Ndamukong Suh, DT, DET - The expectations couldn’t have been much higher for Suh, but he might be playing above them right now. After an incredible senior season at Nebraska that saw Suh lead the Cornhuskers with 85 tackles (52 solo), 12 sacks and 20.5 tackles for loss (not to mention 10 pass deflections, 19 quarterback hurries and three blocked kicks), the belief was that Suh would be one of the best defenders in the NFL someday. It just wasn’t necessarily expected that he’d be one of the best right away. But through two weeks, Suh has nine tackles (seven solo) and two sacks, and he’s the most important piece of a Detroit defensive line that has been one of the most disruptive in the league.
Lawrence Timmons, LB, PIT - Prior to this year, Timmons had only been a rotational player for Pittsburgh, and his highest tackle total was 78 (56 solo) in 2009. But he’s been on the field for most plays this season and he has 26 tackles (21 solo) to show for it. History says Timmons will get going as a pass rusher soon enough, too - he had seven sacks last year and five the year before that.
Sean Weatherspoon, LB, ATL - The only question about Weatherspoon was whether he’d be given a starting role this year. It didn’t take him long to prove that he is already one of the best defenders on the team, so Weatherspoon started right away. He has 17 tackles (15 solo) and a sack to show for his first two weeks as a starter, and there’s no reason to think he’ll slow down. Weatherspoon has a very high upside, as evidenced by his junior season at Missouri, when he totaled 155 tackles (76 solo), five sacks, 18.5 tackles for loss, three interceptions, and two touchdowns.
Steve Gregory, S, SD - Gregory, not Eric Weddle, has been the top Chargers IDP so far. He has 20 tackles (15 solo) through the first two weeks, and chances are he’ll pass the 100-tackle mark if he starts 16 games. Darrell Stuckey is somewhat of a threat to steal playing time, but we’re guessing Gregory can hold him off.
Derrick Johnson, LB, KC - Johnson plays for Todd Haley, so his spot in the lineup is always at risk of being given to someone else with no notice or reason, but he has been one of the top linebacker IDPs to this point. Of the 19 tackles he posted through two weeks, 18 of them were solo. Furthermore, his reputation as a coverage linebacker isn’t unwarranted and the odds of him recording a few interceptions this year are pretty good.
Tanard Jackson, S, TB - Jackson was on the verge of becoming both one of the league’s top safeties and one of the top IDPs in the fantasy realm, but he got himself suspended for at least one season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. He was suspended four games in 2009 for the same offense, but he totaled 71 tackles (60 solo), five interceptions, two forced fumbles, and two touchdowns in the 12 games he played in, making him one of the top IDP targets heading into this year. Considering he didn’t do much the last two weeks, the people who drafted him got nothing out of Jackson.
Eric Weddle, S, SD - We’re guessing that Weddle gets going soon enough, but he has been almost useless for his owners in the first two weeks. Weddle has just six tackles (four solo) and a half sack to this point, and that’s unacceptable production given how high he went in a lot of drafts. Weddle totaled 127 tackles (105 solo) two years ago as a starter, so we’d imagine the stats will show up imminently.
Rolando McClain, LB, OAK - Kirk Morrison put up big numbers as Oakland’s starting middle linebacker. McClain, the eighth overall pick in the 2010 draft, was drafted to replace him. Surely this means McClain would thrive in this role and put up big numbers, right? Actually, it hasn’t happened so far. McClain has just 12 tackles, and just seven of them are solo. It could be that McClain is still learning the Oakland defense and is still adjusting to the speed of the NFL, but he hasn’t caught on as quickly as fellow rookies Daryl Washington (16 tackles, all solo) and Sean Weatherspoon (17 tackles, 15 solo).
Kirk Morrison, LB, JAC - There’s still time for him to get going, but Morrison has fallen well short of where he set the bar in Oakland, where he was one of the league’s most productive inside linebackers for all of his five years in the league. Morrison has just 10 tackles (eight solo) through two games after averaging 126 tackles per year for the Raiders, and it’s actually been outside linebacker Daryl Smith who has been the top IDP among Jacksonville linebackers. Morrison has always been a bit of a feast-or-famine sort of IDP, so we’re thinking he’ll get going soon.
Clint Session, LB, IND - Session is a great IDP option when he’s on the field, but injuries are getting to be a very real problem with him. He has had ankle, knee, and calf issues for most of his career, and he missed Week 2 and might miss Week 3 due to a hamstring injury. Session posted 103 tackles (84 solo) in 14 games last year; so while you can expect excellent solo tackle production if he gets healthy, it’s looking like Session will deal with nagging injuries basically all the time.