2014 In-Season Accuracy: 59.9% (2nd out of 21 Experts, 63.4% Highest, 43.1% Lowest).
Now that each team has played at least four games, we have somewhat of a sample size, at least by NFL standards. One or two big plays can still make a scrub look like a stud (Danny Lansanah anyone?), but in general the guys at the top of each position have earned their spot. So what do they all have in common? Tackles. The most consistent IDP stat doesn’t always, or ever, make headlines, but it does win championships. It’s the reason I was high on David Harris, should have been higher on Paul Worrilow, and was not high on Von Miller or Clay Matthews. If you see a fluke 3-sack or 2-interception game from a n0-name, it can likely be ignored. If you see a guy like Jelani Jenkins put up 14 tackles? Pick him up!
Jason Pierre-Paul – This hasn’t been a great year for D-Linemen tackle stats, but JPP has led that pack of mediocrity with 27 through 5 games. Most impressively, he hasn’t put up less than 4 tackles in any game so far, avoiding the goose eggs that has plagued him over the last two years. I mentioned that it would be tough to buy-low on him a few weeks ago, but he hasn’t put up a sack since Week 2, so if his owner is only focused on the headlines, it might be possible to get him at a slight discount.
Bjoern Werner – It may seem premature to call this a breakout for the 2013 First Round pick, but Werner was absolutely dominant against Baltimore last week. His 6 tackles and 2 sacks understate the impact he made on the game. The injury to Robert Mathis was devastating to the Colts’ pass rush, but it may have given Werner the playing time he needs. But the biggest question surrounding Werner from an IDP perspective is his positional classification. ESPN has him as a DE, where he would easily be rosterable, if not startable, this week. But most platforms (including FantasyPros, which hosts my rankings), have him as an LB, which takes away most of his value. In big-play leagues, he’s someone to watch as an LB, but if you can grab him as a DL in your league, make that move.
C.J. Mosley – If Werner was wreaking havoc when Baltimore had the ball, Mosley was raising hell when they were on defense. I was admittedly far too low on him before the season, fearing that he would either play like Arthur Brown did last year, or simply be outplayed by Brown this year. Instead, he has put up 49 tackles, good for sixth in the league, leaving Brown and Daryl Smith in the dust. Mosley, along with Preston Brown and Ryan Shazier (when he’s played) are continuing the excellent rookie IDP play started by Luke Kuechly, Lavonte David and Kiko Alonso. Traditionally, rookies have been overdrafted compared to their actual production, and while some still are (Brown, Dion Jordan, etc.), the college game has been giving us better and better rookies as of late.
DeAndre Levy – Levy has been an IDP contributor for a while, but with Stephen Tulloch’s injury, he has turned into an absolute stud. He’s at the top of the leaderboard right now alongside the usual names, and I have no doubts that he will stay up there. The most impressive part so far is that he’s put up all these points based on almost entirely tackles. Outside of a Week 1 interception, Levy has no sacks, picks, or fumbles forced/recovered. Given his skill, especially in coverage, I expect him to put up some flashier plays soon.
Michael Griffin – He is already the DB2 on the year, which has been fun enough for anyone who actually owned Griffin prior to this week. But with the injury to Bernard Pollard, Griffin will have even more chances to put up points. He’s had a couple solid IDP years in his career, but Griffin’s ascendance to the top of the DB list this year will have more to do with situation than skill. On the flip side, I’m a bit lower on George Wilson than most. Yes, he’s stepping into Pollard’s actual position, but he doesn’t have nearly the same playing style as ole Bernie. I’d wait to see him perform before starting him, especially over someone like Griffin.
Johnathan Joseph – I may spell his first name wrong every time, but I can’t ignore the production Joseph has put up so far this year. It’s rare to see CBs so close to the top of the DB list without having multiple interceptions and probably a touchdown or two, but Joseph has earned his spot. With 35 tackles so far, and at least 5 in every game, Joseph is clearly being targeted by opposing QBs. Enough of that and he will inevitably start getting some interceptions, and will continue to make his fantasy owners glad they picked him up.