Fantasy Football Advice: Week 2 IDP Free Agent Focus
You'll find even less uniformity among IDP leagues than you will on the offensive side of the ball. Defensive-player lineups come in all different sizes and many more fantasy players know little about the real players on this side of the ball.
The result: a wide variance in the kind of options available on the waiver wire. Keep that in mind as you read this. Not every player listed will make sense in your specific league. Feel free to fire any IDP add/drop questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now on to this week's picks ...
Dontari Poe, DT, Chiefs
Poe opened the year with an impressive 6-tackle, 1.5-sack outing against Jacksonville. But we stopped short of including him in this space last week before seeing him against a better opponent.
Well, we'll see if Dallas has improved the middle of its O-line after struggling mightily in that area last year. But we certainly can't ignore Poe any longer.
The 2nd-year Chief posted 4 tackles and 2 sacks against the Cowboys. He's now more than a quarter of the way to his 2012 tackle total and infinitely ahead of last season's sack pace. (He had zero.)
Just like with some of the offensive surprises in fantasy football so far, we might well have started this season with the 2 best IDP outings Poe will produce all year. But the talent has always been there for a guy who tantalized at the 2012 Scouting Combine after an inconsistent career at Memphis. He's worth owning in most leagues that require more than 1 DL starter.
Zach Brown, LB, Titans
We projected Zach Brown as a top 20 LB heading into the season. So if he remains on the waiver wire, then you either play in a league with a shallow defensive lineup or a bunch of people who don't know IDPs well enough and thus allowed you to snipe 3+ top 10 LBs.
As of Sunday evening, Brown was owned in just 20.9% of IDP leagues on ESPN.com. A 2nd straight terrific fantasy outing should change that, though. The 2nd-year Titan delivered 12 tackles (11 solo) at Houston in Week 2. That followed 8 solos, 2 sacks and a pass breakup against Pittsburgh in the opener.
Brown has picked right back up where he left off in a surprisingly stellar rookie campaign. He racked up 93 total tackles, 5.5 sacks and 3 INTs despite not grabbing a truly full-time role until Week 9. Now he's not only someone you should own in your IDP league. He's an every-week starter.
Daryl Smith, LB, Ravens
Smith didn't do much in the opener against Denver -- like most of his teammates -- but he used Week 2 to show why we liked him as a sleeper starter later in fantasy-draft season.
Smith tallied 11 tackles (3 solo), 1.5 sacks and 2 pass breakups in Sunday's win over Cleveland. That's just the kind of cross-category appeal we expected all along -- even if we couldn't have hoped for it all in the same game.
The Ravens quietly signed the longtime Jaguar in the offseason, and most figured he'd serve as insurance behind 2nd-round rookie Arthur Brown. But Smith dominated in the preseason and proved to be the same steady, productive player he always was in Jacksonville. With 2 seasons of more than 100 tackles behind him -- as well as 4 years of 3+ sacks and 4 years of 5+ passes defensed -- Smith should help you regardless of your IDP scoring format.
Kiko Alonso, LB, Bills
Through 2 games, Alonso has created 2 turnovers. He forced a fumble against the Patriots in Week 1 to go with his 9 tackles, including 1 tackle for loss. The rookie followed that with 10 tackles (9 solo), a sack and an INT in the Week 2 victory over Carolina.
Alonso always flashed such playmaking ability at Oregon, where he tallied 3.5 career sacks, 6 INTs and 3 forced fumbles while losing significant time to injuries.
If he can stay healthy, Alonso could be in for a top 20 season among fantasy LBs on a Bills team with few contenders to steal tackle chances from him. And if he gets hurt again, you should be able to replace a guy that you didn't draft high in the 1st place.
Karlos Dansby, LB, Cardinals
Dansby and teammate Jasper Brinkley each put up nice fantasy numbers in Week 1, with Brinkley actually slightly outscoring Dansby. But we've always preferred this guy. That's why we ranked him in LB3 range back at draft time.
Dansby has posted identical stat lines the 1st 2 weeks: 8 solos and 1 pass breakup each time. We'll gladly take that any time he wants to produce it.
As we mentioned over the summer, Dansby's performance never suffered in real or fantasy terms with the Dolphins. The team just decided to go younger and faster at LB. The Cardinals should be happy with Miami's move and might just have to keep Dansby in the lineup alongside LB Daryl Washington when the young guy returns from his 4-game suspension.
Bacarri Rambo, S, Washington
Washington doesn't look like it's going to stop opponents from completing too many passes this season. That's fine for the IDP value of this rookie starter at safety.
Rambo put up 10 tackles (6 solo) and a sack in the opener against Philadelphia. He added 8 tackles (7 solo) in Week 2 against Green Bay, a team that doesn't tend to prove a terrific matchup for opposing DBs.
Rambo has yet to defense a pass in the NFL, but he brings tremendous big-play upside in coverage. He intercepted 16 passes over 4 years at Georgia, returning 3 for TDs. He also forced 6 fumbles over his final 3 seasons with the Bulldogs.
Deeper League Targets:
Arthur Jones, DE, Ravens
The older brother of Patriots DE Chandler Jones returned in Week 2 from the infection that cost him most of the preseason ... and he notched a sack in his 1st game back.
Ravens coaches showed their high opinion of him by immediately shoving Jones back into the starting lineup. Little surprise when you consider that he played well enough to rank 18th in the league among 3-4 DEs last year, according to Pro Football Focus. That included a tie for 13th in pass-rushing grade, where PFF credited Jones with 5 sacks, 9 hits and 14 hurries. That all came in 301 fewer snaps than teammate Haloti Ngata played.
Jones added 4 tackles against the Browns on Sunday, and he carries upside in that category as well. Jones' 47 total stops last year ranked 32nd among D-linemen, despite the fact that he played less than 50% of Baltimore's defensive snaps in all but 7 regular-season games last year. Jones only reached 60% twice. He should stay on the field more in 2013.
Kenny Vaccaro, S, Saints
Vaccaro drew the start at Tampa Bay on Sunday, ahead of Roman Harper. Perhaps that had to do with the knee issue that limited Harper's practice time during the week and rendered him "questionable" on the injury report. But it's also a move that many people have expected since New Orleans drafted Vaccaro back in April.
The 1st-round pick has posted a pair of nondescript fantasy lines so far: 5 solo tackles each week, with a Week 1 pass breakup against Atlanta. But his intimidating presence is obvious if you watch New Orleans play. Vaccaro applies his hard-hitting style over the middle in coverage and even brings it while trying to halt the opposing team's gunners on punts.
He also brings the talent, such as the ability to cover Bucs start WR Vincent Jackson 1-on-1 in the slot. Look for Vaccaro's role to only grow in terms of the ways DC Rob Ryan deploys him. The stats should follow.