The biggest IDP news from Week 8 is unfortunately of the bad sort, as Dallas linebacker Sean Lee suffered a dislocated wrist against Philadelphia on Sunday. He was playing at an All-Pro level up to that point, but his days of standout productivity are probably over this year. And while he’s generally more valuable in real life than in IDP leagues, LaMarr Woodley’s hamstring injury represents another potentially significant loss.
Not all the injury news is bad, though – Justin Tuck (neck/groin) and Trent Cole (calf) both returned to the field in Week 8. Although he wasn't playing at full strength, Tuck managed to make a half sack, while Cole hit the ground running against Dallas and finished the game with one sack.
Otherwise, this week’s edition looks at four 2010 breakout IDPs – Ahtyba Rubin, Desmond Bishop, T.J. Ward and LaRon Landry. The former two are building on last year’s strong efforts, while the latter pair is falling short of expectations.
Ahtyba Rubin, DT, CLE
It seemed highly unlikely for any defensive tackle to surpass 80 tackles two years straight, especially one primarily possessing a space-eating skill set like Rubin. But with 35 tackles (27 solo) through seven games, it looks safe to say that Rubin's 82-tackle (57 solo) performance in 2010 was far from a fluke. Rubin might even be doing better than he did a year ago – he already has three sacks, while in 2010 he totaled just two in 16 games. It looks like Rubin will be a fixture among the top defensive line IDP options for the foreseeable future.
Desmond Bishop, LB, GB
Considering he has 58 tackles, one sack, two interceptions and a touchdown through seven games, one might assume that the Packers are missing Nick Barnett right now. All it takes is a glance at some film of Bishop, however, before the assumption is abandoned. Bishop has been very impressive since taking over as a starter last year, and 2011 has been especially productive for him. He has 65 tackles (52 solo) and three sacks through seven games, and in leagues where solo tackles are the chief scoring criterion, he might even be the top IDP linebacker so far. Only Navorro Bowman (54) has more solo stops than Bishop (52), but Bishop’s sack total more than makes up for the difference.
Eric Weddle, S, SD
As a player consistently ranked in the preseason as an elite IDP option the past three years, it takes a very impressive spree of performances for someone like Weddle to land on the riser list. He did it, though – he has 41 tackles (33 solo) and five interceptions through seven games, and with a rate of 6.8 tackles per game in the three years leading up to the current one, his history suggests his tackle frequency might even pick up a bit from here. With names like Tim Tebow (Kyle Orton and Brady Quinn work, too), Jay Cutler, Blaine Gabbert and Carson Palmer (twice) on the remaining schedule, a few more interceptions would hardly be surprising, either.
London Fletcher, LB, WAS
After posting just 22 tackles over the first four weeks – including an especially miserable total of just 10 solo stops – Fletcher somehow made 40 tackles (23 solo) over the last three weeks. His solo total on the season (33) is still a bit weak, but five pass defenses and two interceptions, combined with his recent three-game tackle spree, have Fletcher back on the IDP radar going forward.
Marcell Dareus, DE/DT, BUF
Dareus’ numbers weren’t impressive prior to last week – he had just 15 tackles (11 solo) and one sack through six games. But with Kyle Williams (foot) facing an indefinite absence, the Bills experimented with Dareus at nose tackle rather than end against Washington, and he went off for four tackles (two solo) and 2.5 sacks. There’s no way Williams won’t have a starting spot in the Buffalo lineup when he’s healthy, but as long as he’s out, Dareus might prove to a be a better fit at nose than he was at end. The third overall pick has gone from irrelevant in IDP leagues to someone who’s on the radar in deep formats.
Sean Lee, LB, DAL
Lee had an excellent six-game run this year, becoming an elite IDP option in basically all scoring systems with 51 tackles (34 solo), three interceptions and five passes defensed. Unfortunately, it might have come to an end Sunday night, as Lee suffered a dislocated wrist when he awkwardly ran his hand into Michael Vick’s helmet. Lee could require season-ending surgery, and even if he is eventually able to play through the injury, it’s unlikely that he’ll display the same effectiveness that made him so valuable in IDP leagues prior to Sunday.
T.J. Ward, S, CLE
After racing to 123 tackles (95 solo) and defending 10 passes as a rookie last year, Ward had the look of a long-time elite IDP. In 2011, however, he has failed to approach that sort of production. It’s still early, but through seven games he has just 34 tackles (25 solo), which leaves him on pace for less than 80 tackles. With no interceptions and just three passes defensed, Ward isn't accounting for the drop in tackles with other statistics. His total of 15 tackles (11 solo) over Weeks 6 and 7 show that he might be able to find last year’s level of production sometime in the near future, but it’s difficult to tell whether it’s worth it for his owners to wait.
Mason Foster, LB, TB
With injuries to both ankles, Foster has been a complete non-factor as an IDP lately. There’s no such thing as toughness points for IDP owners, so Foster’s total of 10 tackles over the last four weeks is an intolerable figure. He can produce like he did early this year (22 tackles, two sacks in the first three weeks) if he regains his health, but in the meantime, it’s difficult to suggest that it’s worth saving him the roster spot.
LaRon Landry, S, WAS
It’s possible that he’s still shaking off the rust from his Achilles’ tendon and hamstring issues, but Landry has in any case failed to pick up where left off in 2010. Through five starts this year he has 29 tackles (20 solo) – numbers that are decent but fall well short of the standard Landry set in nine games last year, when he totaled 85 tackles (66 solo). That’s a difference of over three solo tackles per game. Landry emerged from his last three games with 22 stops, which inspires some hope going forward. However, it should be noted that just 14 of those tackles were solo.
Paris Lenon, LB, ARZ
Lenon was never expected to duplicate last year’s 125-tackle (94 solo) showing, but he’s currently on pace to fall short of triple-digit tackles with just 42 stops (21 solo) through seven games. His solo tackle production in particular has seen a drastic drop-off, as his per-game average has fallen from 5.9 to 3.0 since 2010. With Daryl Washington and Stewart Bradley both fighting for snaps, it seems like Lenon is unlikely to jump-start his production from here.