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).
Marcus Buggs, LB, Bills
In a bit of a surprise move, it's been Buggs manning the middle for Buffalo since Paul Posluszny went down. An undrafted free agent in 2008, Buggs slid from the WILL to the MIKE this preseason. He's undersized, but has the athleticism to effectively drop into coverage. Buggs had his best game so far in Week 4, recording eight solo tackles in Miami. Any MLB belongs on the IDP radar, and Buggs should hold down the starting job for a while. But I don't see him fighting through traffic often enough to make a lot of plays. Consider him an LB2 for the most linebacker-starved owners.
Derek Cox, DB, Jaguars
Cox, a rookie third-rounder out of William & Mary, took over a starting spot as soon as free agent bust Brian Williams was set loose. Through four games, he's already been targeted a whopping 34 times. So is life across from Rashean Mathis, especially with the Jags' schedule of pass-happy opponents. Cox has held his own reasonably well for a rookie, showing enough to keep his starting job. And there's no doubt he's going to be picked on early an often. Consider Cox a DB2 with a good amount of upside.
Reed Doughty, DB, Redskins
This time last year, Chris Horton was the darling of 'Skins defensive coordinator Greg Blache. The seventh-rounder emerged as arguably the best player on Washington's D (okay, not saying much, but still...). As of now, Horton is benched in favor of Doughty. A fourth-year veteran primarily used on special teams, Doughty drew rave reviews in his first start of the season, recording eight solo tackles (and adding two more on kick coverage for good measure). He's not going to make plays at that rate every week, especially playing behind an active MIKE in London Fletcher, but Doughty has certainly bought himself at least a few more starts. Anyone in need of a DB in deep, tackle-heavy leagues can go ahead and take a flier on Doughty as a DB2.
Dhani Jones, LB, Bengals
The fact that Jones is still the starting MIKE in Cincinnati speaks to his longevity, but it probably speaks more to the sorry state of the Bengals' personnel decisions. Yet, here we are. Jones followed up a solid 2008 (stat-wise only, mind you) with a decent start to '09. He had seven solo tackles in Cleveland last week, giving him 18 over his past three games. Cincy seems set on Keith Rivers playing weak side and Rey Maualuga on the strong side, leaving Jones in the middle for the rest of this year. He should be good for five or six solo tackles every week, making him a serviceable LB2.
Danieal Manning, DB, Bears
After entering the year as a nickelback, Lovie Smith didn't take long to shuffle his defense and re-insert Manning as a starter at safety. His stat line has been outstanding, recording 22 solo tackles in his three starts. There's plenty to like about Manning: He has good range, and rookie Al Afalava, starting alongside him at safety, isn't going steal a lot of his tackles. He's not hugely physical and won't make a ton of plays against the run, but Manning should end up posting in the vicinity of the 68 solo tackles he had swinging between safety and corner in 2007. He won't put up a lot of PDs, but Manning is a very useful DB2 in tackle-heavy scoring formats.
Darren Sharper, DB, Saints
I've ignored Sharper up to this point, but after a fifth interception and a second TD, he can't be ignored any longer. To be perfectly honest, I still don't think he's a DB1. Taking a DB because of a couple pick sixes is like taking a wide receiver because of a couple kickoff return TDs. They just can't be counted on. If you're in a big play-heavy scoring format, then sure, Sharper will do fine. But playing centerfield, he doesn't get tackles (just 10 solos this season). And with his declining range, he won't keep it up in PDs (five so far this year, matching last year's total). The luck has to run out soon.
Cameron Wake, LB, Dolphins
Wake's near-legendary stint with the CFL's B.C. Lions (39 sacks over two seasons) didn't put him on the radar, but last week's three-sack performance against Buffalo did. With Joey Porter out with a hammy, Wake went nuts on Trent Edwards, sacking him three times and forcing a fumble. The 27-year-old has plenty of upside, but this isn't the time to own him in non-dynasty leagues. He'll certainly move back into a reserve role once Porter is ready, and he certainly won't face many offensive lines as bad as Buffalo's. It was nice to see that Wake's talent can translate to the NFL, but there's no reason to grab him up now.
Demorrio Williams, LB, Chiefs
Clancy Pendergast has done plenty to shake up the Chiefs new 3-4 D, and Williams has been the one constant. He followed a time of possession-fueled seven-tackle game in the opener with a disappointing one-tackle performance in Week 2 against Oakland, but Williams has looked much better over the past two weeks. He has a combined 15 solo tackles playing inside linebacker, and remember, this is a guy who had 97 solo tackles for the Falcons back in 2005. He's not going to pile up 90-plus this year, but Williams looks like the one sure thing in a KC defense that could spend a lot of time on the field. Consider him a safe LB2 in tackle-heavy leagues.