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One Injury Away - Possible Breakout IDPs
Darin Tietgen
June 27, 2007

Last season, Mathias Kiwanuka filled in (admirably at times) for the injured Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora for the Giants. He had a string of solid efforts that certainly helped out those owners that had the foresight to pick him up just in case one of the Giant DEs went down with injury. Back in 2005, Edgerton Hartwell was the Falcon’s prized off-season signee and was poised to have a huge season after three successful seasons in Baltimore. Hartwell went out after Week 5 and fellow LB Demorrio Williams ended up having a career year. Would Williams had such a banner year if Hartwell had stayed healthy? Hard to say, although the Falcons’ 3rd LB, Keith Brooking, was also a solid IDP contributor and the loss of Hartwell opened things up for Williams to put up numbers. Point being, there are many IDPs that may go undrafted in your redraft IDP leagues that could break out should one of their teammates go down with injury. Here’s a look at a few IDPs that have the chance to bust out in 2007 should a teammate or who they are backing up get injured.

Linebackers

Jon Beason, CAR – This one is sort of a no-brainer. The Cats drafted Beason as insurance to the oft-injured but wildly talented Dan Morgan. However, given Beason’s position flexibility (he’d also fit at WLB), he’s twice as possible to have a breakout season given the fact that incumbent WLB Na’il Diggs is hardly a game-changer.

Omar Gaither, PHI – Gaither is a hot name right now in deeper IDP and dynasty leagues. He can play both the weak and middle positions (the LB spots best suited for fantasy success) and with Jeremiah Trotter and Takeo Spikes currently manning those two positions, one would think Gaither has a solid chance at contributing this season.

H.B. Blades, WAS – Depending on what depth chart you want to believe, it’s between the rookie Blades and Lemar Marshall as to who will back up the venerable London Fletcher-Baker at MLB for the Redskins. Moreover, there have been talks that Marshall could be traded should the Skins get ample LB depth in the draft. Well, they drafted Dallas Sartz from USC and Blades. Any way you slice it, Blades could potentially have value with a Fletcher-Baker injury or continued knee trouble from last year’s big LB draft pick, Rocky McIntosh. Khary Campbell’s name has been spotted in the WLB/backup MLB talks as well, so keep your eye on him too.

Buster Davis, ARI – Another rookie to keep an eye on, as an injury to MLB starter Gerald Hayes or even WLB Karlos Dansby would probably mean Davis could step in. Hayes had a pretty productive ’06 season and Davis’ talents would probably net similar – if not better – stats.

Brandon Siler, SD – And yet another rookie to round out the list of LBs. Siler has to beat out a few other younger LBs in Matt Wilhem, Stephen Cooper and Tim Dobbins. Siler (and perhaps fellow rookie Anthony Waters) may be overvalued in some drafts but if you can get either Siler or Waters cheap, they may prove very valuable in a couple years.

Defensive Linemen

Charles Johnson, CAR – Another Panther makes the list. This one is not as much of a no-brainer as Beason, but it’s close. Johnson is slated to spell Mike Rucker (who’s old and injured) at DE opposite super-stud Julius Peppers. Johnson had a pretty nice junior season at Georgia, paired with Quentin Moses. Johnson is going to get opportunities this season. Question is, when?

Mark Anderson, CHI – How can you put a guy on this list that had 14 sacks last year? Well, put it this way, Anderson had only EIGHTEEN tackles of players other than the QB last year. Anderson was fine as a spot start in deep leagues last year, but unless incumbents Alex Brown and Adewale Ogunleye get hurt, Anderson will continue to have limited value in most leagues. As this article’s title suggests, Anderson is one injury away from having terrific fantasy value.

Victor Adeyanju, STL – Adeyanju is injured himself, so monitor his situation before making a move. Adeyanju had sporadic success last season as rookie and could have increased value in larger leagues should Leonard Little go down with injury or ’07 draft pick Adam Carriker get injured or not impress.  

Derek Landri, JAC – For those of you in leagues that require you to start a DT, I’ve added Landri to this list. He’s a no-brainer as a “one injury away” guy, as the current Jaguar interior linemen, Marcus Stroud and John Henderson, are usually two of the better-scoring DTs in IDP leagues. Landri (6’2”, 288 lbs.) is by no means as big as Stroud (6’6”, 312 lbs.) or Henderson (6’7”, 328) but with some bulking up and seasoning by Jack Del Rio and the Jaguar coaching staff, Landri could potentially fill in for either DT should one go down and offer some fantasy value to those in larger leagues.

Defensive Backs

Sabby Piscatelli, TB – Ronde Barber is by far the best fantasy option in the Tampa Bay defensive backfield, but if incumbents Will Allen or Jermaine Phillips go down with injury, Piscatelli has proven that he could step right in and produce. Piscatelli is a solid 3rd/4th round dynasty pick and could be picked in later rounds of redraft IDP leagues for depth.

Eric Weddle, SD – Similar to Piscatelli, Weddle is another rookie that could easily step into the starting lineup and produce solid fantasy stats. Neither Marlon McCree nor Clinton Hart are game-breaking difference makers. The Chargers essentially paid an arm and a leg to move up to get Weddle. Does this tell you something? Dynasty owners should target Weddle if they need DB help. Redraft owners could grab Weddle in later rounds, or if Weddle is given a starting spot, he should be a solid #2 fantasy DB.

Marcus McCauley, MIN – McCauley was a yo-yo on NFL teams’ draft boards last month, but landed in a nice situation in Minnesota. McCauley draws some comparisons to the CB he could replace in Nate Clements. Clements was one of the best fantasy cornerbacks. In leagues that start CBs, McCauley is a serious sleeper. Should Cedric Griffin fall out of favor (possible, with his off-field issues) or get injured, McCauley could step right in and produce.

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