His game is just about as catchy as his name. Kiki Alonso may be a rookie by experience by he plays nothing like a first-year linebacker. He was drafted in the middle of the second round by the Buffalo Bills, who intended to use him right out of the gates. This is a guy who would have gone in the first round, but fought skeletons much of his 2012 season at Oregon. Multiple arrests, including a DUI caused many teams to question his integrity. The Bills must have felt like they won the lottery when he totaled 9 tackles in his first NFL game against the Patriots. Many of you rushed to the waivers and snatched him up, but that high settled way too quickly. He is still un-owned in over 40% of IDP/offensive leagues and 30% of IDP leagues. For a guy drafted in fantasy leagues behind many other rookie IDPs, you could do much worse. Go ahead and snatch him up if you haven’t already. This is a guy that can easily lead your defense in fantasy numbers. To top it off, he leads the NFL in interceptions. For a linebacker, that’s about as impressive of a number as you will find. The Bills have found themselves a diamond in the rought and I’m quick to announce that IDP owners might very well have, as well. Alonso is well on his way to pushing for the Rookie of the year honors. And you should be pushing to add this budding super-star, if in fact, you haven’t already waited too long.
Season Projections: 122 Tackles, 4.5 Sacks, 6 Interceptions
When you took Brian Cushing as your 2nd or 3rd linebacker in last month’s draft, you were thinking; “If he can just post ¾ of his pre-injury numbers I’ll die a happy man.” Well, he looks do being going well beyond that. With 15.5 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 pick, and a touchdown, Brian Cushing is annihilating offensive backfields and winning football games (Real and Fake). With juicy matchups against the Ravens and Seahawks in weeks 3 and 4, I see only more smiles from IPDers who took a chance on the former roider. He’s back and just as good as he was before his 2012 ACL tear.
Mason Foster has also been a pleasant surprise at the top of the early season linebacker rankings. After posting no-better-than solid rookie and sophomore campaigns, Mason Foster is making big moves towards the upper tiers early in his 3rd season with the Bucs. There’s nothing the man hasn’t done. With 12.5 tackles, one forced fumble, 2 sacks, one pick, and a touchdown, we are beginning to think there’s no one out there than can keep him from affecting the game. Enjoy the ride all season long!
How do you follow up and impressive rookie season that included 5.5 sacks and over 90 total tackles? Why you lead the NFL in tackles through two weeks, of course! Adding a couple of sacks in his first four quarters of football, Zach Brown (Not to be confused with the country music band) has made waves right out the gate. He is next stud LB and if you took a late round pick on him; feel good about your chances each week.
He’s only a rookie, but the expectations placed on Kiki Alonso are stifling. Lucky for the Bills, Kiko hasn’t disappointed. After dropping to the 2nd round of the NFL draft due to “character issues,” many worried if Alonso had the head on his shoulders to live up to those gaudy expectations the Bills set upon him. Many wondered if he could live up to the hype. Well, we can put that question to bed. All he has done is put up 16.5 tackles, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery, one interception and a sack to top it off. He’s sure to slow at some point, right? Maybe not.
Check back here for more updates and information to help you and your fantasy team for this season!
Well, we are one week in and already witnessed some serious shockers from the defensive front. Many of your big names came hard to open the year, but some of those lesser-known guys also began to carve a niche in the defensive world. While some may have been on our IDP radar, many exploded on to the scene and screamed, “add me now.”
Justin Houston is one of those names that shouts, “add me now,” if you are in a deep league, with a Linebacker to spare. This beast created a name for himself last year, but still slipped through the cracks in many IDP leagues. Coming off a 10 sack season, one would think Houston is a “must-own.” But that simply wasn’t drafter’s thought process going into this season. After racking up 3 sacks and 5 solo tackles in week 1, Houston should be snatched up in all leagues. Get the 3rd year man out of Georgia before he’s gone.
