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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.
GREEN BAY @ DETROIT
LB Jake Ryan, GB (6 solos, 4 asst, 1 FR)
The Packers finally decided to pull the plug on Nate Palmer at ILB and inserted rookie Jake Ryan into the starting lineup this week. He responded with 10 combined tackles and a fumble recovery and was around the ball as much as anyone.
S Isa Abdul-Quddus, DET (9 solos, 2 asst, 1 FF, 1 PD)
After a quiet game in a blowout win over the Eagles on Thanksgiving, Abdul-Quddus exploded for 11 combined tackles against the Packers a week later. He also added a forced fumble and pass deflection to give him what looks like a firm hold on the starting strong safety job in Detroit for now.
DE Jason Jones, DET (1 solo)
Since posting a sack in back to back games a few weeks ago, Jones has gone cold. He has just a single solo tackle in each of the past 3 games.
LB Nate Palmer, GB (0 tackles)
Palmer was replaced in the lineup by rookie Jake Ryan and it looks like the move should be permanent. Palmer had put up solid tackle numbers most weeks, but he also missed quite a few tackles and the team decided that Ryan was ready for a bigger role.
HOUSTON @ BUFFALO
LB Jadeveon Clowney, HOU (3 solos, 1 sack)
Clowney was perhaps the most impressive defender for the Texans this week as he picked up a sack and also pulled down LeSean McCoy with one hand on a tackle behind the line of scrimmage. The former 1st overall pick has yet to make a huge impact, but he is showing signs of progress.
S Baccari Rambo, BUF (4 solos, 2 asst, 1 sack, 3 PD)
Rambo continues to come up with big plays for a Bills defense that has had surprisingly few of them this year. He picked up a sack this week along with 3 passes defensed, and more importantly was a full-time player as he was on the field for all 76 defensive snaps.
CB Stephon Gilmore, BUF (2 solos)
Gilmore has been having a great season with 3 interceptions and 18 passes defensed, but he left the game early this week with a shoulder injury. It’s not expected to be season ending, but he will likely miss next week against the Eagles. Expect Leodis McKelvin to take his place in that matchup.
SAN FRANCISCO @ CHICAGO
DT Eddie Goldman, CHI (3 solos, 2 sacks, 1 BK)
The rookie nose tackle has provided more of a pass rush threat than he was expected to. The Bears defensive line has been depleted, which is giving him more opportunity in passing situations but he is making the most of it with 4.5 sacks.
LB Shea McClellin, CHI (9 solos, 1 PD)
McClellin continues to pace his team in tackles as he added 9 more solos this week to give him 24 in the past 4 weeks along with 9 assists. While the big plays haven’t been there, he’s at least remained a reliable source of tackles and that makes him a solid depth linebacker in most leagues.
LB Michael Wilhoite, SF (0 tackles)
Wilhoite only lasted 7 snaps in the game this week before he went to the locker room with an ankle injury. Gerald Hodges took his place and posted 5 solos and an assist while playing most of the game.
CINCINNATI @ CLEVELAND
S Reggie Nelson, CIN (5 solos, 1 INT, 1 PD)
Nelson picked off a pass for the 4th game in a row, but he also has 6 in the past 6 games and 7 on the year. The Bengals continue to have a great season and the improved play from the pass rush is helping him to a career year.
DT Geno Atkins, CIN (0 tackles)
This looks like little more than a fluke, but Atkins was shut out despite playing 45 snaps (71%). He is having a tremendous season with 8 sacks, but this was a disappointing showing in what may have been a key week heading into the fantasy playoffs.
BALTIMORE @ MIAMI
DE Olivier Vernon, MIA (4 solos, 2 asst, 2.5 sacks)
Vernon continued his impressive play with another dominating effort this week. He picked up 2.5 sacks to give him 4.5 in his last 3 games, and 6.5 in his last 8 games. The beginning of the year was very disappointing but he is making up for it with a great finish.
LB Daryl Smith, BAL (9 solos, 1 sack)
For a reason that didn’t seem clear, Smith was not on the field at the end of last week’s Monday night game against the Browns as he was replaced by Zach Orr. He had missed practice time in recent weeks for what was described as non-injury reasons, but didn’t look like himself either with just 7 solos and 3 assists over the prior 3 games. He bounced back this week though and hopefully is safe to start next week against Seattle.
SEATTLE @ MINNESOTA
DE Frank Clark, SEA (2 solos, 2 sacks, 2 PD)
The rookie pass rusher only sees time in clear passing situations, which amounts to only about 20 to 25 snaps each week. He looks very promising though and picked up 2 sacks this week to give him 3 in his last 2 games. He’s stuck behind Cliff Avril at the moment for a full-time role, but could certainly earn a bigger part of a rotation at some point.
