|Week 3||50.40%||10 out of 20||60.60%||37.00%||Top 50%|
|2015||60.9%||3 out of 19||62.7%||49.5%||Top 20%|
In IDP leagues, it’s rare for a player to come completely out of nowhere. So much of a defensive player’s stats comes down to opportunity (rather than talent), and it is typically pretty clear who will be on the field each week. Chris Borland is an obvious exception, and he led many teams to championships in 2014. I’m not saying that he’ll be this year’s Borland, but Jordan Hicks is off to a better start than anyone could have imagined. After coming in for the injured Mychal Kendricks and Kiko Alonso, he put up 7 tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble in Week 2. He outdid himself last week in his first start, with 10 tackles, and interception and a fumble recovery. Most impressively to me, Hicks was on the field for 23 more snaps than presumptive starter DeMeco Ryans. The immediate (and long-term) future is cloudy for both Kendricks and Alonso, but as long as they’re out, Hicks looks like a must-start.
Jared Allen – The only upside to Charles Johnson’s injury is that Carolina went out and traded for Allen. He’s mostly lived in anonymity while miscast as a 3-4 OLB in Chicago, but he should be back in his comfort zone now. We’re no longer talking about a 15-20 sack guy, but Allen can still contribute to what has been a miserable DL position so far this year. Fantasy Pros doesn’t list him as DE-eligible yet, but I consider him a DL3 right now, though I wouldn’t start him this week.
Jaye Howard – One week is a fluke, two weeks is a trend, but three weeks of production? That’s enough to move up my rankings. Howard is improbably DL3 on the year so far, and even with Dontari Poe working his way back to full strength, KC is finding a way to get him on the field. Poe is still the guy to own here, but I can’t see Andy Reid and Co. forgetting what Howard has done so far. In DT-required leagues, I would absolutely pick him up.
Uani’ Unga – I’m usually not big on recommending players who are benefiting from their lack of talent, but Unga’s results have been hard to argue with. Similar to Paul Worrilow, Unga puts up stats due to an insane amount of effort, but also because teams continually target him. Jon Beason was back last week, but played sparingly, and for some reason the Giants are continuing to feature Unga over him (and Devon Kennard, who is also more talented). I’m ranking Unga higher in the short term, but I wouldn’t be actively seeking to acquire him. If you own him and can get anything for him, I would make the move now.
Kwon Alexander – Don’t look now but there is another LB to own in Tampa. Lavonte David is still a stud, but he’s been outscored by his rookie counterpart through three games. More highly touted rookies like Stephone Anthony, Eric Kendricks and Bernardrick McKinney have yet to really make an impact, so Alexander is really the only IDP success story so far this year. I wouldn’t expect him to continue to outproduce David, but I have no issue starting Alexander moving forward.
Corey Graham – His season-long stat line is a little bit deceiving because he left Week 1 after exactly one snap, but Graham has been the top tackling DB in the last two weeks. When Aaron Williams comes back from his scary injury, Graham may see a dip in his opportunities, but when they’ve both been on the field, he’s clearly been the better player. If I lost a guy like DeAngelo Hall, Graham is a nice pickup if he’s still available, especially in tackle heavy leagues.
Charles Woodson – Before the season, I was scared that Woodson’s production would fall off a cliff, given his age. When he dislocated his shoulder, I assume that my fears came true. Then he goes out there on Sunday and puts up 6 tackles and a game-sealing interception. That’s what I get for doubting (and not ranking!) him. Sorry Chuck!
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