Welcome to The Huddle’s IDP Hot and Not Report. Here, we’ll take a look at a few linebackers, defensive linemen and defensive backs that are off to hot starts and a few that stumbled out of the gate. This article is designed to assist the beginning IDP’er or those in “play ‘em once” leagues, or to just foster some discussion about the future prospects of IDPs that were more than likely drafted in most leagues. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to discuss the players in further detail or recommend a name or two.
Kirk Morrison (OAK): I got a little flack when I ranked Morrison so high after his slow start, but I knew the guy was a tackle machine and the big games would be piling up. He still doesn’t do much more than tackle (only one forced fumble to go along with all the tackles), but when you’re getting 13 solos, who cares? The Raider offense is putrid, and will allow their defense to spend plenty of time on the field. Morrison has a high motor and won’t stop tackling, so keep him in your lineup.
Ray Lewis (BAL): The old man is still an able tackler (twice with 10 solos in one game) and will have his share of “other” stats. He’ll rack up plenty of tackles this week against the ground attack of the Vikings before his bye week. See if you can maybe make a steal if someone can’t cover their bye week problems.
James Harrison (PIT): Don’t look now, but the 2008 Defensive POY is heating up. 44 points in his past two games and has a pair of tasty matchups on the docket before the Steeler bye week.
Julian Peterson (DET): This isn’t Peterson’s first time on this list, and he’ll continue to show up here unless he’s able to start stacking the QB (got his first this past week, but only logged one solo). They’ve been moving him around, sometimes playing defensive end. As he struggles to find his place in this defense, he should remain on your bench or perhaps even dropped.
A.J. Hawk (GBP): Hawk’s immensely talented, but the 3-4 scheme and an inability to log any stats but tackles has totally handcuffed his fantasy worth. If he’s somehow able to harness whatever he was doing in his first couple seasons, he’ll be worth a roster spot. As for now, he’s ranked in the 70’s overall, which makes him, at best, a bench LB.
HOT DEFENSIVE LINEMEN
Marcus Stroud (DT – BUF): After a few pretty quiet seasons, the once dominating Stroud is on a nice little streak (double digit scoring in past four games). If you’re able to get some nice value in trade for him, go for it. Otherwise, enjoy what should be some steady points.
Trent Cole (DE – PHI): Maybe the best, tier-one level DE you’ve never heard of. Cole continues to log fantastic sack numbers (7 solos and a sack in his return from bye week) and will log solid tackle numbers to boot. The Philly defense is playing inspired ball after the loss of DC Jim Johnson, and the upcoming schedule looks sweet (Raiders, Redskins).
“NOT” DEFENSIVE LINEMEN
Aaron Smith (DE – PIT): By no means is Smith a stud, tier 1 or 2 type of fantasy DE, but he’s always been pretty serviceable (5.5 sacks, 4 passes defensed along with 44 solos last season). This season, though, he’s been quiet and unstartable.
Justin Smith (DE – SFO): Another Smith that is disappointing fantasy owners this season is the Niner end. Smith had a string of very solid numbers in years past, but has only one sack on the season, despite the Niner defense actually playing a bit better overall. Smith’s a buy-low candidate at this point, but be warned that the cold streak could continue.
HOT DEFENSIVE BACKS
LaRon Landry (S – WAS): The Skin safety has averaged 15 fantasy points in his past three efforts, and has a pair of solid matchups upcoming. If he can add some forced fumbles or pass defenses to his repertoire, he’d be even more valuable.
Brian Dawkins (S – DEN): The veteran was a solid add for the Broncos defense. He adds leadership and tackling ability to a group that was pretty weak for the past few years. He’s battling some nagging injuries, but will likely play through them and get rested up during their Week 7 bye. He’s a must-start against the Bolts this week.
“NOT” DEFENSIVE BACKS
Charles Tillman (CB – CHI): Tillman has long been a fantasy stud, but is being outplayed, at least fantasy-wise by other DBs on the Bears. He’s always a candidate to break out, so perhaps you try buying low at this point, but don’t be shocked if the likes of Danieal Manning and Zack Bowman outscore him.
Ronde Barber (CB – TBB): Barber once was a top-tier DB, even playing at corner. The move to a more traditional defensive set has made Barber a real average fantasy DB.