It bears repeating: If you are in a position to vie for a fantasy football championship, now is the time to shore up your IDP rosters with rising players that can replace those defensive options that are underperforming or have hit the IR for short or long-term stints. Below are some options in all three of the primary position categories, including one defensive tackle for those who play in mandatory DT leagues.

Bye Weeks coming up: Week 10-Atlanta, Dallas, Kansas City, New York Jets; Week 11-Buffalo, Chicago; Week 12-None; Week 13- Carolina, Tampa Bay

Elevator Going Up


Malik Harrison BAL

Even playing just under 50% of the snaps on defense, Harrison collected double digit tackles last week against the host Colts: 11 total tackles (TT), six solo (his numbers were improved by the five tackles he grabbed on special teams, to be fair). Taking on the Patriots in Week 10 is a good matchup for continued tackle production.

Marcus Golden ARI (Note: He only qualifies as a DE in ESPN leagues)

The Cardinals traded for Golden to shore up their defense after losing Chandler Jones for the season, and he responded after clearing the COVID protocols: five TT (two solo) with one of those for a loss of yards (TFL). He added a sack, a pass deflection (PD) and a QB hit/hurry (QH) to make him a big play performer. 

A.J. Klein BUF

Klein is another LB who had the opportunity to shine due to a teammate hitting the IR, in this case Matt Milano . He had a pair of sacks against the Seahawks at home, as well as forcing and recovering a fumble (FF & FR),  and producing four QHs and a PD. Toss in five solo tackles (one TFL) and he put up a full stat sheet for the owners that stuck with him while he was languishing in terms of value offered the prior few weeks.

Defensive Linemen

Trey Hendrickson DE NO

He collected a pair of sacks and a couple of QH in Tampa Bay against the struggling Tom Brady in Week 9, to go with three TT (two solo, two TFL). He now has accumulated 7.5 sacks on the season, making him a major source of big play potential this year. This week’s matchup against the 49er offense is just so-so, but then in Week 11 the Falcons come calling with their second rated offense in terms of fantasy points allowed to opposing DEs. 

Derek Barnett DE PHI

Barrett is not a full-time defensive linesman in Philly, but the matchup against the Giants in Week 10 is superb. He has collected 3.5 sacks through seven games played this season, and he snagged one of those against the Giants back in Week 7.

Brandon Graham DE PHI

Another Eagle defensive linesman piques our interest, with his big-time tackle production over the past three games: 14 TT (10 solo). He has wrapped up opposing signal callers for four sacks over that period, as well, and has accumulated seven total sacks in 2020 to date. Again, great matchup in Week 10 against the Giants on tap.

Derrick Brown DT CAR

The lone DT this week, he snagged another four TT in Week 9 (same as Week 8, but this week reversed the solo/assist numbers with three solos) and has been seeing a uptick in playing time (PT). The rookie is beginning to settle in, and is a valuable low-owned option for DT-mandatory schemes.

Defensive Backs

Kamren Curl S WAS

The rookie safety has played in each of the team’s contests but with Landon Collins hitting the IR, he saw a huge increase in PT last week. He responded with a superb stat line: 11 TT (six solo, one TFL), two QH and a sack of Daniel Jones. With an role opening up for him, look for continued improved production, as Washington gets two decent matchups (Detroit and Cincinnati) before a great Week 12 opportunity against the host Cowboys.

Minkah Fitzpatrick S PIT

The Steelers saw somethings they liked that led them to snatch Fitz from the Dolphins, and he was a force on defense against the host Cowboys last week, with six TT (five solo), an INT, a FR and a pair of PDs. The next three weeks have decent if not tremendously highly ranked matchups on the horizon with the Bengals, Jags and Ravens, but his ball-hawking skills make him a low-percentage owned DB to target.

Desmond Trufant CB DET

Trufant is finally able to land on the playing field as he overcomes the early season injuries that limited his PT, and he is showing just why the Lions targeted him this past offseason. He contributed six TT (four solo, one TFL) against the host Vikings in Week 9, adding a sack, QH and PD to make him valuable in both tackle-heavy and big play leagues.

Breon Borders CB TEN

Our final entry in the rising player group this article is one that has jumped into consideration due to lack of depth at the corner position in Tennessee. He played every snap in Week 9’s contest against the visiting Bears, collecting nine TT (seven solo) with a PD added for the cherry on top of the dessert. Despite lackluster matchups on the schedule, every down DBs have value, especially those who are going to be tested due to inexperience at the NFL level.

