By Duncan Smith
In what is already shaping up to be a tumultuous season in the NFL and fantasy, it seems unlikely that week 4 will be remembered as a banner week for defensive scoring. Team DST scoring is all over the place, the Bills have had two blowout shutouts against Miami and Houston, yet have disappointed against Pittsburgh and Washington. New Orleans have continued their Jekyll and Hyde season on offense and defense, the Titans rank dead last in defense. Oh, and Washington honestly just looks terrible.
And that’s just team scoring, in IDP leagues most of the week 4 leaders were remarkably on the Jets, the brothers Williams, CJ Mosley, and even personal favorite Javelin Guidry all scored well.
Elsewhere injury saw a raft of players either ruled out or leaving the game. Tampa Bay lost Carlton Davis before kick-off and Antoine Winfield during the game. If the Bucs are unable to get some cornerbacks fit they may have to play some traffic cones in the position this week.
Other notable injuries included Bills linebacker Matt Milano, Lions linebacker Romeo Okwara, and Green Bay duo Jaire Alexander and Preston Smith.
But despite all of that there is still some gameplay to review, so let’s get into the top players from week 4.
Cleveland Edge Myles Garrett was only able to record half a sack this week. It was enough to put him number one on the season with 6 total but not enough to lead the week. Ten players did do enough to lead the week, each of them recorded 2 sacks. Some notable highlights include Quinnen Williams getting his share of 7 total sacks for the Jets. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay rookie linebacker Joe Tryon-Shoyinka celebrated his second professional start with 2 sacks of his own.
There is only one man to talk about when talking interceptions. That is Dallas Cowboys cornerback Trevon Diggs, he picked off Carolina QB Sam Darnold twice in this weekends contest. He has now recorded 5 interceptions in 4 games this season, that’s a franchise record. He’ll look to add to that against the Giants in week 5 as he continues his quick rise to ‘Shutdown Corner’ status.
Twenty-two players forced a fumble during this week’s action, none of them managed to record more than one. If you played one of them congratulations, if you didn’t it’s unlikely to have cost you the week.
Colts linebacker Darius Leonard continues to trend up, a week after his forced fumble and recovery week against Tennessee he bolstered his 8 tackle game with a fumble recovery against Miami. Leanord and Buffalo’s Matt Milano are the only defensive players to record a fumble recovery in more than one game.
It’s that man Trevon Diggs again, he accompanied his 2 interceptions with another 2 passes defended putting him on 8 for the year. So far he has seen 7 targets on each of his last three games, but more games like this might reduce that amount.
Las Vegas linebacker Cory Littleton made a late play for the week’s best tackler with a Monday night showing of 14 total tackles (9 solo). However, props have to go to New York jets duo C.J. Mosley and Quincy Williams. Both players recorded 10 solo tackles and a sack as the Jets punished a poor Titans offensive line. This was Mosley’s third straight 10 combined tackle game.
Tackles For a Loss
Cleveland’s Myles Garrett topped up his half-a sack week with 4 total QB hits, 5 combined tackles, including 2 tackles for a loss. He is tied for the league lead on 7 TFL’s with Denver’s Von Miller. For Millers part he managed 1 TFL in week 4.
After a tour de force week 1 by Arizona Cardinals defensive end Chandler Jones, his stock has plummeted over the last three weeks. On Sunday against the Rams, he managed a QB hit and that was it. No tackles and no sacks despite playing 90% of defensive snaps. If you have room to pivot then it may be time to move on from Jones until he can prove he’s a startable asset again.
Tampa Bay Buccanner Joe Tryon-Shoyinka announced himself on the NFL stage in week 4 against New England. An 85% snap share saw him record 2 sacks, 2 solo tackles, 2 tackles for a loss, and 4 total QB hits. With Tampa Bay suffering a series of injuries, and in particular if Jason Pierre-Paul can’t play then Tryon-Shoyinka could have another good week against a hapless Miami offense with Jacoby Brissett once more under centre.
Streaming D/ST looks like being the way to go in 2021, even the top defenses such as Buffalo and New Orleans are swinging between a high scoring week and a low scoring week. A shut-out helped Buffalo to the top spot this week but a game against Kansas City in week 5 could see them drop back into the pack.
New Orleans meanwhile disappointed against the Giants one week after impressing against New England.
Despite some strong individual performances from the Jets, as a unit, they didn’t blow me away as a unit.
Carolina fell to a negative scoreline as they got sliced and diced by Dallas, this is a promising young defense but to lose points from a D is always going to make them difficult to trust going forward.
New England is the top pick-up for week 5. They face off against Houston, the Texans look like the worst offense in the NFL, and with Davis Mills chucking the ball at anyone on the field, there should be plenty of opportunities for the Patriots players to have a big week.
I wouldn’t advise starting either of these teams as a D/ST streamer but for IDP players it is worth noting the Jets and Falcons begin this season’s international series in London, so make sure to have your lineups set in time.