BUF (2 solos, 2 asst, 1.5 sacks, 2 TFL, 2 QH on 63% of snaps)
While his play doesn’t always show up on the stat sheet, Oliver has been dominant in the middle of the Bills defensive line this year and rewarded the team for signing him to a big contract extension. It’s early, but he seems well on his way to the breakout season many have been waiting to see.
DE/DT Denico Autry, TEN (2 solos, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 2 QH, 1 FF on 55% of snaps)
Autry is listed as a defensive tackle in some league hosts and a defensive end in others, but either way, he’s been a strong start in all 3 games this season. He has a sack in 3 straight games and managed to knock the ball loose this week for a strip-sack.
DT Leonard Williams, NYG (4 solos, 2 asst, .5 sack, 2 QH on 75% of snaps)
Williams had a very quiet start with just 2 tackles in the first two games combined, but he picked things up this week in a loss to the 49ers on Thursday night. Still only a few years removed from an 11.5 sack season, there is some potential here in deeper leagues.
DT Kenny Clark, GB (3 solos, 1 asst, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 1 QH on 84% of snaps)
Clark has been in the league since 2016 and hasn’t topped 6 sacks in a season, but he could be headed for a career year. While he’s often struggled with inconsistency, he’s now posted at least a partial sack in all 3 games of the year, and his heavy workload of late looks encouraging.
LB Terrel Bernard, BUF (5 solos, 2 asst, 2 sacks, 2 TFL, 2 QH, 1 FR, 1 INT, 1 PD on 87% of snaps)
Bernard ended up playing 47 snaps like most of the Bills starters, but that was more than enough to make his presence felt. He contributed to a huge showing from the Bills defense as they collected 9 sacks and 4 interceptions. The biggest knock on Tremaine Edmunds was that he didn’t make enough big plays, and Bernard has provided plenty of those during his brief tenure as a starter.
LB Zaire Franklin, IND (11 solos, 4 asst, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 1 QH on 100% of snaps)
Through 3 games this year, Franklin has not missed a single snap, while Shaquille Leonard has not played more than 71% of snaps in the past two weeks. It seems clear that Franklin has become the #1 linebacker on his team, and he has a great chance to finish as the #1 linebacker overall with 29 solos, 17 assists, and a sack in just 3 games played.
LB Kyzir White, ARI (8 solos, 6 asst, 1 TFL, 1 INT, 1 PD on 100% of snaps)
White is clearly one of the year’s breakouts through 3 weeks of the season. With a huge effort against Dallas that included 14 tackles plus an interception, he’s now been credited with 30 tackles with 1 sack and 1 interception on the year and looks like a top-10 fantasy option.
LB Henry To’oto’o, HOU (6 solos, 4 asst, 1 PD on 95% of snaps)
Denzel Perryman sat out the game this week with a hand/wrist injury, and surprisingly, it was the rookie To'oTo'o who wound up playing most of the game, while Christian Harris and Blake Cashman each played 45+ snaps as well.
LB Jamin Davis, WAS (6 solos, 5 asst, 1 PD on 78% of snaps)
Cody Barton is clearly the #1 linebacker in Washington right now as he’s played every snap, but Davis saw a season-high snap count of 53 this week in a blowout loss. The former 1st-round pick is still somewhat matchup-dependent, but his speed makes him a big-play threat as well.
LB Damone Clark, DAL (7 solos, 2 asst on 69% of snaps)
Clark had two quiet games to start the year, but he showed off some of his potential this week with an 8-tackle game on 42 snaps. He was helped by a game script that allowed the Cardinals to run the ball 30 times, which may not be the norm against this Cowboys defense, but as the #2 linebacker in Dallas, it was nice to see him with a productive game.
LB Deion Jones, CAR (3 solos, 1 asst, 1 INT, 1 PD on 69% of snaps)
Jones was signed off the practice squad last week to help replace Shaq Thompson. He was in the starting lineup, and his experience helped him come up with an interception, but Kamu Grugier-Hill still led the team in tackles with 10 stops. Jones posted 87 solo tackles in 2021 and is still just 28 years old, but he struggled to make an impact with the Browns last year.
LB Drue Tranquill, KC (4 solos, 4 asst, .5 sacks, 1 QH on 82% of snaps)
Nick Bolton sat out the game this week with an ankle injury, and Tranquill filled in for him. While the Bears' offense didn’t pose much of a test, Tranquill still showed that he could be highly productive when given an opportunity, as he led the Chiefs with 8 stops and added a sack on just 42 snaps.
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