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This article attempts to highlight players whose production was significantly better or worse than normally expected. 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’s difficult 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 and trade decisions. If you have any questions on specific players or situations, feel free to email me or reach out via twitter.
MINNESOTA @ ARIZONA
DE Calais Campbell, ARI (4 solos, 1 sack, 1 FR)
Campbell hasn’t been the same player we’ve come to expect in recent weeks as he posted just 5 solos, 7 assists, and 0 sacks in prior 5 games. He bounced back with a huge game this week, however, as he collected a sack and 2 more tackles for losses while also jumping on a fumble.
LB Chad Greenway, MIN (8 solos)
The injury to Anthony Barr opened up a full-time role for Greenway who responded with 8 solo stops. Although he seems to have lost a step this year, he showed that he can still be productive if given enough opportunities.
S Anthony Harris, MIN (7 solos, 1 asst, 1 PD)
The rookie safety got his first career start at strong safety while Harrison Smith sat out and looked pretty good. He spent the entire year on the team’s practice squad and was activated just 2 days before the game, but still was one of only 3 players to play the entire game. In addition to his team-high 8 tackles, he also broke up a would-be touchdown pass deep down the middle of the field.
SEATTLE @ BALTIMORE
DE Michael Bennett, SEA (3 solos, 1 asst, 1 sack)
After going 4 straight games without a sack, Bennett has now bounced back with a sack in back to back games. In those 4 games, he has also failed to record even a single solo tackle in 3 of them (all at home) so it was hard to trust him in your starting lineup. He appears to be back on track now though with 6 solos, 4 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks in the last 2 games).
S Will Hill, BAL (1 asst)
Hill had a great start to this season and looked like a very reliable everyweek starter at the safety position for several months. He may be wearing down a bit or perhaps he’s suffering due to some spotty play of those around him, but his numbers have gone cold of late. He has just 2 solo tackles and 2 assists in his last 2 games, and he was limited to just 51 snaps (73%) this week in a blowout loss to Seattle that saw the Ravens secondary give up 5 touchdown passes.
ATLANTA @ CAROLINA
DT Kawann Short, CAR (3 solos, 2 sacks, 2 FF, 1 FR)
After a brief cold spell that only lasted a few games, Short picked up a sack last week and destroyed Atlanta with 2 sacks and 2 forced fumbles this week. He’s now got 9 sacks on the year but all 9 have come in the last 9 games. The 26 year old has emerged as one of the most dominant defensive players in the league this year.
DE Charles Johnson, CAR (0 tackles)
Johnson returned to action 2 weeks ago, but he has just 1 solo tackle in 3 games so far. The veteran defensive end recently voiced his frustration with a lack of playing time, but is now just one piece of a rotation that also includes Kony Ealy, Jared Allen, and Mario Addison. That seems to be keeping the production and value down for all of them.
S William Moore, ATL (2 solos)
Moore only lasted 6 defensive snaps in the game before leaving with an ankle injury. He did manage 2 solo stops before leaving, but has been rather underwhelming since returning from a groin injury in week 11.
WASHINGTON @ CHICAGO
LB Mason Foster, WAS (6 solos)
With Perry Riley missing the last two games, the veteran Foster has filled in at ILB and come through with 10 solo tackles, 3 assists, plus a forced fumble and fumble recovery. He was very productive during some of his time in Tampa, but was surprisingly cut by the Bears this preseason before finding a home in Washington. At just 26 years of age, he may still get a chance to start somewhere if he can continue to show well in this opportunity.
LB Lamarr Houston, CHI (8 solos, 1 asst, 1 sack)
Houston was a bust free agent signing a year ago, but after recovering from a torn ACL and moving to OLB in their new 3-4, he is looking like a new player. In just 52 snaps this week, he managed to post a game-high 9 tackles plus a sack. That gives him 6 sacks on the year, but 5 have come in the last 6 games.
LB Willie Young, CHI (4 solos, 1 sack)
Despite a 9.5 sack season a year ago, Young was written off by many observers in 2015 due to the Achilles injury he was coming back from and the Bears shift to a 3-4 scheme. Now that he’s healthy again, he’s once again piling up sacks in bunches. His sack this week gives him at least one in four straight games. With one more year left on his deal at a reasonable cost, he could be an attractive trade target this offseason for 4-3 teams that need a good pass rushing DE.
LB Pernell McPhee, CHI (DNP)
McPhee was probably the best player on the Bears defense for the first half of the season, but he has not been the same player while trying to play through a knee injury. He was held out this week, and now that the Bears are almost completely out of playoff contention it might not be a bad choice for them to consider shutting him down for the year.
PITTSBURGH @ CINCINNATI
DE Michael Johnson, CIN (2 solos, 1 asst, 1 sack)
Apart from a game in week 12 when he was shut out vs the Rams, Johnson has been quite productive lately. Over the last 4 games, he has 10 solos and 3 sacks. He should have a great chance to add to that sack total with a game against the 49ers next week too.
