It was an interesting opening week of play in the NFL, and there were some productive games for defensive players most of us did not see coming. Because it is the first week, the list of those who underperformed will not be as extensive as it will in coming weeks. There are a bunch of injuries to consider, though, which will limit your options to swap out players in Week 2 and going forward, as it is not a good plan to drop a top IDP due to a week-to-week type of injury, and certainly not if the player is considered day-to-day.

Elevator Going Up


B.J. Goodson NYG

Demario Davis/Darron Lee NYJ

Vincent Rey CIN

Ramon Humber BUF

Joe Schobert CLE

Haason Reddick ARI

Myles Jack JAX

Plenty of talent at linebacker for your Week 2 waiver wire perusal. Goodson had a superb game, tallying 18 total tackles (14 solo) with a tackle for loss of yards (TFL) for good measure. Goodson is projected to be a three-down LB this season, so the tackles should continue to accrue.

The two Jet linebackers, Davis and Lee, look to be productive going forward, as the defense will be on the field for plenty of snaps this season. Davis had 14 total tackles in Week 1 with half a sack, and Lee contributed a sack with 10 tackles.

So long as Vontaze Burfict is out of action due to a suspension, Rey will provide value for his owners. He should be good until Week 4, and he collected 11 tackles against Baltimore this past week.

Humber has graduated from his usual special teams role, and played all but one snap on defense against the Jets, racking up 13 total tackles (12 solos). The fact that the Buffalo stat crew is extremely generous to IDPs helps boost his value.

Schobert is a three-down LB in a defense that will feature three starting linebackers for nearly all the snaps on defense. He had nine total tackles in Week 1, with four of those being solos. He is also the play-caller on defense, so unless he stumbles badly, he should be a solid play week in, week out.

The rookie Reddick stepped in to play ILB against Detroit when Deone Bucannon was declared inactive in Week 1. He did not see a ton of snaps, but still managed to nail down nine total tackles (four solos). Arizona is in trouble with David Johnson out for a big portion of the season, so expect the defense to have to step up their play to keep the Cardinals in the hunt for the playoffs.

Jack is the real thing, although he did not stick at MLB (he is still calling plays on defense, though). He collected 14 total tackles against the Texans (eight solo, one TFL). If he is on your waiver wire, snap him up immediately.

Defensive Linemen

Trey Flowers DE NE

Brooks Reed DE ATL

Akiem Hicks DE CHI

Calais Campbell DE JAX

Aaron Donald DT LAR

Geno Atkins DT CIN

Flowers put up quite the stat line in Week 1: three solo tackles, two assists, two sacks, two TFL and two QB hurries (QH). He also was on the field for every defensive snap.

Reed was no slouch himself at filling up the stat sheet, with five solo tackles, a pair of sacks, three TFL and two QH. Beware, however, as the team used four pass rushers in the game, and that rotation could continue.

Hicks played on the other side of the field on Sunday, and like Reed, had a fine fantasy day: three solo tackles, two sacks, three QH and a pair of TFL. He recently signed with the Bears for another four years (with $30 million guaranteed), so the team will expect big production out of him. He is playing for a defense with a strong front seven.

Campbell was a big addition by the Jags and he is providing immediate returns. He collected six total tackles (four solo, two TFL) with four (!) sacks and five (!!) QH  against Houston in Week 1. Of course, the Texans gave up 10 sacks in the game, so do not expect that kind of production every week.

This is more of a reminder that Donald finally signed with the Rams and will be active, according to recent reports, in Week 2. He is a stud player and you should claim him off the wire if you league has been ignoring his upside.

Atkins gets to go up against Houston’s offense in Week 2, and remember that the Texans gave up 10 sacks in Week 1. Certainly worth your consideration, especially in DT-mandatory leagues.

Defensive Backs

Devin McCourty S NE

Tyvon Branch S ARI

Kevin Byard S TEN

Matthias Farley S IND

Jalen Mills CB PHI

McCourty can be up-and-down as a safety, but the team likes the way he hits on defense. He also collected nine solo tackles as part of his 10 total tackles in Week 1.

Branch appears to be ready to step into the Arizona defense and replace Tony Jefferson, who is now in Baltimore. 10 total tackles against Detroit (nine solo) and pair of passes defensed (PD) show his value as a strong safety. Plus as noted above when discussing Haason Reddick, the Arizona defense will be asked to play tough to give the team a chance with David Johnson out with injury.

Byard was sharing safety duties with Johnathan Cyprien, but now that Cyprien is out of action with a hamstring injury, the team will look to the second-year player to step up his game. He played all the defensive snaps in Week 1, although most of that was up near the line. With Da’Norris Searcy replacing Cyprien for a few weeks, Byard will likely be used more in coverage than as a run-stopper, so expect the tackle numbers to take a bit of a hit.

There is not a lot of good to say about Indianapolis as the season opens, but Farley looked solid, with 10 total tackles (eight solo). The Indy linebacking crew is weak, so he should continue to see tackle opportunities going forward.

Mills stepped up for the Eagles when Ronald Darby went down with a dislocated ankle. He picked off a key interception late in the game against Washington, and also had nine tackles with 2 PD. If you have to start a CB or two in your league, he would be one to target.

Escalator Going Down


Lorenzo Alexander BUF

Marquel Lee OAK

Jake Ryan GB

Alexander’s value took a turn for the worse when Buffalo moved him from DE to OLB. Plus, he only was on the field for 50% of the defensive snaps in Week 1, which also devalues him as a fantasy option.

Lee opened as the starting middle linebacker in the preseason, but has been replaced by another rookie, Tyrell Adams, who the team seems to favor. Never a good thing to lose the starting job handed to you.