DT Linval Joseph, MIN (DNP)
Joseph missed the game with a foot injury, which was a huge loss for the Vikings and likely fantasy owners alike. Joseph is one of the best interior run defenders in the league and having a great fantasy season. Shariff Floyd picked up the slack in his absence with 6 solos and 1 assist.
LB Anthony Barr, MIN (0 tackles)
Unfortunately, Barr only lasted 7 snaps in the game this week before aggravating a groin injury. He was coming off a great showing last week, but had also been dealing with a broken hand and it looks like this latest injury may keep him out for a bit.
CB Cary Williams, SEA (DNP)
Williams was a healthy scratch this week and then was released from the team on Monday. He has been a huge bust after signing a 3-year, $18 million contract in the offseason. Deshawn Shead has taken over his position opposite Richard Sherman.
NY JETS @ NY GIANTS
DE Leonard Williams, NYJ (4 solos, 1 asst, 1 sack)
In a game where the Jets only had 45 tackle opportunities, Williams had a very strong showing with 5 tackles and a sack. Eli Manning isn’t normally an easy player to bring down but Williams got to him for his first solo sack of the season. He likely remains in consideration for defensive rookie of the year even though his stats haven’t generated a lot of attention.
DE Robert Ayers, NYG (3 solos, 2 asst, 2 sacks, 1 PD)
DE Jason Pierre-Paul, NYG, (5 solos, 1 asst, 1 PD, 1 FR)
Both Giants defensive ends had strong games this week. They were helped by the fact the Jets threw the ball 50 times, but Ayers picked up 2 sacks to give him 3 in his last 3 game while playing 82% of the snaps. Meanwhile, Pierre-Paul has yet to record a sack this year but he was on the field for 97% of the snaps so he should remain a productive fantasy option even if he’s not getting to the QB as much as he used to before the injury.
ARIZONA @ ST LOUIS
CB Marcus Roberson, STL (6 solos, 3 PD)
Roberson got a start this week as the Rams opened up in a dime defense against the Cardinals spread attack. He was the only Rams corner to play every defensive snap in the game and it certainly looked like Palmer was picking on him a bit as he piled up 6 solo tackles and 3 pass deflections. That’s 2 strong games in a row for the undrafted 2nd year player out of Florida.
LB James Laurinaitis, STL (1 solo, 3 asst)
Laurinaitis never really seemed to get the boost that was expected following the injury to Alec Ogletree. He’s posted solid tackle numbers most weeks but hasn’t done anything else, and this week was a clear disappointment. He was on the field for 84 snaps and the Cardinals had 36 rush attempts, but the MLB only finished with 1 solo stop and 4 tackles overall.
ATLANTA @ TAMPA BAY
DE William Gholston, TB (2 solos, 1 asst, 2 sacks)
Gholston continues to impress as he picked up 2 sacks of Matt Ryan this week. While he’s mostly contributed against the run with 29 solo stops on the year, he is starting to generate more heat on the QB with 3 sacks in his last 4 games.
S Ricardo Allen, ATL (8 solos, 1 FR)
Allen seemed to come out of nowhere to win the starting free safety job in Atlanta this preseason, but the 5th round pick from 2014 looks like a keeper. With the Falcons season starting to slip away in recent weeks, he has been one of the only playmakers with 2 interceptions, a sack, and fumble recovery in the last 5 games.
LB Kwon Alexander, TB (6 solos, 4 asst, 1 sack, 1 FF, 1 PD)
Alexander has established himself as one of the best linebackers from this year’s rookie class, and he had another outstanding game this week with 10 tackles plus a sack and forced fumble. Unfortunately, he’s expected to begin serving his 4-game suspension and is likely out until the NFL playoffs. Bruce Carter is expected to take his spot inside, but Danny Lansanah will likely get the 3-down role.
S William Moore, ATL (1 solo, 1 asst)
Moore hasn’t looked the same since returning from a groin injury in week 11. During the last 3 games, he has collected just 7 solos and 6 assists. Probably little more than a depth safety right now.
JACKSONVILLE @ TENNESSEE
LB Telvin Smith Sr, JAX (7 solos, 2 asst, 2 sacks, 1 FF)
The incredible year of Telvin Smith Sr continues as he rang up 9 more tackles along with a pair of sacks. He is now at 84 solo tackles with 4 more games to go, which gives him a great chance to blow past 100 in just his 2nd year. Despite being somewhat undersized for the position (6’3”, 223lbs), Smith is a physical tackler with the range to chase down plays from sideline to sideline.
CB Aaron Colvin, JAX (0 tackles)
Colvin typically works out of the slot for Jacksonville, but he saw a reduction in playing time this week due to the matchup with the Titans. He still was out there for 35 snaps (50%) but was not credited with any tackles in the game. He should bounce back against the Colts next week.
KANSAS CITY @ OAKLAND
LB Derrick Johnson, KC (13 solos, 1 asst, 1 sack, 1 FF)
Johnson has always been a very good fantasy linebacker, but like the rest of the team he got off to a pretty slow start in 2015. He is on fire of late though and now has 3 sacks in his last 5 games along with 39 solo tackles.
