By Duncan Smith and JJ Wenner
Welcome to week 4. We’re a quarter of the way through the 2020 season. Or 9/10ths of the way through it if you happen to be a Tennessee Titan, who knows when they will be back on the field. At this point, we review every team and highlight the names to know and avoid at each position.
So sit back, hope that putting the 20 people who had most contact with Cam Newton in one plane together before setting them loose in Kansas City was a smart move, and enjoy our 4/16ths of the season snap decisions.
Those of you who are newer to IDP, remember to check your league format. For example, if you only have to play defensive linemen, then an edge rusher is more than likely going to score consistently better than an interior lineman.
iDL – Zach Allen and Corey Peters are both worthy of a roster spot in DT required leagues. Watch your settings to see if they are DT eligible in your league.
Edge – Chandler Jones seems to be fading, with both Jordan Phillips and Devon Kennard outpacing him in scoring. I tend to bet on talent, but being on the wrong side of 30 and putting up your worst season as a pro is not a good sign. See if you can move him for a draft pick to an Edge-needy team.
LB – Hicks, and Campbell are the two starters. Stash Simmons on your bench. He should get a shot eventually.
CB – Peterson, and Murphy are getting nearly all of the snaps.
S – Banjo and Budda sound like the title to a kid’s movie, but their production is not for the tykes. They are doing man’s work at safety and should be on a roster in every format. Banjo is injured, and Deionte Thompson appears to be the next in line for snaps.
iDL – Grady Jarrett is a DT1 in any DT-req leagues. He plays a ton of snaps and produces every week.
Edge – This group is as bad for fantasy as they are as real players. Avoid, avoid, avoid.
LB – Jones, and Foye are getting the snaps and the nod as starters. It is good seeing rookie Mykal Walker getting snaps. Hopefully, he continues to grow as a player.
CB – Rookie AJ Terrell was handling one CB slot until his injury. He, Dennard, and Oliver are all receiving enough snaps to be worthy of a start in CB required leagues. Blidi Wreh-Wilson should fill in for Terrell if you need an emergency starter if the injury lingers.
S – Keanu and Kazee are the two to roster on the Falcons. Allen will get snaps filling in for Keanu as he recovers from a hamstring injury.
iDL – Derek Wolfe and Brandon Williams are the two DT’s worth of a roster spot. Once back from injury, Wolfe is a must-start in DT required leagues.
Edge – Calais Campbell continues to perform. Matt Judon is a boom or bust option in sack-heavy scoring.
LB – Patrick Queen is the LB to start in this defense. Beyond the rookie, LJ Fort is pushing Malik Harrison to the bench with his play.
CB – Peters, and Humphrey are the two worthy of starting in CB-Req leagues. Averett saw a bump with Jimmy Smith losing snaps last week.
S – Clark and Elliott are the starters, with Clark being a must-start in all formats.
iDL – Don’t tell anyone, but Quinton Jefferson is outplaying Ed Oliver. He is graded better by PFF and is receiving more snaps. Right now is a chance to move Oliver based on his name alone in DT-req leagues.
Edge – Addison is the only DE to post a solid week so far. Not sure why, but I would keep all of the DEs out of my starting lineups until we see a consistent performance.
LB – Edmunds and Milano are the must-start LBs on a formidable defense. Of the rest, only Tyrel Dodson is worth a roster spot.
CB – In an entirely unneeded statement, Josh Norman plays with a chip on his shoulder. White is seldom targeted, leaving Taran Johson, Levi Wallace, and Josh Norman to eat up the targets. I’d make sure I am starting Norman, as long as he is healthy.
S – Poyer, and Hyde continue to man the backline of Buffalo’s defense. Both players are playing nearly every snap and are getting opportunities to rush the passer. As the Bills continue to rack up points, they should continue to feast.
iDL – Derrick Brown is having a season to remember. He has already logged 5 TFLs through 4 games. He is on pace for the 2nd best rookie season since Aaron Donald. He is the rookie to roster in DT-req leagues.
Edge – Brian Burns and Stephen Weatherly are receiving the most snaps, but rookie YGM looked good this past weekend. Make sure he is rostered as he slowly increases his snaps.
LB – Shaq Thompson is the only player I would feel comfortable starting in this crew. It would have to be desperation city for me to dial up my one share of Whitehead.
CB – Former Eagle Rasul Douglas continues his Carolinian Resurgence by posting another solid week. He and Donte Jackson are solid starters in CB-Req leagues.
