Here is hoping that your first week of playoffs finds you still seeking the league championship. If, however, the fantasy fates did not smile on you, but your squad is still plugging along for a place in the money even without the opportunity to hoist the winner’s trophy, then you need to avoid letting up on your search for IDP help on the wire. Let us examine which defensive players are available to improve your chances of winning as the playoffs proceed onward and upward.

Elevator Going Up


Kenny Young LAR

Young had a tremendous week against the visiting Patriots: eight total tackles (TT), six of those solos and one for a loss of yards (TFL), a sack, a QB hit/hurry (QH), an INT, a pass deflection (PD) and a TD to put the cherry atop the sundae. Do not expect this sort of bounty to happen every week, naturally, as the next two teams on the schedule do not rank as high in terms of allowing fantasy points to opposing LBs, although the Seahawks in Week 16 are in the top tier while the Jets are not entirely stingy in that capacity, either. 

Haason Reddick ARI 

(Note: Qualifies at DE only in ESPN leagues)

The 26-year-old LB had been on a roll, collecting five sacks in the first seven weeks of this season, before going cold for the five game stretch following the bye week. Until he snagged five (!) sacks in Week 14 on the road against the Giants, where he also forced three fumbles (FF) and had a half dozen QH as well. Add in five solo tackles (two TFL) and he also had a huge fantasy presence at LB for his IDP owners, not that there are (were) all that many: 30% on ESPN, 2% on Yahoo. As with Mr. Young above, do not expect another such prolific outburst although both his upcoming contests are against top teams for LB point production, in the form of the Eagles and 49ers.

David Long, Jr. TEN

Long gets a nod here as a linebacker whose playing time (PT) has been rising over the past three games, following his return to action after a COVID sidelining in Week 11. Every down LBs have value given the injury potential every week, in this topsy-turvy season. He had just five TT in Week 14 against the Jaguars, and the next opponent is not as matchup favorable when the Lions come to town, but he is readily available in the event you are struggling to fill a LB3/4 slot on your roster.

Defensive Linemen

Dion Jordan DE SF

Jordan has logged a sack in back-to-back games over the past two weeks, and now has the Cowboys on tap with an immobile QB to set his sights on. It is his matchup and the potential for big play production that land him on the rising player list, as his tackle numbers are yawn-inspiring. 

Defensive Backs

Will Parks S DEN

Parks slid right into the nickel back role for his new team, after joining the Bronco defensive secondary. He had six solo tackles (one TFL) in the contest in Carolina, with a QH and a sack to tack on as big play bonuses. Due to injuries and a suspension to A.J. Bouye , look for him to continue to see significant snap counts going forward in the Denver defensive backfield. 

Kevin Byard S TEN

Byard came into this season a big-play producer, but that part of his game has vanished, with no INTs or sacks produced to date in 2020. He is a steady tackle producer, though, and collected 11 TT in Week 14 (eight solo). He is a fine DB in a tackle oriented league, and has a superb matchup at home against the Lions this coming Sunday.

Jabrill Peppers S NYG

Peppers has become a top fantasy producer at safety, and contributed double-digit TT in Week 14’s contest against the visiting Cardinals (eight solo, two TFL). He also had both a FF and FR in the game, and over the past seven games has snagged 2.5 sacks, 53 TT (37 solo) and an INT to go with the forced and recovered fumble in his recent home game.

Darnell Savage S GB

Savage is starting at free safety for the Packers, and while that role generally provides for inconsistent tackle production, his numbers have been consistently good for the most part, and he has a decent matchup in store with the Panthers coming to Lambeau fir the Week 15 game. He had a sack and QH to go with eight solo tackles (one TFL) against the Lions on the road last week, and has a similarly favorable matchup on the schedule.

Khari Willis S IND

Willis has been inserted into the defensive rotation as an every-down strong safety for the Colts, and as is expected of that role on the defense, puts up consistent tackle numbers week in, week out. Week 15 brings on a so-so matchup in the form of the Texans, but the week after sees the Colts heading to Pittsburgh for a tasty matchup against the eighth most generous offense in terms of allowing safety production on this season. He is coming off a six TT effort (five solo) with an INT that he returned for a TD, as well as tossing in an INT and a pair of PDs.

Blessuan Austin CB NYJ

The Jet CB was sidelined since Week 9, but returned to contribute seven solo tackles. He has a great matchup lined up when the Jets head to the west coast to take on the Rams. Plus, the Jet defensive scheme leads to the corners getting plenty of tackle opportunities due to freedom receivers have to snag passes in front of the drop back corners.

