All season long, Eight in the Box is the place for your weekly Individual Defensive Player Report.
Analysis is based on the four main statistics for most IDP leagues (solo tackles, sacks, passes defensed and takeaways) in three-position formats (defensive linemen, linebackers, and defensive backs).
Elvis Dumervil, DL/LB, Broncos
He's going to be a popular free agent addition this week, as Dumervil is coming off a monster game against Cleveland (seven tackles, four sacks, a forced fumble and even a pass defensed). After moving to outside linebacker in Denver's new 3-4, the James Harrison comparisons are sure to follow for the 5-foot-11 Dumervil. He even has four QB knockdowns to go with his four sacks this year. Obviously, he isn't in Harrison's class as an all-around player, and I'm not sure Dumervil has the range to last at OLB. But as long as his primary role is rushing the passer, the sack numbers should come. If he qualifies at DL in your league, he's a great pick-up, and he even has value has a high-reward LB2 in sack-heavy leagues.
Greg Ellis, DL/LB, Raiders
Ellis was a forgotten IDP man as a rush linebacker in Dallas, reaching double-digit sacks only once in 11 seasons and falling short of fantasy value because of low tackle totals. He may not qualify at DL in all leagues, but if he does he's a strong pick-up. Ellis is playing defensive end in a suddenly formidable Oakland front four that includes potential Pro Bowlers Richard Seymour and Tommy Kelly. Teams won't be able to double team Ellis. Of course, Ellis wasn't double teamed in Dallas playing opposite DeMarcus Ware, but he looks awfully comfortable with his hand in the dirt. Granted, his numbers have come against a patchwork San Diego o-line and the Chiefs' sieve of a line, but three sacks, four knockdowns and a hurry are too much to ignore. Take a flier on Ellis as a DL2.
Jabari Greer, DB, Saints
The Saints rebuilt their secondary with free agents and rookies, and Greer has emerged as the best of the bunch. He's going to spend a lot of time battling opponents' top receivers (like Calvin Johnson in Week 1), and that means he's going to be involved in a lot of plays. His eight solo tackles and two passes defensed through two weeks won't jump out at you, but expect those numbers to rise, especially as teams get desperate and start airing it out to keep up with Drew Brees and the Saints passing game.
E.J. Henderson, LB, Vikings
It's been so far so good for Henderson, who missed most of last season with a foot injury. Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said during the preseason that he'd monitor Henderson's snaps and rotate him out on third downs. But so far, he's stayed on the field during most passing situations. As long as he stays healthy, Henderson is a strong LB2 with LB1 upside. The last time he was healthy for a full season, in 2007, he had 94 solo tackles and 4.5 sacks. Those numbers seemed out of reach heading into this season, but with 14 solos and a sack already, it looks like a huge season is in store as long as he stays healthy.
Michael Huff, DB, Raiders
It's difficult to figure out Huff, who has been a colossal bust over his first three seasons. He was benched midway through 2008, and he battled just to keep his roster spot this summer. He's been a part-time player this year, but has amazingly racked up three interceptions and five passes defensed through two games. He's going to be picked up in a lot of leagues, but there's no reason to roll the dice on Huff right now. The obvious problem is that he's still behind Hiram Eugene on the depth chart. But the bigger issue is that if Huff does break into the starting lineup, he can't be relied on for week-to-week production. He couldn't cut it when asked to play in the box, so tackles won't come regularly. As Ed Reed and O.J. Atogwe have proven, free safeties can have fantasy value, but those guys are the exception to the rule. Huff belongs on the waiver wire for now, and is a risky DB2 even after he breaks into the starting lineup.
Quintin Mikell, DB, Eagles
It's been a strong showing so far for Mikell, who is taking on a bigger role in run support with FS Brian Dawkins and MLB Stewart Bradley out, and Macho Harris and Omar Gaither in. So far, about half of his 15 solo tackles have come in run support, not surprising since Harris is a converted rookie cornerback playing centerfield, and Gaither is -- to put it as nicely as possible -- not good as a MIKE. Mikell should easily top 75 solo tackles this season, and could end up the top tackler among DBs. He's a DB1 in tackle-heavy scoring formats.
Antwan Odom, DL, Bengals
I'm not quite sure what to make of Odom. He's looked like Reggie White through two games, amassing seven sacks (one short of his career high). There's a definite asterisk considering four of those came in one half against Daryn Colledge, a Packers guard who has no business playing left tackle, but was forced there when LT Chad Clifton went down. But Odom also got Broncos superstar Ryan Clady for two, and he beat Clifton late in the first half for a sack. Overall, Odom has been the NFL's best pass rusher by far, adding a league-leading eight QB knockdowns to his NFL-high sack total. He'll probably get a little extra attention from here on in, and I think Odom will slide back into a high-risk DL2, especially considering he doesn't play the run well (if by "well," you mean "at all"). But he has to be on a roster in every league right now, because there's always a chance that the soon-to-be 28-year-old has simply figured it out.
Mike Peterson, LB, Falcons
He has the gaudiest IDP line among linebackers, piling up 16 solo tackles, two forced fumbles, two passes defensed, and an interception so far this season. I'm not buying it for now. He's going to lose some tackles to Curtis Lofton, never been big on stripping the ball (never more than two in a season over his 11-year career), and the interception was a fluke. Weakside linebackers often carry value, but I think Peterson tops out as a LB2 from this point forward.