After one week, third-year St. Louis Rams defensive end Robert Quinn and Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston are tied for the NFL lead in sacks with three. Both were also named the NFC and AFC Defensive Players of the Week, respectively.
Quinn’s development took a steep incline when head coach Jeff Fisher took over last year. In his second season out of North Carolina, Quinn recorded 10.5 sacks, almost doubling the five takedowns from his rookie year.
Similar to Quinn, Houston is also in his third year and saw his stats jump last season to 10.5 sacks. He helped the Chiefs notch six total sacks for a loss of 50 yards in Week One, and is clearly responding well to the new environment created by head coach Andy Reid.
One difference is nicknames. On Wednesday, Quinn was asked if he and fellow defensive end Chris Long were one of the best pass rushing duos in the NFL.
"I believe we can be in that argument,” Quinn said according to NFL.com. “I like to call myself 'Black Lightning' and him the 'White Thunder,' aka 'The Thunder Storm.' "
Nicknames aside, both players face stiffer tests in Week Two. Quinn will meet an Atlanta offensive line that gave up three sacks in Week One, and with much of the Falcons offense built around keeping quarterback Matt Ryan upright, he’ll face a far more motivated club. Meanwhile, Houston will host an improved and healthier Dallas Cowboys o-line coming off a huge victory over a division rival.
Needless to say, if either is available in your league snap them up today. If they’re already on your roster, be sure to start them.
Below are several players other at each position to consider in Week Two.
Bront Bird, San Diego Chargers
Bird started his second season with 14 total tackles against the stout Houston frontline. He has a tough matchup against Philadelphia in Week Two, but with their sped up offense Bird could rack up plenty of tackles.
Wesley Woodyard, Denver Broncos
Peyton Manning did most of the heavy lifting in Week One, but Woodyard should have more of a workload against the New York Giants this week. Their offensive line had lots of trouble against Dallas, and while Woodyard doesn’t rush the passer often, he might pick up a sack
Michael Johnson, Cincinnati Bengals
Johnson might be poised for huge game against Pittsburgh’s injury-ridden o-line. The Bengals had a disappointing loss to Chicago to start the season, and Johnson and the rest of their frontline have plenty of motivation to get the team back on track.
Brett Keisel, Pittsburgh Steelers
Any talk of the 12-year veteran retiring was put to bed last week. Keisel had the most combined tackles (6) of any defensive end in the league in Week One. The Steelers offense is struggling, which could mean a lot of minutes for Keisel and his defensive crew.
Charles Godfrey, Carolina Panthers
The underrated Panthers defense kept Seattle and Russell Wilson largely in check, even in a Week One loss. Fellow safety Mike Mitchell is questionable against Buffalo this week, and much of the work might fall to Godfrey, who had nine combined tackles against the Seahawks.
Tyvon Branch, Oakland Raiders
Oakland nearly stole a game from Indianapolis and Andrew Luck last week, and Branch was a big reason. He totaled five tackles, a sack, and two quarterback hits. On Thursday, Branch returned to Raiders practice, but was limited with a shoulder injury. If he does play against Jacksonville he should have a dominant game.