There hasn't been much movement in the IDP world the last week or so, but there are nonetheless a few subtle developments that could impact most IDP leagues.
One of those has been the re-emergence of Tampa Bay safety Tanard Jackson, a player who was on the verge of establishing himself as a leaguewide standout before a violation of the league's substance abuse policy landed him a suspension for the last 14 games of last year and the first five of 2011. Jackson has looked sharp since returning to the Tampa Bay lineup.
Jackson isn't the only rising player whose career appeared to be in jeopardy a month or two ago. Former 11th-overall pick and Buffalo Bill Aaron Maybin couldn't make Buffalo's final roster and then received only mild interest as a free agent, but he has two sacks and two forced fumbles in his last two games with the Jets and figures to get a bigger role.
On the negative side, Kyle Williams (foot) and Danieal Manning (leg) are both dealing with season-threatening injuries, with Manning expected to miss at least four weeks. Elvis Dumervil, meanwhile, has been rendered mostly useless by injuries so far this year, with an ankle injury throwing his immediate availability into doubt, and standout corner Antoine Winfield (neck) has an uncertain status, as well.
Jackson appeared to be both a standout real-life safety as well as an elite IDP in 2009, making 71 stops (60 solo) with five interceptions, eight passes defensed, two touchdowns and two forced fumbles in just 12 games. Since the NFL reinstated him this year, he has shown most, if not all, of that same ability, intercepting a pass in each of his two games back. He's probably worth owning in most leagues, though he seems especially valuable in leagues that reward heavily for interceptions.
Maybin concluded his first 27 NFL games without a single sack and just 24 tackles (15 solo). The Bills were not impressed, so Maybin was cut in mid-August, just two seasons after the Bills selected him 11th overall in the '09 draft, ahead of players like Brian Orakpo, Josh Freeman and Clay Matthews, among others. But after four games with the division-rival Jets (and with Shawne Merriman out for the year with Achilles' troubles), the Bills might be wishing they still had Maybin around. He has three sacks and two forced fumbles in those four games, making Maybin worth a gamble in leagues that reward heavily for sack production, especially for leagues that list Maybin as a defensive end.
Rogers has been a decent cornerback most of his career, but he's having a career year in San Francisco. Even if his total of just 16 tackles through six games doesn't do much for him in standard IDP leagues, those that count passes defensed and give extra incentive for interceptions are finding Rogers useful. He has three interceptions - already a career high - and has eight passes defensed. He has gotten his hands on at least one pass in every game this season.
Cole's owners have had the star defensive end on the bench for the last two weeks, but his calf strain injury no longer appears an issue, making him a must-start once again. He heads into the weekend having practiced in at least a limited capacity every day this week, and his total of 14 tackles (12 solo) and three sacks in the first three weeks would have made him close to a must-start even if he were to play a limited role against Dallas this week.
A knee injury that was expected to cost Haden several games only kept him inactive for one, and the second-year corner made his early return to the field against Seattle last week. He didn't waste any time showing up on the stat sheet, either, knocking down a pass and making five tackles (four solo) even though Charlie Whitehurst completed just 12 passes. Haden has consistently been a magnet to the football so far in his career, totaling 27 passes defensed in 21 career games, including nine already in five games this year. If teams keep sending the ball his way, it's only a matter of time before those passes defensed turn into interceptions - Haden intercepted five passes in the final eight weeks of his rookie year.
Williams made 77 tackles (52 solo) in '10 and finished his 14 games in '09 with 66 stops (41 solo). So when he concluded Week 4 this year with just nine tackles (four solo), it was more than a little surprising. As it turned out, a potentially serious foot injury had something to do with it, and it's not even clear whether Williams might be able to play again this year. He's in a walking boot and a week-to-week prognosis is the most optimistic information surrounding his condition.
Dahl looked like a good under-the-radar target heading into this year in most IDP leagues, as he totaled 98 tackles (87 solo) in 15 games last year. For most of this year, however, he has been playing off the bench in favor of second-year South Carolina player Darian Stewart. Unfortunately, Stewart hasn't been able to match Dahl's IDP potential, totaling just 21 stops in four starts this year.
The pectoral tear that ended last season hasn't been an issue, but shoulder and ankle troubles have made Dumervil a complete non-factor so far this year. He has played in only four games, accumulating just five tackles in those games. He's far off the fantasy radar until he demonstrates that he can play and play with some vague effectiveness.
Colts cornerbacks have historically posted big tackle numbers in the Indianapolis defense, and Lacey has been a part of that group since '09. But regardless of how useful his 149 tackles in 28 games might have been for IDP owners entering the season, his showing on the actual football field just hasn't cut it for the Colts, especially this year. Lacey is expected to see the bench in favor of '10 third-round pick Kevin Thomas starting this week.
Coming off a season in which he defended 17 passes and intercepted four, Cason looked like a decent option in IDP leagues that reward points for passes defensed. But a poor showing through six games has him looking at the bench entering Week 8, with rookie Marcus Gilchrist expected to replace him in the defense. Gilchrist had a six-tackle, one-interception showing in Week 4, so he could be a player to keep an eye on.