A weekly look at the risers and fallers among individual defensive players. 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).
Abraham probably should have gone undrafted in your league after a nightmarish 2009, but he showed some signs of life in Week 1. Granted, neither Max Starks nor Jonathan Scott, who replaced an injured Starks in the third quarter, will be mistaken for Tony Boselli, and Steelers QB Dennis Dixon tended to hold on to the ball for too long. But Atlanta's upgraded secondary could create another split second for Abraham this season. The Steelers only dropped back 28 times, and Abraham finished his day with a sack, a knockdown and a hurry. That's enough to put him back on fantasy radars as a DL2 with some upside.
It looks like Chung is going to be playing full-time alongside Brandon Meriweather in New England's rebuilt defensive backfield. He had a monster 12-solo tackle performance in Week 1, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see more double-digit tackle days from the second-year safety. He came into the league with a reputation as a downhill player, and indeed, half of his 16 total tackles on Sunday came against the run. But Chung has the range to get around the field and make hits on passing plays. His lack of ball skills make him an uninspiring option in big-play scoring formats, but owners in tackle-heavy leagues might as well scoop him up as a DB2.
He had the kind of Week 1 stat line that will turn heads (10 solo tackles and a sack), and Connor is indeed entrenched as the MIKE in Carolina's base defense (Jon Beason has moved to the weakside in place of the injured Thomas Davis). But don't jump onto the Connor bandwagon just yet. He's going to come off the field in passing situations, and Beason will still get his share of tackles when the two are on the field together. Connor is a decent LB2 right now, but his upside is limited.
Both Dorsey and Tyson Jackson did some things contrary to their bust labels on Monday night. While Dorsey wasn't exactly Warren Sapp knifing into the backfield, he showed a good motor and could be in line for a handful of coverage sacks this year. He had half a sack of Philip Rivers to go along with two hurries and 1.5 knockdowns. More encouraging was his work against the run. Dorsey finished with four solo tackles and seemed to finally be "getting it" as a two-gap end. His upside isn't much, but he could end up a reliable DL2.
Two interceptions of Eli Manning moved him from late-round flier to hot waiver wire pick-up. Considering those two picks doubled the career total of the third-year safety, you're insane if you think that performance will be duplicated. However, as I said in the SI Fantasy Football Preview, Godfrey is an intriguing DB2 because of his move to strong safety. He had five solo tackles on Sunday, and could easily top 75 this season. Any big-play stuff is gravy.
The good news for Kiwanuka is that he dominated in the opener, getting two sacks and a forced fumble (plus three solo tackles) among a vintage performance from the Giants front four. The bad news (well, for fantasy purposes) is that Osi Umenyiora (sack, forced fumble) played just as well, meaning the Giants will continue to rotate their three defensive ends. Kiwanuka is the least desirable fantasy option among him, Umenyiora and Justin Tuck, though he's worth a flier as a reserve DL at this point.
The Jets front seven didn't disappoint on Monday night, not even perennially disappointing Thomas. He went for seven solo tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1.5 knockdowns and two hurries. Still, he's not much of an option unless he qualifies as a defensive lineman in your league (and if he qualifies as a defensive lineman in your league, your league is pretty crappy). Thomas definitely benefited from Joe Flacco's inexplicable tendency to hold onto the ball for way too long. And with Kris Jenkins out, look for more teams to try and go up the gut on the Jets from here on in. It all adds up to Thomas posting mediocre numbers at best this year; he's not a roster option at this point.