Escalator Going Down


Robert Quinn CHI

Quinn was brought in to be a dominant sack and tackle provider by Chicago, but he has been anything but, with just nine TT on the season (six solo) and a single sack. It is unlikely he is still clogging up an IDP roster at this point, but he should be dropped for a more productive option ASAP.

Defensive Linemen

Arik Armstead DE SF

 A huge goose egg in the tackle column after Week 9 is a sign of what he has been providing his owners this season, albeit one that is worse than prior weeks. He has not contributed a sack since tallying a half sack in Week 4, and while he has had the occasional multi-tackle week this season, the production is far too erratic to trust at this important juncture of the fantasy season.

Cameron Jordan DE NO

Jordan is no longer the sack-master he has been over the past three seasons, with just 2.5 on the 2020 campaign. He put up a zero tackle effort this past week against the Buccaneers who provided plenty of opportunities to hit and harass Tom Brady . He was likely drafted with the expectation that the sack numbers would continue to be high-level, and without that aspect to his game in evidence, he can be cut loose.

Defensive Backs

Ryan Neal S SEA

Neal becomes expendable with the return of Jamal Adams to the Seahawk defense. He had a mere three snaps on defense this past game, and thus ended up with no tackles to his credit. It was fun for him while it lasted, but that has dried up now.

James Bradberry CB NYG

Shutdown corners are fine options for their football teams, but for fantasy purposes, they have little to no value. Teams are making a point of avoiding the Giant cornerback, as evidenced by the single target he saw in Week 9 in our nation’s capital. If the action is directed elsewhere, he will continue to be a fantasy liability.

Casey Hayward CB LAC

As with the player profiled above, Hayward is a shutdown-type corner and has collected just 15 TT after exploding for 12 solos in the opening game this season, over the next seven tilts. That should continue to be his modus operandi as the season progresses, making him next to useless for IDP purposes.

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 Washington, but certainly you will do well if you own a top LB on either the Saints or 49ers, or a top DE in the Philly/Giant game that you can plug in this week, for the most part.


Washington @ Detroit

New Orleans vs San Francisco

San Francisco @ New Orleans

Defensive Ends

Philadelphia @ New York Giants

New York Giants vs Philadelphia

Seattle @ Los Angeles Raiders

Defensive Tackles 

Cincinnati @ Pittsburgh

Las Vegas vs Denver

Chicago vs Minnesota


Denver @ Las Vegas

Indianapolis @ Tennessee

Chicago vs Minnesota


Cincinnati @ Pittsburgh

Chicago vs Minnesota

Philadelphia @ New York Giants

Waiver Wire Targets

This section is intended to serve as a shortened cheat sheet listing those waiver wire targets you should be considering if you need to plug a hole in your starting lineup. All these players are spotlighted above, and you can read my comments about them in the "Elevator Going Up" section of this article. 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.


Malik Harrison BAL

Marcus Golden ARI

A.J. Klein BUF

Defensive Linemen

Trey Hendrickson DE NO

Derek Barnett DE PHI

Brandon Graham DE PHI

Derrick Brown DE 

Defensive Backs

Kamren Curl S WAS

Minkah Fitzpatrick S PIT

Desmond Trufant CB DET

Breon Borders CB TEN

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.