LB Vontaze Burfict, CIN (11 solos)
Even though he was only on the field for 47 snaps (66%), Burfict was always around the ball and picked up 11 solo stops. Even though he may not be 100%, he’s clearly going to be a must-start as long as he’s in the starting lineup. Over the past 4 games, he has 30 solo tackles despite averaging 40 snaps per game.
SAN FRANCISCO @ CLEVELAND
OLB Armonty Bryant, CLE (7 solos, 2 sacks)
Bryant is used primarily as a pass rush specialist, so he doesn’t get too many opportunities playing for the Browns lately. This week, however, the Browns actually got to play with a lead and that contributed to his huge game. In just 34 snaps (61%), he managed to lead all Browns players in tackles with 7 solo stops while also posting his second multi-sack game of the year. His fantasy value would be helped significantly if he was reclassified as a DE next year.
S Jaquiski Tartt, SF (7 solos, 1 asst, 1 INT, 1 PD)
The rookie safety continues to be one of the few bright spots for the 49ers defense. Over the last 4 games, he’s compiled 21 solos, 8 assists, plus a sack and interception. There’s plenty of upside, but he looks like a safe bet for DB2 status going into 2016.
LB Karlos Dansby, CLE (1 solo, 1 asst)
Dansby has shown a significant drop in tackles over the past month. In the past 4 games, he has just 9 solo tackles and 8 assists for an average of just over 4 per game. For comparison, he averaged just over 8 tackles per game in the first 9 games of the year. At his age, have to consider the possiblity that he may not have much left.
INDIANAPOLIS @ JACKSONVILLE
DE Andre Branch, JAX (4 solos, 2 sacks, 1 FF, 1 FR, 1 PD, 1 TD)
There haven’t been many positive signs from Branch this year as he had just 9 solos and 2 sacks in 9 games prior to this week. He had the game of his career this week, however, as he sacked Matt Hasselbeck and picked up the ball for an easy 49-yard touchdown return. That play came near the end of the half with the Jaguars trailing 13-3 and they went on to win 51-16. Branch is in a contract year so he’ll need to build on this the rest of the year.
LB Trent Cole, IND (5 solos, 1 sack)
The Eagles signed Cole to try and upgrade their pass rush this year, but it didn’t work out too well as he went sackless in his first 9 games. He got one back in week 12 and added another this week so that’s at least a positive sign. Unfortunately, he’s still only a part-time player but he posted 5 solos in just 36 snaps.
CB Aaron Colvin, JAX (2 solos, 1 PD)
Colvin saw his snap count drop to just 35 snaps last week, but was back up to 72 (100%) this week. It didn’t change his production much though as he only finished with 2 tackles and a pass defensed despite 43 pass attempts from the Colts QBs. With just 5 solos over the past 3 games, he is no longer a reliable starting corner for fantasy purposes.
SAN DIEGO @ KANSAS CITY
LB Dee Ford, KC (7 solos, 3 sacks, 1 PD)
Ford did his best Justin Houston impression this week as he exploded for 3 sacks, and his pass defense helped prevent Danny Woodhead from scoring the game-tying touchdown on the final play of the game. It was a huge breakout game for the talented young pass rusher who was a first round pick a year ago but had yet to show much as a pro.
CB Jason Verrett, SD (8 solos, 1 INT, 1 PD)
Verrett has been playing shutdown defense for much of the year, but he wasn’t very productive early on. That is no longer the case as he has been on quite a tear of late. Including his huge game this week, he has now posted 3 interceptions in his last 5 games along with 23 solo tackles.
TENNESSEE @ NY JETS
DE Muhammad Wilkerson, NYJ (5 solos, 3 sacks, 1 FF, 1 PD)
Wilkerson is making himself a lot of money since this is a contract year for him. He had 3 sacks against the Titans this week to bring him up to 12 on the year. 7 of those have come in the last 5 games so he is turning up the heat as the games get more important.
CB B.W. Webb, TEN (7 solos, 1 asst)
Webb is a former practice squad player who the Titans inserted into their starting lineup this week. He posted 8 tackles as the Jets went after him consistently, but he may be able to stick as the #3 corner since the Titans were unhappy with the play of Blidi Wreh Wilson enough to bench him.
LB Brian Orakpo, TEN (2 asst)
It appears as though the hot streak of Orakpo has ended. After posting 6 sacks in a 6-game stretch, he has failed to record a sack in 3 straight games. The Jets had 36 pass attempts in the game, but Orakpo was not credited with even a QB hit.
BUFFALO @ PHILADELPHIA
DE Fletcher Cox, PHI (7 solos, 1 asst, 1 sack)
While Cox hasn’t quite lived up to expectations all season, he has shown flashes of being the elite player he’s capable of. He had a 3-sack game in week 5 against the Saints, and he was very good again this week with 7 solos and a sack. The former 12th overall pick is still inconsistent from week to week, but that is also the nature of the position he plays.
