Stewart Bradley: Bradley has taken over what was once a very fantasy friendly MLB (Mike) position and last week showed that it is once again going to be a fantasy friendly position. Last year, Omar Gaither struggled to put up top numbers from the same MLB spot but this year looks to be different with Bradley manning the Mike. The Rams sure didn’t make it easy for Bradley to have a successful first week either since they only had 15 running plays and 14 catches for Bradley to mine stats from. However, Bradley was all over the field racking up 9 combined tackles (2 for a loss) while adding a pass defended for good measure. If Bradley is available as a free agent in your league acquire him with confidence that at worst you will be looking at a LB2 with LB1 upside.
Zach Diles: Diles is probably the flavor of the week on the waiver wire in many IDP leagues this week. Problem is that he really shouldn’t be. Yes he posted a monster stat line in week 1 that included 11, yes ELEVEN solo tackles to go along with 2 assists. What you need to realize is that this will more than likely be the best statistical performance of his career. Diles plays SLB (SAM) for the Texans and the SAM just isn’t normally a productive fantasy position. Sure guys like David Thornton and Marcus Washington have posted fantasy relevant numbers while manning the SAM but it just isn’t the norm. Make no mistake that Diles may end up being a very nice SLB for the Texans but I wouldn’t read anything more into his performance than he made the most out of almost 40 rushing plays by the Steelers. You say but what about 3rd downs. What if Diles were to become a three down linebacker? Well my answer would still be that I think from a fantasy standpoint that Diles is “fools gold”. Last year the Texans faced 198 third down plays with teams converting 83 times. That leaves 83 opportunities for the season to be spread between DeMeco Ryans and the other 9 defensive players. Yes playing three downs is a positive but I happen to be of the camp that a bit much is made of it. I look for Diles to post around 60-70 combined tackles this year (including the 11 he already as accumulated).
Others that I am keeping an eye on that may be written up in the future are: Bryan Kehl (NYG), Justin Durant (JAX), Jyles Tucker (SD) & Shaun Phillips (SD). Both Kehl & Durant came off the bench in week one and posted 5 solo tackles each. All I will say about Tucker at this juncture is that he is not Shawne Merriman and defensive coordinators will not be game planning for him.
Turk McBride: Initially scouts thought that McBride could end up playing defensive tackle or as a 3-4 defensive end in the NFL. However, with the departure of Jared Allen to the Vikings McBride finds himself manning the left defensive end position vacated by Tamba Hali who in turn took over Allen’s RDE position. McBride posted a very respectable 5 tackles with one being for a loss versus the Patriots in week 1. He will more than likely never be a DL1 but he does possess some upside playing for a Kansas City defense that will spend its fair share of time on the field. I wouldn’t go buying McBride just yet unless you are in a very deep league and can afford to keep him as depth until we see how he continues to progress.
Others to keep an eye on: Jamaal Anderson (ATL), Domata Peka (Cinn, DT leagues) & Marcus Thomas (Den, DT Leauges).
Quintin Mikell: Mikell is another good story for fantasy owners. He is taking over what used to be a very productive SS position in Philadelphia. Unfortunately, Sean Considine may have erased your memories of what sort of stats Michael Lewis used to post when he was the Philadelphia SS. Well just like Bradley Mikell made the most out of very few opportunities versus the Rams in week one. Just like Bradley Mikell posted 9 combined tackles (1 for a loss) but also forced a fumble. While Mikell has been in the league for 6 years he still should provide plenty of IDP value over the next few years where his name should become synonymous with those of the top IDP safeties in the league.
Tracey Porter: Porter was selected in the 2nd round (40th overall) of the 2008 NFL Draft and this past Sunday he made his first start in the NFL at right cornerback. A former four year starter in college with a penchant for making tackles (212) and interceptions (16) Porter started his NFL career with 3 combined tackles and 2 passes defended. While these are not numbers that are going to make you go “WOW, look at him” that doesn’t mean that there isn’t much more in store for him. Porter is probably still on many waiver wires but he should be a stash and hold for dynasty owners. Rookie corners tend to get picked on in the NFL thus helping their fantasy value but Porter seems to have some added value for future years due to his knack for making tackles as well as interceptions.
Others to keep an eye on: Chinedum Ndukwe (Cinn), Brandon Carr (KC). Ndukwe who was injured during the preseason has started practicing again for the Bengals and Carr started as the nickel cornerback versus the Patriots.
If you have players that you would like to see featured in this weekly article feel free to email your requests to firstname.lastname@example.org.