Reading the Defense: Clowney move work in progress

Week 3 saw a number of defenses flex their muscles. In standard leagues the Bills, Vikings and Chiefs all scored better than 22 fantasy points with a number of their players having standout performances for IDP owners. Will that continue into Week 4 or will some of these teams and players come back to Earth? We'll ultimately find out together, but let's look ahead anyway.

Game Balls

Defensive line:Jason Pierre-Paul told anyone who would listen that he was ready to once again be a beast. That prediction came true in Week 3 when he did his part to disrupt Washington's offense. JPP logged six tackles, one sack and a forced fumble in the Week 3 loss. The revamped Giants defensive line didn't have a great day, but it's encouraging to see Pierre-Paul go back to being the fearsome pass rusher he was at times in the past.

Linebacker: The Chiefs were the top scoring fantasy defense in Week 3 and Derrick Johnson was the ringleader of the mob that stole Ryan Fitzpatrick's soul. The veteran linebacker logged 11 total tackles with a pick-six. In the past two weeks, Johnson has totaled 22 tackles, one sack, an interception and a touchdown. For a defense missing Justin Houston and just getting Tamba Hali back, Johnson's playmaking ability is not only welcomed but quite needed.

Defensive back: The Browns might have lost on Sunday, but they put up a bigger fight than some people would have expected. Enter Jordan Poyer, who was a very busy man against the Dolphins passing game. The Browns corner notched 13 total tackles (10-solo) and a pass deflection in the contest. Cleveland doesn't figure to be in a lot of games where the opposition will be forced to throw the ball, so performances like this might not be too frequent for Poyer.

What went wrong

» Not much went right for the Houston Texans on Thursday night and that included moving Jadeveon Clowney to a defensive end spot. While it allowed an already promising pass rusher to further focus on his craft, it made him fairly invisible in the rest of the defense. There is going to be an adjustment period for Clowney in his new position. Starting it off against a Bill Belichick coached team probably was never going to end well.

Week 4 boomer

Benardrick McKinney, LB, Houston Texans: The young Texans linebacker is starting to attract a lot of notice and has gotten off to a quick start this season. It's helped that Brian Cushing's knee injury has forced McKinney into an expanded role. The Titans haven't shown much of an ability to push the ball downfield through the air, meaning the Texans linebackers should have another busy afternoon.

Week 4 buster

Timmy Jernigan, DL, Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens defense isn't what it once was, but it looks a little better than advertised. Part of that credit goes to Jernigan, who has recorded a sack in each of the first three games. It could be a little more difficult this week versus a Raiders offensive line that has done a good job of protecting Derek Carr. If he's not picking up sacks, Jernigan's fantasy value is limited.

Week 4 sleeper

Dwight Lowery, DB, San Diego Chargers: Did I mention that the Chargers are playing the Saints next week? No? Because they are. All of the passes are going to be thrown in that one, which means just about any of San Diego's defensive backs could produce. But give Lowery a closer look as one of the team's leading tacklers and with the ability to roam from his safety position.

Four downs

First down: Welcome back, Vontaze Burfict! The Bengals linebacker will make his season debut in Week 4 after serving a three-game suspension for his illegal hit on Antonio Brown in last season's playoffs. Cincinnati's defense is already a fairly solid unit but adding Burfict should only make it stronger. Not to mention that the Arizona State product is a quality IDP fantasy option in his own right.

Second down: The season is over for DeAngelo Hall. The veteran defensive back suffered a torn ACL in Sunday's win over the Giants. At some point, it's also fair to wonder if this signals the end of Hall's NFL career after 13 seasons. The issue could open more snaps for Will Blackmon but should also mean more responsibilities for rookie Su'a Cravens.

Third down: The Chargers won't have Manti Te'o for the rest of the season. The young linebacker suffered a torn Achilles in the Week 3 loss to the Colts. Te'o had quietly become one of the Chargers more productive defenders, ranking third on the team with 17 total tackles. His loss leaves a hole in a defense that is already struggling to stop opponents. Jatavis Brown is the next man up in the Chargers linebacker corps.

Fourth down:Lawrence Timmons left Sunday's game in the first half with a shin injury. While he was able to return to the sideline after an initial visit to the hospital, he didn't return to the game. The Steelers will await further word on when Timmons can get back on the field, but if it's not coming soon then Vince Williams could slot into Timmons' spot in the lineup.

It's not too late to play NFL Fantasy CLICK HERE to get your 2016 NFL Fantasy season started.

Marcas Grant is a fantasy editor for NFL.com. Follow him on Twitter @MarcasG or on Snapchat at marcasg9.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.
Gamepass_vert_web_r

See all the Action

Replay every game all season.