Now, for the NFL’s most unrecognizable-recognizable name. Introducing Duke Ihenacho: Duke is a 2nd year safety who went undrafted last season. Less than a month ago, Ihenacho was on the roster bubble. 2 days ago, he racked up 11 tackles and 3 pass breakups. With a favorable schedule with many pass happy teams, and interception-prone quarterbacks, he has the opportunity to post top-10 numbers. Add him early to your fantasy squads if you want to cash in…in a big way.
Adding a guy who drew an unforeseen start can pay off big dividends. When Jasper Brinkley took the spot of Pro Bowler, Daryl Washington, many people didn’t look twice. The team showed ample confidence in his abilities by signing him to a 2-year
deal. While he’s not going to lead you to the Promised Land, Jasper Brinkley should fill the shoes of your suspended linebacker just fine. Add him for the next few weeks if you need a consistent tackler while you wait for Washington’s return.
These are three guys that should be available in your leagues. If you’re looking for that next big thing, keep an eye on these possible IDP studs.
Desmond Bryant, DE Cleveland Browns – 2.5 Tackles, 2 Sacks, 1 Pass Breakup
Steve Gregory, S New England Patriots – 8 Tackles, 1 Pass Breakup
Thomas Davis (resurrection), LB Carolina Panthers – 7 Tackles
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Being a rookie in the NFL is certainly a lot to shoulder from a skill position. You get your name in lights, media can’t stop gushing, and every position battle you win or lose, ESPN treats it like it’s the end all be all of your career. Defensive players have it slightly different. While the position battles are just as fierce, we simply don’t hear as much about them. Never fear fellow IDP players (individual defensive players), I’ve got the top 5 IMPACT rookies of the 2013 campaign.
This year’s class was full of raw talent, but NFL-ready talent, well that’s something that may be lacking. There are a few of linebackers who could significantly contribute to teams this season but when it comes to being viable fantasy football defensive players out the gate, this draft class leaves a bit to be desired.
Arthur Brown – LB – Baltimore Ravens
I fully expect Brown to become a fixture in the vaunted Ravens' defense as they begin life without Ray Lewis. Be wary of drafting Brown as an immediate starter for your fantasy teams, as we will be sure to see some growing pains. Draft in the understanding that he may be no better than a low-end number 2 linebacker with some potential to move into the top 20.
Alec Ogletree- LB – St. Louis Rams
Coming out of UGA, Ogletree wasn’t even the most heralded LB on his own team. Having to play in the shadow of teammate Jarvis Jones, he quietly put up unbelievable tackle numbers. While the casual fan may not have noticed, NFL teams took note. He would have gone ahead of Jarvis, but his numerous off the field issues may have held a few teams back. If he can stay out of trouble, there is a chance for a steal as a low-end number 2 linebacker option for your fantasy team.
Dion Jordan – DE – Miami
Dion is raw, simply put, but he will be starting on a young Miami defensive line from day one and should see single blockers with Cameron Wake on the opposite side. He should find himself as a high-end number 3 defensive lineman in his rookie season, with some spectacular games sprinkled in.
Matt Elam – S – Baltimore Ravens
Out goes Ed Reed, in steps Matt Elam. His leash seems to grow by the day, and the Ravens are giving him more and more room to roam in the defensive backfield. He is an absolutely punishing hitter, and his tackle numbers should be great. Elam did get in trouble throughout his college career with illegal hits. This is a minor tweak that NFL coaches should remedy, but keep this in mind when drafting. He should be a middle of the row number 2 defensive back with great upside if you play in a tackle heavy IDP league.
Kevin Minter – LB – Arizona Cardinals
Kevin Minter went from being the odd man out, to having the opportunity to seize a giant role. With Daryl Washington’s suspension being upheld (4 games), Arizona will rely heavily on Minter to fill his role. If he performs, and perform he may, the Cardinals will believe they struck gold. If you need immediate help in the Linebacker department, keep this man in mind. Minter should be able to produce at a LB2 level out of the gate, but it remains to be seen what happens when Washington returns from his 4-game suspension and how well Karlos Dansby plays on his new team.
