Matt Schauf of RapidDraft.com stops by once a week to talk individual defensive players, “IDPs” for those in the know.
So, maybe Brian Cushing read the bit I wrote last week about Zach Diles moving to the middle for Houston and thought it sounded really stupid, because he apparently went to his coaches after the bye break and suggested he take over.
The coaches agreed, and now Cushing will take over DeMeco Ryans’ spot beginning this week. What does that mean for Cushing? I doubt it’ll really mean a whole lot to fantasy owners. He’s a three-down linebacker regardless of where he lines up in the base packages.
Might he get fewer sacks? Ryans posted just one in each of the past three seasons – including the portion of 2010 he played – compared with Cushing’s four as a rookie in 2009, so maybe. Then again, Cushing will be flanked by Kevin Bentley and Zach Diles, each of whom has one career sack and zero full seasons as an NFL starter.
Might Cushing produce more tackles? Perhaps, but he finished 2009 with 10 more total stops than Ryans anyway and seven fewer solos. Working for Cushing on that front is the fact that Houston’s defense is facing about five more plays a game so far than the 2009 version did. Plus, the vulnerability in the run defense that showed up against Kansas City is bound to motivate future opponents to test the defense’s middle … well, at least opponents that aren’t the Colts.
Cushing looked good before, and he still does. Bentley and Diles could see a few more tackles but have to step things up quite a bit to be interesting. And Cushing’s profile photo on NFL.com will still look as though there’s a gerbil tunneling down the middle of his head. Elsewhere …
Buffalo does what we all knew it should
There are plenty of times that a team’s scheme shift seems questionable. Sometimes it ends up working anyway. Buffalo’s move to a 3-4 base is not one of those times.
The Bills tried to insert 4-3 personnel from a defense that was probably better than most folks realize last year into a 3-4 shell like fat-kid pants on a distance runner. Not surprisingly, when things got moving, they fell down.
Of course, even when the change was starting, the Bills ran plenty of 4-3 looks. Now they’ve just decided to go back to that as the primary formation. That’s good news at least for Andra Davis, who has put up pretty average tackle numbers outside of 11 total stops in Week 5. He’ll man the middle and get more protection from the team’s tackles than he did in the previous alignment.
Posluszny’s tackles have been more plentiful than Davis’ when he’s been healthy this year and seem unlikely to get a boost with a move to the weak side. The position, however, is at least not new to him – he played it in college – and might afford him a few more big-play chances. The Bills tend to face many plays on defense, anyway, so both should find fantasy support … if not necessarily stardom.
Them guys with the big plays
Anyone who has played with IDPs for a few years (not that there’s anything wrong with that) should have learned to be judicious in chasing after big-scoring free agents. It shouldn’t be a revelation, for instance, that David Bowens and his zero starts and three tackles for the season don’t make for a good waiver claim. Three others who scored do look good, though.
DeAngelo Hall has been carrying solid fantasy numbers all year, so he’s probably not available in most places. Where he is, though, he’s certainly worth adding. Hall has long been a big name but his play hasn’t matched the reputation. That’s evident in his tackle numbers (tied for third among defensive backs in total tackles). A really good cover corner doesn’t get thrown at often enough to post dependable tackle tallies, and Hall is just talented enough to add a big-play threat (in case you slept through Week 7).
A couple of others who got stat boosts by scoring on interceptions were linebackers Derrick Johnson and Desmond Bishop. The latter has been a breakout candidate awaiting opportunity for a couple of years now, and Nick Barnett’s IR trip presented that. In his three starts, Bishop has posted 13, 10 and eight in the tackle column while breaking up a pass in each.
Johnson similarly had to sit behind others last year, but he’s a former first-round pick whose talent has never been questioned. He reached four sacks in two of his first three seasons, forced 11 fumbles in his first four years and returned two picks for touchdowns in a game last year. If Johnson can sustain the tackle rate that has him among the top 15 linebackers right now, he should be on his way to a top 10 finish at the position.
Oops, I thought you were sleeping
DeAndre Levy was supposed to be a sleeper heading into this season as Detroit’s starting middle man, but success can be tough to find when your groin and back hurt. He appears on track to get back this week, though, and should be of interest to fantasy owners. I wouldn’t start him right away, but adding Levy now is a good idea.
There he is, get him!
Chris Owens filled in for Dunta Robinson at corner against the Bengals in Week 7, and Cincinnati targeted him like crows do the swingset in my backyard. Whether it was Ocho or T.O. to that side on a given play, the Bengals were probably going that way. It resulted in 12 tackles (11 solo) for the young corner, making him well worth consideration in any further fill-in duty this year.
Matt Schauf is the senior football writer for RapidDraft.com and the brains behind (or would that be inside?) the “Suit” character in their free fantasy football game. Draft against him and 10 other fantasy Pros in RapidDraft Weekly every week (hence the name).