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IDP Analysis: Welcome Returns

Mario Puig

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 Ishmael Butler, James Harrison and David Bowie.

There was once again not much movement among IDP value in the past week, with most of the shifts that did occur primarily resulting from injury news, both of the good and bad sort.

The highlight in either regard certainly was the dominant return of Pittsburgh linebacker James Harrison, who posted eight solo stops and three sacks against Baltimore after missing four games with an orbital bone fracture. Two other promising developments on the injury front are the expected returns of linebackers Rey Maualuga (high ankle sprain) and Sean Lee (dislocated wrist), both of whom were on pace to zoom past the triple-digit tackle mark prior to their injuries.

Meanwhile, past injuries continue to trouble safeties LaRon Landry (Achillesí) and Kerry Rhodes (foot), while Cleveland safety T.J. Ward emerged from Sundayís game against Houston with hand and foot issues. Both Landry and Ward were on last weekís faller lists due to production issues, so their injuries are especially ill-timed for IDP owners. Two other notable injury news items are that Buffalo nose tackle Kyle Williams (foot) was added to IR, while New England linebacker Brandon Spikes (knee) has an uncertain immediate future.

RISERS

James Harrison, LB, PIT

It looks safe to say that Harrison is not only over his orbital bone injury, but also the back issue that appeared to be so ominous in the preseason. He returned from his four-game absence Monday to terrorize the Ravens to the tune of eight solo stops and three sacks, as well as a forced fumble. That gives him 31 tackles (26 solo), five sacks and two forced fumbles in five games this year Ė a near mirror-image of the production he showed in his spectacular 2008 season, when he totaled 101 tackles (76 solo), 16 sacks and seven forced fumbles in 15 games. It seems that as long as he's healthy, Harrison just isn't likely to slow down for the foreseeable future.

Rey Maualuga, LB, CIN

Maualuga is generally expected to return this week after missing four games with an ankle injury. His total of 16 solo tackles in the first four weeks wasn't impressive, but the 16 assists that went along with it at least indicated that Maualuga is a good bet to consistently fly to the football. Itís also promising that he produced those 32 total stops in his first four starts as a middle linebacker Ė he previously played outside linebacker for Cincinnati and is still growing in the new role. He has the athleticism to become a better playmaker with experience.

Sean Lee, LB, DAL

While itís still difficult to imagine Lee playing as effectively as he did prior to his wrist dislocation, heís nonetheless expected to play with a cast against the Bills on Sunday. Considering he was previously looking at the possibility of season-ending surgery, the mere fact that heís expected to play is great news for his value, even if it is lower than what it was previously. Still, while the cast on his forearm might make it difficult or impossible to make plays in coverage like he used to (three interceptions, five passes defensed in seven games), as long as Lee stays on the field, he should be able to average around seven tackles or more per game.

Elvis Dumervil, DE, DEN

Itís too early to say heís out of the woods, but Dumervil finally showed Sunday some of the ability that made him one of the leagueís most feared pass rushers over the last few years. After posting just eight tackles and no sacks in five games, missing two because of shoulder injury, and playing through an ankle sprain since Oct. 23, Dumervil totaled 1.5 sacks against the Raiders last week, giving some hope that the player who took down the quarterback 17 times in 2009 might be close to returning.

Marcell Dareus, NT/DE, BUF

The loss of Kyle Williams (foot) stings the Bills badly, but it could prove to be beneficial for Dareusí statistics. While part of Dareusí recent increase in production is likely due to his progress as an all-around lineman, itís also worth noting that in his two games playing in Williamsí place at nose tackle he has a total of nine tackles (six solo) and 2.5 sacks. In a defense that saw fellow linemen Williams, Dwan Edwards and Spencer Johnson combine to average 4.6 tackles per game last year, Dareus could make a push for the 60-tackle mark as a rookie.

FALLERS

LaRon Landry, S, WAS

Landry isnít expected to miss any time with the issue at this point, but he missed practice Wednesday after experiencing discomfort in the same Achillesí tendon that has been so problematic since last year. His return to practice Thursday indicates that heís not in danger of missing Sundayís game against Miami, but his disappointing production (37 tackles in six games) and the potential to aggravate the injury make him a shaky IDP option.

T.J. Ward, S, CLE

Wardís 39-tackle season was enough of a disappointment in itself, but he also left Sundayís game against Houston with hand and foot injuries. The foot issue had him in a cast as recently as Thursday, indicating that heís likely to miss at least one game. Itís safe to say at this point that Ward will not approach the standout numbers he produced as a rookie in 2010, when he finished with 123 tackles (95 solo) and 10 pass defenses.

Donte Whitner, S, SF

A 49ers defense allowing 5.1 yards per play (ninth-best in the league) isnít going to complain, but Whitnerís tackle totals are way down relative to what he used to post in Buffalo. His 69 games with the Bills saw Whitner total 451 tackles (323 solo), which is a rate of roughly 6.5 per game (4.7 solo). In his first seven games as a 49er, Whitner has just 30 stops, with 24 of those being solo tackles. With that tackle total projecting to less than even 70 total tackles over a 16-game span, heís not really much of an IDP option for the time being.

Marcus Gilchrist, CB, SD

Gilchrist proved to be a short-term bargain in IDP leagues, as the rookie totaled nine tackles (eight solo) in his start against Green Bay last week. Unfortunately, those nine tackles werenít the result of making plays around the line of scrimmage Ė Gilchrist was repeatedly torched in coverage and is headed back to a nickel back role as a result. Antoine Cason, who was benched in Gilchristís favor, will likely reclaim the starting spot opposite Quentin Jammer.

Kerry Rhodes, S, ARZ

Rhodes has been out since Oct. 9 with a broken foot, and the initial prognosis was merely that he would miss at least a month. Itís a month later, and it looks like the absence could extend a few more weeks. According to the Arizona Republic, Rhodes was still in a cast and walking with crutches Sunday, implying that he lacks a timetable for returning. Rhodes had 22 tackles (17 solo) and two sacks in the four games before suffering the injury.