And a cheer arose from fantasy owners everywhere,celebrating the end of the bye weeks and the roster/lineup shuffling those had required. Lots of defensive players to consider adding to your teams, and a few to consider abandoning as we head into the final week before playoffs begin in many leagues. Take note of the continuing slew of injuries, as well.

Elevator Going Up


Gerald Hodges ARI

Hodges will see an increased role on the Cardinal defensive squad, taking on additional snaps with Josh Bynes now out for the balance of the season with a thumb injury. He accumulated 10 total tackles (TT), seven solo, while playing 2/3 of the snaps against the Chargers in Week 12.

Preston Smith WAS

Smith has started to collect sacks, with 3.5 over the past three weeks, including 1.5 in the Week 12 game at Dallas on Thanksgiving Day. He also snagged eight TT (three solo) with two of those for a loss of yards (TFL). To add the cherry atop the sundae, he tossed in four QB hits (QH) to add to his IDP stat line.

Nicholas Morrow OAK

Morrow finally showed up on the stat sheet in Week 12, putting up four solo tackles (two TFL) along with a QH and a sack. He has been playing plenty of snaps and perhaps the breakout in the contest at Baltimore is a preview of increased value as an IDP option.

Tae Davis NYG

The undrafted rookie is beginning to see more playing time, and he picked up his first sack of the season last week. He only added three TT (all solo, one TFL) with a QH, but the former collegiate safety/linebacker has potential to produce for the Giants with the growth in time on the field.

Kamu Grugier-Hill PHI

The third-year LB led the Eagles in tackles in Week 12, with seven TT (six solo, one TFL). His snap count has seen an uptick, and with Jordan Hicks out of action, Philly will need their other LBs to step up. He does have a pair of decent matchups on tap against the Texas NFL franchises, Dallas in Week 14 and then Houston in Week 16.

Christian Jones DET

Jones is a steady if unspectacular performer at LB, who will provide decent tackle production but not much else. He is seeing the third most snaps on defense for the Lions, so his stats should be acceptable for those playing in deeper leagues.

Defensive Linemen

Allen Bailey DE KC

If you need sacks, then Bailey is an option at DL. Beware of the limited tackle numbers he puts up, however, as he is averaging just under two tackles per game on the season. He has a nice matchup in Week 13 when the Chiefs head to Oakland, and the balance of the fantasy season lines up to be less than average in fantasy potential.

Dalvin Tomlinson DT NYG

Tomlinson stepped in when the Giants shipped Damon Harrison , Sr. to the Lions, and has been posting nice tackle production for a DT. He posted four solo tackles against the Eagles in Week 12 on the road, standard production for him over the past few weeks.

Jack Crawford DT ATL

Crawford is developing into a good pass rusher, with five sacks over his past six contests. He also collected four TT (three solo, two TFL) last week against the host Saints with a QH on Drew Brees .

Defensive Backs

Xavier Woods S DAL

Woods has been playing like a DB2, at a minimum, and arguably up to a DB1 stature, with 24 TT (18 solo) since the team’s Week 8 bye, and has also contributed big plays with six pass deflections (PD) and an INT in Week 12 against Washington. He also has four favorable matchups on deck, so grab him now to shore up your IDP backfield.

Vonn Bell S NO

Bell is serving as the Saints’ top strong safety, playing the bulk of the snaps on defense each week. He had both tackles (seven solo, one TFL) and big plays (a QH) in Week 12. He also contributed with a fumble recovery (FR) against the visiting Falcons. With his prodigious playing time, look for his tackle numbers to continue to match that of the New Orleans linebackers on a weekly basis.

Jordan Poyer S BUF

Poyer put up his best tackle total in Week 12, collecting 10 TT against the Jags (nine solo, one TFL). He also was active against the passing game, with an INT and a PD. He is on the road this week, but then gets to play at home in front of the second most generous stat crew in terms of crediting tackles to defensive players in Weeks 14 and 15, making him a valuable asset to add for your playoff efforts.

Jordan Whitehead S TB

Speaking of favorable home stat crews, Whitehead is at home for the next two weeks and the Tampa Bay statisticians are rated fifth most favorable for total tackles and second best with regard to solo efforts. Witness his 11 TT at home against the 49ers (10 solo) as a precursor to the next couple of contests.

Terrell Edmunds S PIT

Edmunds has been seeing plenty of snaps on defense for the Steelers, but had been putting up just mediocre fantasy production until this past week. Against the Broncos, though, he gathered in nine TT (eight solo), and given the amount of playing time the team is providing him, he must have the potential to be productive. It is difficult to extrapolate from just one good week out of six, but then again, he had a couple of good games in Weeks 4 and 5.

Ibraheim Campbell S GB

The Packers signed Campbell to help out with their injury-depleted secondary, and his playing time should remain high with Kentrell Brice suffering a concussion in Week 12. He had eight TT (five solo) against the Vikings last week, and while his next couple of weeks are not stellar matchups for opposing safeties, he should continue to provide tackle production simply based on snap count.

Karl Joseph S OAK

Joseph seemed to be out of favor with the Oakland coaching staff, but that has changed recently, and he was on the field for the defense for 61 snaps in Week 12 (and an additional four on special teams). He had eight TT (seven solo) against the Ravens on the road last week, and now has a pair of tasty matchups against the Chiefs and Steelers at home over the next two contests.

