By Duncan Smith
Week 3 saw the first safety of the season as Las Vegas cornerback Casey Hayward tackled rookie Miami receiver Jaylen Waddle in the end zone. This was only one of the notable plays for the cornerback grouping in week 3. They also made big contributions in interceptions and fumbles, as we’ll discuss below.
Justin Fields got his first career start for Chicago at the weekend, Cleveland welcomed him to the league with 9 total sacks. Defensive Edge Myles Garrett recorded 4.5 sacks himself and now leads the league with 5.5 total sacks.
Arizona Cardinals cornerback Byron Murphy recorded 2 interceptions, including a pick 6, on Sunday against Trevor Lawrence and Jacksonville. Unfortunately, after a poor week 2 and an appearance on the injury report during the week it is likely he recorded those interceptions on your waiver wire.
Interceptions are incredibly hard to predict however Dallas Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs is doing his best to make them predictable. He has now logged an interception in every game so far this season. With games against Carolina, the Giants, and New England coming up there is every chance he adds to his total before the Cowboys’ week 7 bye.
Chargers cornerback Tevaughn Campbell recorded 2 forced fumbles against Kansas City at the weekend. This was his first meaningful game of the season having only logged 2% and 3% of defensive snaps in weeks 1 and 2. He’s a desperation play until we see if he is making a long-term move from special teams to defense.
Tevaughn Campbell’s teammate and fellow cornerback Michael Davis was the beneficiary of those forced fumbles by Campbell. He recovered both of them and gained 36 yards on those recoveries. Davis has a higher weekly floor than Campbell but that isn’t saying much. Unless your league requires it you really shouldn’t be playing cornerbacks over other positions.
Trevon Diggs makes his second appearance in this week’s column. On top of his pick 6, he also logged 3 passes defended as he terrorized Jalen Hurts and former college teammate Devonte Smith on Monday Night Football.
Seattle linebacker Bobby Wagner continues to pace the league in tackles. He recorded another 11 combined against the Vikings and leads the league in combined tackles, solo tackles, and assisted tackles.
Tackles For a Loss
Buffalo Bills linebacker Matt Milano has been a model of consistency over the first three games of the season. He has managed 2 tackles for a loss each week while complimenting them with a fumble recovery against Miami last week and Washington this week. With Houston then New England on the slate for Buffalo Milano looks to be a great start going forward.
Chandler Jones and Maxx Crosby lead the league in QB hits with 12 apiece. However, rather disappointingly neither has been able to turn a hit into a sack since week 1. If they can continue to get at the quarterback though it should only be a matter of time before those hits become sacks.
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah played on 51% of defensive snaps against Chicago, his first time playing more than half as a pro. He made good use of that playing time recording 4 combined tackles, 1 for a loss, a QB hit, half a sack, and 2 passes defended.
If he can put together a run of form like this he will be in the conversation with Micah Parsons and Patrick Surtain for defensive rookie of the year.
The 2021 rookie quarterbacks have been having a torrid time of it so far this season. In week 3 New England’s Mac Jones turned the ball over 3 times including a pick-six that helped New Orleans to record the best defense score of the week. The Saints have the Giants then Washington before their week 6 bye and should be started in all D/ST formats over those two weeks.
Anyone looking for a boom week should be targeting players going up against a rookie quarterback. All of the rookie signal callers have been struggling, they’re all giving up interceptions, and getting sacked with alarming regularity. The Jets look like remaining particularly inept on offense, and any starter playing against them should be in your line-up. In week 4 they face the Titans who are a great pick for a streaming D/ST.
Elsewhere the Patriots take on the Buccaneers. Expect Tampa to be fired up for this one, you’re probably starting them anyway but players like Lavonte David and Devin White could be great plays this week.