Kiko Alonso, MLB, BUF
Alonso has been on the riser list more than a couple times this year, but he just seems to keep getting better and better. Outside of maybe J.J. Watt, Alonso has been the top IDP in the entire league so far this year. The rookie second-round pick out of Oregon went berserk for 22 tackles against Cincinnati on Sunday, giving him a ridiculous box score of 66 tackles (32 solo), one sack and four interceptions through six games. The Bills clearly got a steal here, and the same is obviously true of anyone who owns him in an IDP league. There probably isn’t a single IDP that would be worth more than Alonso in a straight up trade.
DeAndre Levy, OLB, DET
While Alonso has been the top IDP linebacker this year, Levy has surprisingly not been far behind. Injuries have prevented Levy from breaking out prior to this year – he has always had talent – but everything is going Levy’s way so far this year, and he’s up to 49 tackles (37 solo) and four interceptions (one returned for a touchdown) in six games. He has been very consistent as an IDP, too, as he has made it to the five-tackle mark in every game this year and has reached seven or more tackles five times. He is definitely ahead of teammate Stephen Tulloch in the IDP rankings at this point.
Dont'a Hightower, OLB, NE
Tackling machine and fellow outside linebacker Jerod Mayo will miss the rest of the season due to a torn pectoral muscle, leaving a lot of snaps and tackles up for grabs in the New England defense. Mayo had 55 tackles (35 solo) and 1.5 sacks in the six games he played, and Hightower is a logical candidate to pick up a lot of the production. He is set to serve as New England’s new leader in the huddle, meaning he should rarely leave the field. Hightower should rapidly build on his already impressive total of 26 tackles through six games. Fellow linebacker Brandon Spikes should also see a significant increase in his IDP value.
Colin McCarthy, MLB, TEN
Moise Fokou will not play against San Francisco this week due to a knee injury, opening the door for McCarthy to step back into a starting role at middle linebacker, at least temporarily. It was just two seasons ago that McCarthy looked like a promising young player at the position, but constant injury issues caused him to lose the job to Fokou during the offseason. When he’s on the field, in any case, McCarthy tends to post good numbers. He totaled 63 tackles during the final eight weeks of his 2011 rookie season.
K.J. Wright, OLB, SEA
With Bobby Wagner likely out again with a high ankle sprain – an injury that could linger even beyond this weekend – Wright should have more tackle opportunities than usual as the Seahawks take on the Cardinals on Thursday. Wagner is one of the league’s elite tackle sources, posting 172 tackles in 20 career games prior to suffering the injury in Week 5. Wright picked up his rate of production while Wagner missed time the last two weeks, posting 16 total tackles against the Colts and Titans after previously tallying just 18 tackles in the first four games.
Harrison Smith, S, MIN
Smith is a very valuable IDP, so his owners would ideally be able to hold on to him until his diagnosis and prognosis are confirmed, but it’s looking like he may be out for an extended period of time due to a turf toe injury. Reports surfaced that the injury will require surgery, and toe surgeries often come with lengthy and indefinite absences. He’s definitely out for Monday’s game against the Giants, so Smith’s owners will need to account for a one-week absence at the very least. With 34 tackles (29 solo) and two interceptions in five games, though, replacing Smith is easier said than done.
Seattle defensive linemen
There’s no doubt that the Seahawks have one of the league’s elite front fours. It’s easy to argue that it is the best the NFL has to offer, in fact. From an IDP standpoint, though, it’s not easy to find value in the unit. It’s difficult to consistently capitalize on the production of the Seattle defensive line because there are so many players getting in on the action – nine defensive linemen saw the field against Tennessee on Sunday, including eight who received more than 20 snaps. Meanwhile, none of the Seattle linemen surpassed the 30-snap mark. This is particularly disappointing for the IDP prospects of ends Cliff Avril, Chris Clemons and Michael Bennett, each of who easily has double-digit sack potential on most other squads. Heading into Week 7, though, the trio has combined for just 27 tackles and eight sacks.
DeMarcus Ware, DE, DAL
Ware suffered a quadriceps injury against Washington on Sunday, and the injury could lead to him missing multiple games. He is already highly doubtful for this week’s matchup with Philadelphia, and a 3-to-4 week prognosis was floated earlier this week by ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Although Ware insists he won’t miss that much time – and his history of playing through injuries certainly supports his claim – it nonetheless appears that Ware will have trouble providing the IDP value that those who invested in him were hoping for. He has just four sacks in six weeks, and none since Week 3. Kyle Wilber should replace Ware in the lineup.
Jasper Brinkley, (3-4) ILB, ARZ
With the return of Daryl Washington from suspension, Brinkley has gone from a full-time starter to a player with almost no role. Washington is an elite player and won’t lose snaps to anyone, and Karlos Dansby – an offseason free agent signing, like Brinkley – appears to have a safe lead in front of Brinkley on the depth chart, as well. Dansby played all but four of Arizona’s snaps against San Francisco on Sunday, while Washington played all 70. After posting 21 tackles in the first four weeks, Brinkley might struggle to post that many tackles over the rest of the year.
Patrick Chung, S, PHI
Injuries have been a problem for Chung throughout his entire NFL career, so it’s not terribly surprising that a shoulder issue has tanked his 2013 season so far. He looked like a cheap tackle source during the first two weeks as he posted 15 tackles, but he missed two games due to the injury and left Sunday’s game against Tampa Bay after just 12 snaps. There appears to be a good chance that rookie fifth-round pick Earl Wolff plays more snaps this year than Chung does.