IDP Sleepers: Goin' Goff in Week 1
First, let me introduce myself. I'm Antonio D'Arcangelis -- a veteran fantasy writer and IDP enthusiast who's new to FanHouse. If you're hungry for massive helpings of defensive knowledge this year, I'd be more than happy to serve you.
While I'm a big proponent of playing your studs, there are many chances to exploit matchups and find glimmering gems buried in the IDP mines. Here's a few who could bling up your roster in
Week 1 (Ownership percentages are via Fleaflicker.com unless otherwise noted):
1. Stewart Bradley, Philadelphia Eagles (19 percent owned). If you forgot about Bradley on draft day this season, you're not alone. And if you're squeamish about adding a player who tore his ACL in 2009, don't be. Bradley is a Tier 2 middle linebacker who's back at 100 percent and will easily slip back into the 2008 form that made him an every-week fantasy option. In Yahoo! leagues, this guy's owned in just 7 percent of leagues. Giddyup.
2. Lofa Tatupu, Seattle Seahawks (18 percent owned). When healthy, Tatupu is an excellent Tier 2 fantasy linebacker, and he's back manning the middle for the Seahawks entering Week 1 (2009 middle linebacker standout David Hawthorne has been moved to weakside linebacker). Like Bradley, he's not on everybody's radar yet (Yahoo! ownership is currently at a measly 6 percent). While the talent surrounding Tatupu isn't that spectacular, he'll find ways to get to 49ers stud RB Frank Gore, who should see 20-25 carries this week.
3. Jonathan Goff, New York Giants (3 percent owned). Goff is coming off a good camp, making steady progress in the one area that's kept him a reserve despite good size and speed -- shedding blocks. It's nearly impossible to find starting middle linebackers on waiver wires, but Goff is probably ripe for the plucking on yours. He's in a much-improved defense this season, and the visiting Panthers will try to win this one on the ground. Play him.
1 Johnathan Joseph, Cincinnati Bengals (9 percent owned). Starting cornerbacks over safeties (when just a DB is required) can be a sketchy proposition, but the Bengals safeties haven't posted great IDP numbers, and I'm convinced Tom Brady won't pick on CB Leon Hall too much week. That means Joseph (70 tackles, 6 INTs in '09) should post good numbers against the Pats -- a team that provides plenty of opportunities to opposing CBs. Joseph is emerging as one of the better corners in the AFC and should improve on his pass-deflection totals this year.
2. Nick Collins, Green Bay Packers (7 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues). This severely underrated free safety will be tested by the Eagles' pass-happy offense in Week 1. A spectacular playmaker, Collins is emerging as a team leader alongside Charles Woodson in this young secondary -- and he'll see plenty of opportunities to rack up points this season. With 13 INTs, 3 defensive TDs and 28 PDs over his last two seasons, he's more than a just a roaming tackler. While he's owned in 45 percent of Fleaflicker leagues, he can still be snagged in plenty of IDP formats. Look for him to fill up the stat sheet in Philly.
3. Abram Elam, Cleveland Browns (7 percent owned). Last year Elam didn't fulfill my admittedly high expectations, but he's effective in run support and should be able to post solid numbers against the Bucs this week. Unlike Collins, he's not much of a threat to pick off an errant pass, but he's adept at shedding blitz pickups and blowing up the backfield. Elam is a true sleeper, but he's readily available and makes an excellent first-week play in deeper leagues.
1. Calais Campbell, Arizona Cardinals (15 percent owned). Campbell draws the Rams' rookie RT Jason Smith in Week 1 and could post double-digit sack totals this year. He's also a solid run defender and will be in the mix for excellent numbers in the season opener.
2. Kroy Biermann, Atlanta Falcons (12 percent owned). Biermann drew high marks from his coaches during camp, excelling both as a pass rusher and playing the run. An athletic lineman who can move around and effectively stunt when needed, he'll be a problem for the Steelers line and relatively inexperienced QB Dennis Dixon. He's getting more hype lately, so jump on him ASAP.
2. Cliff Avril, Detroit Lions (8 percent owned). Everybody's favorite sleeper the past couple of seasons, Avril struggled to establish himself as an every-down lineman, but earned the starting nod after a decent 2010 training camp. The Lions' entire defensive unit has improved, which allows this talented edge rusher to be more aggressive in 2010. The Bears offensive line is still suspect, and Jay Cutler will be repeatedly exposed if the Lions offense can keep the game close.
Are you an admitted IDP fanatic? Here we pick out a few individual defensive players primed for big weeks and could be languishing in your free-agent pool.