S – Burris and Boston are the starting safeties and are worthy of a start in deeper leagues. Rookie Jeremy Chinn is lining up all over the field and needs to be on a roster now.
iDL – I don’t know what got into Akiem Hicks, but he is playing like a dream. The current DT1 is playing as a man possessed. He should be rostered in every league, but he may have slipped past your home league. POUNCE!
Edge – Khalil Mack continues to bring the heat from the edge position. I hope you play in a league that delineates between OLB and LB. If not, Mack might not be worth a roster spot.
LB – Outside of Roquan, there are no LBs worthy of starting in a standard IDP league.
CB – Rookie Jaylon Johnson joins Kyle Fuller in the startable CB club by posting overall top 12 CB numbers through four weeks. Overly physical slot CB, Buster Skrine is always an excellent bye-week replacement because of his love of contact. Lots of targets equal lots of opportunities.
S – Neither Eddie Jackson nor Tashaun Gipson is a worthy starter in most leagues. Gipson is currently S21 in my scoring, which is a borderline starter.
iDL – Don’t look now, but the Bengals have another DT playing well in former Texan DJ Reader. Although not getting a sack, DJ has posted 18 total tackles, and 1 batted pass. Look for his opportunities to increase when Atkins returns from injury in the next few weeks.
Edge – The pass-rushing efficacy of Lawson, Dunlap, and Hubbard seems to be tied to their opponent. Against the Chargers and Eagles, the edges feasted. Against the Browns and Jaguars, they didn’t. I’d feel secure in starting Hubbard and Lawson, who are getting a steady dose of snaps. Lawson should start against teams with weaker defenses where shootouts may occur.
LB – Avoid this position group. Nothing good is happening here. Pratt and Bynes are getting snaps. Rookie Logan Wilson is the only dynasty option, who is the best cover LB on the team through four games.
CB – Avoid this group. They are not performing well enough to earn a roster spot on any dynasty squad.
S – Jessie Bates continues to deliver for IDP managers, posting reliable double-digit scoring in every week this season. Vonn Bell can be rostered, but Bates is the only worthy starter.
iDL – Snaps are consistent through four games; Richardson and Ogunjobi are the only two worthy of a roster spot.
Edge – With the return of Vernon, Gustin did see a drop in snaps. However, he played 50% in his reduced role with nowhere to go but up. Garrett is a generational talent and if you have an opportunity to get him, do so.
LB – BJ Goodson is the only LB worthy of starting. As Takitaki’s snaps continue to dwindle, look to pick up Jacob Phillips as a dynasty stash.
CB – Terrance Mitchell and Denzel Ward should be starting in all CB-req leagues. Mitchell is receiving more targets, but Ward is making up for it by racking up the PD with 6. If you are in a league that rewards good corners, Ward is a mandatory start.
S – If you are still hanging onto Harrison, stop it. He is seeing a steady increase in snaps but was at 13% in Week 4, but that is not enough to warrant a roster spot.
iDL – There is nothing to see here. Please move on.
Edge – You know my thoughts on Aldon Smith, but the entire edge position is playing poorly. Griffen is a shell of his former self, and Lawrence is a disappointment. Avoid this group until they show some more energy.
LB – Appropriately named linebacker Joe Thomas is getting all of the snaps. He is scoring well in IDP but is not a good player.
CB – Rookie Trevon Diggs is not playing well for the Cowboys. This is a good thing for IDP. Diggs should be on a roster in CB-Req leagues.
S – Donovan Wilson was a revelation at safety this weekend. In his first defensive snaps of the season, the sophomore posted ten tackles and a sack. Get him on your roster.
iDL – Jurrell and Purcell worked well as an assonative DT tandem before a bicep injury moved Casey to the IR. There is no 1:1 replacement. More than likely, a tandem of Williams and Agim will cover the nose for the Broncos.
Edge – I told you last week that Chubb would shine, and he did. Now trade him for whatever you can get.
LB – Sometimes, IDP is frustrating. Alexander Johnson is playing well as compared to his torpid partner Josey Jewell. Yet, Jewell is out-scoring AJ. IDP is a cruel mistress.
CB – Ojemudia is a JAG, while Callahan is playing well for Elway and company. In IDP, I would avoid both.
S – Simmons is a must-start in all formats. Kareem Jackson would be a good bench safety, but I don’t keep extra at that position.
iDL – Danny Shelton is having a great start to his year; he is on pace for 68 tackles, which would be a career-high. One of the few bright spots on this team.