Escalator Going Down


Leonard Floyd CHI

Floyd played a season-high 62 snaps on defense this past week, but managed to collect just two assists. He also has just one sack on the season, and is severely underperforming as part of the Bear defense. If for some reason you still are holding him on your IDP roster, cut him loose for any of the other LBs that have been profiled over the past several articles.

Don’t’a Hightower NE

Hightower is a stalwart on defense, a leader on the field, but his talent rarely seems to match up with sparking fantasy stat numbers. In fantasy, intangible benefits are rarely of any value, and with just so-so tackle numbers, avoid being swayed by the name recognition and replace him with a more productive LB.

Defensive Linemen

Derek Wolfe DE DEN

Wolfe has amassed 101 snaps on defense over the prior two contests, but only put up one lone solo tackle and two assists despite the massive playing time. 29 TT through 11 games is not acceptable for fantasy owners, especially without any meaningful big play production, either. There are far better options floating on the waiver wire, believe you me.

Defensive Backs

None of note, except for those listed in the injury report 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 Bills, but certainly you will do well if you own a top LB on the Colts, Panthers or Browns that you can plug in this week, for the most part. Plus, both sides of the Seattle-San Fran contest are tasty for LB matchups


Miami Dolphins vs Buffalo

Indianapolis Colts @ Jacksonville

Carolina Panthers @ Tampa Bay

San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle

Seattle Seahawks vs San Francisco

Cleveland Browns @ Houston

Defensive Ends

Baltimore Ravens @ Atlanta

Kansas City Chiefs @ Oakland

Carolina Panthers @ Tampa Bay

Defensive Tackles

Chicago Bears @ New York Giants

Tennessee Titans vs New York Jets

New York Jets @ Tennessee


Cincinnati Bengals vs Denver

Seattle Seahawks vs San Francisco

Philadelphia Eagles vs Washington

Miami Dolphins vs Buffalo

Jacksonville Jaguars vs Indianapolis


Baltimore Ravens @ Atlanta

Los Angeles Chargers @ Pittsburgh

Carolina Panthers @ Tampa Bay

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. 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.


Gerald Hodges ARI

Preston Smith WAS

Nicholas Morrow OAK

Tae Davis NYG

KamuGrugier-Hill PHI

Christian Jones DET

Defensive Linemen

Allen Bailey DE KC

Dalvin Tomlinson DT NYG

Jack Crawford DT ATL

Defensive Backs

Xavier Woods S DAL

Vonn Bell S NO

Jordan Poyer S BUF

Jordan Whitehead S TB

Terrell Edmunds S PIT

Ibraheim Campbell S GB

Karl Joseph S OAK

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 Bucannon ARI chest

Josh Bynes ARI thumb (IR)

Deion Jones ATL foot

Tim Williams BAL ankle

Aaron Lynch CHI concussion

Nick Vigil CIN knee-MCL

Sean Lee DAL hamstring

Shaquil Barrett DEN hip

Brandon Marshall DEN knee

Jalen Reeves-Maybin DET neck

Nick Perry GB knee (IR)

Dylan Cole HOU wrist

Duke Ejiofor HOU shoulder

Anthony Walker IND shoulder

Darius Leonard IND shoulder

Ben Gedeon MIN concussion

Jordan Hicks PHI calf

Bud Dupree PIT pectoral

K.J. Wright SEA knee

Lavonte David TB knee-MCL

CassanovaMcKinzy WAS pectoral (IR)

Reuben Foster WAS undisclosed

Defensive Linemen


Derrick Shelby ATL groin (IR)

Carlos Dunlap CIN hip

Mike Daniels GB foot

Lerentee McCray JAX hamstring

Kerry Wynn NYG concussion

Jacquies Smith OAK Achilles (IR)

Stephon Tuitt PIT elbow

Matthew Ioannidis WAS lower leg


Aldolphus Washington CIN knee (IR)

David Irving DAL ankle

Maliek Collins DAL knee

Marcell Dareus JAX back

Brandon Mebane LAC personal

Defensive Backs


Budda Baker ARI knee

Rudy Ford ARI heel

Tony Jefferson BAL ankle

Eric Reid CAR shoulder

Dymonte Thomas DEN ankle

Tramaine Brock DEN ribs

BashaudBreeland GB groin

Raven Greene GB ankle

Kentrell Brice GB concussion

Malik Hooker IND hip

Mike Mitchell IND calf

Clayton Geathers IND knee

Tashaun Gipson JAX ankle

Andrew Sendejo MIN groin(IR)

Nate Ebner NE knee

Marcus Maye NYJ shoulder

Leon Hall OAK back

Avonte Maddox PHI knee

JaquiskiTartt SF shoulder

D.J. Reed SF heel

Justin Evans TB toe

Dane Cruikshank TEN knee


Tavon Young BAL ankle

Lafayette Pitts BUF concussion

Taron Johnson BUF shoulder

Donte Jackson CAR quadriceps

Dre Kirkpatrick CIN shoulder

Tony McRae CIN concussion

Jamal Agnew DET knee (IR)

Kevin King GB hamstring

Jalen Ramsey JAX knee

Quenton Meeks JAX knee-MCL

Aqib Talib LAR ankle (IR)

Xavier Rhodes MIN hamstring

Sidney Jones PHI hamstring

Jalen Mills PHI foot

Jimmie Ward SF forearm(IR)

M.J. Stewart TB foot

Carlton Davis TB knee

Malcolm Butler TEN concussion

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 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.