Matt Ioannidis, DL, Washington
Ioannidis might have benefited from facing an injury-tattered Philadelphia offensive line in Sunday’s win. But he also played enough to register 1.5 sacks among 4 total QB hits. Playing time was our only question with Ioannidis amid a loaded Washington D-line group. With that apparently answered, Ioannidis looks like a quality option for a Week 2 trip to Arizona.
Aldon Smith, DE, Cowboys
Smith's return after 5 years away from football could not have gone much better. He led all Dallas edge players in snaps, spending 74% of the time on the field. He also tied for the team lead with 11 tackles (6 solo), including a sack. It's tough not to overreact to such a performance -- but it's also worth wondering how strong a reaction is appropriate here. In his prime, Smith ranked among the league's top pass-rushers. Can he be that again? We'll see. At the right price, though, he's worth betting on.
Jerome Baker, LB, Dolphins
Baker sat 24th in our preseason LB rankings. So he should have been drafted in your league. If he wasn’t, though, you can bet he’ll get picked up. Baker racked up 16 tackles (13 solo), a sack and a forced fumble in Sunday’s loss to the Patriots. He’s obviously not going to keep producing at that level, but Baker finished last season 20th among LBs (depending on your scoring format). So we know he can deliver starter value.
Germaine Pratt, LB, Bengals
As a top-40 LB in our preseason rankings, Pratt should have been drafted in any IDP league of moderate depth. His opener showed why, as he supplied a team-high 12 tackles. Don’t be surprised if the Cincinnati LB landscape continues to evolve as the season moves on, with no one on the roster who spent 2019 as a full-timer. But Pratt looks like the best bet to maintain a full-time role throughout 2020. And this defense figures to continue seeing plenty of tackle opportunities.
Myles Jack, LB, Jaguars
Perhaps his 11-tackle (8-solo), 1-sack effort in Sunday’s win over the Colts will prove to be an outlier among Jack’s weekly stat lines as we move through the season. Or maybe this game -- which included 3 total QB hits -- just signaled the beginning of a breakthrough season for Jack. The 5th-year LB looked out of place in the middle last season, but he’s now the weak-side starter for the 1st time in his career. That should be the ideal spot for maximizing Jack’s talents in this defense. And the former 2nd-round pick sports enough ability to be worth betting on.
Nathan Gerry, LB, Eagles
Gerry confirmed Sunday the expectation that he’d lead Philly LBs in playing time. He racked up 10 tackles in the loss to Washingtin, including 2 for losses. Gerry doesn’t sport a high ceiling but also doesn’t appear to face any threat to his playing time. Operating behind a talented D-line could make it easier for him to reach plays as well.
Marcus Maye, S, Jets
Maye climbed inside the top 24 in our preseason DB rankings amid a camp that found him taking over Jamal Adams’ vacated role. That role paid immediate dividends with a team high 10 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 passes defensed and a forced fumble in Sunday’s loss to the Bills. The Jets’ crappy situation at ILB -- C.J. Mosley opted out; Avery Williamson dealing with an injury that cost him Week 1 -- can only help keep Maye’s upside attractive going forward.
Jonathan Abram, S, Raiders
Abram led all Raiders in tackles (13) and solos (9) in Sunday’s win over the Panthers, and he might have added tackle upside going further. MLB Nick Kwiatkoski left early with a pectoral injury. Abram could well see extra tackle opportunities for as long as Kwiatkoski’s out. That said, this 1st-round pick from a year ago might not need any help to reach the top 20 among fantasy DBs now that he’s healthy.
Jordan Fuller, S, Rams
Taylor Rapp played surprisingly little in the opening win over the Cowboys, spending just 21% of the defensive snaps on the field. That's likely to grow as he gets further removed from a knee injury that sidelined him throughout training camp. But the Rams clearly love this 6th-round rookie.
Fuller played 71 of 72 snaps for the game. HC Sean McVay said afterward that Rapp is healthy and that Fuller had earned the playing time he got. We'll see whether the snap shares shift, but there's room for Rapp to play more without costing Fuller field time.
The Rams look shallow at both ILB and CB. Last season, DC Wade Phillips planned a S-LB hybrid role for Rapp (then a rookie) before SS John Johnson's season-ending shoulder injury changed the defense's needs. We'll see about the vision for new (and 1st-time) DC Brandon Staley with his young safeties.
For now, though, Fuller looks like he has a full-time role -- and the upside to merit it.
Emmanuel Moseley, CB, 49ers
Moseley racked up a team-high 15 tackles in Sunday’s loss to Arizona. His 11 solos beat the nearest teammate by 6. Moseley might never again reach that tackle total this season and benefited in part from facing a fast-paced Cardinals offense. But he should also continue to benefit from playing opposite Richard Sherman.
Niners coaches had trouble settling on the starter opposite Sherman last season, but Moseley finished up their playoff run in that spot. For the year, he got 11 games of more than 70% playing time (including the playoffs). Moseley defensed 11 passes in those contests and reached 5 solo tackles 5 times.
He’s a waiver target if your league includes a CB requirement.