Edge – Romeo keeps outshining lil’ brother Julian, but that is not a Herculean task. I might keep the Okwaras on a roster, but nothing else from this bunch. I thought Trey Flowers would become a dominant edge.
LB – This is a terrible position group for IDP (and real football!). Tavai, Collins, Davis, Jones, and Ragland arouse zero interest from me. Next.
CB – Jeff Okudah is putting up solid numbers for IDP and opposing offenses. QBs have completed 15/20 for 225 yards while targeting the rookie. I am not a defensive coordinator, but I don’t believe that statistic is very good.
S – Tracy Walker has locked down the safety role opposite of Duron Harmon. They are both worthy starters as the backline of a porous defense.
GREEN BAY PACKERS
iDL – Neither Kingsley Keke or Tyrion Lannister, sorry, Tyler Lancaster is worthy of a roster spot.
Edge – If the Smith brothers come knocking, be sure to let the right one in. Preston Smith averaged 17 ppg for the first 4 games in 2019. This year, he scored 24 points total in 4 games. Needless to say, as a manager, I am upset. The other Smith, Za’Darius, is the right one. With 16 tackles and 5 sacks, make sure he is starting in your lineups.
LB – Summers is still seeing snaps in the middle with Kirksey on the mend, but is not playing a three-down role. Kris Barnes is playing well and was in for 54% of snaps this week. I’d add Barnes in deeper leagues and see what happens.
CB – Jaire still gets enough targets to warrant a start in CB-Req leagues. With the injury to King, Josh Jackson played a season-high 40% of snaps.
S – Darnell Savage is not playing well for the Packers, putting up a 53.5, according to PFF. Green Bay may have noticed as Raven Greene snuck in for a season-high 71% of the snaps playing as the team’s dime-LB. If he continues to perform at a high level, he may start to push for some snaps in the base package as well.
iDL – PJ Hall is having a career year with 17 tackles and a sack in four games. Everything is up in the air with Crennel taking over, but I think Hall is worth a stash.
Edge – JJ has shown again that when healthy, he is a top edge in the NFL. Whitney has been Merci-ful on the field, scoring a position group low, 48.4 in PFF. I’m not sure why they keep playing him over Jake Martin. However, While Mercilus’ snaps are trending down, Martin is moving up. Look for Martin to overtake Scarlett and Mercilus in the next few weeks.
LB – Cunningham is excellent at rushing the passer but abysmal in pass coverage. Although scoring well in IDP, he is playing poorly enough to lose snaps. I am looking to trade him. McKinney is steady, high floor/low ceiling. Good player to have as an LB2.
CB – Nothing to see here. They are playing so poorly (How poorly are they playing?); they are playing so poorly that they may get their coach fired. What was that? The head coach was fired, and the DC was promoted? I don’t get this team.
S – Eddie Murphy and Justin Reid are playing well at the end of all things. Sorry, Eddie Murray. Nope, that is the MLB Hall of Famer. I’m looking for Eric Murray. These chaps are racking up nearly every snap for the Texans. I am not confident in starting either at the moment.
iDL – Young and talented is Deforest Buckner, who moved to the Colts in the offseason. He has proven worthy of the investment. Autry will be a reliable option if Buckner suffers an injury.
Edge – Houston has been on fire, recording a sack in each game this season. He is 31, so don’t pursue him. But if you need it, this might be a name you can find available for trades in all leagues. However, go after him as a throw-in to another deal.
LB – Darius Leonard was the consensus LB1 in drafts this offseason. He has been disappointing with injuries robbing him of snaps, dropping to 45% last week. You cannot bench Leonard, but if you have high-quality backups… Just something to consider.
CB – Moore, Rock, and Rhodes received the bulk of the snaps in Week 4. All are worthy of a roster spot, but I’d wait to see more from Rock Ya-Sin before getting him back to the starting lineup.
S – Khari Willis and Julian Blackmon are now dominating the snaps. The good news is that they are both playing well and should be rostered. Make it so.
iDL – Nobody is getting enough snaps to be relevant in IDP. Davon Hamilton is scoring as a rookie, so I would have him rostered in deeper leagues.
Edge – It is only a theory, but I believe Josh Allen (QB) Space Jammed Josh Allen (Edge), leaving the Jag pass rusher with nothing left for games. He plays in over 70% of snaps for three straight games, but cannot rack up enough stats to matter.
