You'll find even less uniformity among IDP leagues than you will on the offensive side of the ball. Defensive-player lineups come in all different sizes and many more fantasy players know little about the real players on this side of the ball.
The result: a wide variance in the kind of options available on the waiver wire. Keep that in mind as you read this. Not every player listed will make sense in your specific league. Feel free to fire any IDP add/drop questions to email@example.com.
Now on to this week's picks ...
Nick Fairley, DT, Lions
We liked the upside on Fairley heading into the season, but he has largely let us down since a dominating Week 1.
Fairley has quietly rushed the passer quite well lately, however. Sunday's visit to Pittsburgh marked his 2nd straight game with a sack, 1 of 2 tackles for loss Fairley collected in the game. That followed a terrific Week 10 in which Fairley racked up a sack, 3 hits and a hurry -- plus a key run stop on Chicago's game-ending 2-point conversion attempt. He had produced 3+ QB disruptions in 4 straight games entering Week 11
Next up is a Tampa team vulnerable in the middle of its O-line. Weeks 14 and 15 hold matchups with Philadelphia and Baltimore, which each ranked among the 10 most-sacked teams heading into Week 11.
Cameron Heyward, DE, Steelers
Heyward's 6 tackles (5 solo) in Sunday's win over Detroit marked his 4th straight game with 5 total stops. That stretch has also included 2 consecutive outings with a sack and a pair of pass deflections in Week 11.
Heyward goes to Cleveland in Week 12, where the Browns' 2 worst blockers -- vs. the pass and the run, according to Pro Football Focus -- reside on the line's right side. The son of the late Craig "Ironhead" Heyward is playing a stellar left DE and could be in for a big game.
Paul Worrilow, LB, Falcons
Weak-side starter Sean Weatherspoon returned from IR for Sunday's game, pushing Worrilow inside from the spot that he'd manned since Week 7. Clearly, that threw him off.
The undrafted rookie tallied a mere 16 tackles (13 solo) against the Bucs on Sunday after racking up 19 in each of his previous 2 outings.
What more is there to say about a guy on that kind of streak? Worrilow should be owned in pretty much every IDP league at this point and started at least until he ends this wonderful tackle streak.
John Abraham, OLB, Cardinals
Some pass-rushers have trouble transitioning between 4-3 DE and 3-4 OLB. Abraham ain't 1 of those guys.
His sack against the Jaguars on Sunday gave the former Falcons DE 7 in his past 4 games for Arizona. That's really good. And his 11 solos over that span -- 3 in 3 of those 4 games -- help out, too.
If Abraham retains DL eligibility in your IDP league, he should have long ago been claimed. It's possible he's snuck through as a LB, though. The way he's playing right now makes him relevant even beyond sack-heavy formats, though. None of Abraham's next 5 opponents ranks lower than 19th in the league in sacks allowed (through Week 10).
Calvin Pace, OLB, Jets
Pace has registered a full sack in 3 of his past 4 games. For the season, he has finished only 2 games without at least a half-sack.
He comes off 2 straight sack-producing outings to face the Ravens in Week 12. Before Sunday, Baltimore allowed 5 sacks to 2 straight opponents and 3 of its past 4. Even though the Bears didn't manage that much in an overtime win, DE Julius Peppers enjoyed easily his best game of the year.
After Baltimore comes a matchup with the Dolphins, who average 4.1 sacks allowed per week. Then it's Oakland, which ranks 2nd only to Miami in sacks allowed for the season. Pace should be a nice addition in sack-friendly IDP formats.
Lance Briggs, OLB, Bears
Injuries get IDPs dropped much more easily than they do for the offensive guys. Before he suffered a fracture in his left shoulder, though, Briggs was on pace for the best fantasy season of his career.
With 64 total tackles, 2 sacks, 8 pass breakups and 2 forced fumbles, Briggs ranked top 5 among fantasy LBs across most formats when he got hurt in the Bears' 7th game. We've seen no indication that he's ready to return Week 12, but his original timeline called for a 4-6 week absence. Briggs hoped to beat that, but he has now been out 4 weeks and missed 3 games.
If Briggs can get back onto the field any time before Week 14, he could boost an IDP lineup in the fantasy playoffs. Go ahead and stash him now if you have a spot.
Jason Worilds, OLB, Steelers
It was fairly easy to ignore Worilds' 2 sacks against the Patriots back in Week 9, considering he'd registered just 1 other sack to that point. But we're not ignoring him after a big Week 11.
Worilds posted a season-high 8 solo tackles against the Lions to go with another sack. That was just 1 of his 4 QB hits in the game, according to ESPN's stat trackers. And in between the New England and Detroit outings, Worilds notched 2 QB hits and 2 hurries against the Bills in Week 10.
He'll face Cleveland next, which just finished allowing 4 sacks to the Bengals. Then comes a Baltimore squad that has yielded 5 sacks to 3 of its past 5 opponents. And then Miami, which leads the league in sacks allowed for the season (averaging 4.1 a week).
If you play in a sack-friendly IDP format, Worilds can boost your playoff push.
Andrew Sendejo, S, Vikings
Sendejo has proved to be the Vikings' most effective run-defending safety so far this year.
Through Week 10, Pro Football Focus credited him with 10 more solo run tackles on the season (23 to 13) than Jamarca Sanford in 26 fewer run snaps. Sendejo had also tallied 12 more than Harrison Smith in just 8 more run snaps. And he hasn't simply lucked into making tackles downfield. PFF had counted 15 run stops -- which "constitute a loss for the offense" -- compared with no more than 7 for any other Vikings safety this season.
In fact, Sendejo ranked 2nd among all NFL safeties in that category heading into Week 11, despite ranking 61st in total run snaps. He had also played just 27 of his run snaps "in the box," tied for 66th in the league among safeties.
Ready for some real stats? Sendejo led the Vikings on Sunday with 11 tackles and 6 solos at Seattle, including 1 tackle for loss. That followed 16 tackles (8 solo) the week before against Washington. The Seattle line came with starting S Jamarca Sanford back in the lineup full time.
Sendejo looks good for tackle-friendly IDP leagues. Minnesota entered Week 11 facing the 5th most rushing attempts per game in the league.