Ryan only played five defensive snaps in Green Bay’s opener. Not exactly the three-down LB everyone was predicting for him. He is not part of the Packer sub-packages, so he will be difficult to rely on as a weekly option, unless the matchup favors him.

Defensive Linemen

Ezekiel Ansah DE DET

Marcell Dareus DT BUF

Ansah has just come off the PUP list, as he missed the preseason with a knee issue. Until he gets back up to speed and the coaching staff feels comfortable increasing his snap count, he is not someone to start, although with a deep bench, he is worth holding onto.

Dareus was held to zero tackles in Week 1. The Bills have indicated that their plan for the DT position is to rotate their players, which is undoubtedly why Dareus only saw 34 snaps in against the Jets. If he does not see an uptick in playing time, he is not fantasy relevant, even in DT-mandatory leagues.

Defensive Backs

None to report, save for those on the injury list below.

Matchups to Exploit

Remember, the first team listed is the one to use your IDPs against. Do not go crazy, and play a LB5 against the Bengals on the Houston squad, but certainly you will do well if you own a top LB on Baltimore or Carolina that you can plug in against Cleveland or Buffalo, as the case may be, for the most part.


Houston @ Cincinnati

Baltimore vs Cleveland

Kansas City vs Philadelphia

Carolina vs Buffalo

Defensive Ends

Cincinnati vs Houston

Dallas @ Denver

Defensive Tackles

Los Angeles Rams vs Washington

Cleveland vs Baltimore


Philadelphia vs Kansas City

Indianapolis vs Arizona


Tampa Bay vs Chicago

Baltimore vs Cleveland

Arizona @ Indianapolis

Waiver Wire Targets

All these players are spotlighted above, and you can read the comments about them in the "Elevator Going Up" section of this article. Not all the players commented on are here, however, as there is no need to waste your time searching for players that are heavily owned. This group consists of those that you may have a chance of locating on your league's waiver wire in that they are owned in significantly less than 50% of leagues. Happy claiming for your weekly matchups.


B.J. Goodson NYG

Demario Davis/Darron Lee NYJ

Vincent Rey CIN

Ramon Humber BUF

Joe Schobert CLE

Haason Reddick ARI

Myles Jack JAX

Defensive Linesmen

Brooks Reed DE ATL

Akiem Hicks DE CHI

Defensive Backs

Devin McCourty S NE

Tyvon Branch S ARI

Kevin Byard S TEN

Matthias Farley S IND

Jalen Mills CB PHI

Ouch (My Aching Roster)

All the injury reports below need evaluation prior to kickoff.  Teams are notoriously sketchy about injury reports, and we often do not know a player's status until just before game time. Consider the list below as a "heads up" as to what is going on early in the week, and should not be considered definitive.


Deone Buchanon ARI ankle

Za’Darius Smith BAL ankle

Tanner Vallejo BUF knee

Jared Norris CAR groin

Anthony Hitchens DAL ankle

Ahmad Brooks GB concussion

Brian Cushing HOU concussion

Benardrick McKinney HOU knee

Reggie Ragland KC knee

Brandon Watts MIA back

Don’t’a Hightower NE knee

Harvey Langi NE concussion

Bryan Braman NO undisclosed

Nathan Stupar NO hamstring

Stephone Anthony NO ankle

Keenan Robinson NYG concussion

Bruce Carter NYJ ankle

Corey Lemonier NYJ foot

Bud Dupree PIT shoulder

Michael Wilhoite SEA calf

Reuben Foster SF ankle

Devante Bond TB knee

Defensive Linemen


Robert Nkemdiche ARI calf

Michael Johnson CIN concussion

Myles Garrett CLE ankle

Jared Crick DEN back

Montravius Adams GB foot

J.J. Watt HOU finger

Jeremiah Attaochu LAC hamstring

Trey Hendrickson NO illness

Stephon Tuitt PIT arm

Aaron Lynch SF back


Jerel Worthy BUF concussion

Vernon Butler CAR knee

Zack Kerr DEN knee

Bennie Logan KC knee

Vincent Valentine NE knee

Destiny Vaeao PHI wrist

Chris Baker TB knee

Defensive Backs


Chris Prosinski CHI hamstring

Ed Reynolds CLE knee

Darian Stewart DEN groin

Eric Berry KC ruptured Achilles (out for the season)

Rayshawn Jenkins LAC concussion

Nate Ebner NE shoulder

Rontez Miles NYJ eye

Keith McGill LAR foot

J.J. Wilcox PIT concussion

Marcus Cromartie SEA undisclosed

Delano Hill SEA shoulder

Jimmy Ward SF hamstring

Johnathan Cyprien TEN hamstring

Su’a Cravens WAS personal


Sheldon Price BAL concussion

Jaylen Hill BAL hamstring

E.J. Gaines BUF shoulder

Cole Luke CAR ankle

Prince Amukamara CHI ankle

Orlando Scandrick DAL hand

Jourdan Lewis DAL hamstring

Chidobe Awuzie DAL ankle

Brendan Langley DEN knee

Kevin Johnson HOU knee

Vontae Davis IND groin

Kayvon Webster LAR shoulder

Dominique Hatfield LAR concussion

Tramaine Brock MIN groin

Gareon Conley LAR shin

Ronald Darby PHI ankle

LeShaun Sims TEN groin

As ever, good luck and Godspeed in your fantasy efforts. Make sure to read all of our great articles to help you win your fantasy match ups every week and ultimately bask in championship glory. If you have any fantasy football questions, especially about IDP leagues, send a message to