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Robert - The IDP Expert
Who Would You Rather
There is something overlooked by the fantasy footballers of the world. Everyone acts quickly on those big time linebackers, failing to realize how important the defensive lineman actually is. In leagues where you have to start defensive linemen, this position goes the way of the offensive tight end when in fact they should be looked at as running backs (for those of you who think offensive). The DL position is very thin, and owning one of the top 5 will give you, the owner, a considerable advantage over your fake-football-peers.
With linebackers, you will notice over 40 players averaging 8+ fantasy points per game. Year after year we see the likes of Patrick Willis going light years before defensive linemen. This is understandable to the untrained IDP fantasy owner. We are well past the halfway point of the season, and Willis is in the middle of the pack amongst linebacker fantasy scoring. Mid to late round drafted players like Wesley Woodyard and Lavonte David are creating havoc for their owners.
Contrary to their line-backing counterparts, there are only 4 defensive linemen scoring over 8 points per game. Those owners who own these players have a huge advantage over those who drafted Patrick Willis or Jon Beason 3-4 rounds earlier. The top 3 linemen are the guys you should have taken well earlier. J.J. Watt, Jason Pierre-Paul and Elvis Dumervil.
Bottom Line, it is worth waiting for a linebacker. If you want a clear advantage over your buddies you should have drafted a Lineman. If you didn’t, please take notes. I am seeing player after player being added and dropped in my league as guys are looking for that invisible diamond-in-the-rough. Sadly, they will not find one. The position is simply much more inconsistent than your linebackers. The guys who score will continue to score. But, if you’re still searching, here are a few guys to keep an eye on for the late season push. They won’t win the league for you, but if you waiting to get your linemen, they may help:
Jonathan Babineaux, Atl
Derrick Morgan, Tenn
Brian Robison, Min
Henry Melton, Chi
Paul Kruger, Bal
Sometimes us “experts” even get it wrong. At the season’s midway point, I would like to take a look at who the top 10 Individual Defensive Players actually are. Some of these may be found on my pre-season top 10 lists, and some may have simply come out of the blue. Okay, enough talk; let’s see who our real top 10 players are if he hit the “hypothetical” reset button today. Do what you will with this list. Base trades off of it, base your starting lineup off of it, or just look at it.
Daryl Washington, LB- 68 tackles, 9 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles
J.J. Watt, DE- 27 tackles, 10.5 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries
James Laurinaitis, LB- 74 tackles, 1 sack
Jared Mayo, LB- 78 tackles, 1 sack, 3 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, 1 interception
Chad Greenway, LB- 81 tackles, 2 sacks
Patrick Willis, LB- 65 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 1interception
Tim Jennings, CB- 39 tackles, 6 interceptions, 13 pass breakups
D’Qwell Jackson, LB- 61 tackles, 3 sacks, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 2 interceptions
Jerell Freeman, LB- 69 tackles, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, 1 interception
NaVorro Bowman, LB- 68 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 interception
Injuries to key players on the Raven’s roster have caused the masses to drop every Baltimore defender, as well as, the team defense. Stop right there, I say. Yes, losing Ray Lewis (torn triceps) and Lardarius Webb (knee injury) may seem like the end of the world for one of the NFL’s top defensive units, but there may actually be a silver lining. 2011 NFL Defensive Player of the Year, Terrell Suggs is creeping ever so close to returning to the field and IDP-ers who stashed him on their injured reserve are pre-gaming for a 2nd half party.
Tell me something I don’t know Robert! Well here it is; The Ravens are one of the deepest teams in the NFL at line backer. Ray Lewis will obviously be missed but those taking notice have seen Jameel McClain fill in at middle linebacker with 16 tackles over the past 2 weeks. Jameel has seen his share of action as an NFL linebacker, but has never been relied on to the degree we are about to witness. With that move, youngster Dannell Ellerbe will get his first taste as an every down playmaker. Ray Lewis himself has voiced his admiration for the 25 year old from Georgia. Both players should be added immediately to fantasy rosters, as they will be leaned on by the Ravens to make sure the defense doesn’t skip a beat.
