Some rookie defenders established themselves. Others continued their dominance. And still, others struggled. This is how they fared in week 4.
Oluokun has the potential to be a Deion Jones type linebacker. But he is still raw and learning. Oluokun played in only 32% of the Falcons defensive snaps. He also played in 52% of the special teams snaps. Oluokun produced three total tackles. He has now accumulated 12 tackles in four games. Oluokun is not playing enough to be worth a roster spot. As I have stated before, unless fellow linebacker Duke Riley‘s struggles emerge again, Oluokun probably will not be of any value in 2018.
Smith has been relatively disappointing this season. Thought to possibly be one of the best linebackers in the 2018 class, he has produced relatively pedestrian numbers. Thus far, Smith has accumulated 18 total tackles, one sack, and one pass defended in four games. This includes his most recent four-tackle performance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in week 4.
Granted, the game script was working against him with the Bears going up big on the Buccaneers early. Regardless, Smith has been disappointing thus far in IDP leagues. Smith enters the Bears bye week next week.
Vander Esch had a strong showing in the absence of Sean Lee. He finished with six tackles, five solo against the Detroit Lions. He also showed both close out speed as well as power. Vander Esch has been on a tear over the last three games, finishing with six or more tackles in all three. Vander Esch should continue to be a prolific producer, especially with Lee out. He should be rostered in all IDP formats.
#55 leighton Vander Esch showing strength and closing speed. A DB missed this exact route and it led to a touchdown earlier in the game. Nice job by the first round pick pic.twitter.com/jAYayAxtJR
— Boni🇵🇭🏴☠️✭ (@demipinoy) October 1, 2018
— John Owning (@JohnOwning) October 1, 2018
Edmunds, like Roquan Smith, has been relatively disappointing for where IDP players were taking him. He has not been nearly as disappointing with six or more tackles in every game this season, with the six tackles coming against the Green Bay Packers in week 4. Edmunds also has one sack and four passes defended. You are not going to be benching him as he has a solid floor, but hopefully, there are better days ahead.
The Packers rookie cornerback had his best game as a pro in week 4 against the Buffalo Bills. Jackson finished with five tackles and two passes defended. In his first four games, Jackson has 15 total tackles, one tackle for loss, and two passes defended. Though Jackson was valuable in week 4 in leagues that require cornerbacks, he has not really put up prolific numbers. He may be worth a stash in cornerback required leagues.
Having missed some time with a shoulder injury, Burks has not been able to play many defensive snaps, only debuting last week. Burks has also been playing special teams snaps. Despite this, Burks had an efficient game, accounting for four tackles against the Bills in week 4. Burks is not worth a roster spot at the moment. But, he should earn more defensive snaps as he is the best coverage linebacker the Packers have. Continue to watch him and jump when his snap counts start to climb.
Alexander intercepted the first pass of his career against the Bills in week 4. He also had two tackles. Alexander has actually been relatively productive in his first four games, accumulating 20 tackles and 0.5 sacks. Much like his teammate Josh Jackson, Alexander only has value in cornerback required leagues. He is good stash in those leagues with the tackle numbers he has been able to put up.
— Cream City Central (@CreamCityCtral) September 30, 2018
The Tennessee Titans rookie outside linebacker had a monster game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Landry recorded his first sack, a strip sack of Wentz, adding another tackle for loss and totaling four tackles. For all of the quarterback pressure Landry has generated the past three weeks, Landry finally has something to show for it.
Playing outside linebacker, Landry is not really valuable in any format currently with only six tackles in three games. He may become valuable in sack-heavy leagues if he continues to progress. Landry will only be valuable in tackle-heavy leagues if he can produce Von Miller like numbers. He is probably not rosterable at this point.
Harold Landry's first career sack is a strip sack. Dip-rip + bend. pic.twitter.com/KeE9BRYFaw
— Ty Wurth (@WurthDraft) September 30, 2018
Evans was given his second start in week 4 against the Eagles. Evans only has four tackles this season despite being an inside linebacker. However, he is still sharing snaps with Will Compton and learning the speed of the game after coming back from an injury. Evans will likely garner more snaps as the season wears on. He should be rostered in most if not all leagues as he will start to put up good numbers sooner rather than later.