LB – This is an ugly bunch, but Jack and Schobert are putting up solid numbers. Currently ranked as the LB6 and LB23, they are both worthy starters in any league.
CB – The Triple H corners are not doing well. Henderson played well but left Week 4 with an injury, Hayden is on IR with a hammy, and Herndon is a space-filler best. I would make sure to get Rookie Henderson on a roster, but don’t reach for CBs. Never worth it.
S – Maybe the Jags knew what they were doing when they jettisoned Ronnie Harrison from their ranks. Josh Jones was mainly a disappointment in Green Bay but is playing well this year. He is a worthy starter.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
iDL – I love this tandem of DTs. Jones is a candidate for overall DT1, and Nnadi is a solid DT2. Jones was out last game. Pennel and Wharton saw a bump, but nothing to worry about.
Edge – Frank Clark is the only guy here worthy of starting. Kpassagnon is getting snaps, but the production is lacking.
LB – I am the proud holder of one share of Dorian O’Daniel. I was so sure that he would be the next star LB in the modern NFL. Long story short, Ben Niemann is getting more playing time than him. None of these players should be starting.
CB – Bashaud Breeland is the epitome of the IDP DB Paradox. This is a sparse position group, so Breeland can quickly become fantasy relevant.
S – With Tyrann sliding into the nickel slot, all three safeties are viable starters in deeper leagues. The ranking is easy: Tyrann, Thornhill, Sorensen.
LAS VEGAS RAIDERS
iDL – Maurice Hurst was the only one of the group doing anything, and now he’s on COVID IR, you don’t need to trouble yourself.
Edge – Maxx Crosby is one of those players I just like. He put up excellent numbers in the back half of 2019; however, this season, he only has 7 tackles to 3 sacks, it seems unlikely that ratio continues. Best on your bench until he gets those tackle numbers up.
LB – Corey Littleton is on pace for a below-average season at his current production. He is more than capable of turning that around. However, Nicholas Morrow and Nick Kwiatkoski eat into each other’s value drastically and preferably should only be started if the other is absent.
CB – Lamarcus Joyner leads the team with 19 solo tackles and 3 tackles for a loss so far, but he is questionable with a rib injury.
S – Second-year safety Jonathon Abrams is putting together a nice run after missing most of his rookie campaign.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
iDL – Jerry Tillery and Linval Jones are the main guys in the Chargers 4-man front. Tillery is a promising sophomore, and Joseph has been in the league for ten years. In dynasty, there is one that stands out. I will leave it to you to figure which one.
Edge – Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram make a formidable combination, and you don’t need me to tell you both should be rostered. Ingram is on IR but likely to be reactivated after three weeks. Meanwhile, Uchenna Nwosu has been making the most of his opportunity alongside Bosa and is one to keep a keen eye on.
LB – Kyzir White and rookie Kenneth Murray are leading the team in tackles. Both need to make more of an impression in the opponent’s backfield but are worthy of roster consideration.
CB – Chris Harris has landed on season-ending IR, opening up a spot across from shutdown corner Casey Hayward for Michael Davis.
S – With Derwin James on IR again, safety duties have fallen to Rayshawn Jenkins and Nasir Adderly.
LOS ANGELES RAMS
iDL – Aaron Donald is the number 1 DT on the year so far and has been number 1 for the last two years. Don’t overthink it at this position. If you need someone to watch, then Sebastian Joseph-Day is your guy. He’s averaging just over 3 tackles a game on only 33% of snaps. If anything happens to Donald, his share and value should increase.
Edge – Only Michael Brockers comes close to registering here, and by the time you get to Miami, you will have forgotten about him, so let’s move along.
LB – Troy Reeder was an interesting stash last year; however, it hasn’t panned out this season so far, with most of his play on special teams. However, with Micah Kiser currently battling injury Reeder and Kenny Young will see an increase in workload.
CB – Jalen Ramsey is getting paid $21m a year to be the Rams shut down corner, so naturally, the guy lining up opposite him, Troy Hill, is getting all the work with nearly double the amount of combines and solo tackles.
S – John Johnson has been excellent so far this season at strong safety. At free safety, things are less clear. A good rookie outing had everyone expecting Taylor Rapp to start this year, but he quickly fell behind Jordan Fuller. Now with Fuller injured, Rapp has given a good account of himself over the last two weeks. Best wait to see how this shakes out if you can.
iDL – Only Davon Godchaux and Raekwon Davis at nose tackle are eligible under Miami’s 3-4 front. 2020 second rounder Davis could be a nice taxi squad prospect in more degenerate leagues.