Losing Lardarius Webb is a bit less of an issue for the Ravens. Jimmy Smith is a 24-year-old athlete who the Ravens drafted in the first round of the 2011 draft. They had no intentions on wasting a 1st round pick, but the coaching staff didn’t expect to be leaning on him so early in his career either. In his first real action of his career, Smith did a great job, totaling 7 tackles and a defensed pass. He has great size for a corner back (6’2” 205lbs), and will start every game for the rest of the season. If your league starts a cornerback and you are in need, run to your waivers and add Jimmy Smith. This team will not skip a beat, and the youngsters should be stars by the end of the year. If you’re an owner of any of these injured players, go out and grab the next man in line. The time is now for the 2nd wave of Baltimore studs.
Studs Will Be Studs?
As we creep closer to the midway point of the NFL season, I want to take a look at those “big name” defensive players that we all drafted to lead our IDP defensive corps to the epitome of fantasy football. We all hope that our predictions for the top IDPers come to fruition, but that is not always the case. There are always those guys who cease to exist in the fantasy world and just below we will see who, if any, are hurting their preseason drafters.
Jason Pierre-Paul, NYG- The top defensive end drafted has been steady this year, but not the force he has been in the past. His numbers are down across the board is only on pace for around 7 sacks. This number would be a full 10 sacks below his 2011 output. His tackle numbers are also falling below the ridiculous 91 total tackles from last season. He is still post top 10 type numbers, but not the dominant numbers we saw in 2012. If you spent a high pick on him, sit on him. He should come around at some point.
Patrick Willis, SF- Willis seems to have picked up right where he has left off in his previous seasons. He is on pace for yet another ho-hum 130+ tackle season. Similar to Jason Pierre-Paul, Willis has put up solid numbers at best. His number 1 overall IDP-ADP really puts a cloud over his tackle numbers. He has yet to record a sack or even a tackle for loss, suggesting that they are using him much more in coverage and as a spy. I envision him finishing in the top 10 linebackers, but his number 1 overall draft position is shot.
Tyvon Branch, Oak- Entering the season, Tyvon Branch had some lofty expectations. While they were lofty, they were not unwarranted. He filled up the stat sheet with tackles, sacks, passes defended, and a pick. He has yet to record an interception or even a defended pass so far in 2012 and his tackle numbers are well below his preseason projections. Drafted in 99% of IDP leagues, he is currently only owned in 70% and dropping. Do what you wish here, but at this point there seem to be many better options available. I recommend you cut your losses and find other options.
Jason McCourty, Tenn- Of all the top preseason Individual Defensive Players, Jason McCourty has lived up to his preseason expectations the most. He is on pace for almost 100 tackles and at the Cornerback position, this is a great number. Already racking up 8 passes defensed and 2 interceptions; Jason McCourty has pleased all of his owners to the fullest and should continue to carry your fantasy defensive back corps without a hitch. Leave him in your starting lineup and reap the rewards, as teams will continue to toss the ball around on the Titans.
Keep, Cut, Wholesale
This week I will quickly go over some players that you, the owner, are undoubtedly looking at and wondering what you should do with them. Is it time to act, or should you just hold on to the underachievers? Just leave it to me, and feel comfortable knowing your defense is in good hands.
As a Hawthorne owner, I feel the pain you are all feeling. If I am willing to hold out while this Thorne blossoms into an IDP rose, you should be too. His hammy hasn’t been right since week 1, and he’s sat already sat out week 5 and is very questionable for week 6. He should be back to full strength soon, and this perennial 100 tackle, stat sheet stuffer should go back to his old ways. Don’t be the one who drops him only to watch him explode on another roster.
While he has yet to step foot on the field in 2012, Pat Angerer is getting much closer to returning. After posted 140 plus tackles in 2011, he’s definitely worth holding onto a few more weeks. Angerer should come back ready to put his foot down on the opposition. If your smart, you will be willing to start that waiver-added linebacker just another week or 2 until Angerer leads your defense to the promise land!