Another week, another dominant performance by Leonard. The Colts’ rookie weakside linebacker accounted for 13 total tackles, eight solo, one sack, and 1.5 tackles for loss against the Houston Texans. That makes three straight double-digit tackle performances. Leonard’s lowest total tackles game was in his NFL debut with nine.
In the first four games of his career, Leonard has 54 tackles, four sacks, one forced fumble, and two passes defended. Leonard, not Roquan Smith or Tremaine Edmunds, seems to be the best linebacker in the 2018 class. Leonard should be rostered in all leagues at this point and should be started every week.
The Texans rookie safety has had three straight relatively productive games. Reid finished the Texans week 4 game against the Colts with five tackles, four solo, and a pass defended. The past three games he has four or more tackles in every game. Reid is starting across from Tyrann Mathieu. Though not prolific, he is producing OK numbers. Reid should be rostered as a bye week fill-in and spot starter, He should also start producing more as he progresses through his rookie season.
I recently wrote about Miami Dolphins rookie linebacker Jerome Baker. Baker has been breaking out over the last two games. Against the New England Patriots in week 4, Baker accounted for 10 tackles, six solo. Over the past two games, Baker has accumulated 19 tackles. If Baker continues to put up strong numbers, he is startable in all leagues. He should be rostered at the very least.
Fitzpatrick has had back to back 10 tackle games, the latest coming against the Patriots. Fitzpatrick also intercepted the first pass of his career. He also added another defended pass for good measure. Despite questions about his position fit, Fitzpatrick has become one of the top safeties in the 2018 draft class. Fitzpatrick should be rostered and started in all leagues.
First NFL interception for Minkah Fitzpatrick. Picked off Tom Brady pic.twitter.com/ZKYPR8KnNO
— Matt Zenitz (@mzenitz) September 30, 2018
Minkah Fitzpatrick nearly killed a man pic.twitter.com/2zxbze0SuR
— The Extra Yard: 5RSN (@5ReasonsFins) September 30, 2018
Ward had a pretty quiet game against the Oakland Raiders. He only accounted for three tackles. The Browns defense as a whole struggled in week 4, giving up 45 points to the Raiders. Thus far in his career, Ward has accumulated 20 tackles, one forced fumble, two interceptions, and three passes defended. Ward is valuable in cornerback required leagues.
Statistically, Key has not had much of an impact. Key only accounted for one tackle against the Browns. However, the one tackle for a loss and it kept the Browns out of the end zone. Key has also been getting to the quarterback relatively frequently, he just has not been able to finish. Unfortunately, that is not helpful when it comes to fantasy football. Key will start to accumulate sacks, it’s only a matter of time.
Until he does, he should not be rostered.
Hurst had the best game of his short career against the Browns. The Raiders’ rookie defensive tackle ended the game with four tackles, one sack, one forced fumble, and one pass defended. Hurst has been decent this year with nine tackles and two sacks. However, he is nowhere near the top end interior line talent. Unless you need a bye week fill in in defensive tackle leagues, Hurst should not be on rosters.
The Saints have been very good against the run, ranking first in DVOA. This is due in no small part to their rookie defensive end Marcus Davenport. Though he has not been prolific when it comes to counting stats or fantasy football, Davenport has had an impact.
Davenport had only two tackles, one of them was for a loss, against the New York Giants. The Saints, however, were able to hold Giants running Back Saquan Barkley to 10 carries for 44 yards on the ground. Davenport only has seven tackles and one sack on the season. Until he starts to produce more, he is not worth a roster spot.
Search: Does Marcus Davenport belong in the NFL?
Result: 👇 pic.twitter.com/I3lTwYDOMP
— UTSA Football 🏈 (@UTSAFTBL) September 30, 2018
Another week, another double-digit tackle performance for San Francisco 49ers middle linebacker Fred Warner. That makes four straight double-digit tackle performances to start his career. Against the Los Angeles Chargers, Warner accounted for 10 tackles.