Edge – Emmanuel Ogbah and Christian Wilkins are the starters with Zach Sieler next man up should either miss time. Ogbah hasn’t played 16 games since his rookie season in 2016, but he has a reasonably solid baseline and will pop off occasionally when he gets at the quarterback.
LB – Jerome Baker and Kyle Van Noy are the main guys at the position, but with the lack of depth on Miami’s line, we swing the other way with six linebackers active, and every week so far, a different player has led the scoring. Avoid it if possible. There aren’t even any rookie stashes here.
CB – Roster Xavien Howard if you must but be aware he’s already banged up this season. Otherwise, I’m not looking to get involved in this group.
S – Eric Rowe and Bobby McCain are the starters for Miami, don’t make them the starters for you.
iDL – Hmm? Vikings. Ok, let’s quickly name Jaleel Johnson and Shamar Stephen. If all you want at iDL is 2 points a week and a blowup the week after you ditch them, then one of these two should suffice.
Edge – Yannick Ngakoue leads the team with 3 sacks backed up with 9 solo tackles, 3 TFL’s and 4 QB hits. If he can be more reliable in tackling or keeping up an ungodly sack streak, he’s a potential top DE.
LB – Erik Kendricks leads the team with 45 combined (30 solo) tackles so far, but he’s never been successful in getting to the QB. His last sack was week 15 of 2018 against Miami, and unless that changes, his upside is capped.
CB – A couple of rookies to keep an eye on here, Cameron Dantzler and first-rounder Jeff Gladney. Both are seeing a lot of playing time with Mike Hughes out, Gladney in particular, is making the most of his opportunity and could end up being a nice long term player on your roster.
S – Harrison Smith is an elite level safety and should be rostered everywhere. Luckily for him and you, the league is taking no further action on him for lowering his head on Sunday.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
iDL – New England is a better team defence than IDP. No-one on the team has played every snap, and it shows with their scoring. If you need a DT from this group, Lawrence Guy is your only real option, unless you’re a Pats homer, in which case you probably have them all.
Edge – John Simon and Chase Winovich lead the cornerbacks in playing time and tackles. Of the two, Winovich has 2.5 sacks so far, but neither is trustworthy until they start seeing more game time.
LB – After a slew of departures in the offseason, Ja’ Whaun Bentley is the man. He’s yet to show he’s the man for fantasy, though.
CB – Last year’s defensive player of the year, Stephon Gilmore, is a shutdown corner, and what does that mean? Yeah, you know, have a look at the other side of the field, and sure enough, Jonathon Jones is putting up reliable numbers on a lower snap count.
S – Devin McCourty is the big name at safety, but he’s getting on in years now and hasn’t produced on a 99.46% snap count. Adrian Phillips is doing much more on a 69.02% snap count.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
iDL – Saints Tackles are on a rotation, only Sheldon Rankins is averaging over 50% playing time. David Onyemata has seen less time but has 2 sacks over 4 weeks.
Edge – Cameron Jordan and Trey Hendrikson are the two names to know. Jordan sees the most snaps at the position, but Hendrikson makes the most of his smaller snap count with 11 solo tackles and 3 sacks.
LB – There is only Demario Davis and Alex Anzalone to talk about here. Davis has 20 solo tackles and hasn’t missed a snap yet. Until he shows otherwise, I doubt there’s much reason for you to be rostering Anzalone.
CB – Janoris Jenkins and Marshon Lattimore are the incumbent cornerbacks in the Big Easy. Still, both missed week 4 against Detroit, opening the way for Patrick Robinson to show his stuff, and he did with 4 tackles, an interception. A pass defended. However, please don’t get too excited in dynasty. He’s already 33.
S – Marcus Williams and Malcolm Jenkins haven’t missed a snap this season, Jenkins incredibly hasn’t missed a snap in 42 games, and it shows. Jenkins leads the team in combined tackles. Of interest is Chauncey Gardner-Jones, who sees the field an average of 86.1% of plays and is tying Jenkins for solo tackles with 20.
NEW YORK GIANTS
iDL – I don’t know what you want here. The Giants are currently giving the Jets a run for their money for the worst team in New York. If you have to play an iDL here, play Leonard Williams and hope that this is the week he gets a sack.
Edge – What now you want a Giants Edge Rusher? You must be desperate. Dexter Lawrence has the first-round pedigree and grades out performance-wise well each week, but he’s yet to translate that into a break out fantasy performance.
LB – Finally, a Giant worth paying attention to, Blake Martinez. He has 43 combined tackles and 2 sacks already on the year. With a nice string of fixtures all the way to their bye week 11, he has a good chance of being a set and forgets every week fixture in your team until then. Outside of Martinez, the LB’s are a timeshare, and no one has broken out.
CB – James Bradberry has 13 T, 1 int, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, and 9 passes defended so far. Opposite Bradberry is a bit of a rotation with second-year Corey Ballantine, the incumbent. However, recently rostered Isaac Yiadom is making his case for the starter’s job, one to watch.
S – Julian Love and Jabrill Peppers are the starting safeties; however, both have suffered an injury this season. While Love has seen action, Peppers has missed time, allowing Logan Ryan to step into a much more significant role.
NEW YORK JETS
iDL – The only player to concern yourself with is the 3rd overall pick, Quinnen Williams. He looks like he is taking the next step in his sophomore year; however, there are serious questions about how big a step can be in this Jets organization.
Edge – Henry Anderson and Kyle Phillips are currently atop the depth chart with a snap percentage of just under 40% each but, meh, look elsewhere.
LB – Neville Hewitt leads the team in combined tackles with 29 over 4 weeks. He’s not a glamorous play, but with a relatively safe floor, he can let you swing for the fences elsewhere.
CB – Pierre Desir is the player in the limelight right now thanks to 3 interceptions (1 pick-six) in 4 games, but the reality is he’s not very good. He has no speed and misses easy interceptions. His knowledge may help him against inexperienced quarterbacks, but seasoned vets should have no problem making him look foolish. A much better option is Brian Poole. He leads the team in solo tackles with 23 on the year and has an interception of his own to start the season.
S – In reality, only Jets guys like myself and JJ will probably bother with anyone other than this guy. Marcus Maye is the bright spot on this team and is another safe floor kind of play.
iDL – Fletcher Cox is elite. In fantasy, he gives a solid floor with a nice upside. You’re probably not going to get him. Alongside Cox, it’s been Malik Jackson that has been getting the work rather than Javon Hargreave.
Edge – With edge rushers including Derek Barnett and Brandon Graham, Josh Sweat is the current top performer. His snap count is somewhere between Graham and Barnett, yet he has 10 combined tackles, a forced fumble, and 5 QB hits on the season.
LB – Nathan Gerry is the dominant linebacker in Philly, seeing almost every snap and leading the team in tackles with 33 combines (17 solo, 3 for a loss). A consistent player who never flatlined on a week last year. He should be available if you need him.
CB – Darius Slay is a top top player. Unfortunately, at the position, it means he can disappear from your team as quarterbacks do anything and everything to avoid throwing the ball near him. On the opposite side of the field was Avonte Maddox, who was building an excellent season. However, if he misses several weeks, next man up Cre’ von LeBlanc may be a nice plug and play against Pittsburgh and Baltimore with Big Ben and Lamar Jackson, hopefully, both smart enough to avoid going on a Slay ride.
S – Rodney McLeod and Jalen Mills are the starters at safety. With Malcolm Jenkins no longer on the team, McLeod will be looking to break his season records. Mills has only converted from CB to SS this year and is worth keeping an eye on to see how he adjusts.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
iDL – Javon Kinlaw was the third defensive player and the second tackle off the board in this year’s draft. While he hasn’t taken off, he is showing consistent improvement every week.
Edge – Hopefully, you have space on IR to retain Bosa. He’s elite at his position and should be retained where possible. Teammate Solomon Thomas has never shown the upside to bother keeping him. Despite being up and down over 4 weeks, Arik Armstead looks to be the pick in Bosa’s absence.
LB – Fred Warner and Kwon Alexander are the names to know. Alexander had only played a full 16 games once in 2017. Warner has never missed a game and is the player I want. He leads the team in snap percentage and tackles.
CB – There is too much injury and not enough clarity over the backups to warrant considering any of them at this stage.
S – Jaquiski Tartt and Jimmie Ward are the starters at strong and free safety, but neither has ever really stood out from a fantasy production level. You should be able to find better options.
iDL – No one is outstanding here. Jarran Reed sees the most snaps if you must have a name.
