They’re here… the bye weeks, that is. As though setting a fantasy football lineup were not difficult enough with injuries and underperforming IDP, now we must deal with certain rosters being unavailable, leaving holes in your slate of useful players on a shifting basis. One of the saving graces of the IDP landscape, though, is that undiscovered gems are constantly coming forth for you to use to shore up your team. Let us look as some of the more promising defensive players to target.




Bye Weeks Coming Up: 

  • Week 6 - Detroit, Houston, Las Vegas, Tennessee
  • Week 7 - Buffalo, Las Angeles Rams, Minnesota, Philadelphia
  • Week 8 - Kansas City, Los Angeles Chargers


NFL IDP Report - Week 6

Elevator Going Up - Linebackers

Isaiah Simmons, Arizona Cardinals

Finding himself on the field for most defensive snaps has led to expectations of better fantasy production and he collected 13 total tackles (TT), eight of those being solo, in Week 5. He has a good matchup in line with the Seahawks hosting this week’s action. 


Damien Wilson, Carolina Panthers

Wilson benefited from Frankie Luvu being on the sidelines last week, but still was on the field for only two thirds of the defensive snaps. Even so, he snagged nine TT (seven solo), with three resulting in a loss of yards (TFL). A sack, a forced fumble (FF) and a QB hit/hurry (QH) added to the fantasy production on the big play side of the ledger, too. Luvu is expected to play in Week 6, so this upgraded may be short lived, just be aware.


Tyrel Dodson, Buffalo Bills

It is good to know that Dodson has this type of effort at his command: 11 TT (seven solo, one TFL), a QH and one sack on 84% of the snaps the defense played. Take note if he gets a chance to start again anytime soon that these sort of fantasy values are possible, because he is likely destined for a bench role again as Tremaine Edmunds is back to his role as starter.


Germaine Pratt, Cincinnati Bengals

Pratt collected eight TT over the course of the Week 5 game in Baltimore and also was credited with a sack in that contest with a pair of PD sprinkled on top. He is not an everyday LB figure, but has the potential to be a solid LB3, useful during the bye weeks coming in hot and heavy. The opponent in Week 6, the Saints, projects as a good matchup, as well.


Deion Jones, Cleveland Browns

Jones was traded for by the Browns following the recent loss in Week 5 to the Chargers. It seems likely that he was acquired to become part of the core linebacking corps in Cleveland. Will that happen immediately? Possible but if you have the room on your bench, this seems more a player to pick up for future value.


Elevator Going Up - Defensive Linemen

Zach Allen, DT Arizona Cardinals

It is rare that all the rising DL profiled here would qualify as DTs, but that is how things shake out this edition. Allen had a full stat sheet week against the Eagles in Week 5, with a pair of QH, a PD, a sack and eight TT (five solo, two TFL). He is playing significant snaps on defense for the Cardinals and is poised for a productive season in both tackle-oriented and big play league formats.


D.J. Jones, DT Denver Broncos

Two weeks and two sacks make for a desirable DL, especially in a league setup that mandates use of a DT in your starting squad. Jones had five TT in Week 5 (four solo, one TFL) and along with the sack, he also pressured the QB for a QH. If he doubles his sack total to date over the rest of the season, that would not be unexpected, but as a superior run stopper, he should be a steady source of tackle production.


Elevator Going Up - Defensive Backs

C.J. Gardner-Johnson, S Philadelphia Eagles

Against the Cardinals this past week, the 24-year-old defensive back showed off his versatility by making 10 solo tackles and picking off his first pass this season. He also had a PD credited to his stat line, and he was on the field for every snap on defense. He is a versatile member of the backfield, and on some platforms, he qualifies as a cornerback (not ESPN or Yahoo, drat) as he is used all over the field by the Eagles, and a safety with CB eligibility is a valued asset.


Alohi Gilman, S Los Angeles Chargers

Gilman was elevated to starter status by the Chargers and played 100% of the defensive snaps against the Browns in Week 5, snagging a fourth quarter INT that was timely in helping to prevent a Cleveland late score and secure the victory. He had seven TT (four solo) and deflected a pass. He has a pair of so-so matchups before the bye week, but full-time status on the defense means that there will be fantasy scoring opportunities available even given the mediocre matchups.


Juston Burris, S Carolina Panthers

Being promoted from the practice squad to take over for Jeremy Chinn (IR), he stepped in and accumulated the second most tackles in Week 5 with eight TT (six solo). He also put up a PD on his stat sheet and is a low-owned option to consider with the advent of bye weeks now upon us. 


