By Duncan Smith
Over the last few weeks, we’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy some massive defensive games, including some memorable rookie moments. From Jeremy Chinn’s double touchdown game to this week’s destructive performance from Chase Young. IDP gives us an additional way to enjoy fantasy football that our offense only friends can only dream of. Let’s hope the last weeks of the season continue that trend.
With the season drawing to a close I’ve tried to highlight a few under-the-radar players you may want to look at in preparation for 2020.
With all that said, let’s get to it.
It’s time for my snap decisions.
We kick the week 14 round-up of the action with a blow-up game from 2017 first-round pick, Haason Reddick. The linebacker recorded 5 sacks on 6 total QB hits and forced 3 fumbles during a monster game against the Giants.
Reddick has had a few noteworthy games this season but this was the best of them, he doubled his sack total and his season now stands at 4 passes defended, 3 forced fumbles, 10 sacks, 51 combined tackles (36 solo, 13 for a loss), and 15 QB hits.
Reddick has held down the starter’s job in Arizona after Chandler Jones was placed on season-ending IR in week 5. In the role, he is very feast or famine but gets a nice matchup against the Eagles in week 15 so he’s probably worth a start for at least one more week.
When writing these articles I try to avoid talking about the same player every week so I’m not going to say much about Foyesade Oluokun this week except that he had another great outing.
First-round pick A.J. Terrell also had a great week logging a pass defended, 13 solo tackles, and a forced fumble. The rookie cornerback has held down a starter’s role in Atlanta since week 1. His production was consistent if not spectacular but has started to go up since the Falcons week 10 bye.
He has a couple of tough matchups to round out the fantasy season against Tampa Bay and Kansas City, however, Brady and Mahomes may target the talented rookie often giving him a high ceiling over the next two weeks.
Tyus Bowser recorded his third interception of the season alongside 3 combined tackles ( 1 solo) against Cleveland. However, the linebacker tends to hover around the 50% of snaps mark and is hard to trust every week
The Ravens star IDP players this year are rookie sensation Patrick Queen and fourth-year safety Chuck Clark. Against the Browns, Queen recorded 10 combined tackles (5 solo), while Queen logged 8 combined (3 solo).
It wasn’t the best defensive performance but what do you expect in a game where they conceded over 40 points. Look for this defense to bounce back against Jacksonville in week 15.
As predicted Matt Milano continued to eat into A.J. Klein’s workload, Milano recorded 47% of snaps to Kleins 53%, with Milano recording a pass defended, a sack, and 3 combined tackles (2 solo). Klein managed 5 combined tackles (2 solo).
If you rolled with Klein again this week you just about got away with it, but that has to have been the last week. Against Denver, you should expect at least a 70/30 split in Milano’s favor, and by week 16 Klein should be getting the bulk of his snaps on special teams again.
Rookie sensation Jeremy Chinn continues to impress in his debut season. Against Denver, he recorded a sack, 8 combined tackles (7 solo, 1 for a loss), a QB hit, and a forced fumble.
Carolina used all of their picks in 2020 on defensive players, other than Chinn only defensive end Yetur Gross-Matos and cornerback Troy Pride have come close to fantasy relevance. Gross-Matos is probably worth stashing on your bench but the others, including first-rounder Derrick Brown, can probably stay on waivers just now.
In a game where the Bears were able to sack Houstons quarterback seven times, Akiem Hicks and Khalil Mack could only manage one between them on three total QB hits. Mack saved his week with a safety, forced fumble recovery, and 2 combined tackles. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to trust either of these two to have the kind of floor you expect from what should be elite IDP options.
Roquan Smith meanwhile continues to be a dominant defensive force. He logged 2 sacks on 3 total QB hits and 12 combined tackles (8 solo and 2 for a loss). He’s an every-week starter and you don’t need to think about it.
We’re reaching that point of the season where random players break out at the top of a team’s chart. There’s probably none as random and with less IDP value than 33-year old defensive tackle Margus Hunt. This week he recorded a sack and 2 total solo tackles.
Players you can start, Vonn bell and Jessie Bates III both had relatively quiet games as the Cowboys offense proved to be clinical with limited opportunities.
Cincinnati face division rivals Pittsburgh in what could be a mauling. Bates and Bell should see lots of volume making them nice plays.
In week 14 Cleveland faced off against Baltimore, and in a game where both teams gave up over 40 points, it shouldn’t be too surprising that neither team’s defense had a blinder.
Cleveland failed to record an interception but did manage 4 sacks and a forced fumble.
