RotoWire Partners

IDP Analysis: Rookie LBs Rising

Mario Puig

Mario sets the direction of RotoWire's college football and NFL draft content, with his other responsibilities primarily resting in those same subjects. He's a fan of Arvydas Sabonis.

The most newsworthy IDP items heading into Week 1 are the emergences of three rookie options and the injury uncertainty of two (previously, at least) elite veteran IDPs.

Fifth-overall pick Patrick Peterson was already a strong bet to get a huge workload on defense, but he got a nice boost to his value (especially in return-yardage leagues) with the announcement that heíll be Arizonaís primary punt returner. The other two rookies are of considerably lesser profile, but are nonetheless top sleeper options as IDPs in the short term. Casey Matthews of Philadelphia and Greg Jones of the Giants both look to be starting middle linebackers for their respective teams, both of which carry very aggressive defensive schemes.

Justin Tuck, however, is not doing as well for the Giants at the moment. A neck issue has his Week 1 availability in question, and his effectiveness could be compromised even if he makes it on the field. But thatís generally a short-term concern thatís not nearly as worrisome as James Harrisonís back situation. Harrison recently hinted that heís nowhere near full strength, which means heís an IDP red flag heading into the season.


Casey Matthews, LB, PHI

The fourth-round pick struggled in the preseason, but the Eagles have said they have no plans to pursue veteran alternatives at linebacker. That could change if the struggles continue, but for the time being Matthews will start in the middle of an aggressive defense with what might be the best front four in the NFL.

Greg Jones, LB, NYG

Like Matthews, Jonesí long-term job security is not a given. But in the meantime, you can probably find worse bargains at linebacker. Heís expected to start at middle linebacker for the Giants now that Jon Goff is out for the year with a torn ACL. Just be aware that Kawika Mitchell and Keith Bulluck might be on the Giantsí speed dial.

Patrick Peterson, CB, ARZ

Itís not at all surprising that Peterson is starting for Arizona. Even before Greg Toler went down for the year with a torn ACL, Peterson would have been too talented to keep off the field. But one piece of recent news does raise Petersonís IDP value in some leagues: heís expected to be Arizonaís top punt returner. Peterson averaged 16.1 yards per punt return and scored two touchdowns at LSU last year, his first as a returner.

DeMeco Ryans, LB, HOU

Ryansí Week 1 availability was previously in question due to an elbow issue, but it looks like the five-year veteran is ready to go against the Colts. While Ryans isnít the threat to rush the passer or make plays in coverage that Brian Cushing is, he is a darkhorse candidate to lead the league in tackles in the middle of Houstonís 3-4. He posted 54 stops (32 solo) in six games last year before suffering a season-ending Achillesí injury.

Jon Beason, LB, CAR

Tendinitis in Beasonís Achillesí had him looking very doubtful for Week 1 not that long ago, but he heads into the weekend upgraded to questionable, with coach Ron Rivera expecting that heíll play. Beason is still a risky start until he proves his health, but at least it looks like his issue shouldnít linger on much longer. His immediate future looked quite uncertain as recently as a week ago.


James Harrison, LB, PIT

Since undergoing offseason back surgery, there have been plenty of reports questioning Harrisonís health and effectiveness. But considering Harrison himself said heís only 75 or 80 percent healthy at this point, now thereís no doubt that something is wrong with him. He could be in for a rather serious drop-off this year.

Alterraun Verner, CB, TEN

Verner will open the season as Tennesseeís third corner, as Cortland Finnegan and Jason McCourty were named starters. Itís not an arrangement thatís particularly likely to last, as Verner was better than McCourty a year ago, but the current depth chart in Tennessee nonetheless limits Vernerís upside at the start of the season.

Dashon Goldson, S, SF

Although Goldson has been a favorite in IDP leagues the past two years, his production looks likely to drop a bit this season. Heís out for Week 1 with a knee injury, and the presence of Madieu Williams and Reggie Smith means he might have fewer snaps than he did in the last two years.

Justin Tuck, DE, NYG

Tuck is so good that he could be the top defensive line IDP even if he misses Week 1, but his problematic stinger threatens his immediate availability and effectiveness. Itís certainly something to keep an eye on, though Tuckís owners shouldnít consider selling him for anything lower than they would have if he were totally healthy.

DaíQuan Bowers, DE, TB

Bowersí IDP stock was never particularly high, but it took another hit with the announcement that Michael Bennett, the brother of Dallas tight end Martellus Bennett, was named starter at Bowersí expense. Bowers should still get on the field regularly, but itís not easy to be a reliable IDP option as a part-time player.