Keion Crossen CB HOU

Crossen has the potential to start in place of Phillip Gaines , who is listed as questionable with a knee issue. Although the matchup this week is not tremendously exciting, when the Texans host Cincy in Week 16 he has a great opportunity to put up big numbers. His last effort yielded nine TT (eight solo) with a PD. Keep an eye on the injury report for Houston to see if he gets similar opportunities to show his worth during the fantasy playoffs.

Taron Johnson CB BUF

He is seeing significant PT as the nickel corner in the Buffalo defensive scheme, and has been targeted frequently by opposing offenses. He is racking up the tackles and has begun to provide big play value too of late. He was removed from the last game played with a concussion, but has been practicing in limited fashion, so there is hope that he will be able to take the field in Denver this week, for what should be a nice matchup.

Escalator Going Down


Anthony Hitchens KC

Despite leading the Chief LB crew in snaps, he is averaging less than 6 tackles per contest, and as he offers nothing but tackle production for fantasy owners, that simply is not worthy of a valued roster position. There are plenty of other options that will provide more value weekly, and thus, feel free to cut him loose.

Defensive Linemen

Carl Lawson DE CIN

There were ideas abrewing that Lawson would step up and fill the position that Carlos Dunlap had been filling for the Bengals, but that has been a false dream. He is coming off a one assist, one QH effort against the Cowboys. In fact, he has had just one sack in the past nine games, and has only one game with more than 2 tackles over that span. Not worthy of an active roster slot, that is the determination.

Stephen Means DE ATL

Means is coming off a big goose egg game in tackle production, or any defensive production so far as fantasy results are concerned. He is dealing with a hand injury suffered in the most recent game against the Chargers, and is questionable this week, although he is not listed in the injury report below. It is possible his lack of production is a temporary blip on the radar, but discretion suggest benching him for now.

Stephon Tuitt DE PIT

Another DE that was absent from the stat sheet in terms of fantasy production in Week 14. He does have a career high eight sacks on the season, but his tackle production is averaging less than three TT per week. As with most players that end up in this section, there are better options available on the wire or the free agent market to use at this essential point of the fantasy season. 

Defensive Backs

None to speak of this week, save for those listed below in the Injury Report.

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 Colts, but certainly you will do well if you own a top DE or S on the Buccaneers or a CB1 or CB2 on the Steelers that you can plug in this week, for the most part.


Washington vs Seattle

New York Giants vs Cleveland

New England @ Miami

New Orleans vs Kansas City

Minnesota vs Chicago

Defensive Ends

Philadelphia @ Arizona

Atlanta vs Tampa Bay

Cincinnati vs Pittsburgh

Seattle @ Washington

Defensive Tackles 

Dallas vs San Francisco

Los Angeles Chargers @ Las Vegas

Las Vegas vs Los Angeles Chargers


San Francisco @ Dallas

Denver vs Buffalo

Atlanta vs Tampa Bay

Chicago @ Minnesota


Cincinnati vs Pittsburgh

Buffalo @ Denver

Chicago @ Minnesota

Pittsburgh @ Cincinnati

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.


Kenny Young LAR

Haason Reddick ARI 

David Long, Jr. TEN

Defensive Linemen

Dion Jordan DE SF

Defensive Backs

Will Parks S DEN

Kevin Byard S TEN

Jabrill Peppers S NYG (Owned in 47.7% of ESPN leagues, only 15% in Yahoo)

Darnell Savage S GB

Khari Willis S IND

Blessuan Austin CB NYJ

Keion Crossen CB HOU

Taron Johnson CB BUF

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.


