All season long, this is the place for your weekly Individual Defensive Player Report. We'll be focusing on the three main statistics for most IDP leagues (solo tackles, sacks, and takeaways) in three-position formats (defensive linemen, linebackers, and defensive backs).
Atogwe has become the IDP equivalent of a short-yardage back. He's not interested in anything but interceptions. No free safety gambles more than Atogwe, and few get burned so often. But those gambles pay off sometimes, which is how Atogwe has picked off 11 passes in his past 15 games. His numbers are slightly inflated thanks to that fluky fumble return for a TD against the Redskins in Week 6, but in leagues that emphasize turnovers in their scoring system, Atogwe is your No. 1 DB.
KC's rookie second-round pick (not to be confused with The Killers front man) had his coming out party in the Meadowlands last Sunday, picking off two Brett Favre passes and taking one of them 91 yards for a score. Those are the ball skills KC knew they were getting, but it isn't necessarily what should excite IDP owners. Flowers doesn't have the pure athleticism to make plays like that on a regular basis. However, despite being 5-9, 190, Flowers loves to hit. He'll continue to help in run support, and opposing QBs figure to throw at the rookie often. That means plenty of tackles going forward.
Johnson was solid playing the strong side over his first three seasons, registering 82 solo tackles a year ago. So when he was switched to the weak side for 2008, Johnson was supposed to blow up. It hasn't happened. Johnson still has been solid, but is averaging just five solo tackles per game, putting him on the same pace as last season. His consistency makes him a serviceable back-up LB for IDPers, but it doesn't look like he's going to be much more than that.
The defensive end-turned-linebacker-turned-defensive end is coming off a career day in Pittsburgh, sacking Ben Roethlisberger three times. And there are probably some big days to come, as opposing lines focus on Justin Tuck and to a lesser extent Fred Robbins. But the catch with Kiwanuka is that, in many leagues, he's still considered a linebacker. As a LB, he belongs on the waiver wire. But if he's a lineman in your league, Kiwanuka has become worthy of a roster spot, even if he's unlikely to be a star.
Parker has been solid in his first full year as a starter, but not quite good enough to warrant any IDP starts. He had 2.5 sacks of Roethlisberger back in Week 3, not a difficult task considering Big Ben's tendency to hold onto the ball for eight seconds each drop back. Parker's numbers are also inflated by a pick six of J.T. O'Sullivan. He has started the past 14 games, but delivered just 34 solo tackles and 5.5 sacks (so only three non-Roethlisberger sacks). Leave him on the waiver wire for someone else.
With Jermaine Phillips set to miss 4-to-6 weeks with a broken arm, the Piscitelli Era is upon is. On Sunday, the second-year safety will make his first start at Tampa's strong safety spot, a spot from which Phillips had 83 solo tackles two seasons ago. Piscitelli is an in-the-box safety in the John Lynch mode. He's not much when it comes to coverage, but he'll get his tackles in run support and do some blitzing as well. IDP owners in tackle-heavy leagues can go ahead and take a flier on him for the next month.
In his first year as a starter, Weddle's numbers have been phenomenal thanks to San Diego's bend (and then break) defense. Even playing more of a centerfield role as the free safety, Weddle is on pace for 102 solo tackles this season. With the San Diego front seven in shambles minus Shawne Merriman, the second half of the season should be more of the same for Weddle.
There was some worry that the move from the middle to the weak side would cut into his tackle opportunities. But with Denver's undersized front four struggling again, Williams is actually on pace for a bigger year than he had in '07, when he had 106 solo tackles. He's already at 53 through seven games, and has even added a career-high 2.5 sacks (though when it comes to calling the blitz, no one should ever confuse Broncos coordinator Bob Slowik with Jim Johnson). Coming off a 10-solo tackle night in New England in Week 7, Williams is primed to be a top-five linebacker from here on in.