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Here we go! NFL football has made its triumphant return and not a moment too soon. Fantasy drafts are complete (for the most part) and it is time to set weekly lineups. Welcome to the Week 1 edition of '53 Deep', an in-depth look at IDP (Individual Defensive Players) sleeper selections that can step in and lead fantasy squads to victory.
These players will be outside the weekly rankings of myself, and fellow Fantasy Sharks IDP scribes, which will consist, approximately, of the Top 30 defensive linemen and defensive backs, and the Top 50 linebackers. Since this article will be posted on Fridays, unfortunately it will be too late for any sleepers from the Thursday night games to be addressed. However, if a name is so juicy that it is jumping out at me a week in advance, I will try and make a brief mention of said player in the article.
OK, enough of the appetizers, it is time to look at some Week 1 IDP sleeper options.
Willie Young, DE, Detroit vs. St. Louis: Young parlays an excellent preseason into more snaps along the Lions’ defensive line. The attention paid to Ndamukong Suh, Cliff Avril and Kyle Vanden Bosch will allow the athletic Young to get after Sam Bradford.
Bruce Irvin, DE, Seattle at Arizona: Despite having a strong training camp, Irvin put up a goose egg stats wise in the preseason for the Seahawks. He will rectify that situation in Week 1 against Arizona, who can’t block anyone. Also, don’t be surprised if the rookie posts a couple of sacks.
Desmond Bryant, DT/DE, Oakland vs. San Diego: The Chargers offense, especially their offensive line, is in a state of flux. Bryant can line up inside at defensive tackle as well as kick out to play defensive end along the line for Oakland, allowing tackle opportunities as well as chances to pressure the quarterback.
Brian Robison, DE, Minnesota vs. Jacksonville: Robison benefits greatly from lining up opposite Jared Allen and will be supplying constant pressure on Blaine Gabbert. Gabbert has looked decent in preseason, but now the real season begins and he must get rid of the ball faster than he did last year. The smart money says Robison gets to him before he can pull the trigger.
Shea McClellin, DE, Chicago vs. Indianpolis: McClellin has a particular set of skills, skills that he has acquired over his college career that make him a nightmare for quarterbacks. As the rebuilding Colts sell out to contain Julius Peppers, McClellin will pin his ears back and make life miserable for Andrew Luck.
Lawrence Jackson, DE, Detroit vs. St. Louis : Jackson has remained healthy during the 2012 preseason and when he has been healthy in Detroit, he has been very productive fantasy-wise. Kyle Vanden Bosch will see his snap count limited, and Jackson will reap the benefits. His role on the line for Detroit is expanding and he’ll have a nice Week 1 stats-wise against the Rams.
Derrick Morgan, DE, Tennesee vs. New England: The Patriots’ offensive line looked surprisingly suspect in the preseason, allowing Tom Brady to be sacked three times in very limited action. Morgan looks to be fully recovered from the 2010 ACL injury and has regained a burst off the snap. The presence of Kamerion Wimbley will help Morgan to finally fulfill on his potential, starting in Week 1 against the Patriots.
Cory Redding, DE, Indianapolis at Chicago: Redding says he will line up Week 1 after missing time with a MCL sprain and is an experienced edge-setting defensive end in the 3-4 defensive scheme. He has never surpassed seven sacks in a season but can supply some pressure to the quarterback. The Bears will look to pound the rock with newly acquired Michael Bush and incumbent Matt Forte, allowing Redding to rack up healthy tackle numbers.
Derek Wolfe, DE/DT, Denver vs. Pittsburgh: Another rookie who benefits from an injured teammate to get increased snaps. Jason Hunter has been placed on Injured Reserve (triceps) and Wolfe has stepped into the starting lineup. He is lining up at left defensive end in the base defense and then moving to the inside in sub packages. The Steelers want to establish the run, again, and Wolfe will get to chase down Isaac Redman (or Jonathan Dwyer) as well as get after Ben Roethlisberger in Week 1.
Kyle Williams, DT, Buffalo at New York Jets : A foot injury has slowed Williams since he established himself as a premier defensive tackle back in 2010. He looks healthy, hungry and very active again along the Bills line, which is bad news for the Jets. With Mario Williams, Marcel Dareus and Mark Anderson deserving offensive line attention, look for Williams to power his way to a nice Week 1 fantasy total.
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