Most who follow Matt Schauf of RapidDraft.com on Twitter seethe at each “IDP” tag and wonder how he can make light of internally displaced persons. In this case, however, we’re talking individual defensive players, who add realism to your fake football leagues and gripes for the whiny leaguemate who always finishes last anyway. Schauf will be stopping by once a week to help you beat ol’ whiny even worse.
So, Bob Sanders went out and surprised exactly no one in Week 1 by sustaining a torn biceps tendon that is either life-threatening or no big deal, depending on what time of day you most often Twitter about. Suffice it to say – which is one of those clichés that just about no one actually uses properly – IDP owners who gave him a chance need to move on.
(Of course, Sanders himself might be in for one of the longest careers on record. You say the constant injuries will shorten his pro days. I say if someone’s willing to pay me for a game a year, I’m not going anywhere.)
One guy who becomes relevant every year around this time following a Sanders injury is Melvin Bullitt, but although he has contributed decently when called upon, his numbers have proved unspectacular. Despite four interceptions in 2008, his fantasy scoring average ranked just 76th among defensive backs. Even if you take out the games he didn’t start, Bullitt still fell somewhere around 40th (depending on your scoring and deftness with a calculator).
But just as Week 1 presented the latest Sanders-free scenario, it gave us some other positive performances to ponder (and attempt to apply alliterative aptitude). So let’s take a look at the top DB performers and see who might stick.
LaRon Landry, S, Washington – If a safety is fast and willing to hit, we IDP folks don’t much care about his coverage ability. Unfortunately, some of Landry’s coaches haven’t cared too much either and stuck him deep while getting their defenses deep into it. Now playing more of a strong safety role and getting time closer to the line, look for Landry to deliver tackle numbers all year and be a consistent fantasy factor.
Patrick Chung, S, New England – He don’t give you 16 tackles a week (or even the 12 solos), but hell, neither does Patrick Willis … or Patrick Duffy, for that matter. Chung has been destined for a significant role and fantasy relevance since New England drafted him in Round 2 last year, though, and this is just the real beginning of that.
T.J. Ward, S, Cleveland – I mentioned him here previously, and Ward’s 11-tackle, 8-solo opener fell in line with my expectation for him. I’m not saying he’ll average numbers like that, which would rank him with the top linebackers, but he sit among the tackle leaders at his position as long as he stays healthy.
Marcus Trufant, CB, Seattle – Trufant doesn’t fall into the same tackle-leaning category as the three previous players, but he makes plenty of sense for those with room for upside defensive backs. (Or the right-side-up version.) Trufant is reportedly over the back injury that forced him to miss the start of last season and helped make him terrible once he returned, and he says he’s motivated for a bounce back year. The interception return for a touchdown in Week 1 helped inflate his fantasy numbers, but Trufant has intercepted five passes or more in a season twice and posted his two best tackle totals in those years as well. When he’s healthy and motivated, he’s good.
DeAngelo Hall, CB, Washington – Hall has the talent – just ask him – but has rarely fully delivered on it. He was so good in Oakland after signing as a big money free agent that it took the team just eight games to decide he was a mistake. He’ll pop up for a big play every now and then, such as the fumble return for the score that beat Dallas, but he’ll be inconsistent far more often. Sometimes that will mean decent tackle numbers when opponents choose to exploit him, but he’s had enough time to turn that into worthwhile production. He hasn’t.
Bryant McFadden, CB, Pittsburgh – If there was a time for the unknown McFadden to put up consistent fantasy numbers, it was last year in Arizona, lined up across from sterling cover man Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. (Yes, DRC is made of a silver-based alloy.) He’ll be fine as long as opponents keep putting it in the air 44 times, so when you start being able to predict that, please let me know.
Mike Adams, S, Cleveland – The NFL.com Gamebook lists Adams as the starter alongside Ward, but the Browns’ official website lists Abram Elam as the other starter. Adams enjoyed a decent opener against the Bucs that included an interception but will have trouble being relevant most weeks.
Sean Considine, S, Jacksonville – Considine seems like as good a player as any to use in pointing out that IDP owners should basically ignore fumble recoveries. They should count for fantasy points when they happen, but if a guy has one in two straight games, for instance, that doesn’t make him more likely to grab another the next time out. Fumbles occur too randomly (unless you’re Adrian Peterson).
Greg Toler, CB, Arizona – Just because the whole consistent-production thing didn’t work out for Bryant McFadden in the grassed, air-conditioned, roof-optional desert doesn’t mean that it can’t work. Teaming with a top cover man can increase tackle chances for a corner, as it did for Hall during a solidly productive stretch with Oakland (Nnamdi Asomugha). One game is still just that for Toler, but there’s a chance for unexpected upside.
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).