Olivier Vernon led the way with 2 sacks and 3 combined tackles (2 solo). Fellow defensive end Myles Garrett managed to recover from an early second quarter knock to see out the game but found his production greatly reduced, recording only 3 combined tackles (1 solo, 1 for a loss).
Luckily Garrett doesn’t carry an injury designation this week so should be good to go against the Giants.
Veteran defensive edge Tyrone Crawford led the Cowboys with 2 sacks against the Bengals. Don’t let that fool you though, this is highly unlikely to be a breakout game. He has yet to have any fantasy relevance in close to 9 total years of professional football. He recorded 2 sacks against Ryan Finley who was protected by one of the worst o-lines in football. Even a beat up San Fransisco line this week will be a sterner test. Look elsewhere for your deep dive stashes.
Jaylon Smith continues to be the best option on this side, he recorded a pass defended, 11 combined tackles (8 solo), and a fumble recovery against Cincinnati.
Denver failed to pick off Teddy Bridgewater this week but did manage to sack him 4 times. Unfortunately, those sacks were all recorded by players with little IDP value, you should be able to find better value than Will Parks, Jeremiah Attaochu, Dre’Mont Jones, and DeMarcus Walker.
Safety Justin Simmons is about the most consistent value on this team and he recorded 7 solo tackles this week. Simmons is on track for his best season and if you need to play him, he should be a safe option.
Perhaps unsurprisingly Detroit failed to get anything going defensively against Green Bay. They failed to log an interception, sack, forced fumble, or recovery and only managed 4 passes defended and 1 QB hit.
Darryl Roberts topped the scoring with a pass defended and 7 combined (6 solo) tackles, although he ended up leaving the game due to a hip injury.
Jamie Collins also recorded a pass defended, with 6 combined tackles ( 3 solo). With Detroit’s brutal remaining fixtures to close out the fantasy season, Tennessee next, then Tampa, he’s the only Lion you can put any faith in starting.
GREEN BAY PACKERS
For the fourteenth week in a row, Green Bay’s defense split the workload like a hippie commune dishing out chores. As a collective, they sacked Mathew Stafford four times, with four different players getting a sack each. Likewise, tackles were fairly well distributed and they didn’t record an interception or force any fumbles.
Darnell Savage again led the team stats and has quickly emerged as the top IDP option in Green bay through the last three weeks. Against the Lions, he finished with a sack and 8 solo tackles.
Next up for the Green Bay Defense Collective is a home match against Carolina.
Despite the Texans getting shredded by Mitch Trubisky and the Bears in week 14, cornerback Eric Murray put up his best stats of the season. He recorded his first double-digit tackle game getting 11 combined ( 10 solo, 2 for a loss) to go with a brace of sacks, his first sacks of the season, and 2 total QB hits.
This is already Murray’s best season since joining the league in 2016, he’s borderline fantasy relevant at the moment but except for this week never truly shows any game-winning upside.
Second-year safety Khari Willis had himself a career day one week after missing the game against Houston. The former fourth-round pick out of Michigan state recorded his second interception of the season, this one he returned 50 yards for a touchdown. This was complemented by 2 passes defended and 6 combined tackles (5 solo).
A week after an impressive performance against Houston, Kenny Moore recorded an interception, 5 solo tackles, and a forced fumble. He gets to face Houston again this week in great form.
Jacksonville was gashed by Derrick Henry in week 13, he finished with 215 yards and 2 touchdowns on 26 attempts. This led to plenty of tackling opportunities for the Jags. Myles Jack reached 10 combined ( 7 solo, 1 for a loss).
Sophomore linebacker Joe Giles-Harris has gotten a start for the last two weeks and has translated that into some low-end fantasy-relevant numbers. He’s not a great or sexy under the radar option at the moment but does have some upside and his name is worth remembering.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Well, he did it, Tyrann Mathieu became the first person to intercept an NFL pass thrown by Tua Tagovailoa. He complimented that history-making moment with 2 total passes defended and 2 solo tackles.
Kansas City travels to New Orleans to take on the Saints this week. With Drew Brees likely to miss another week Taysom Hill will once again get the start. Expect the Chiefs to do a containment job on Hill, forcing him to air the ball more often. Guys like Mathieu and Daniel Sorensen will then look to take advantage.
LAS VEGAS RAIDERS
Safety Jonathan Abram and linebacker Nicholas Morrow lead the Raiders defense this week and for the season. In a cruel blow for the Raiders, however, both are in the concussion protocol after their week 14 match with the Colts.
Abram recorded 14 combined tackles (7 solo), while Morrow recorded 2 passes defended and 8 combined (5 solo, 2 for a loss).