LB Khalil Mack, OAK (5 solos, 3 asst, 2 sacks)
Mack is starting to fulfill his amazing potential as this was his second consecutive 2-sack game and also his third multi-sack game of the year. With 40 solo tackles and 9 sacks, he’d be one of the best fantasy defensive ends but he’s still a solid starter as a linebacker in most balanced scoring systems.
CB Marcus Peters, KC (6 solos, 1 FF, 1 INT, 2 PD)
Peters has been inconsistent at times this year, but the rookie likely remains a strong possibility for defensive rookie of the year following his game this week. He picked up his 5th interception of the season, forced a fumble, and also moved up to 18 passes defensed on the year which puts him 1 behind league-leading fellow rookie Ronald Darby.
DENVER @ SAN DIEGO
CB Patrick Robinson, SD (7 solos, 1 asst, 1 PD)
Brandon Flowers suffered a knee injury this week and had to be carted off the field. That creates a huge opportunity for Robinson, who has played well this year but not quite as good as Jason Verrett on the other side. He should see a boost in playing time and targets, and should make a solid CB2 as long as Flowers is out.
LB Brandon Marshall, DEN (3 solos)
Despite playing a 3-down role for the Broncos, Marshall continues to post underwhelming numbers in most weeks. This week, he was on the field for 58 snaps (88%) but only finished with 3 solo tackles. In fairness, the Chargers offense only allowed 45 tackle opportunities and that’s a common pattern due to how great the Broncos defense is.
CB Brandon Flowers, SD (1 solo)
Flowers has been struggling this year, but he suffered a knee injury and was carted off the field on Sunday. His fantasy value was probably pretty low anyway, but his absence should help some of the remaining players get a boost.
PHILADELPHIA @ NEW ENGLAND
LB Connor Barwin, PHI (3 solos, 3 asst, 2 sacks)
LB Brandon Graham, PHI (3 solos, 1 asst, 2 sacks)
The Eagles surprised everybody by taking it to the Patriots this week, and they were led by their outside linebackers who combined for 4 sacks of Brady in the upset win. Barwin has been coming on strong since the Eagles bye with 3.5 sacks and 19 solo stops in his last 5 games. Graham also has shown signs of life with 4.5 sacks and 16 solos in the same time span. Look for both to give the Bills some issues next week.
LB Jamie Collins, NE (3 solos, 5 asst, 1 FF, 1 PD)
Collins finally returned to the lineup this week after missing the prior 4 games with an illness. There was reason to believe his conditioning might be an issue but he managed to play 54 snaps (89%) and should be able to build on this for next week’s game against the Texans. Given all the injuries in New England, his return should provide a nice boost the rest of the year.
LB Mychal Kendricks, PHI (4 solos, 1 asst, 1 PD)
Kendricks was only on the field for 48 snaps (54%) on defense this week while Kiko Alonso saw 70. He’s not playing an everydown role, and in fact added one of his solo stops on special teams this week. Kendricks used to be a player who you could plug into your starting lineup each week and not worry about it, but he seems to be playing hurt or something as the level has dropped in addition to his playing time.
CAROLINA @ NEW ORLEANS
LB James Anderson, NO (7 solos, 4 asst)
The Saints signed Anderson a little less than a month ago to provide some depth to their depleted linebacker group. He got the start against his former team this week and wound up seeing 76 snaps (94%). The matchup was favorable, but he still came through with 11 tackles.
S Kurt Coleman, CAR (2 solos, 1 asst, 1 INT, 1 PD)
Coming into this season, Coleman had a reputation as a player who wasn’t very strong in coverage but he has locked onto the free safety position in Carolina. He intercepted a pass for the 4th game in a row and also has 5 in the last 6 games. His tackle numbers are low, but when you have a safety making that many big plays it’s easy to overlook.
INDIANAPOLIS @ PITTSBURGH
LB D’Qwell Jackson, IND (11 solos, 2 PD)
With Jerrell Freeman out of the lineup this week, it quickly became the D’Qwell Jackson show. He was everywhere and piled up 11 solo stops along with a pair of passes defensed. Thanks in part to how bad many of the Colts defenders are around him, Jackson has posted 23 solos, 6 assists, along with 2 sacks and an interception in the past 3 games to make him one of the most productive IDPs in the league right now.
S Mike Adams, IND (10 solos, 1 asst, 1 FF)
Adams returned from a 2-game absence to post 10 solo tackles as the Steelers moved the ball at will against a porous Colts defense. He’s been very productive whenever he’s been in the lineup this year and should make a solid starting option going forward.
LB Jerrell Freeman, IND (DNP)
Freeman was ruled out this week with a hamstring injury as he was not able to practice. Hopefully he’ll return soon as he’s been a productive tackler despite posting little in the way of big plays.