Dwan Edwards, DE, BUF - Like Haloti Ngata in Baltimore, Edwards is posting ridiculous numbers from the end spot in a 3-4 defense. It’s doubtful that his 39 tackles (22 solo) through six games are indicative of his on-field effectiveness, but the distinction between stats and on-field value does not matter to IDP owners. Given that fact, Edwards is a definite must-own in all IDP leagues because he is on pace to top 100 total tackles this season.
James Hall, DE, STL - Although Hall is probably not eligible for the Comeback Player of the Year award given his 14 games played last year, it is difficult to think of many people who deserve it more than him. After totaling 13.5 sacks in the past three years combined, Hall has raced his way to a 6.5-sack total through seven games and has forced three fumbles as well. Coach Steve Spagnuolo seems to have the Rams’ edge rush operating at a high level, so there’s an outside chance Hall could keep up his impressive pace.
Ed Reed, S, BAL - After being a “Negative Nancy” all offseason and suggesting his hip troubles could end his career, Reed was taken off the PUP list in Week 7 and was brilliant from the start. Although Reed only totaled four tackles (all solo) against the Bills, he showed no signs of decline by intercepting two passes and also forcing a fumble. Reed is bound to cool off a bit, but he has made it clear he is a player who can’t be doubted when on the field.
Cameron Wake, LB, MIA - The former CFL star doesn’t get the press that players like James Harrison, DeMarcus Ware, and Clay Matthews do, but Wake has been one of the NFL’s best pass rushers up to this point. Wake has Miami’s scouting department looking like geniuses after totaling 6.5 sacks through six weeks. His 20-tackle total won't earn him recognition in most standard scoring leagues, but he has been a big steal in leagues that reward sack totals as much as tackle production.
DeAngelo Hall, CB, WAS - With 57 tackles (37 solo) to go along with five interceptions, a forced fumble, and two touchdowns in seven games, Hall has been half-Jon Beason, half-Ed Reed for IDP owners. Although he is actually quite shaky in coverage in the real game, it is precisely that fact that has allowed him to post a full season’s worth of statistics through seven games. Quarterbacks probably won’t target him quite as much after his four-interception performance against Chicago, but Hall’s owners can expect him to keep producing.
Jared Allen, DE, MIN - After posting back-to-back 14.5-sack seasons for Minnesota, many IDP rankings prior to this year had Allen ranked as the clear No. 1 defensive lineman option. Unfortunately for those who invested in this normally dominant pass-rusher, Allen has just 18 tackles (13 solo) and one sack on the year. It would be mind-boggling if he didn’t start finding the quarterback soon, but he has been a wasted draft pick to this point.
Julius Peppers, DE, CHI - After generating lots of buzz by making a few big plays at the start of the season, Peppers has become a bit of a non-factor as an IDP option. His last three games have yielded no sacks, and he has just two for the entire season. Chances are Peppers is finding it difficult to get to the quarterback lately because he is the only good player on the Chicago defense line. That fact is no consolation to his IDP owners, however, and the unfortunate truth is that won’t change. We expect Peppers to improve from here, but he’s running out of time.
Eric Weddle, S, SD - Along with players like Peppers, Allen and Rolando McClain, Weddle has been one of the biggest IDP busts so far this year. After posting tackles at blistering rates for the last two years, Weddle has basically been invisible in the San Diego secondary in 2010. A 12-tackle (11 solo) effort two weeks ago was a definite sign of life, but he still has just 34 tackles (28 solo) after seven games and has not made any plays in coverage to make up for it. His owners probably need to hang on to him because he has been a bit better lately, but the odds of him matching the production from past seasons are looking quite bleak.
Kirk Morrison, LB, JAC - For whatever reason, Morrison just isn’t standing out in Jacksonville like he did in Oakland. He only needs a few big games to catch up to his pace of past years, but he still only has 40 tackles (31 solo) through seven games, with no sacks, interceptions or forced fumbles to offset the average-at-best tackle totals. It’s a puzzling case, because Jacksonville’s defensive schemes are not wildly different than the ones he played in with Oakland, and it’s not like you can chalk up his lack of tackles to Jacksonville’s linebackers being significantly better than the ones he played alongside with the Raiders. We still think Morrison will salvage this season somehow, but it’s looking like his status as a relative disappointment will endure.
Jonathan Vilma, LB, NO - Prior to the season's start, Vilma was identified as the sort of IDP target who could provide starting IDP production at a bargain draft slot compared to where players like Patrick Willis and Jon Beason went in drafts. Through seven games, however, Vilma is not on pace to pass the 100-tackle mark, largely due to totaling just 17 tackles (seven solo) in the past four weeks. Still, Vilma posted double-digit tackle totals in the last two games of September, so the ability for him to catch up is clearly there.