If you are relying on either of these guys make sure you have an alternative since they’re on a short week and have a high chance of missing out against the Chargers. Lamarcus Joyner will likely fill in for Abram, while Raekwon McMillan and Kyle Wilber may split snaps in Morrow’s absence.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
Rayshawn Jenkins has been having a nice year, against Atlanta, the safety put up an interception, one of three coughed up by Justin Herbert, and 6 combined tackles (5 solo). He has been a solid play so far this season with occasional upside. He has Las Vegas next which may be a tricky proposition, in their week 9 matchup the Chargers failed to record an interception and only managed 1 sack, although Jenkins did record 6 tackles to save his week.
LOS ANGELES RAMS
Linebacker Kenny Young blew up against New England in week 14. He recorded an interception that he returned 79 yards for a touchdown, a sack, and 8 combined tackles (6 solo, 1 for a loss). It was also his highest snap percentage since Week 5 as he saw 69% of all snaps.
It’s going to be hard trusting Young as a starter going forward as this is his only fantasy relevant outing so far. However next up is the Jets and if you need a fill-in he may be worth a shot.
Heading into one of football’s best IDP matchups keep an eye on Micah Kiser’s status, he is eligible to return for this one, and if he does he will likely tank any value Troy Reeder has.
Kansa City quarterback Patrick Mahomes had been intercepted twice this season before his trip to Florida. By the time he left the Hard Rock Stadium that total had increased to 5. Eric Rowe, Byron Jones, and Xavien Howard each hauled in an interception.
For Howard, this was a remarkable fifth pick in five straight games. With New England up next there is every possibility he extends it to six against a shaky New England offense led by Cam Newton.
Rookie safety Brandon Jones has seen his snap share climb over 50% these last couple of weeks, and this week he recorded a team-high 9 combined tackles (4 solo). He’s perhaps not a weekly start yet but he’s one to keep an eye on as the regular season draws to a close.
Eric Kendricks has been a top option at linebacker in fantasy this year, so the news he was to miss a second game in a row was less than ideal. In his absence former Bronco Todd Davis has filled in as the starter, playing 100% of snaps over the two weeks. This week he recorded 7 combined tackles (3 solo) against a stout Tampa offense. As long as Kendricks is absent Davis will see a ton of work and should be solid enough to play in a pinch. Once Kendricks comes back however his fantasy value drops to zero.
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Undrafted rookie free agent Myles Bryant is beginning to make a name for himself in New England. Against the Rams, he secured an athletic interception off Jared Goff that he took to the house before getting called back due to being down by contact.
The young safety was on the practice squad until week 8 and has yet to play over 50% of snaps. He’s not quite a startable asset yet but if he keeps impressing during a lost season for the Pats he will be one to keep an eye on in the future.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
The Saints became the first team this season not to record a sack of the Philadelphia quarterback. With Jalen Hurts starting under center, the Eagles offense looked much more potent than at any other point this season. Hurts mobility and ability to escape the pocket meant his O-line had a much easier time of it for the first time this year.
New Orleans also failed to record an interception in this game and were limited to 3 passes defended, they also only managed 3 total QB hits.
Marcus Williams led the team in tackles with 7 combined, Kwon Alexander forced a fumble and Malcolm Jenkins recovered a fumble.
New Orleans has Kansas City next, with Miami finding some weaknesses in the Kansas game you may be tempted to roll out your Saints again this week and hope for improved performances in a big game.
NEW YORK GIANTS
Jabrill Peppers continues to go from strength to strength through the back half of the season. Against Arizona, he was able to record 13 combined tackles (8 solo, 2 for a loss), and a forced fumble.
Rookie cornerback Darnay Holmes was unable to play on Sunday, which led to fellow rookie Xavier McKinney seeing his highest snap share of the season so far at 48%. McKinney has missed much of the season with an injury, and with Peppers, Ryan, and Love all playing well at safety, filling in at cornerback is likely McKinneys best shot at significant game time. He may be a sneaky good play against Cleveland if Baker targets him instead of the more formidable James Bradberry.
NEW YORK JETS
Neville Hewitt and Marcus Maye are the most reliable fantasy options on this team, both have played consistently all year with Hewitt, in particular, putting up great numbers since the Jets Week 10 bye.
Another player that is fighting his way into IDP consideration is linebacker Harvey Langi. The former New England rookie free agent battled his way back from a horror car crash in his rookie year, 2017, to a starting spot next to Neville Hewitt at inside linebacker.
