Daryl Washington, (3-4) ILB, ARZ
You might remember Washington as the fellow who, playing on the inside of Arizonaís 3-4 defense, became one of the leagueís most dangerous blitzers in 2012, totaling nine sacks while posting 134 tackles in what was one of the better defensive performances of the recent past. He sat out the first four games of this year due to a substance abuse-related suspension, but heís set to return in a starting role for Arizona this week as the Cardinals take on Carolina. He should probably be owned in almost all IDP leagues now that heís back, because Washingtonís ability to post a combination of sack and tackle production is unparalleled.
Morgan Burnett, S, GB
Widely considered the top IDP among defensive backs heading into this year, Burnettís 2013 debut has been delayed until now due to a problematic hamstring injury. He's expected to suit up this week against Detroit on Sunday, though, and with that news he should be owned in most or all IDP leagues. Burnett is coming off two straight seasons of 100-plus tackles, posting 123 in 2012 and 107 in 2011. He also has three sacks, five interceptions and four forced fumbles over that span of time. The Detroit offense is one of the most pass-heavy in recent memory, so Burnett should have plenty of opportunities to chase opposing receivers after the catch.
Danny Trevathan, OLB, DEN
Double check on the knee issue thatís ailing Trevathan before starting him against Dallas this week, but as long as he stays on the field Trevathan appears poised to finish the year as one of the better IDP linebackers. Goal-line fumble from Week 1 aside, Trevathan has impressed consistently in 2013, posting 30 tackles (24 solo), one sack, one interception and four passes defensed in four games. Just like fellow Denver linebacker Wesley Woodyard, Trevathan appears to be a real gem for the Broncos despite beginning his career as an unheralded prospect. Trevathan intercepted four passes in his final year with the Wildcats while posting three sacks, so there's reason to believe he'll keeping making big plays.
George Selvie, DE, DAL
Teams will start paying more attention to him now that heís making some noise, but after four games it seems that Selvie just might be the real deal for Dallas, and thereís little reason to think he canít keep building on a box score of 11 tackles and three sacks in four games. Teams will almost always allocate double-team resources towards DeMarcus Ware rather than Selvie, and Selvie seems good enough to capitalize on single blocking. Although he probably wonít get to Peyton Manning this week, Selvie is a good bet to make an impact against Washington and Philadelphia in the weeks afterward. Keep an eye on Selvieís status for this week against Denver, because heís dealing with a concussion leading up to the weekend.
Barkevious Mingo, (3-4) OLB, CLE
Although his IDP appeal is limited in most formats due to his linebacker designation, Mingo looks like a future All-Pro for Cleveland; and as long as Jabaal Sheard sits with a knee injury, Mingo will have an elevated play count. Like Aldon Smith, Terrell Suggs, Justin Houston and the DeMarcus Ware-Anthony Spencer tandem prior to this year, Mingo appears to have the talent necessary to approach LB2-LB3 status despite playing 3-4 outside linebacker. He has a sack in each of his first three games while playing just 177 of the teamís 219 snaps over that span, with 10 tackle to boot.
Robert Ayers, DE, DEN
Ayers looked like a bust of a first-round pick after the Broncos took him 18th overall in the 2009 draft, as he totaled just 6.5 sacks in four years while failing to decisively earn a starting role. He has shown glimpses of being an entirely different player through the first four weeks of 2013, however, as he has 3.5 sacks to go along with 12 tackles. With Peyton Manning and the high-powered Denver offense forcing opponents into shootout mode early on, Ayers should continue to get ample pass-rushing opportunities while offenses throw the ball in an attempt to catch up. The one concern with Ayers is that Denver heavily rotates its defensive line. He played under 60 percent of the teamís defensive snaps each of the last two weeks.
Dion Jordan, DE, MIA
Prior to the season there was every reason to believe Jordan would jump on the IDP radar as a rookie. Thereís no doubt that the Oregon product is a major athletic talent, as at 6-foot-6, 260 pounds he possesses 4.6 speed and a lot of length. Plus, he was listed as a defensive end by the Dolphins despite the fact that he possessed a linebacker skill set, theoretically making him a good bet to post standout tackle production relative to his defensive line competition. Then thereís the fact that the Dolphins traded up to the third pick to select him in the draft Ė a move that would seem to indicate an intention to immediately install Jordan as a starter. Through four weeks, though, Jordan hasnít been all that visible. He has just one sack and six tackles, and hasnít earned a single start. Even with Cameron Wake out in Week 4, Jordan played just 21 snaps.
Brandon Spikes, MLB, NE
As a former second-round pick coming off a 92-tackle 2012 season, it's difficult to overstate just how much of a disappointment Spikes has been in 2013. Heís safely behind Jerod Mayo and Dontía Hightower in the teamís linebacker rotation, meaning he doesnít see the field when New England moves into the nickel formation; and last weekís game against Atlanta indicates that rookie second-round pick Jamie Collins, if he hasnít already, might move ahead of Spikes, too. Spikes played just six snaps against the Falcons and, given that he only offered two snaps on special teams, it seems that Spikes is safely out of New Englandís long-term plans at the position. Collins played 12 snaps Sunday.
Da'Norris Searcy, S, BUF
Searcy started each of the first four weeks for Buffalo, and he has been a decent IDP asset over that time frame, totaling 27 tackles and one sack. It appears that his days as a relevant fantasy options might end soon, however. Aaron Williams (when not playing cornerback) is locked into one starting safety role for Buffalo, and Jairus Byrd (foot) should return to the field soon, leaving no clear role for Searcy. When Byrd returns, Searcyís only hope for maintaining viable IDP production is for Buffalo to move Williams back to cornerback, but anyone relying on Searcy as an IDP probably should just make replacement plans.
Antrel Rolle, S, NYG
Rolle hasnít had any shortage of opportunities in 2013 Ė he has 302 defensive snaps logged on the year Ė but he heads into Week 5 with just 21 tackles, which falls safely short of the 96-tackle pace he played at in 2011 and 2012. Rolle isnít really an interception threat, as he has just six in 52 games with the Giants, so heís not really an IDP consideration if he canít provide tackles. Ryan Mundy has been the better Giants safety for IDP purposes, posting 26 tackles and an interception that he returned for 91 yards and nearly a score.
Patrick Willis, (3-4) ILB, SF
It doesnít seem long ago that Willis was the undisputed top IDP in the NFL, but he has fallen quite a ways since then. He looks more like an LB2 in most formats these days, as all of Luke Kuechly, Bobby Wagner, James Laurinaitis, Lavonte David and teammate Navorro Bowman have pulled ahead of Willis in the linebacker rankings, and several others arguably have, too. After averaging roughly 156 tackles per season in his first three years in the NFL, Willis has produced at a 124-tackle pace since then. Those numbers were collected over 47 games, so itís not as if the sample size is small. It seems that Willisí owners can assume the 124-tackle player is here to stay. A groin injury in the meantime isnít going to help matters.