After posting a career full of great IDP numbers, at the age of 34 Bell has finally hit a wall. He seems slower on the field and is getting beat in coverage all over the place. The Jets are on their heals and have begun to limit his snaps over the past 2 games. This is a bad sign when it’s just week 5 in this young NFL season. Cut ties with him, there are other good options sitting on your waiver wire. Yeremiah’s years of fantasy relevance have passed him.
While the talent is undeniable, the Broncos are simply focused on limiting his snaps. When Woodyard is on the field, the numbers are there. The only problem is that the coaching staff has something against him and while this is not the fantasy owners fault, there just isn’t enough here to warrant keeping him. DJ Williams will return at some point this season, giving the coaching staff even more reason to keep Woodyard on the sidelines. I am going to hold onto Woodyard for another week, but will have no problems dumping him at any minute.
It may be hard to comprehend this, but Foster is essentially a 2-down back playing way over his head early in 2012. Use his overachievements in your favor and trade him for a more renowned LB (such as teammate Levonte David). Mason Foster put up huge numbers in week 2 with double-digit tackles and even an interception. He’s continued to put up good numbers, but I hold my breath knowing this should all begin to regress. 2/3 down linebackers simply don’t rack up tackle numbers like this, and I feel now is the best time to sell him super high.
Finnegan has always been a solid tackle guy throughout his career, but never to the clip he’s posting this season. He’s currently on pace for over 100 tackles and 10 plus interceptions. 7 years into the NFL he has averaged closer to 60 tackles and 3 interceptions. As of week 5, he is ranked top 5 in fantasy IDP scoring and that is just not his styles. Finnegan is more adept at pissing off opposing players and starting fights than being a hard nosed, all-pro defensive back. Sell him now before his inevitable fall from grace.
It's Time to tackle the waivers. It’s week three of this young football season, and we already have a number of nicely-ranked preseason IDPers who already have no business being owned. Let’s take a look at who may be available on your waiver that should be worth rostering. I know it can be hard to say goodbye to your beloved draft choices, but the best thing about this position, Depth!
These guys come in no particular order, just be sure to rank by your needs.
Jerrell Freeman, LB Ind
Even when Pat Angerer comes back, the dominance of Freeman (18 tackles, 1 sack, 1 int, and 1 forced fumble) will buy him more time and the field then not. If he’s available in your league, go ahead and snag him.
William Moore, S Atl
The loss of Brent Grimes creates more responsibility from the team’s leaders in the defensive backfield. You will see even more coverage tackles and pick opportunities from William Moore. He will excel with the added pressure because of his genuine hard-nosed play and nose for the football.
Erin Henderson, LB Min
Depending on his concussion possibility, Erin Henderson has started 2012 with a storm. He had double-digit tackles in each of the first 2 games, and looks to continue his breakout season after getting his first real taste of the NFL in 2011.
Justin Durant, LB Det
A perennial injury plagued underachiever who fell to the wayside after his breakout 2009 campaign. He has started the 2012 season with 19 tackles and looks to have regained his 2009 form. He claims to be healthy as ever. If he can continue to stay on the field, we should see his first 100-tackle season. His tackle totals week-to-week should be worth your blessings.
Randy Starks, DE Mia
Defensive Linemen are the hardest to find on the waivers. Each week these guys can be huge or be duds. Randy Starks has gotten some fantastic endorsements from his coaches and teammates. He had a dominant pre-season and shouldn’t have much competition at Defensive End this season. Keep an eye on his groin as it may be lingering.
Linval Joseph, DT NYG
He could be the name on this list that we will all know by seasons end. Already wreaking havoc in offensive backfields, the Giants will continue to ride him as long as Chris Canty is out. I see him holding onto his role and being a big name going into 2013.
Robert comes from an extensive background in fantasy football. He has competed in competitive leagues for over 10 years, which he has won on numerous occasions. He should bring a fresh perspective to a side of fantasy football looked over by the bulk of fantasy informers. Individual defensive players are possibly the most important element to having a well-rounded fantasy football team, as most people look to the big names to carry their team. Robert comes from a back ground in sports, where he played D3 college basketball at Millsaps College. As an intense competitor he wants to share his knowledge to help you compete in this years fantasy football season.