L.J. Fort BAL finger

Otaro Alaka BAL knee IR

Matt Milano BAL pectoral IR

Adarius Taylor CAR undisclosed IR

Jeremy Chinn CAR knee

Jason Ferris CAR undisclosed

Jordan Evans CIN undisclosed IR-COVID

Joe Thomas DAL wrist

Mark Barron DEN hamstring IR

Krys Barnes GB illness IR-COVID

Christian Kirk sey GB pectoral IR

Jake Martin HOU illness IR-COVID

Brennan Scarlett HOU forearm IR

Kyle Emanuel HOU concussion IR

Dakota Allen JAX ankle

Shaquille Quarterman JAX knee IR

Asmar Bilal LAC calf IR

Obo Okoronkwo LAR elbow IR

Ja’Whaun Bentley NE groin

Chase Hansen NO hip IR

Tae Crowder NYG hamstring IR

Oshane Ximines NYG shoulder IR

Blake Cashman NYJ hamstring

Nate Gerry PHI ankle IR

Vince Williams PIT undisclosed IR-COVID

Devin Bush PIT knee-ACL IR

Kiko Alonso SF knee-ACL PUP

Mark Nzeocha SF quadriceps IR

K.J. Wright SEA ankle

Lavonte David TB knee

Jack Cichy TB hamstring IR

Reuben Foster WAS knee IR

Defensive Linemen


Dante Fowler ATL hamstring

Calais Campbell BAL calf

Roy Robertson-Harris CHI shoulder

Sam Hubbard CIN elbow

Margus Hunt CIN undisclosed IR-COVID

Shelby Harris DEN illness IR-COVID

Jurrell Casey DEN illness IR-COVID

Charles Omenihu HOU leg

Kemoko Turay IND ankle

Taco Charlton KC lower leg

Arden Key LVR foot

Joey Bosa LAC concussion

Anthony Lanier NO undisclosed

Genard Avery PHI elbow IR

Tyson Ahualu PIT knee-MCL

Ronald Blair SF knee-ACL

Benson Mayowa SEA ankle


Rashard Lawrence ARI calf IR

John Jenkins CHI ankle

Eli Ankou DAL coach’s decision

Doug Costin JAX concussion

Maurice Hurst LVR ankle

Lawrence Guy NE shoulder

Sheldon Rankins NO knee-MCL IR

Quinnen Williams NYJ hamstring

Bryan Mone SEA ankle

Defensive Backs


Jordan Miller ATL oblique IR

Juston Burris CAR ribs IR

Sherrick McManis CHI finger

Deon Bush CHI undisclosed IR-COVID

Tracy Walker DET foot

Will Redmond GB shoulder

Vernon Scott GB shoulder

A.J. Moore HOU hamstring IR

Andrew Wingard JAX abdomen IR

Jordan Fuller LAR neck IR

Holton Hill MIN foot IR

Myles Dorn MIN undisclosed IR

Justin Hardee NO groin IR

Joquarius Landrews NYG undisclosed IR

Adrian Colbert NYG shoulder

Marcus Epps PHI illness IR-COVID

Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles SF hamstring

Jaquiski Tartt SF toe

Ugochukwu Amadi SEA hamstring

D.J. Reed SEA ankle

Justin Evans TB foot

Dane Cruikshank TEN groin


Kevin Peterson ARI concussion IR

Dre Kirkpatrick ARI thigh

Khalil Dorsey BAL shoulder IR

Josh Norman BUF hamstring

Tre’Davious White BUF ankle

Michael Joseph CHI undisclosed IR

Trae Waynes CIN pectoral IR-COVID

Mackensie Alexander CIN undisclosed IR-COVID

Trevon Diggs DAL foot

A.J. Bouye DEN concussion

Bryce Callahan DEN ankle

Tony McRae DET knee IR

Jeff Okudah DET ankle

Darryl Roberts DET hip IR

Kevin King GB quadriceps 

Kabion Ento GB undisclosed IR

Jaire Alexander GB concussion

Gareon Conley HOU ankle IR

D.J. Hayden JAX hamstring IR

L’Jarius Sneed KC collarbone IR

Antonio Hamilton KC hamstring

Rashad Fenton KC ankle

Trayvon Mullen LVR hamstring

Damon Arnette LVR thumb IR

Brandon Facyson LAC illness IR-COVID

Chris Harris LAC foot IR

Jamal Perry MIA foot

Cameron Dantzler MIN concussion

Mark Fields MIN chest IR

Stephon Gilmore NE knee

Ryan Lewis NYG hamstring IR

Brian Poole NYJ knee

Mike Hilton PIT shoulder

Richard Sherman SF calf IR

K’Waun Williams SF ankle

Shaquill Griffin SEA hamstring

Quinton Dunbar SEA knee

Meiko Thorpe SEA sports hernia IR

Adoree Jackson TEN knee IR

Tye Smith TEN shoulder IR

Greg Stroman WAS foot IR

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. FANation Chat is now live on the site, to help you work through your fantasy football dilemmas. Or if you have any fantasy football questions, especially about IDP leagues, you can also send a message to for a personal response from the writer of this article. Naturally, the more detail you can send about your league, such as number of teams, platform you play in (Yahoo, ESPN, etc.), scoring and roster system, the better the ability to provide accurate advice.