In the first four games, Warner has 43 tackles, three tackles for loss, one forced fumble, and two passes defended. If Darius Leonard is currently the best linebacker in the 2018 class, Warner is not far behind. Warner should be rostered and started in all leagues. You can read more about Warner here.
The 2018 draft class has shown to be full of impact defenders. Chargers rookie safety Derwin James is one of them. Against the 49ers, James filled up the stat sheet with seven tackles, one sack, two passes defended, and three quarterback hits. One of his quarterback hits resulted in an interception.
Through the first four games of his career, James has 26 tackles, three sacks, one interception, and six passes defended. Not only is James the best rookie safety in the league, but he is also among the top-tier safeties. Another player that should be rostered in all leagues and started all weeks.
— Rob Lowder (@Rob_Lowder) September 30, 2018
— Los Angeles Chargers (@Chargers) September 30, 2018
Edmunds had a good day counting stats wise against the Baltimore Ravens. He finished with seven tackles and a fumble recovery. However, Edmunds struggled against the Ravens. Starting for safety Morgan Burnett, Edmunds looked lost in coverage at times and was beaten badly at others, giving up a 71-yard reception to Ravens wide receiver John Brown at one point.
Edmunds will likely get targeted often when he is playing, which is good for IDP. The bad news on that front is if he continues to play poorly, he may not see the field often. Through four games, Edmunds has 12 tackles, one interception, one fumble recovery, and two passes defended. Edmunds is a good bye week fill-in and should be stashed on deeper IDP rosters.
Jewell did not have a major impact for the Broncos against the Kansas City Chiefs. It was evident that the Broncos need him, however. One of Jewell’s strength is his pass coverage. After not giving up a catch to Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce in the first half on Monday night, Kelce ended the night with 78 yards and a touchdown. Linebacker Todd Davis is not good in pass coverage. He also looked bad against the run, getting run over several times. Brandon Marshall was also bullied a bit. Despite this, Jewell has been delegated as a backup.
To date, Jewell has 12 total tackles and one pass defended. In the one game, he did get the start, against the Baltimore Ravens in week 3, Jewell racked up eight total tackles, one tackle for loss, and one pass defended. He showed exactly what he is capable of. Until he is given more playing time, Jewell is only worth a stash in deep IDP leagues. He will eventually earn that starting role, it is just a matter of time.
Though it does not show in the box score, Broncos rookie outside linebacker Bradley Chubb had a pretty big impact on the game. Chubb only had two tackles on the night. However, he added two quarterback hits and helped keep Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes under pressure all night. Chubb has been able to pressure quarterbacks in every one of the Broncos’ games this season, he just has not been able to finish.
Chubb has 10 tackles and 1.5 sacks on the season. When he learns how to finish his sacks, Chubb will be a monster in the NFL. However, he is also an outside linebacker, which is not nearly as valuable in IDP leagues. Until he starts to produce like his teammate Von Miller, Chubb is not worth a roster spot.
Chiefs rookie safety Armani Watts finally makes an appearance on the list. Though he only played in 12 defensive snaps, he made a huge play at a critical point in the game against the Broncos. On the Broncos final drive of the game, Watts was able to sack Broncos quarterback Case Keenum. The Broncos ultimately converted a first down, but the sack took time off of the clock and was ultimately part of the Broncos demise.
Watts only has five tackles on the season. Many thought when safety Daniel Sorensen went down with a knee injury, Watts would see a lot more snaps. That has not been the case thus far. Until Watts starts to see his snap count climb, he is not worth a roster spot.
Ravens rookie linebacker Kenny Young did play, he just did not account for any stats. With CJ Mosley’s return, Young saw the field less, despite his quick start in the first three games. The Ravens may have felt his absence, giving up 87 yards on 6 receptions to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ tight ends. Young should still be rostered and will have better days ahead. Read more about Young here.
Los Angeles Chargers rookie linebacker Kyzer White sat out week 4 with a knee injury. White is a startable linebacker in IDP leagues. Monitor his status for next weeks game against the Oakland Raiders. Read more about White here.