Langi started the season brightly against Buffalo before then being asked to play almost exclusively on special teams. Once Avery Williams got traded to the Steelers however, Langi has become a starter and has produced solid if not explosive numbers. Against Seattle, he logged 9 combined tackles ( 3 solo).
It’s unlikely the Jets offense does anything to prevent him from seeing plenty of opportunity against the Rams and Browns, so if you’re looking for someone not to goose egg your roster he may just be your guy.
Linebacker Duke Riley saw his snap share jump up to a season-high 90% this week against the Saints. He used that share to snag the game’s only interception and 6 combined tackles (4 solo).
Fellow linebacker Alex Singleton continued his 100% snap share streak that has seen him play every defensive down since week 10. He once again led the team in tackles, recording 11 (8 solo) and a QB hit.
At the moment Singleton is the only Eagles player you can trust every week, he gets the Cardinals next, which gives him ample opportunity to maintain his production.
Cornerback Mike Hilton continued on his upward trajectory, after regaining full fitness, during the Steelers’ loss to Buffalo. For the second week in a row, he was on the field for 79% of defensive snaps. This week he turned that snap share into an interception, 5 combined tackles ( 3 solo, 1 for a loss), and a forced fumble.
Linebacker Avery Williamson got his first start for Pittsburgh since his trade from the jets and turned it into a solid performance. He turned 89% of snaps into 11 combined tackles ( 9 solo), and a QB hit.
Pittsburgh goes up against Cincinnati on Monday night, with the Bengals unlikely to get much offense going the key to performance in this one will be the ability to get at the quarterback and force mistakes.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
Linebacker Fred Warner recorded 5 combined tackles (4 solo) before an early third-quarter injury ruled him out for the rest of the day. The 49ers have not revealed the severity of his injury yet, but with their season slipping away don’t be too surprised if they don’t rush him back.
Fellow linebacker Dre Greenlaw recorded 7 combined tackles (6 solo and 2 for a loss), the Cowboys should provide ample opportunity for him to keep the tackle numbers up this week, and moving into next season he looks to be a key piece of this San Francisco defense.
Jamal Adams did what he could against his former team but ultimately when your opponent only plays 53 offensive snaps and has a total of 69 rushing yards and 132 receiving yards, it’s a hard battle to put up huge numbers.
Adams did record a pass defended, a sack, and 5 combined tackles (2 solo, 1 for a loss). He leads the league in sacks for defensive backs with 8.5 now. In week 15 he faces a much improved and far more competent offense in the form of Washington.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
The Bucs continue to be a mine of IDP value this season. There are startable Bucs all over the defensive unit. Against Minnesota, Shaquil Barrett recorded 2 sacks, 4 solo tackles (2 for a loss), and 3 total QB hits. Antoine Winfield logged a sack and 12 combined tackles (10 solo) and forced a fumble. Jason Pierre-Paul logged a sack, 2 combined tackles (1 solo), and a forced fumble with recovery. The brothers of destruction Lavonte David and Devin White both recorded 9 combined tackles ( 5 solo for David, 7 solo for White), and David had a pass defended.
This stellar group has Atlanta next before finishing the fantasy season on the road at Detroit. If you have a Buc they should be an auto-start in your team. Don’t waste time trying to complicate it.
For the second week in a row Tennessee failed to record a single sack and against Jacksonville only managed one QB hit. The Titans have recorded the least amount of sacks in the league with only 14 on the season. While sack totals are not everything it is perhaps indicative of a team struggling to make an impact in their opponent’s backfield.
Safety Kevin Byard continues to be the Titans safest IDP option, this week he was the only player with double-digit tackles, 11 combined (8 solo). Malcolm Butler and Rashaan Evans continue being solid floor guys but haven’t been offering much ceiling value this season.
WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM
The WFT is an IDP bonanza at the moment, first-rounder Chase Young is taking all of the plaudits, particularly after 2 passes defended, 1 sack, 6 tackles, 2 QB hits, 1 forced fumble, and recovery for a touchdown game against San Francisco.
He’s not the only one on the team worthy of a roster spot. Montez Sweat and Jonathan Bostic are must roster players while Kevin Pierre-Louis and Daron Payne are certainly in the conversation.
However, my current favorite player is rookie seventh-rounder Kamren Curl, I’ve mentioned him a few times now and if you haven’t gone out and got him already, that window is closing quickly. Against the 49ers he recorded a career first interception (returned 76 yards for a touchdown), 2 passes defended, 7 solo tackles and a QB hit. Since week 9 Curl has held down the starters role and is putting up the production to justify it.
Keep your WFT players in your side for a week 15 match against Seattle.
Duncan Smith – IDP and Dynasty Writer
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