We've reached the end of Week 1 and everyone is talking about boom and bust players from the first slate of games of the NFL season. But why should the offensive players get all of the love? Reading the Defense is here to clean up the week that was and get you ready for the week that will be.
Defensive line: It's almost like J.J. Watt should stop qualifying for superlatives. The reigning Defensive Player of the Year logged nine tackles and a pair of sacks for 13.00 fantasy points in the loss to the Chiefs. Some people call that a big day. Watt just calls it Sunday. So in the interest of giving recognition to mere mortals, here's a shout out to Aaron Donald. The Rams defensive tackle had nine tackles (including three for a loss) and a pair of sacks in the overtime win over Seattle. It's not often that a DT has a major fantasy impact, but it's becoming apparent that Donald isn't your average DT.
Linebacker: Uani Unga acquitted himself tremendously in his first career start. The Giants middle linebacker recorded a team-high 12 tackles and snagged an interception. Unga missed all of last season as he rehabbed a knee injury and takes over the middle linebacker spot from Jameel McClain. We'll see if this his a one-week flash, or the start of something big.
Defensive back:Josh Norman was all over the place for the Panthers in Carolina's win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. The fourth-year cornerback had four tackles, a fumble recovery and a pick six to lead all IDPs with 18.50 fantasy points. For a player who has never had more than two interceptions in a season, this is a high water mark that could be hard to duplicate.
What went wrong
» It wasn't the start to the season we were hoping for from Khalil Mack. The second-year pass rusher was a force to be reckoned with during the preseason ... and I reckon the Bengals figured out how to deal with it. Mack was limited to just three tackles and didn't get close to quarterback Andy Dalton all day.
» Ndamukong Suh has never been a major force in IDP leagues, but there was an expectation that he would be more impactful in his Dolphins debut. Playing against what was supposedly a suspect Washington offense, Suh was routinely double teamed and limited to just one tackle. In future weeks, even if Suh isn't making plays, the hope is that he can open things up for the guys on the edges.
Week 2 boomer
Clay Matthews, LB, Green Bay Packers: Matthews has traditionally made his hay as a pass rusher, but in Week 1 he slid to the middle linebacker spot where he snagged a crucial interception. It's a move that could do a lot to boost his overall tackle numbers. The Seahawks had plenty of trouble protecting Russell Wilson last week against the Rams, so there's still a good chance that Matthews could find his way to a sack or two this week in the Packers' home opener.
Week 2 buster
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, DB, New York Giants: DRC was in the middle of seemingly everything in Sunday night's loss to the Cowboys. He's likely to have his hands full again this week as the Atlanta Falcons fly into town. If he doesn't draw an assignment against Julio Jones, he could still wind up facing off with veteran Roddy White, who still looked spry with four catches for 84 yards on Monday night.
Week 2 sleeper
Mario Addison, DL, Carolina Panthers: Teams generally scheme to slow down Panthers pass rusher Charles Johnson. Few have game planned against the journeyman Addison. That worked to his advantage as he recorded a pair of sacks against the Jaguars in Week 1. That could work to his advantage again this week against the Texans, who gave up five sacks last week to the Kansas City Chiefs.
First down: Week 1 was a tough week when it came to injuries -- on both sides of the football. The Jets received a scare in their season-opening win over the Cleveland Browns when cornerback Antonio Cromartie went down with an apparent knee injury. An MRI on the veteran's knee came back negative and the team has him listed as week-to-week. The even better news is that Cromartie has not yet been ruled out of next Monday's game against the Indianapolis Colts. If he is able to go against Andrew Luck and crew in Week 2, he's likely to see plenty of action.
Second down:Aldon Smith signed with the Oakland Raiders just days before their Week 1 game against the Cincinnati Bengals. The pass-rushing specialist did suit up in the loss but didn't make a significant impact with two tackles in 30 snaps. It's a role that should increase as Smith gets more practice time with the team. Provided, of course, that he's not eventually suspended under the league's personal conduct policy.
Third down:Charles Woodson was already a large part of what the Raiders do defensively, but the 38-year-old could be out of action in Week 2 because of a dislocated shoulder. Woodson is fighting to get on the field this week, but the decision might be out of his hands. To make matters worse, Oakland will be without Nate Allen which will leave two new safeties in the secondary. The upside is that this week's opponent -- the Ravens -- are still looking for weapons in the passing game, but you're not going to look to start any Raiders defensive backs this week.
Fourth down: It's starting to seem less and less likely that we're going to see Jason Pierre-Paul playing football this season -- or possibly ever again. According to a report, the Giants defensive end lost his entire index finger and a portion of his thumb in a fireworks accident suffered on July 4. As of now, there is no timeline for Pierre-Paul to get back into action and it's fair to wonder if his professional football career might be over.