Ryan Neal, S Seattle Seahawks

Neal is another safety promoted to starting status in Week 5, who also was credited with eight TT (six solo) and a PD. Interesting symmetry with the Panther DB profiled above, no? He also was playing in favorable positions on the defensive scheme (box, line, slot), and if that is how the Seahawks continue to use him, the fantasy production will be there for the taking.


Paulson Adebo, CB New Orleans Saints

It helps his production that opposite him has been shutdown corner Marshon Lattimore, leading to more opportunities as offenses test him, but Lattimore is on the Injury List this week, so keep an eye on that situation. He does have nice matchups in store over the next three weeks, and thus will likely be valuable with or without Lattimore on the field. He is coming off an eight TT (six solo) effort with a PD-the symmetry is uncanny.


Kaiir Elam, CB Buffalo Bills

The Buffalo CB had 10 TT in Week 5, breaking the streak, although he did have one PD. He also picked off a pass for an INT. As a rookie CB, he should see plenty of opportunities to put up fantasy numbers for his owners, and with TreDavious White on the (PUP) list, he should see plenty of action for the next couple weeks at least.


Cameron Dantzler, CB Minnesota Vikings

Dantzler is proving to be a consistent fantasy producer, having collected at least four solo tackles in each of the first five contests this season, and seven solos last week as part of his eight TT effort. He also forced a fumble and recovered it, helping to seal the Minnesota victory in Week 5. He is a top CB in all formats and should be added to your roster especially in CB-mandatory leagues, but consider him in any IDP format, really.


Byron Murphy, CB Arizona Cardinals

Murphy finally burst out in Week 5, with nine TT (seven solo, three TFL) and shared in a sack, while also picking up a QH and a PD. He showed up on the injury report on Friday, though, so his star may not shine quite so bright now. 




Escalator Going Down - Linebackers

Jacob Phillips, Cleveland Browns

Phillips has been playing well of late, but the trade the Browns made to bring in Deion Jones after their Week 5 game does not bode well for his continued fantasy production. He may have a week or so left when he is useful, but plan for the inevitable drop in numbers and move on.


Escalator Going Down - Defensive Linemen

Alex Highsmith, DE Pittsburgh Steelers

Highsmith is too unpredictable with his week-to-week value to be a part of a steady DL corps for fantasy owners. True, he has his outstanding weeks, but if he is not getting to the QB, his utility fades. 


Shy Tuttle, DT New Orleans Saints

Playing in just over half the defensive plays and collecting just four TT over two weeks means that you should drop the DT from your rosters in leagues that mandate a DT slot or more. There are simply more productive options on the wire. If he resumes his early luster, where he was racking up the tackles, then you can consider reuniting with the Saint DT.


Escalator Going Down - Defensive Backs

None to write about this week, save for those 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 Colts, but certainly you will do well if you own a top LB, DE or S on the Cowboys, or a Jaguar DB that you can plug in this week, for the most part.


Inside Linebackers

  • Indianapolis Colts vs Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Los Angeles Chargers vs Denver Broncos
  • Philadelphia Eagles vs Dallas Cowboys
  • New Orleans Saints vs Cincinnati Bengals


Outside Linebackers

  • Cincinnati Bengals @ New Orleans Saints
  • Buffalo Bills @ Kansas City Chiefs
  • Los Angeles Rams vs Carolina Panthers
  • New England Patriots @ Cleveland Browns
  • Carolina Panthers @ Los Angeles Rams


Defensive Ends

  • Philadelphia Eagles vs Dallas Cowboys
  • Los Angeles Rams vs Carolina Panthers
  • Carolina Panthers @ Los Angeles Rams
  • Los Angeles Chargers vs Denver Broncos
  • New York Jets @ Green Bay Packers
  • Atlanta Falcons vs San Francisco 49ers


Defensive Tackles 

  • New York Giants vs Baltimore Ravens
  • Cleveland Browns vs New England Patriots
  • Green Bay Packers vs New York Jets
  • San Francisco 49ers @ Atlanta Falcons



  • Green Bay Packers vs New York Jets
  • Arizona Cardinals @ Seattle Seahawks
  • Miami Dolphins vs Minnesota Vikings
  • Indianapolis Colts vs Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Philadelphia Eagles vs Dallas Cowboys



  • New Orleans Saints vs Cincinnati Bengals
  • Pittsburgh Steelers vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • Buffalo Bills @ Kansas City Chiefs
  • Indianapolis Colts vs Jacksonville Jaguars


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.




Defensive Linemen


Defensive Backs


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.




Defensive Linemen - DE


Defensive Linemen - DT


Defensive Backs - S


Defensive Backs - CB


As ever, good luck and Godspeed in your fantasy efforts. Make sure to read all 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, 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.




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