Rey Maualuga, LB, CIN
Maualuga appears to be locked in at middle linebacker for Cincinnati, which could be a hugely profitable IDP position. The Bengals offense figures to be atrocious with Andy Dalton and Bruce Gradkowski leading the way, and that means lots of snaps for the Cincinnati defense. Dhani Jones averaged 118 tackles per season the last three years at the same position, but Maualuga should get even more tackle opportunities. Health permitting, he should be a lock for triple-digit tackles.
Marcell Dareus, (3-4) DE, BUF
Despite dealing with a minor ankle issue and a calf bruise at the moment, the future is looking bright for Dareus. He made his living at Alabama as a space-eater, but he has a sack in each of Buffalo’s first two preseason games. The bowling ball of a human has the potential to be a standout IDP option right away in Buffalo, where the far less skilled Spencer Johnson and Marcus Stroud combined for 104 tackles (70 solo) and five sacks in 29 games last year. It wouldn’t be at all surprising if Dareus hit the 60-tackle mark as a rookie.
Jarrad Page, S, PHI
Nate Allen’s knee is in worse shape than anyone thought, and Page is suddenly a likely starter at safety for the Eagles. He represents a likely IDP upgrade over Allen, too, as Page is more active as a run-stopper than Allen, who is basically a coverage specialist. In the last season that Page started 16 games (2008), he totaled 85 tackles (63 solo) and four interceptions.
Dan Connor, LB, CAR
With Jon Beason dealing with Achilles’ issues to the point that he might miss time to start the season, Connor would be a solid zero-cost plug-in for IDP owners if Beason should be sidelined. Connor totaled 47 tackles (33 solo) and a sack in seven starts last year.
Phil Taylor, DT, CLE
He’s only worth watching at this point, but Taylor looked impressive against the Eagles on Thursday. He pushed around his former Baylor teammate and fellow first-round pick Danny Watkins as he sacked Michael Vick for a forced fumble in the game’s first drive. Playing next to fellow giant Ahtyba Rubin, Taylor will be in position to have some favorable matchups this year, and he can take advantage of that if he plays to his talent level.
Jon Beason, LB, CAR
Beason is looking like a bit of a long shot to be ready for Week 1, as he underwent a procedure on his Achilles’ tendon Tuesday after failing to recover in a timely fashion from tendinitis. It doesn’t seem possible that the Panthers would have given Beason a contract worth $50 million over five years despite a long-term Achilles’ issue, but it seems like his early-season availability and effectiveness could be compromised.
LaRon Landry, S, WAS
Landry keeps talking about how he thinks he’ll be ready for Week 1, but he has not been convincing. He managed to develop a hamstring issue despite being inactive all this time with his Achilles’ problem, and it seems like the latter issue will linger into the regular season. He’s a medical red flag at this point.
T.J. Ward, S, CLE
Ward has been dealing with a hamstring injury since the Aug. 17, and the lack of information on his recovery is getting a bit concerning. Ward is a super aggressive player and had some injury issues at Oregon, so this is something to keep an eye on in IDP leagues.