Patrick Chung, S, NE - Those of us who live underneath rocks might not be aware of this, but Chung apparently made a big play or two against the Dolphins on Monday. Indeed, between the five tackles, blocked punt, blocked field goal, and interception return for a touchdown, Chung might have made himself a near lock for the Pro Bowl. Through four weeks he has 34 tackles (28 solo), two interceptions, the touchdown, and the two blocks. It would take a miracle to raise his stock higher than it is right now.
James Anderson, LB, CAR - Anderson just might have overtaken Jon Beason as Carolina’s top IDP option. Through four weeks he has 45 tackles (34 solo), a sack, a forced fumble, and an interception. He’s posted double-digit tackle totals in every game so far, including a mammoth 16-tackle (14 solo) performance against New Orleans in Week 4. He’s a must-own in all IDP leagues right now.
Jason Babin, DE, TEN - The former first-round bust has inexplicably caught fire during the first four weeks for his new team, and he might be the best defensive line IDP bargain so far in 2010. His totals of 19 tackles (12 solo) and 3.5 sacks put him on a pace he’s highly unlikely to maintain, but he has captured the quarterback in three of his first four games and needs to be owned in almost all IDP leagues until further notice.
Paris Lenon, LB, ARI - Lenon has not been particularly impressive on the actual football field, but he has been a steal for IDP owners. Lenon’s 39 total tackles (31 solo) make him nearly a must-own in all IDP leagues, as it’s unlikely that he’ll slow down. Arizona’s pitiful offense will probably have a lot of three-and-outs, leaving Lenon and his fellow doomed defenders with many opportunities to rack up cheap tackle numbers.
James Hall, DE, STL - Six years after his 11.5-sack season for the Lions, Hall seems to have been reborn in St. Louis. Along with Babin, he has been perhaps the league’s biggest surprise among 4-3 defensive ends – he has 12 tackles (all solo), four sacks, and three forced fumbles to his credit after four games. It would be remarkable if he could vaguely hold up this pace at age 33, but he does have a sack in three of four games this year and should be owned in most, if not all, IDP leagues until he shows signs of slowing down.
Shaun Phillips, LB, SD - Phillips is generally only worth owning in leagues that reward sack production far more than tackles, but it’s hard not to notice what he has done through the first four weeks. After a four-sack performance that also included an interception return for a touchdown against Arizona last week, Phillips has 17 tackles (15 solo) and six sacks so far in 2010. Expect his pace to slow considerably, but give him a shot in leagues where pass rushers tend to outscore tackle specialists.
New York Giants Defensive Linemen - Take your pick: Justin Tuck (26 total tackles, three sacks), Osi Umenyiora (10 total tackles, four sacks), Barry Cofield (19 total tackles, two sacks) and Chris Canty (16 total tackles, 1.5 sacks) were all lethal against the Bears in Week 4, and this is a defensive system that has proven to make productive linemen both on the actual field and in IDP terms year after year. You can’t expect a beat-down like last week’s to happen again, but all four of these guys have been viable IDP options so far. Obviously, Tuck and Umenyiora have the most value, given the fact they play defensive end. Canty and Cofield should probably be considered only in very deep leagues.
Steve Gregory, S, SD - After a very good start to the season, totaling 30 tackles (25 solo) and an interception in four games, Gregory got himself suspended for four games due a violation of the league’s rules on performance-enhancing substances. Gregory’s hold on a starting spot heading into this year was shaky enough, so he might not be able to reclaim the job from either Darrell Stuckey or Paul Oliver upon his return.
Rolando McClain, LB, OAK - Through four games, McClain recorded just 24 total tackles, and just 15 of those were solo stops. The only memorable thing McClain has done this year was an illegal tackle on a slot receiver; otherwise he has been a bust both on the field and in IDP terms. He’s probably not worth holding onto in redraft leagues.
David Harris, LB, NYJ - Harris is having a perfectly good season in actual football terms, but the fantasy production has not been there to this point. After totaling 127 tackles (82 solo), 5.5 sacks, two interceptions, and two forced fumbles last year, Harris is off to a relatively slow start after four weeks. His 23 tackles (17 solo) haven't done his owners any favors, and he has no impact plays to offset the lack of tackles. History says the numbers should show up soon enough, but his owners have to be getting antsy right now.
Chris Long, DE, STL - The hope was that Long would finally break out in 2010, but it looks like the bust tag is going to stick for the time being. Long has just eight tackles and a half-sack through four weeks, and there’s just no reason to think that he’ll live up to his draft billing at this point. He is only worth owning in the deepest of IDP leagues.
Brian Dawkins, S, DEN - Dawkins has posted acceptable numbers to this point, so it’s a bit nitpicky to include him here. His totals of 19 tackles (16 solo), one sack, and one interception are more than respectable. However, many rankings heading into this year were based on his numbers from 2009, when he posted a gaudy career-high of 116 tackles (95 solo). It’s looking like he’ll fall short of that mark by about 30 or so tackles this season.