Real football isn't all about the offensive players. Why should fantasy football be any different? Every week here in Reading the Defense, we're looking back at the fantasy week that was in IDP formats and offering help for the week that's to come.
Defensive line: There's not a lot to like about the Chicago Bears this season, but for at least one week, Jarvis Jenkins offered a ray of hope. The fifth-year player is getting his first chance to be a regular contributor after languishing in a reserve role in Washington for four seasons. With Chicago trading veteran pass rusher Jared Allen, there could be more chances for Jenkins to chase down quarterbacks.
Linebacker: After getting thumped by the Patriots in Week 2, the Bills defense exacted a measure of revenge against Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins in Week 3. Preston Brown led the way with a pair of interceptions -- including a pick-six -- on his way to a 17-point fantasy day. In his second NFL season, Brown has taken over the middle linebacker spot vacated when Kiko Alonso was traded to Philadelphia. After logging 109 tackles as a rookie, his arrow is definitely pointing up.
Defensive back: Just in case you forgot, Tyrann Mathieu is still one of the most dynamic defensive playmakers in the league. The Honey Badger snagged two of Colin Kaepernick's four interceptions and took one of them back for a score. The Cardinals defense has been among the league's best through the first three weeks, thanks in part of Mathieu's play in the secondary. The Week 4 contest against the Rams looks to be an equally favorable matchup.
What went wrong
» Amari Cooper is certainly good, but he wouldn't be able to get over on Joe Haden, right? Right?! Uh, apparently not. The veteran corner had a tough time staying with the rookie and eventually had to leave the game with a rib injury. It's still possible that Haden plays next week against the Chargers and hopefully he won't be as flummoxed by Keenan Allen.
» Danny Trevathan is usually a tackling machine. That didn't happen in the Week 3 win over the Detroit Lions. The playmaking linebacker recorded just one solo tackle and a mere 2.50 fantasy points. Trevathan should challenge for the team lead in tackles by the end of the season, so you can chalk this up to one bad day. He should have plenty of chances to get back on track next week against Adrian Peterson and the Vikings.
Week 4 boomer
Khalil Mack, DL, Oakland Raiders: Obviously, fantasy football is all about matchups, and on the offensive side we haven't been afraid to pick on the Chicago Bears. If you have an IDP option going against the Misfortune of the Midway, don't hesitate to throw them out there. After logging his first two sacks of the season in Week 3, Mack could be on track for another big week against Jimmy Clausen and the hapless Bears.
Week 4 buster
Cameron Wake, DL, Miami Dolphins: It's been a miserable start to the season for Cameron Wake. The veteran pass rusher has dealt with a nagging hamstring injury that hasn't kept him off the field, but has certainly hampered his production. Wake finally made the stat sheet with one-half sack in last week's loss to Buffalo. Now he'll have to travel east of the Atlantic and fight through a Jets offensive line that has been pretty stout so far this year.
Week 4 sleeper
Eric Kendricks, LB, Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings certainly had high hopes for Kendricks in his rookie season and he started to show that promise in Week 3. The UCLA product recorded nine tackles, playing mostly in passing down situations. With Minnesota set to visit the Broncos, there could be plenty of snaps to be played. His outlook is especially encouraging against a team struggling to run the football effectively.
First down: The Panthers defense hasn't been bad this season, but they will have to survive without defensive end Charles Johnson for at least the next eight weeks. The team placed Johnson on IR boomerang with a hamstring injury. The move means that Jared Allen, acquired on Monday in a trade with the Chicago Bears, will have a chance to contribute right away to a defense that suddenly finds itself short on pass rushers.
Second down: The Bears were busy on Monday, also trading away linebacker Jon Bostic to the New England Patriots. Bostic never emerged as the playmaker Chicago hoped he would be and now has a chance to give it a go with the Patriots, who will likely use him as a situational linebacker. Don't look for Bostic to become an IDP must-start, but stranger things have happened with "underperforming" players going to a Bill Belichick coached team.
Third down:Ravens cornerback Jimmy Smith is expected to slow down the opposition's top wide receivers. That hasn't happened so far this season. In Smith's defense, he's been asked to line up against established veterans like Demaryius Thomas and A.J. Green, and eye-popping rookie Amari Cooper. It has led some to wonder if Smith's surgically-repaired foot isn't fully healed. For his part, Smith isn't using it as an excuse, but just watching him would lead you to believe that all is not well.
Fourth down: It appears that Eagles linebacker Mychal Kendrickswill be available for Philly's Week 4 contest against Washington. Kendricks missed last week's game against the Jets with a hamstring injury, but should be back to make an impact against an offense that has been inconsistent in the first three weeks of the season.