Man, I love this time of year! I wish I had the time to watch every snap of every game and every college game too. Defense is definitely handcuffed with so many penalties called but I still love the defense and everything about it. If you are looking for info on streaming team defense, please check this out. IDP may not be as large as other formats, however, it is definitely growing.
I will break down some up and coming guys you should be grabbing and a few to fade, I won’t delve into the obvious – hopefully, some of these guys can be grabbed on your waivers! And if you are really lost and looking for offensive player pickups, please check out offensive waiver wire pickups here.
WEEK 2 UBER-STUD: Darius Leonard, LB, Colts
Rarely do you see a stat line like Leonard posted in Week 2 – 18 tackles (15 solos) and a sack. If you played against him, you likely didn’t win against a stat line like that. Leonard is a future stud, drafted in the second round from South Carolina State, and will be an anchor in Indianapolis for many years. He recognizes plays quickly and attacks the ball, fun to watch and the playmaker the Colts sorely needed. Get him if you can, he’s going to man the linebacker corps in Indy for a long time.
Benson Majowa, DE, Cardinals
A player to start if Markus Golden remains out and possibly even when he returns. Majowa had himself a career game in Week 2, 7 tackles (6 solos) and 2 sacks. I watched the tape and he looked good – he has been a journeyman lineman since his entry in the league in 2013. He showed agility and a relentless motor, Golden’s return will likely diminish his role some but Arizona will get him on the line if he plays like this. Keep an eye on Majowa and stash him if you need DE help.
Kuwann Short, DE, Panthers
Short is a player I love that doesn’t get much love in the IDP community it seems. He is a steady producing lineman, tallying 6 tackles (5 solos) in Week 2 against the Falcons. Short next draws the Bengals, who have well documented offensive line issues. Expect a big game from Short in Week 3.
Jurrell Casey, DE, Titans
Casey is another oft-overlooked defensive lineman that is capable of putting up DL1 numbers, in Week 2 he garnered 5 tackles (4 solos) and 2 sacks. The impact he makes can go unnoticed in the stat lines at times, he is an elite defensive end capable of putting up monster games. If he is available, he needs to be rostered and played weekly.
J.J. Watt, DE, Texans
I am not saying this is the end of J.J. Watt but it definitely appears to be the day we start to not think of him as a locked and loaded DL1. He has appeared in 96% of the Texans defensive snaps and has tallied only 6 total tackles. Watt doesn’t appear to have the undeniable power and moves he used to have, they could come back with time – I don’t recommend selling for peanuts. He is one of my all-time favorite players and one of the best people in all of sports, I am cautious going forward with the elder Watt.
Kenny Young, LB, Ravens
Young’s performance on the stat line didn’t overwhelm by any means – 8 tackles and 5 of those were solos – but the tape says a different thing. He was routinely at the point of tackle before almost any other defender and will be a factor going forward, even when C.J. Mosley returns. Young is a young linebacker to get now, he will be a big part of this Ravens defense from here on out.
Jaylon Smith, LB, Cowboys
It’s time for Smith to be the lead linebacker in Dallas and it shows, he has relentless pursuit and ability to make plays. The player on tape in Notre Dame is starting to come through, Smith was an elite prospect in college and the pro game is coming to him. Smith racked up 10 tackles (7 solos) in Week 2 and played 83% of snaps. That number is a safe floor going forward as far as snaps and the tackles will come as well. Grab Smith now and he needs to be in the lineup.
Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Cowboys
One of my favorite players coming out of college, Vander Esch got onto the field for 41% of the defensive snaps versus the Giants and responded with 7 solo tackles. He improved vastly in his final year of college and will man the linebacker corps in Dallas with Smith for many years. Dallas has put together a young and fast defense, they could have a top unit for a long time.
Jordan Hicks, LB, Eagles
Hicks will continue to be the pin that holds the middle of the defense together in Philly, he garnered 9 tackles (6 solos) and played 100% of the defensive snaps in Week 2. Those numbers should both be the floor for Hicks, he’s a solid linebacker that isn’t the sexiest option but won’t let you down either.
Raekwon McMillan, LB, Dolphins
I am not ready to fully give up but the stock on McMillan seems to be trending down rapidly. He was in on 100% of the Dolphins defensive snaps and only produced 3 solo tackles. It is only his second game starting, but the playmaking and nose for the ball don’t appear to be there yet. I would hold him still but not start him until he comes around.
T.J. Watt, LB, Steelers
Although he was last week’s Uber-Stud, this week will also accompany Watt for his career. He is capable of destroying an offense single-handedly one week and then putting up a 2 tackles (1 solo) stat line the next. I tend to avoid starting players like this unless it’s an offense prone to sacks without as fierce of an offensive line, games against teams like the Giants or Seahawks. Watt is a nice ace to have in your back pocket, but not an every week play.
Shaun Williams, S, Bengals
Safety play has always been a thorn in the Bengals’ paws but defensive coordinator Teryl Austin is using Williams as an in-the-box strong safety and he responded with 8 tackles (6 solos) and a sack. Williams was all over the field, his motor sometimes gets him in trouble like Week 1, but his playmaking ability is evident when he is on the pitch. Williams is a must-start defensive back going forward.
Ronald Darby, CB, Eagles
Darby is getting targeted and responding with tackles, he has already notched 15 total tackles (14 solos) in the first two games combined and added a pick in Week 2. A must start in CB required, I would still consider him a start at the DB spot if you need help. The tackles will continue as he is getting the most looks in the defensive backfield in Philly.
Ronnie Harrison, S, Jaguars
This is possibly the most interesting entry on the list, Harrison is an add if you need a DB but I would hold off trusting to start quite yet. I loved him coming out of college but he landed in possibly the most talented secondary in the NFL. Harrison played 52% of the defensive snaps and responded with 7 solo tackles. The Jags are a team that knows how to use all pieces of their defense and he will find a way on the field with a performance like this. Grab him and monitor the situation.
Sean Davis/Morgan Burnett/Terrell Edmunds, S, Steelers
All of these players are rotating into the safety positions and I am avoiding all three. Davis is talented and highly regarded, wrapped up 8 solos in Week 2 while playing 100% of the defensive snaps but plays in the free safety role. The tackles won’t always be that prevalent, the Chiefs just happened to complete most of their passes deep in the secondary. Burnett has been an IDP mainstay for years – he has played 62% of defensive snaps and has 8 total tackles in 2018 (4 solos), not inspiring numbers from the strong safety position. Edmunds has played 72% of snaps for Pittsburgh but has only tallied 3 solo tackles in those 106 snaps. All three are talented and bring something to the table, I am not starting any of the three but would stash Edmunds if I have roster space.
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