CB Leodis McKelvin, BUF (4 solos, 1 asst, 1 INT, 2 PD)
McKelvin stepped in for the injured Stephon Gilmore this week and had a solid game overall. He did whiff on a tackle that led to a big play, but later made up for it with a diving interception at the Bills 5 yard line to prevent a great scoring chance.
LB Kiko Alonso, PHI (2 solos, 3 asst)
Alonso is gutting it out and playing through his knee injury, but he just doesn’t look like the same explosive player he was during his rookie year. He hasn’t been terrible, but he’s just not making much of an impact and it’s likely fantasy owners will need to wait until next year for him to contribute.
DETROIT @ ST LOUIS
DT Aaron Donald, STL (4 solos, 1 asst, 3 sacks)
He’s already the best fantasy DT in the league, but a 3-sack game likely warrants another upgrade. This now brings Donald up to 11 sacks on the year and 6.5 of them have come in the last 5 games. It’s too bad the Rams don’t have a passing game, but they at least have a couple of great building blocks in Todd Gurley and Donald to build their team around.
S Isa Abdul-Quddus, DET (1 solo)
After posting an 11-tackle game a week ago vs the Packers, Abdul-Quddus only managed 1 this week against the Rams. The main explanation for this was that he only saw 24 (44%) defensive snaps. The Lions gave James Ihedigbo more snaps in the game since they believed he would be more effective against the run, although it didn’t seem to help as the Rams still ran for 200+ yards in the game. It just means that these two safeties are both matchup-dependent.
NEW ORLEANS @ TAMPA BAY
LB Bruce Carter, TB (6 solos, 2 asst, 1 sack)
In his first start replacing suspended rookie Kwon Alexander, Carter played nearly the entire game and put up a very respectable stat line himself. He would make a fine pickup for the rest of the year if he happens to be available. Also note that Tampa’s defense had 68 tackle opportunities in the game while the Saints defense only had 38.
OAKLAND @ DENVER
LB Khalil Mack, OAK (6 solos, 1 asst, 5 sacks, 1 FF)
Mack joined the defensive player of the year conversation with an outstanding 5-sack game this week. That quickly brought him up to 14 on the year with 9 of them coming in just the last 3 weeks. He looks unstoppable right now.
LB Shaq Barrett, DEN (4 solos, 1 sack)
The Broncos have amazing depth when it comes to edge rushers this year. The emergence of Barrett has left their 1st round pick Shane Ray without a clear path to extensive playing time. Barrett has done a great job filling in for Ware as he posted a sack for the 2nd week in a row and now has 5.5 on the year despite mainly playing limited snaps each week.
DALLAS @ GREEN BAY
DE DeMarcus Lawrence, DAL (4 solos, 1 asst, 1 sack)
The Cowboys made some splashy upgrades to their pass rush with the signing of Greg Hardy and drafting of Randy Gregory, but Lawrence is emerging as their best pass rusher. With a sack of Aaron Rodgers this week, he’s got 5 sacks in his last 5 games.
S Morgan Burnett, GB (1 asst)
Burnett has been very consistent over the past month or so, but he was invisible this week due to some poor play from the Cowboys offense. They only had 13 completions in the passing game, and Burnett was not as active in run support as he normally is. The Cowboys did run for 171 yards in the game but it was mostly to the outside and only came on 20 carries.
NEW ENGLAND @ HOUSTON
DE Jabaal Sheard, NE (4 solos, 2 sacks, 2 FF)
Sheard is just the latest in a long line of great Patriots reclamation projects. He showed promise early in his Browns career, but they let him walk. Although he hasn’t played a full-time role, Sheard has proven that he can come up with big plays when given an opportunity. This was his second multi-sack game of the year and he now has 6 sacks in just 10 games played.
DT Akiem Hicks, NE (5 solos, 1 asst, 2 sacks)
Hicks hadn’t shown much before this week, but he had some very good games while with the Saints in prior years. Hicks only wound up playing 24 snaps (44%) here, but he looked dominant with 6 tackles and a pair of sacks. The Patriots have a strong group of young players at DT that are helping them move on from Vince Wilfork.
LB Jadeveon Clowney, HOU (4 solos, 3 asst, 2 sacks)
Clowney put on a show for a national audience Sunday night as he sacked Brady twice and finished with 7 tackles. He is finally starting to show what all the hype was about, and it’s probably going to be very scary for opposing offenses trying to deal with him and J.J. Watt at the same time.
LB Jonathan Freeny, HOU (0 tackles)
Freeny had been doing a great job filling in for Jamie Collins, and figured to still be in line for plenty of playing time as long as Donta Hightower was injured. Unfortunately, Freey suffered a wrist injury early on and only lasted 5 snaps. Jerod Mayo wound up seeing 41 snaps instead and finished with 8 tackles.