We’ve made it three weeks into the 2012 NFL season, and for every player who has performed just as advertised such as San Francisco 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman, there are others such as linebacker D’Qwell Jackson of the Cleveland Browns, for who concerns about mediocre tackle numbers are beginning to grow.
Not only are some players under-performing, but injuries are beginning to mount. Week 4 brings with it the beginning of the dreaded bye weeks, so whether you’re looking to strengthen a disappointing Individual Defensive Player (IDP) corps or trying to fill a hole caused by injuries, here are some players that should be available on most IDP waiver wires that could help.
PICKUP OF THE WEEK
Jordan Babineaux, SS, Tennessee:
I beat the drum on Babineaux long and hard over the summer only to watch in horror as he was benched in favor of second-year pro Robert Johnson. After two games, that experiment is apparently over, as Babineaux was back in the starting lineup and played every snap in Tennessee’s Week 3 victory over the Detroit Lions. Granted Babineaux’s five total tackles were far from eye-popping, but the Titans played their safeties deep against Detroit to keep Calvin Johnson in front of them (didn’t work), and with more favorable IDP matchups upcoming, the ninth-year veteran is definitely worth a look from defensive back-needy fantasy teams.
, DE, Tampa Bay:
Despite the fact that Bennett was a Top 25 fantasy performer in Default IDP Manor Scoring in 2011, the fourth-year pro is on many IDP waiver wires, but that should change pretty quickly now. The Buccaneers have now lost both defensive ends Da’Quan Bowers and Adrian Clayborn to season-ending injuries, thrusting Bennett to the top of the pecking order at defensive end in Tampa Bay. Add to that the fact that Bennett has already tallied three sacks this season after only racking up four all of last year, and fantasy teams looking to improve their defensive front should definitely consider putting in a claim on Bennett.
, DE, Cincinnati:
While prominent defensive ends such as Jared Allen of the Minnesota Vikings and Mario Williams of the Buffalo Bills have been major disappointments this year from an IDP perspective, Michael Johnson has been the opposite. The fourth-year veteran had a career game in Sunday’s win over the Washington Redskins, tallying six tackles and three sacks, good for the third-highest weekly score among all defensive linemen according to fleaflicker.com. You certainly can’t expect that sort of production on a weekly basis, but Johnson has demonstrated the ability to be a capable fantasy producer in the past.
, ILB, Baltimore
: Linebacker Ray Lewis and safety Ed Reed may be the big names that drive the Baltimore Ravens defense, but linebacker Dannell Ellerbe is quietly putting together a solid fourth season in the National Football League. The 26-year-old racked up nine tackles and 1.5 sacks in Sunday night’s win over the New England Patriots, and with at least seven tackles and/or a sack in all three contests so far this season, Ellerbe is proving to be a viable IDP producer in his own right.
, MLB, Tennessee:
I recommended strong side linebacker Akeem Ayers in last week’s waiver wire article here at Fantasy Sharks, and, given how much time the Tennessee defense is spending on the field, I might as well just work my way right on across their linebacker corps. The ankle injury that has sidelined Colin McCarthy has forced the 32-year-old Witherspoon to the middle of the Titans defense, and after tallying 20 total tackles over the past two games, Witherspoon remains worthy of a roster spot on IDP teams for as long as McCarthy is out of action.
, CB, Denver:
This one is something of a speculative add, but after getting lit up like the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, Denver Broncos cornerback Tracy Porter was forced from Sunday’s loss to the Houston Texans with a knee injury. Enter second-year pro Chris Harris, who responded by making four tackles with a pass defensed against Houston. The Broncos face quarterback Carson Palmer and the Oakland Raiders this week, and given Palmer’s propensity for turning the ball over, Harris could make for a very nice plug-and-play defensive back if he gets the nod as a starter this Sunday.
, CB, Carolina:
Every year, savvy IDP owners search for the leading candidate to be that season’s poster child for the “rookie corner” rule, and this year it appears that that may be Norman. The former Coastal Carolina standout has been targeted relentlessly by Drew Brees and Eli Manning in successive games, leading to 19 total tackles and just the sort of statistical production that makes the “rookie corner” rule an ace up the sleeve of IDP owners that take advantage of it.
Looking for more IDP information? Be sure to check out all the other great IDP articles by the rest of the Fantasy Sharks’ crew, the IDP Forum, IDP Manor, for the latest injury news follow @IDPManor on Twitter, and if you have an IDP question feel free to shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.