Reading the Defense: Not charged about Jatavis Brown

Week 8 offered a number of entertaining football games. It didn't offer a ton of huge fantasy performances. But it wasn't all bad. Week 8 had a number of big name players put up quality fantasy stat lines. Let's celebrate that, shall we? And at the same time, let's look ahead and see who else we might be celebrating at the end of Week 9. Future telling is fun!

Game Balls

Defensive line: There might be confusion on how to pronounce Star Lotulelei's last name, but there's no debate that his performance on Sunday was a monster. Six total tackles, three sacks and a forced fumble are hard to ignore. Maybe this is the start of a resurgence for the Panthers defense. Maybe it's an indictment of how bad the Cardinals offensive line has been. This week's game against the Rams might not offer a solid answer. But it could mean for fantasy points for Lotulelei.

Linebacker:Kwon Alexander has played very well all season. Kwon Alexander played very well in Week 8. All it took was 14 tackles and a pass defensed to earn the top fantasy linebacker spot of the week. The crazy part is that it isn't his biggest total of the season (he had 15 stops in Week 1). Alexander has been fantasy football's top linebacker all season long and should again be a busy man on Thursday night against the Falcons.

Defensive back: The Denver Broncos defensive backs are good. We know this. But if for some reason you hadn't heard or weren't convinced, Bradley Roby wanted to remind you by posting seven total tackles and a pick six. Roby might be Denver's only DB that doesn't land in the top 50 at his position, but if he continues along like this, that's going to change in short order.

What went wrong

┬╗ Seems pretty convenient that Jamie Collins had one of his least productive games of the season then was traded the next day. Okay, one had nothing to do with the other ... but damn.

Collins posted his worst fantasy total of the season with three total tackles (two-solo). Now he takes his talents to a Cleveland defense in need of just that. While the Patriots might not have appreciated Collins' freelancing within the scheme, the Browns might not be quite as picky about it. We'll see if he can be that needed playmaker this week against Dallas and its stout offensive line.

Week 9 boomer

Rodney McLeod, DB, Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles have had a good defensive unit without a lot of standout IDP talent. Except McLeod. This could be the week when more people start to take notice. The Giants have struggled running the football and prefer to throw downfield quite a bit. McLeod has been a playmaker all over the field and should make an impact in Week 9.

Week 9 buster

Jatavis Brown, LB, San Diego Chargers: While much of the focus has been on Joey Bosa, the Chargers have another rookie in Jatavis Brown who's been quite productive this season. That might not be the case this week against the Titans and their strong running game. Brown could have a tough time finding DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry behind their offensive line. And if he does, well ... tackling either hasn't been a fun task this year.

Week 9 sleeper

Nick Perry, LB, Green Bay Packers: Perry hasn't been a huge fantasy option this season and has been mostly reliant on getting sacks to generate any production. This could be another one of those weeks as the Packers take aim at the Colts porous offensive line. If Clay Matthews misses another week (or is less than 100 percent), Perry could be called upon to disrupt Indy's passing game.

Four downs

First down:Tyrann Mathieu is expected to miss the next 3-6 weeks with a shoulder subluxation. It's not only a big blow to an already ailing Cardinals secondary, it removes one of the biggest IDP playmakers from action for a key stretch of the fantasy season. Things are so bad in Arizona, head coach Bruce Arians says the team won't practice at all during the bye week in order to get healthy. Look for D.J. Swearinger to start seeing more snaps to fill in the gaps.

Second down: A pair of Cowboys defensive backs will miss extended time. Safety Barry Church will sit for 3-5 weeks with a broken arm while Morris Claiborne will need surgery for a sports hernia. That leaves a couple of notable holes in a secondary that has been playing well this year. Orlando Scandrick will likely see more snsps at corner while J.J. Wilcox should slide in at safety.

Third down: Good news for the Raiders ... Sean Smith appears to have escaped any serious injury with his shoulder and could just miss one game. He earned a lot of negative focus after having a bad day in Week 1 against Brandin Cooks. Since then, he's played much better football. T.J. Carrie will be the next man up for the Raiders in the secondary.

Fourth down: The wait for Justin Houston's return continues. The Chiefs aren't expecting to have the pass rushing phenom ready in his continued rehab from ACL surgery in time for Sunday's game against the Jaguars. Check back to see if he'll be ready to go for Week 10.

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

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