Week 10 was an eventful one in the IDP world, with a fair amount of movement due to injuries and personnel changes in particular.
The biggest personnel change was likely the benching of Rocky McIntosh in Washington, which allowed 2010 fourth-round pick Perry Riley to land in the starting lineup. The LSU product is atop the riser list after his nine-tackle (seven solo) debut against the Dolphins. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh's Lawrence Timmons is poised to return to IDP relevance in Pittsburgh as the Steelers continue the process of moving him back to inside linebacker after filling in for James Harrison (orbital bone) and LaMarr Woodley (hamstring) on the outside.
Speaking of Woodley, he's expected back after the Steelers' Week 11 bye. Another piece of good injury news is the potential return of Barrett Ruud (groin), who returned to practice Wednesday after missing Week 10's game against Carolina.
Some less fortunate injury news, however, came in the form of season-ending injuries to cornerbacks Antoine Winfield (clavicle) and Leon Hall (Achilles' rupture). New England's Devin McCourty is expected to miss 2-to-3 games with a separated shoulder. Also, Buffalo safety George Wilson, in the midst of an elite IDP season, is day-to-day with a stinger.
Riley didn't see much work in his Redskins career before last week, but he didn't disappoint in his first career start, making nine stops (seven solo), including one tackle for a loss. He'll start for at least another week in Washington, and it would generally surprise if he didn't remain the starter for the rest of the season. The player Riley replaced, Rocky McIntosh, had 56 tackles in eight games before Sunday, so the role Riley inherits appears profitable.
Harper is putting up absurd numbers as a pass rusher in New Orleans. He has a sack in three straight games and sits at 6.5 total through 10 games, making it appear as if he has a realistic shot at double-digit sacks on the year. His 69 tackles have him in position to hit the triple-digit tackle mark for the second time in his career, as well, and he also has forced two fumbles. He appears to be one of the elite upside plays among defensive backs.
It's very unlikely that he has another four-sack game in him, but Carter should continue to produce like one of the league's better 4-3 ends. Carter has bounced around the league a bit because his numbers have been up and down over the years, but the fluctuation is mostly due to scheme changes by those teams. Basically, Carter is a reliable double-digit sack threat as an end in the 4-3, but a clumsy misfit as an outside linebacker in the 3-4. New England is reaping the benefits of Carter's failed 2010 conversion to linebacker in Washington, getting him on the cheap after a two-sack season. Now he sits at 8.5 sacks through nine games, including six in his last three.
Dansby started off the year slowly -- perhaps because he reportedly showed up to camp 20 pounds too heavy -- totaling just 22 tackles (21 solo) in his first five games. In the last four weeks, however, he has raced to 40 tackles (34 solo), adding a sack and an interception over the same span. With his weight and presumably conditioning now in order, Dansby should continue to be relevant in IDP leagues.
Injuries to James Harrison (orbital bone) and LaMarr Woodley (hamstring) forced Pittsburgh to move Timmons from inside linebacker -- a profitable IDP role -- to an outside linebacker role that isn't as conducive to big IDP numbers, particularly for a player of Timmons' skill set. But with the move back inside, Timmons can worry less about containment and pass rushing and focus more on making tackles in the middle of the field. The latter role is what allowed him to total 135 stops in '10.
Vilma has played through a knee injury most of the year, and with just 32 tackles (24 solo) in seven appearances, his production has unsurprisingly suffered. The wheels fell off recently, though, and the injury worsened to the point that Vilma had to undergo an unspecified surgery on the knee. It's not clear when he might be able to play again this year. Jonathan Casillas seems to have picked up most of the slack with Vilma out of the lineup.
As it turns out, it's a lot easier to look good as a defensive end when you play next to Kevin Williams, Pat Williams and Jared Allen. The Vikings wisely let Edwards walk in free agency, instead promoting in-house defensive end Brian Robison as Edwards signed a five-year, $30-million deal with Atlanta. An offseason knee surgery might have something to do with it, but through nine games with the Falcons, Edwards is well off the IDP radar with just two sacks and 22 tackles.
Playing hurt all year (hip/abdomen/foot) obviously hasn't helped, but Delmas nonetheless continues to struggle to recapture the numbers he posted as rookie in '09, when he totaled 94 tackles (65 solo), two interceptions and a touchdown in 15 games. He has yet to record another interception in the 24 games since, and the five passes he has defended in that span are another weak stat. Still, at least he averaged more than six tackles per game in '10, finishing with 84 stops in 15 games. Through nine games this year, however, he's not even averaging five stops per game. He sits at 44 tackles (32) through nine games, leaving him on pace for less than 80 even if he plays 16 games.
Williams has been one of the league's better IDPs for a long time, but his numbers are down a bit in '11. Even if you account for missed time (Williams missed the first three games of the year with an elbow issue), Williams' per-game production isn't meeting his past standards. He exited Thursday's game against the Jets with 44 stops (33 solo) in seven games, an average of 6.3 tackles per game. From '07 to '10, however, Williams averaged roughly 8.1 tackles per game. He has the talent to do better, but he's testing his owners' patience a bit at the moment.
Chancellor is doing a good job in his first year as a starter, playing better than most anticipated in coverage and serving as the intimidating big-hit threat that he was billed as at 6-foot-3, 232. The problem is that he's been almost too much of a big-hit threat -- he missed one game with a quadriceps injury, left another with concussion symptoms and dealt with a knee issue before that. His great numbers in eight games (55 tackles, three interceptions, eight passes defensed) make him close to a must-own in most IDP formats, but he won't be able to make a permanent jump into the top tier until he shows he's not a liability to miss games and leave others early.