Otaro Alaka BAL knee IR

Tremaine Edmunds BUF foot

Jason Ferris CAR undisclosed

James Vaughters CHI knee

Logan Wilson CIN foot

Bradley Chubb DEN neck

Randy Ramsey GB neck

Rashan Gary GB hip

Za’Darius Smith GB ankle

Dylan Cole HOU back IR

Brennan Scarlett HOU IR

Darius Leonard IND back

Jordan Glasgow IND undisclosed IR-COVID

Damien Wilson KC knee

Nicholas Morrow LVR concussion 

Uchenna Nwosu LAC back

Denzel Perryman LAC back

Drue Tranquill LAC ankle IR

Elandon Roberts MIA chest

Kyle Van Noy MIA hip

Eric Kendricks MIN calf

Brandon King NE quadriceps

Shilique Calhoun NE knee IR

Jordan Jenkins NYJ shoulder

T.J. Edwards PHI hamstring 

Nate Gerry PHI ankle IR

Robert Spillane PIT knee IR

Vince Williams PIT undisclosed IR-COVID

Fred Warner SF shoulder

Mark Nzeocha SF quadriceps IR

Reuben Foster WAS knee IR

Kevin Pierre-Louis WAS ankle

Defensive Linemen


Jordan Phillips ARI hamstring

Austin Larkin CAR shoulder

Shelby Harris DEN elbow

Trey Flowers DET undisclosed IR

Julian Okwara DET IR

Everson Griffen DET undisclosed IR-COVID

Taco Charlton KC lower leg IR

Takkarist McKinley LVR groin IR

Clelin Ferrell LVR shoulder

Joey Bosa LAC shin

Anthony Lanier NO undisclosed

Ryan Anderson WAS knee IR


Marlon Davidson ATL knee

Broderick Washington BAL concussion

Zach Kerr CAR undisclosed IR-COVID

Geno Atkins CIN shoulder IR

D.J. Reader CIN quadriceps IR

Brandon Dunn HOU hip

Abry Jones JAX ankle IR

Maurice Hurst LVR calf

Michael Barnett NE undisclosed IR

Malcolm Brown NO shoulder

Malik Jackson PHI concussion

D.J. Jones SF ankle

Bryan Mone SEA ankle IR-COVID

Jonathan Allen WAS groin

Defensive Backs


Jalen Thompson ARI ankle

Ricardo Allen ATL concussion

Jordan Miller ATL oblique IR

Geno Stone BAL illness IR-COVID

Jaquan Johnson BUF ankle

Tre Boston CAR hamstring

Brandon Wilson CIN groin

Andrew Sendejo CLE concussion

Donovan Wilson DAL groin

Trey Marshall DEN shin

Kevin Toliver DEN knee-ACL

C.J. Moore DET ankle

Raven Greene GB shoulder IR

Parry Nickerson GB hamstring IR

Justin Reid HOU thumb

Josh Jones JAX shoulder

Johnathan Abram LVR concussion

Jeff Heath LVR concussion IR

Derwin James LAC knee-meniscus IR-COVID

Nasir Adderley LAC shoulder

Taylor Rapp LAR knee IR

Kris Boyd MIN shoulder IR

Myles Dorn MIN undisclosed IR

Adrian Colbert NYG shoulder IR

Bradley McDougald NYJ shoulder IR

Bennett Jackson NYJ foot IR

Rodney McLeod PHI knee-ACL

Rudy Ford PHI hamstring

Michael Jacquet PHI hamstring

Grayland Arnold PHI hamstring

Terrell Edmunds PIT shoulder

Ryan Neal SEA hip

Lano Hill SEA back IR

Justin Evans TB foot

Kenny Vaccaro TEN illness

Chris Jackson TEN undisclosed IR-COVID

Deshazor Everett WAS chest


Johnathan Joseph ARO neck ir

Jimmy Smith BAL shoulder

Khalil Dorsey BAL shoulder IR

Taron Johnson BUF concussion

Cam Lewis BUF wrist IR

Buster Skrine CHI concussion

Jaylon Johnson CHI shoulder

Trae Waynes CIN pectoral IR

Denzel Ward CLE calf

Anthony Brown DAL ribs

Trevon Diggs DAL foot IR

Chidobe Awuzie DAL undisclosed IR-COVID

Duke Dawson DEN knee-ACL, MCL

Jeff Okudah DET groin IR

Darryl Roberts DET hip

Kevin King GB Achilles

Tramon Williams GB thigh

Kabion Ento GB undisclosed IR

Chandon Sullivan GB hip

Phillip Gaines HOU knee

John Reid HOU neck

Xavier Rhodes IND knee

Chris Claybrooks JAX groin IR 

C.J. Henderson JAX groin IR

Damon Arnette LVR concussion

Chris Harris LAC foot

Jamal Perry MIA undisclosed IR-COVID

Mike Hughes MIN neck IR

Patrick Robinson NO hamstring IR

Darnay Holmes NYG knee

Ryan Lewis NYG hamstring IR

Avonte Maddox PHI knee

Craig James PHI shoulder IR

Joe Haden PIT concussion

K’Waun Williams SF ankle

Emmanuel Moseley SF hamstring 

Neiko Thorpe SEA abdomen IR

Quinton Dunbar SEA knee IR

Jamel Dean TB groin 

Adoree’ Jackson TEN knee

Breon Borders TEN hip 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.