Week 9 arrives with six (Six!) teams on a bye. Granted, after that pitiful display in all phases of the game, you may be glad that the Lions are not available for your lineup, but it is still difficult to put forth a quality set of players this week in your contests. The rising players are limited this week, so get your claims in early.

Week 8 was a horrible week for injuries, but moreso on the offense than with the defensive players this article concerns itself with. Even so, there are significant concerns about IDP that are banged up, another reason to hit the waiver wire hard this week.

Elevator Going Up


Kwon Alexander TB

Vontaze Burfict CIN

Daryl Smith BAL

Whitney Mercilus HOU

NaVorro Bowman SF

Kwon Alexander really filled up his stat sheet in Week 8: six solo tackles, five assists, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, one interception and one pass deflection. Plus, he did all that while mourning the loss of his younger brother. Lavonte David is the premier linebacker in Tampa for IDP purposes, but as he is likely rostered in your league, go grab Alexander and hope his strong Week 8 numbers continue as he adjusts in his rookie season. Vontaze Burfict is a frustrating player, as his health is constantly a concern, and he is coming off microfracture surgery this offseason. The injury to Rey Maualuga forced him to play additional snaps in Week 8, and that only increases his value. He is a LB1 that you could possibly snag off the wire if you move fast. 

Daryl Smith is a fantastic underowned all-around linebacker, blitzing as well as able to drop effectively into coverage. He has amassed six or more solo tackles in five consecutive games, and has also put up some big plays with two sacks and two pass deflections on the season. He is a steady performer you can plug in and forget about. Plus, he will be on bye in Week 9 and thus may be dropped for you to snag if you have the bench space. Whitney Mercilus put up 3.5 sacks against a woeful Titans offense on Sunday, making up for his underwhelming performance the week before against the Dolphins, giving him 5.5 on the season. If Jadeveon Clowney is going to be out, look for Mercilus to put up strong numbers going forward. NaVorro Bowman is about the only player I am considering using from the 49ers going forward. He is coming off a 13 total tackle effort in the loss to the Rams, and if he had some help from the rest of the defense, he would be putting up numbers sufficient to make him the top linebacker in the league. As it is, he is still enjoying a great season, and would be a worthy trade target.

Defensive Linemen

Jason Pierre-Paul DE NYG

Derrick Shelby DE MIA

Timmy Jernigan DE BAL

Word out of New York is that Jason Pierre-Paul could see action as early as this upcoming week. I would not count on that, as his conditioning has to be lacking after being away from the team for so long following his fireworks accident and surgery. He could wind up returning to DL1 status, however, in the next week or three, and is undoubtedly available on the wire. His head coach is talking like he could be activated soon, and while I tend not to trust what any coach says, Tom Coughlin is more of a straight-shooter than most, so this is a situation to monitor closely.

Derrick Shelby is going to step in and attempt to replace the irreplaceable Cameron Wake, whose torn Achilles tendon has ended his season. He is not up to Wake’s standards, but the Miami defense is playing well now. He is worth rostering as a DL2, and will get significant snaps on defense going forward. Timmy Jernigan is working on a partial sack at a minimum in three of his last four games. He will not provide much in the way of tackles, playing at DT, but in a DT-mandatory league you have to love the sack potential. You can wait to claim him until after Baltimore’s Week 9 bye, if you do not have the bench space to stash him this week.

Defensive Backs

Ibraheim Campbell S CLE

Landon Collins S NYG

Barry Church S DAL

Damarious Randall CB GB

Sean Smith CB KC

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie DB NYG

Antwon Blake CB PIT

Ibraheim Campbell will get a chance to demonstrate his value, with Donte Whitner likely out in Week 9. He gets an uptick in value due to the snap count increase, and he is seen as the future starting strong safety in Cleveland, so getting a chance to showcase his skillset will be on his agenda, presumably. Landon Collins is putting up respectable numbers, especially for a rookie, and is playing the majority (or all) snaps on defense lately. His nine total tackles led the team in Week 8, and he has been steady all season, and has seen an uptick in production the last two games. I told you to roster him early on this season, and if you can still grab him, do so immediately. Barry Church had nine total tackles on defense, and also picked up another on special teams tackle in the Week 8 tilt against the Seahawks. He is not a big play guy, but if you need a tackling safety, he is a safe and consistent option.

Damarious Randall has played better than expected as a rookie, and is every bit as good as the starting corners in Packerland, which should only continue with Sam Shields and Quinten Rollins banged up. Smith had a great game on Sunday in the early game in London against the sad-sack Lions, so I would discount his numbers a bit. He did post an interception and three pass deflections, to go with his five solo tackles. He is on bye, so you can probably wait on claiming him, despite the big game.

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was relied on to shore up the Giant defense with Prince Amukamara out with an injury, and he did so spectacularly. He had seven solo tackles to complement his interception, pass deflection and forced fumble in the shootout in New Orleans in Week 8. Even when Amukamara returns, I see him as a DB2, possibly a DB1 if he can continue to provide an balance stat line. Antwon Blake will be tested when Oakland visits Pittsburgh in Week 9, but he seems up for the challenge. He had eight solos with an interception and pass deflection against the Bengals, who admittedly struggled on offense in Week 8. As Derek Carr was not afraid to challenge a strong defensive secondary when he beat the Jets, look for him to see just what Blake can do on defense this coming week.

Escalator Going Down


Anthony Barr MIN

Barr is not putting up the sacks we expected, with just 1.5 on the season so far. His tackle numbers are not impressive either, as he has just nine total tackles over his past three games. You should move on from him, as he seems to be in a funk this season, after impressing in his 2014 rookie season.

Defensive Linemen

Gerald McCoy DT TB

McCoy was drafted with an expectation he would provide sacks for his owner. He has now gone two games without a sack, and without the sacks, he is just another DT providing limited tackles in any game. He could just be in a short slump, but if he continues to fail to drop the QB, you should look elsewhere for a DT.

Defensive Backs

Brandon Meriweather S NYG

Meriweather seemed to be poised for fantasy dominance this season, but last week only managed to collect one assisted tackle. This was despite playing 100 percent of the defensive snaps against the Saints. Look above at what rookie Landon Collins did in the same contest, and tell me who looks brighter for Week 9. Of course, Meriweather has been solid and he does get to face the Buccaneers this upcoming Sunday in Tampa, who have not shown themselves to be an offensive force to be feared, especially in the passing game, so maybe hold off on cutting him just yet.

Ouch (My Aching Roster)

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


Rey Maualuga CIN (calf)

Jadeveon Clowney HOU (back)

Hau'oli Kikaha NO (ankle)

Defensive Linemen

William Gholston DE TB (knee)

Tyson Jackson DE ATL (rib)

Greg Hardy DE DAL (leg – not considered serious, but worth checking out game day)

Corey Liuget DE SD (foot)

Cameron Wake DE MIA (Achilles – out for the season)

Defensive Backs

Donte Whitner S CLE (concussion)

Kurtis Drummond S HOU (concussion)

Robert Alford CB ATL (groin)

Joe Haden CB CLE (concussion)

Patrick Robinson CB SD (concussion)

Quinten Rollins CB GB (shoulder)

Sam Shields CB GB (shoulder/AC joint)

Darius Slay CB DET (concussion)

Desmond Trufant CB ATL (back)

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, I can be reached at ia@fantasyalarm.com.