Edge – Benson Mayowa had 3 tackles this past week for the first time since Week 2 last season. He is leading the ‘Hawks at the position. You can find someone else.
LB – Bobby Wagner paces the team in tackles and saw a nice uptick in tackles made week 4 with no Jamal Adams around. Expect that to continue until at least Adams returns.
CB – Shaquill (not Shaquem, careful there!) Griffin and Tre Flowers both offer a nice floor in tackle heavy scoring, and both can be expected to go off for big games in the right matchups.
S – With Delano Hill and Jamal Adams both out, Ryan Neal had a nice week against Miami. With Adams expected to be held out until after the Week 6 bye, he could be an excellent play against Minnesota. After that, his value and productivity will likely nose dive.
iDL – At this position, sacks mean prizes, and Cameron Heyward is good at getting them.
Edge – Stephon Tuitt and Tyson Alualu both depend on sacks for big games. I wouldn’t recommend either unless in a pinch, but Tuitt is the younger of the two and sees more game time if that helps.
LB – TJ Watt and Devin Bush are going to work. Bush is making tackles, but Watt is getting at the QB; he’s on pace for a 19 sack season! Both can be started, but TJ will be a key player on your team.
CB – Mike Hilton has exploded into Pittsburgh’s season with 19 solo (4 for a loss) tackles, a fumble recovery, interception, and 4 hits on the quarterback.
S – Minkah Fitzpatrick hasn’t had a blowup game yet this season but should remain in your line ups with matches against the Eagles and Browns to come. Dodgy quarterback play is always good news for safeties and linebackers.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
iDL – You need to check your league settings for where you can start players. If someone like Shaquil Barrett has DL eligibility, he is certainly worth a roster spot.
Edge – Jason Pierre-Paul and Ndamukong Suh are the big names here, but William Gholston is quietly putting up similar numbers on a much lower snap percentage, the potential is there should that count go up, but I wouldn’t roster him until it does.
LB – Lavonte David and Devin White are pacing the team on tackles 26 and 21 solo. At 30 years old, David is in his 9th year, White at 22 is in his second. In dynasty formats, I shouldn’t have to spell it out.
CB – Carlton Davis already has 2 interceptions on the season. If he keeps this up, he will be an explosive choice with a big-play upside on your team.
S – Antoine Winfield and Jordan Whitehead are making an immediate impact in Todd Bowles elite pass rush scheme this season and are well worth rostering.
*Tennessee is in shambles right now. They’re already a game down on everyone else and unlikely to play this week. We don’t know what will happen, so always bear that in mind with the following players.
iDL – Keep an eye on Jeffery Simmons. Once the Titans retake the field, he is a potential breakout candidate.
Edge – Jadaveon Clowney and Vic Beasley join Malcolm Butler as the big-name acquisitions in Tennessee’s defense. Clowney is the better play based on his ability to force fumbles.
LB – Jayon Brown is the LB seeing every down with 11 tackles, 2 for a loss, and 2 passes defended. In tackle heavy scoring, keep an eye out for Rashaan Evans. He already has 10 tackles over 2 games on a lower number of snaps.
CB – Former New England Patriot Malcolm Butler hasn’t been hugely prolific for the Titans and will be boom or bust depending on his ability to pick the quarterback.
S – Veteran Kenny Vaccaro is the undisputed starter here. He’s played 100% of snaps and has a sack, 18 tackles (3 for a loss) on his 3 games played so far.
iDL – It looks like Jonathan Allen looks like taking Matt Ioannidis’ work now that Ioannidis has hit IR. However, WFT likes to rotate their Tackles, and you may find yourself disappointed with any of them on a week to week basis.
Edge – Rookie stud Chase Young and second year Montez Sweat show themselves capable of causing havoc. There should still be work for Sweat when Young returns with offenses struggling to contain both.
LB – Jon Bostic is your guy here. Over 4 games, he has 37 combined tackles (21 solo), 2 sacks, and 4 total hits on the opposition QB.
CB – Kendall Fuller is fit now and playing every snap. He marked his return with 2 interceptions this weekend. We need to see his tackle numbers increase to rely on him, though.
S – Landon Collins hadn’t made an interception since week 11 of 2017! He remedied that streak in Week 2 of this season.
That’s all for now. Have a great weekend and good IDP fortunes.
Duncan Smith – @duncafc
JJ Wenner – @JJWenner