Week 1 yielded some surprise stars and IDP players that will need to be added to your squad if you need help. I will not point out the obvious guys or guys that should be owned in every league already, hopefully, these players are available in shallow leagues or may have slipped through the cracks. Also, these players are primed to have a strong Week 2 so get them in your lineup!
WEEK 1 UBER-STUD: T.J. Watt, LB, Steelers
Watt spent more time in the backfield than Tyrod Taylor, okay, not really but it felt that way! Watt speared 11 tackles with 8 being solo and 4 (not a typo) sacks. Those performances in IDP can win a week. Watt was in on 95% of the defensive snaps and he is a superstar in the making. The tackle numbers stood out for me, 8 was his previous high with his average per game only being 3.5 in 2017. Watt may be available and if he is, he should be your top priority.
Markus Golden, DE, Cardinals
Golden is a forgotten man being he missed most of 2017 and he is close to returning. He was knocking on DL1 production in 2016, tallying 51 tackles and 12.5 sacks. Likely available on your wire, Golden will provide a jolt to your defensive line upon return.
Robert Quinn, DE/LB, Dolphins
Quinn played his 59% of snaps Week 1 from the LB spot but still carries the DE designation in MFL for now. Therein lies his value, he produced only 4 combined tackles but always has potential to explode for a few sacks and draws the Jets in Week 2.
Deatrich Wise, DE, Patriots
Wise tallied 3 tackles and 1.5 sacks in Week 1 playing on only 31% of defensive snaps. Expect that number to increase with that production, and playing opposite Trey Flowers should yield Wise seeing a lot of favorable matchups. Wise is a strong option for DL production going forward.
Nick Vigil, LB, Bengals
Vigil wrapped up 11 tackles, all solo, and played every defensive snap in Week 1 versus the Colts. Tackle opportunities will increase likely against Baltimore this week as well. Vigil is starting in place of suspended Vontaze Burfict but I see the Bengals finding ways to keep him on the field when Burfict returns.
Fred Warner, LB, 49ers
Warner stepped in for injured Malcolm Smith and may have wrestled the job away from him. Warner tallied 12 stops, 11 of them solos, looking comfortable in the position Week 1. He has a lot of preseason buzz that had died some, he is a strong start in Week 2 versus the Lions.
Kyzir White, LB, Chargers
White is a converted safety but earned the nod at middle linebacker for 78% of the snaps in Week 1. He tallied 6 total tackles and may take some time to round into form but is a great tackler in a great opportunity. I want to start as many Chargers as I can this week versus Josh Allen and the Bills.
Duke Riley, LB, Falcons
It was announced Wednesday that stud LB Deion Jones is on the injured reserve and Riley will fill-in. Riley produced 93 tackles as a senior at LSU in 2016 and will get the opportunity to play with Jones out. We haven’t seen much of Riley – he is the prototypical linebacker mold and should produce good numbers while Jones is out.
Josh Bynes, LB, Cardinals
The Cards rolled out Bynes for 90% of the defensive snaps and he responded with 11 tackles, 8 of those being solo tackles. I still believe Hasaan Reddick is the superior talent but Bynes has the trust of the staff and is a good football player. He should get a ton of opportunities with Todd Gurley and the Rams up in Week 2.
Cory Littleton, LB, Rams
Littleton shellacked the Raiders for 13 tackles, 11 being solos, and an interception. He was targeted in pass coverage, as he was covering Jared Cook primarily, which contributed to his high tackle total. Littleton might see a small dip when Mark Barron returns but I don’t have much faith in Barron overall so I believe Littleton will still be productive.
Kentrell Brice, S, Packers
Brice was tabbed the starter at strong safety and responded by corralling in 9 tackles, 8 of them solos, and a sack as well. Brice played well and helped keep Jordan Howard and Tarik Cohen in check, the Vikings are up in Week 2 and expect another strong showing from Brice.
Jessie Bates, S, Bengals
Bates raked in 8 solo tackles Week 1 and played 100% of the Bengals defensive snaps. Bates was a ballhawk at Wake Forest and Cincinnati needs that in it’s secondary. He will likely still play a lot going forward when Shawn Williams plays and the tackles, as well as a turnover here and there, provide Bates a fairly good ceiling.
Damontae Kazee, S, Falcons
Kazee comes on this list because of the loss of my DB1, Keanu Neal. Kazee will get the first shot to step in and play safety, during the Eagles game Kazee ended up playing 48% of defensive snaps and contributed 3 solo tackles. Temper expectations, it would be impossible to replicate what Neal brought to the table but Kazee should be solid if you need DB help.
Denzel Ward, CB, Browns
Ward drew the task of covering Antonio Brown and he played admirably. Ward was targeted and Brown did have 9 catches for 93 yards with a touchdown but he is the WR1 in my opinion and basically uncoverable. Ward limited his Brown’s YAC, notching 6 tackles total and also had 2 interceptions. Ward had an impressive day overall and will get a load of chances in Week 2 versus the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes.
John Johnson III, S, Rams
Johnson had an interception last week along with 9 total tackles, 6 solos. Johnson is one of those players that always stands out on tape – if you can get him, he’s a must-start and a superstar in the making. He draws the Cardinals in Week 2 and I expect another big game from him.
All snap counts curated from Pro Football Reference. Please follow me on Twitter and for another great IDP follow, I will recommend a new one each week, follow the best – Tom Kislingbury. He is a great man, knowledgeable and has a great accent!