Jason Jones, DT, TEN - Jones is technically listed as a defensive tackle, but he plays everywhere on the defensive line. Although injuries have been a problem, he's on the verge of becoming one of the league's most disruptive defensive linemen. He posted five sacks as a rotational player in his 2008 rookie year, and he totaled four sacks and 5.5 tackles for loss in his first five games last year before shoulder troubles ended his season. He has earned a starting spot at defensive tackle this offseason, and he might be able to play as an edge rusher on passing downs given the injuries limiting projected starting defensive ends William Hayes (knee) and Derrick Morgan (calf).
Chris Clemons, DE, SEA - The Pete Carroll defense looks like it will be a disaster in non-fantasy terms, but it might result in fine IDP numbers for Clemons. The team is basically playing a lopsided 3-4, with pure defensive tackle Red Bryant being listed at defensive end only because his spot on the line is shifted so far towards the interior. Clemons lines up far outside basically as a weak-side 3-4 outside linebacker, meaning he should get more tackles and (ideally) more sacks than your average defensive line IDP.
Anthony Spencer, LB, DAL - Spencer was one of the league's best defenders in the last eight weeks of the 2009 regular season. In that span, he totaled 38 tackles (28 solo), 6.5 sacks, 11.5 tackles for loss, one interception and two forced fumbles. Just in case anyone thought it was a fluke, he carried his dominant play into the playoffs, totaling 12 tackles (11 solo) and two sacks in his two playoff games. With DeMarcus Ware permanently marked as the top concern of opposing offensive coordinators, teams will have little choice but to leave their quarterbacks at Spencer's mercy as they try to block him one on one.
Brandon Graham, DE, PHI - When we guaranteed three weeks ago that Graham would start no later than Week 4, we apparently were being too conservative. Graham has already made his way into the starting lineup, and we really doubt that will change from this point. He'll still rotate with Juqua Parker and Darryl Tapp, but that will rotation will consist more and more of Graham as the season moves along.
Steve Gregory, S, SD - We think Gregory would have lost out on the starting strong safety spot in San Diego if Darrell Stuckey hadn't suffered a hamstring injury, but Gregory has been the one getting the practice reps, and so he'll be the one who opens the season as the starter. As long as he's starting, Gregory has very good IDP potential. For whatever reason, San Diego safeties pile up tons of tackles. Between Gregory, Eric Weddle, Kevin Ellison and Paul Oliver last year, 254 tackles were totaled. That's an average of 4.4 per game for each of them, or roughly 18 tackles per game for Chargers safeties in general. Look for Gregory to average something like six tackles per game while he's starting.
Darren Sharper, S, NO - There's still no timetable for Sharper's return to the field since his offseason microfracture knee surgery, and it's looking like a very real possibility that he'll start the season on the PUP list. With 2009 first-round pick Malcolm Jenkins performing well in his place, the team is unlikely to rush him back. And when he does return, it might be difficult for New Orleans to keep Jenkins off the field.
Jairus Byrd, S, BUF - Byrd underwent surgery to repair a troublesome groin injury on August 18th, and he'll be out for an undetermined amount of time. Byrd was already recovering from offseason hip surgery, so he's probably going to be quite rusty whenever he does return. Furthermore, the Bills are loaded at safety, and Byrd might have trouble making his way onto the field if George Wilson plays as well as he did last year. It would be shocking if Byrd did anything like what he did last year, when he intercepted nine passes in 14 games.
David Hawthorne, LB, SEA - Hawthorne was wildly productive at middle linebacker while filling in for Lofa Tatupu last year, but Tatupu is back now, and apparently Hawthorne isn't getting a shot to play at outside linebacker, either. Leroy Hill and Aaron Curry are listed as the starters right now for the Seahawks, so there's no way Hawthorne will approach 117 tackles, four sacks and three interceptions again. He's too good to keep off the field entirely, though, so some rotation is likely to occur between him and Hill, limiting the IDP value of both.
Shaun Rogers, DT, CLE - Rogers is normally one of the better IDP options along the defensive line, but complications in his attempt to recover from what was believed to be a fractured ankle seem to have put his early-season availability in jeopardy. It's possible that he'll start the season on the PUP list, missing the first six weeks. It also remains a possibility that Rogers will see a (probably short) suspension since he got caught with a loaded gun in an airport back in April.
Darrell Stuckey, S, SD - Stuckey was a good underdog bet to be Defensive Rookie of the Year before a hamstring injury hit and all but erased his chances of winning the starting strong safety spot in San Diego. Steven Gregory figures to win that spot and, while Stuckey is more talented, it will be tough for him to see the field in anything more than a situational role this year. Long-term, however, Stuckey does have a lot of IDP potential.