Welcome to the 2022 fantasy football season! Each week, we’ll highlight some diamonds in the rough or some players that just need to be rostered in more leagues on the defensive side of the ball. Keep in mind your scoring system and roster restraints when heading to the waiver wire to grab these IDPs.
DE James Smith-Williams, Washington Commanders
Star DE Chase Young is on the PUP and may miss close to half the season recovering from a torn ACL. Smith-Williams, a third-year end, had 40 tackles and three sacks in his first two seasons combined. He’ll have an opportunity in Week 1 to create havoc against a Jacksonville Jaguars O-line that has some gelling to do. They retained LT Cam Robinson in the offseason on the franchise tag and signed OG Brandon Scherff, but they don’t have much else. JSW is worth picking up in case he breaks out in a good matchup.
DE Tashawn Bower, Las Vegas Raiders
Bower is one to keep on your watch list or snatch in deeper leagues. He’ll be a rotational player behind Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones, but he’ll get the chance to rush the passer. He led the league with four sacks this preseason, and he was all over the place with 12 tackles, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery.
LB Bradley Chubb, Denver Broncos
Chubb and Von Miller were supposed to be a lethal pass-rush duo, but they couldn’t stay on the field together. Now Chubb will have Randy Gregory on the weak side, and they have a great matchup against a hapless Seattle Seahawks offensive line. Look for Chubb to start quickly in his quest to surpass his career-high 12 sacks from his rookie season. Bonus points aplenty if he qualifies as a DE in your league.
LB Myjai Sanders, Arizona Cardinals
Starting strongside LB Markus Golden (undisclosed) is questionable for Week 1, which opens the door for the rookie. Sanders had a solid 14.1 pressure percentage last year as a senior at Cincinnati. He converted that into only 2.5 sacks. The Cards thought enough of him to spend a third-round pick on him, and he could earn more reps with a big debut.
FS Andre Cisco, Jacksonville Jaguars
Cisco is the type of high-motor guy you like to see in a potential breakout at safety. QB Trevor Lawrence said that Cisco takes calculated risks in practice, and more times than not – they pan out. Cisco had 26 tackles, two forced fumbles, and two pass defenses in 17 games last year. He’ll be in the starting lineup and could compile enough tackles to make an early splash.
CB Jeff Okudah, Detroit Lions
If you want to talk about post-hype prospects, you can’t get much more post-hype than the 2020 No. 3 overall pick. He had 47 tackles, one pick and two pass defenses in nine games during his rookie season and was only able to suit up for one game last year. He’s still just 23 and in line to start opposite Amani Oruwariye. He’s big and quick enough to compete with anyone, and now he may be hungry to erase that “bust” label.