Now that we are one quarter of the way through the season for most teams, and even further than that into the fantasy football season, it’s time to take a break from the usual routine and reflect on what has happened so far. A year after setting the world on fire, J.J. Watt remains the top D-Lineman, a spot he should hold for years to come. He already has a double-digit lead on the #2 DL, and he may well justify his ridiculously high draft slot. The usual suspects remain at the top of the Linebackers list, but a surprise rookie in Buffalo has made his presence felt so far, and leads the league in interceptions. Defensive backs have been all over the place, as they are known to do, but a certain Honey Badger is the story of the year there so far.
Let’s take a deeper look at each position:
Biggest Surprise – Dontari Poe
A year removed from being considered another KC draft bust after he put up no sacks as a rookie, Poe made his presence felt immediately in 2013. With 10 tackles and 3.5 sacks in the first two games, it was clear that he would be a force in the middle of a surprisingly stout Chiefs defense. His performance may have dipped in the last two games, but with Justin Houston and Tamba Hali rushing from the outside, he will continue to have plenty of opportunities in the middle. He’s unquestionably a DT1 at this point and is a borderline must-start DL.
Biggest Disappointment – Cameron Wake
As a Miami fan, I’m pleased that the defense has looked so good without much of a contribution statistically from Wake. As an IDP owner, I’m less than pleased. In his first two games, he only put up 5 tackles (albeit with 2.5 sacks), and then promptly got hurt. Now you’re stuck with a highly-drafted DL burning a hole in your bench. The best option for now is to hold tight, as you won’t get much in return for him, but if his MCL injury turns out to be worse than expected, it might be time to move on.
The Jury Is Out – Ezekiel Ansah
Ziggy, Ziggy, Ziggy, I can’t see, just what your true performance will be. When Ansah looks good, he looks really good. He’s a terror in the backfield and a QB knockout waiting to happen. But then there are games where is just doesn’t make an impact. Part of it is his still-steep learning curve, as he just started playing football in 2010, and part of it is that the Detroit front-7 has a lot of playmakers, but I’m not comfortable having him as an every-week starter just yet. Ansah is absolutely worth a roster spot, and if he’s not owned, especially in a dynasty league, make that move right now.
Biggest Surprise – Daryl Smith
Obviously Kiko Alonso is the big name among LBs this year, but he’ll be making headlines for years to come. To me, Smith is the real surprise, as he currently sits atop the leaderboard for LBs. Arthur Brown still looms as the LB of the future in Baltimore, but for 2013 it looks like Smith will rule the middle. And it’s fitting as well, as Baltimore has found its shooting star to replace its stabbing star.
Biggest Disappointment – Desmond Bishop
I had Bishop as my 19th ranked LB in the preseason. He has been healthy all year, and he has 4 total tackles. It doesn’t get much worse than that. Bishop was behind Marvin Mitchell to start the year, and while he may have passed him already, he still has a ways to go to unseat Erin Henderson from the three-down LB role opposite Chad Greenway. I tend to put my faith in talent over situation, so I think Bishop is still a “buy” right now, but if you drafted him high, I understand your frustration.
The Jury Is Out – Karlos Dansby
Like Daryl Smith, Dansby is somewhat of a lame duck IDP contributor. Both are producing extremely well so far, but they each have different reasons to believe that their success will not continue. Unfortunately for Dansby, his fall may come this season. Not only does he have a rookie in Kevin Minter breathing down his neck (not to mention Jasper Brinkley), but Daryl Washington is able to return this week, though he may get suspended again. Ride him while he’s on the field, but I wouldn’t assume he finishes the season getting the snaps he’s seeing now.
Biggest Surprise – Tyrann Mathieu
There’s really no other option here. The Honey Badger fell to the third round based on his off-field issues, and while everyone knew he had talent, no one knew how quickly it would manifest itself in the NFL. He’s been all over the field, racking up 29 tackles in four games, and he’s a constant big play threat as well. As long as he keeps his nose (and lungs) clean, he will be the next great D-Back in this league.
Biggest Disappointment – Cortland Finnegan
There are plenty of options here, Morgan Burnett and Jairus Byrd to name a couple, but for the players that have actually taken the field, I have to choose Finnegan. I had him as a top-10 back in the preseason, and let’s just say he hasn’t lived up to the hype, or his reputation. Week 1 was okay, but since then he’s put up just 7 total tackles and no big plays. I don’t think he’s a lost cause by any means, but it’s hard to keep trotting him out there week after week. Let’s hope he turns this around.
The Jury Is Out – Da’Norris Searcy
Searcy is currently the fourth highest scoring DB this year, but there are several reasons to believe that he won’t keep this up. First, he put up nearly half of his points in Week 1, and has been merely solid since then. But more importantly, he’s benefited from the absences of Byrd and Stephon Gilmore. Byrd is due back shortly, and Gilmore eventually, so Searcy likely will see a drop in his currently plentiful opportunities. Don’t feel bad about dropping him as soon as his numbers drop.
The following players have been ruled out for Week 5 before Thursday:
Vince Wilfork, Dwight Freeney, T.J. McDonald
The following injuries should be monitored:
Cameron Wake, Brian Cushing, Patrick Willis, Charles Tillman, Morgan Burnett
Week 5 IDP Rankings: