It’s a brand new year, with a brand new set of impact IDPs (Individual Defensive Players) that could make the difference. As IDP leagues have become more and more popular, so have the rankings needed to put teams over the top. This year, we will have basically the same set up as last year; each week will contain three players at each position: DL (defensive ends and tackles), LB (strong, weak, middle, inside/outside, however you want to put it) and DB (safety and cornerback). To benefit all league sizes, these players will have a percentage owned of less then 20 percent on Yahoo’s website. Enough with the talk, lets get to some rankings and projections!
Chris Long, DE, STL
Owned in 14% of Yahoo leagues
Going to start off with a second year player that was a fairly big disappointment last year as a higher end draft pick. Long has the pedigree to produce on a very high level, and as if his skill isn’t enough, he now has coach Steve Spagnuolo on his side. Most should recognize Spag as the coach with a nice history of making DEs successful with the Giants. The best part? The fact that Long starts the year going against an Arizona team with big question marks at QB.
Week 1 Projection: 4 Solo Tac, 2 Assisted Tac, 1.5 Sacks, 1 Forced Fumble, 1 Pass Deflection
Alex Brown, DE, NO
Owned in 3% of Yahoo leagues
There are two big things that are huge in my eyes to be able to rank Brown up the list not only this week, but for the year. Those two facts being that in a lot of situations, a fresh new place does nothing but good for a player, especially in Brown’s case where he was almost ‘the forgotten’ DE in Chicago. The second being the bigger point of success for Alex, the fact that just on the other side of the line lies one of the biggest name DE in the league in Will Smith. Seeing more single teams, as most teams will be doubling down the line as much as possible to help with Smith, Brown could be in for some monster weeks. Plus, he starts out Week 1 with his ears pinned back going after a gimpy Brett Favre.
Week 1 Projection: 3 Solo Tac, 1 Assisted Tac, 2 Sacks, 2 Pass Deflections
Aaron Kampman, DE/LB, JAX
Owned in 23% of Yahoo leagues
(Sorry I know I said under 20%, but it’s close)
This is another forgotten player after his season ending injury, and he moves from an always strong Green Bay to a relatively unknown D in Jacksonville. Kampman is reported to be healthy and looking stealthy again this year. He is moving back to his more comfortable 4-3 with the Jags, and back in a three-point stance as a DE. I’m looking for big things from Kampman, who only four years ago had back-to-back double digit sack totals.
Week 1 Projection: 6 Solo Tac, 2 Assisted Tac, 1 Sack
E.J. Henderson, LB, MIN
Owned in 11% of Yahoo Leagues
Just like Kampman, many have flat forgotten about EJ after he suffered a season ending, thought to be potentially career ending, injury late last year. It wasn’t thought that Henderson would be back to start Week 1 this season, but after a lot of hard work and conditioning he is showing that he is ready to go, and he’ll be out on the field in New Orleans. Henderson does have very big injury woes, but when healthy he is easily a top 10 linebacker in the league. Going down to New Orleans will only pack his box score stats with the passing game that the Saints boast.
Week 1 Projection: 12 Solo Tac, 4 Assisted Tac, 1 Sack
Stephen Tulloch, LB, TEN
Owned in 19% of Yahoo Leagues
Tulloch is possibly one of the most talented linebackers in the league, and one that is part of very good company being a three-down linebacker. He is great against the run, and just as good in the pass sets. Tulloch was an outstanding IDP find for most of last year, compiling seven double digit tackle total weeks last year, coming from nowhere to surprise as a valid IDP starter. He starts of with a juicy matchup Week 1 at home against the Raiders.
Week 1 Projection: 9 Solo Tac, 5 Assisted Tac, 1 Forced Fumble
Lofa Tatupa, LB, SEA
Owned in 9% of Yahoo Leagues
My Week 1 projections see a good number of players returning from injury. Tatupu is part of this category, but more so seems to be the forgotten LB with the emergence of David Hawthorne and the young gun Aaron Curry. Hopefully for you, your league has also slept on Tatupu, because this is a guy who hit triple digit tackles in three of his first four seasons and does it all (tackles, sacks and INTs). He was injured most of 2009 but is back ready to go in 2010. Tatupu starts off with the 49ers.
Week 1 Projection: 11 Solo Tac, 2 Assisted Tac, 1 INT
Antoine Winfield, DB, MIN
Owned in 19% of Yahoo Leagues
If you only use one IDP from this whole list, please make it Winfield. Somehow or another he is being overlooked this year. Maybe people think he’s ‘done;’ I’m hear to say he’s NOT. Winfield is a stingy little DB that was playing through a foot injury most of last year, which limited his ability. He is dang near a lock for 85+ total tackles and plenty of pass deflections. He has a sweet match up in Week 1, going up against the top notch passing attack of New Orleans. Get this guy.
Week 1 Projection: 10 Solo Tac, 1 Assisted Tac, 1 INT, 2 Passes Defended
Eric Berry, DB, KC
Owned in 17% of Yahoo Leagues
I have to go with the rookie here in Week 1, especially with the potential of a high scoring day going against a top passing attack with the Chargers. Berry has tremendous talent and is a game changer, but it remains to be seen how he translates to the pro level. I don’t feel there will be any stumbles at all in the transfer.
Week 1 Projection: 7 Solo Tac, 5 Assisted Tac, 2 Passes Defended
LaRon Landry, DB, WAS
Owned in 14% of Yahoo Leagues
You can’t go wrong with either Landry (Dawan or LaRon) as both are stout, roaming DBs. To me, LaRon Landry is just more tenacious and has a better opportunity to score in Week 1 against the high octane Dallas offense.
Week 1 Projection: 5 Solo Tac, 3 Assisted Tac, 1 INT
For those who play in more traditional leagues, I will also be ranking three Defensive/Special Teams a week to go along with the IDP rankings and projections. Unlike the IDPs, I will be bumping the percentage owned fto under 50% owned in Yahoo Leagues.
Owned in 6% of Yahoo Leagues
I’m actually thinking about adding the Browns for at least their nice Week 1 matchup. Of course, you have one of the most gifted return guys in the league with Josh Cribbs, who is able to break a game wide open and score you some major return points. On top of that, the Browns D is not looking as bad as the team as a whole, and starting Week 1 at Tampa can be nothing but a confidence booster. Look for the Browns D/ST put up some very surprising Week 1 numbers.
Owned in 27% of Yahoo Leagues
This pick is not based solely on the fact that Arizona still has a pretty stout D, although losing Dansby and Rolle will definitely hurt. It’s based more on facing Sam Bradford in his very first NFL start and the question marks of to whom Bradford may actually be throwing the ball. There are too many question marks on that offense to not use the opposing defense in fantasy.
Owned in 43% of Yahoo Leagues
If this squad is somehow still available, you have to go out and get them. The Lions aren’t the lowly Lions of the past year, but still anytime you have an NFC North defense playing at home against another NFC North foe, you have to take the chance, Especially when it’s the Bears who have their defensive and team leader back in Brian Urlacher.
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