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 and offering help for the week that's to come.
Defensive line: On a defense that is looking for young stars, Stephon Tuitt is making a play to fill the void. The second-year Steelers defensive lineman had easily his best game as a professional with 10 tackles and a sack. Tuitt's not going to rack up huge sack totals as a defensive tackle, but if he can provide run support for a defense that has been pretty good against opposing rushing attacks, he could have some IDP potential.
Linebacker: If you're going to get the first fumble recovery of your career, make it spectacular. Since being drafted by the Raiders in the seventh round of the 2012 draft, Nate Stupar has been on four different NFL rosters. His overall totals against the Texans in Week 4 weren't very special, but he ended the game with a bang by taking a Cecil Shorts fumble back 84 yards for a score. There's no reason to count on Stupar this season, but it was nice for one week.
Defensive back: For the second time this season, Josh Norman tops the charts among IDP scorers. The Panthers defensive back snagged his third and fourth interceptions of the season and returned one for his second pick six of 2015. The fourth-year defensive back has already set a career-high in picks and has become one of the new shutdown corners in the NFL. But if you listened to James Koh, you already knew this.
What went wrong
» On a day when the Atlanta Falcons completely dominated the Houston Texans, you'd think that pass-rushing sensation Vic Beasley would have made an impact. Nope. Beasley made just one tackle in the ballgame. Like many pass rushing linebackers, the rookie's fantasy totals will be heavily dependent on his ability to get to the quarterback. That doesn't bode well for next week's matchup against Washington, whose offensive line has been pretty stout so far this season.
» Everson Griffen has been a disruptive force in the first three games of the season, but pulled a disappearing act in Week 4. Credit the Broncos offensive line who kept the USC product in check all day long. But with three sacks in his first four games this season, there's little reason to worry that Griffen is going to go bust anytime soon.
Week 4 boomer
Carlos Dunlap, DL, Cincinnati Bengals: The Seahawks offensive line didn't do anything to impress anyone in Week 4. This week, the 'Hawks travel to Cincinnati to face a Bengals team that his tied for sixth in the NFL with 11 sacks. That's especially good news for Carlos Dunlap who is among the NFL's leader in individual sacks. Russell Wilson should expect to get well acquainted with Dunlap on Sunday.
Week 4 buster
Ronald Darby, DB, Buffalo Bills:Marcus Peters has earned rave reviews, but Darby has been equally good in the first four games of his NFL career. This week Darby and the Bills face Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota, whose biggest strength has been protecting the football. Even if Buffalo can pressure the rookie signal-caller, he's not prone to throwing a lot of interceptions. Darby could be at a loss for fantasy points this week.
Week 4 sleeper
Jarvis Jenkins, DL, Chicago Bears: We've spent so much of the early season picking on the Bears that it's about time to hand out some positives. Jenkins has played well in the last couple of weeks and racked up all three of his sacks in the last two games. The Chiefs offensive line has been a mess so far, allowing 17 sacks. Don't be surprised if Jenkins stays hot at the expense of Alex Smith and the Kansas City offense.
First down:Colts cornerback Vontae Davis missed practice for a second straight day on Tuesday, and there is concern that he won't be ready to play with Indy on a short week. The veteran cornerback was out of a walking boot, which is good news. But head coach Chuck Pagano expects Greg Toler to see a lot of snaps this week. That's bad news.
Second down: After missing the past two games with a shoulder stinger, Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier returned to practice and believes he'll be able to play this week against the Chargers. With the game on Monday night, Shazier will have an extra day to get ready. That's a positive for a player who has gotten off to a good start this season.
Third down:Eagles linebacker Mychal Kendricks is still dealing with a lingering hamstring injury. While he played last week, the issue appears to have regressed and could force him to miss this week's contest against the Saints. This is a big blow to a struggling Philadelphia team that has suffered a number of key injuries already.
Fourth down: The Lions suffered a pair of big injuries along their offensive line in the Monday night loss to the Seahawks. Haloti Ngata left the game with a calf injury and will need an MRI. Meanwhile, Tyrunn Walker will miss the rest of the season with a broken fibula. Detroit's pass rush was fierce on Monday; we'll see if it can be sustained with two important players potentially unavailable.