Pro Football Focus and Steve Spagnuolo might have an argument this week.
Uani' Unga started at MLB for the Giants last Sunday night in place of injured Jon Beason. He racked up 12 tackles -- including 10 solos -- and intercepted a pass. Yet PFF graded him the worst ILB in the league for Week 1 among the 43 who played enough snaps to qualify for the top participation level.
The Giants DC, on the other hand, "noted that if the Giants won he would have liked to present some kind of weekly award to Unga for his strong play," according to NJ.com's Jordan Raanan.
So what's up?
Well, the Giants reportedly game-planned to give up some short completions to Dallas, preferring to focus on avoiding getting beat over the top. That makes sense when the offense's top threats are Dez Bryant's play-making skills and Terrance Williams' long speed. And although the Giants allowed the 3rd-most yards in the league for the week, they had a good chance to win late and forced 3 turnovers. (Dallas even fumbled another 2 times but recovered them.)
Call it a bend-but-don't-break approach, and it worked for a defense that lacks talent everywhere and is young at safety. But it also makes sense that such an approach wouldn't grade particularly well. It's tough to say a LB is doing a good job if you're a number of completions in his area on TV and seeing the opponent's starting RB average a decent 4.1 yards per rush.
On the other hand, Spags probably inflated his praise a bit because he was pleased with a 1st-time starter doing a decent job. Unga especially could have firmed up on the final Cowboys drive, where Tony Romo drove 72 yards with nothing but passes deemed "short" in the NFL.com Gamebook.
Of course, whether Unga actually played well doesn't matter much for fantasy purposes. He put up terrific numbers, and it sounds like the Giants' defensive approach should give him plenty more chances to do so as long as he stays in the lineup. It's particularly easy to imagine a similar plan against a Falcons offense built similar to the Cowboys.
I've certainly decided to give Unga a bit more credit and just moved him up the Week 2 IDP rankings into LB3 territory.
-- Chargers ILB Manti Te'o played every defensive snap for the Chargers last Sunday, 13 more than fellow starter Donald Butler. If you're planning to use a Chargers ILB in fantasy, it looks like Te'o's the guy now. His feet are finally healthy after he broke each over the past 2 years, and Sunday marked the 1st time in his career that Te'o has played every snap in a game that Butler also played.
Te'o grabbed 7 INTs as a senior at Notre Dame, so we know that he can play in coverage. He compiled just 5 tackles (3 solo) in the opener, but the Chargers spent only 47 snaps on defense and faced only 16 rushing attempts. Don't be surprised if he supplies solid numbers in Week 2 at Cincinnati.
-- Chiefs OLB Justin Houston has produced at least 1 sack in 8 straight games now, dating back to last season. Two sack-free games preceded that, but before that came 6 straight contests with at least 1 sack. This guy is an every-week starter in pretty much any IDP format.
-- Chiefs rookie CB Marcus Peters has an absurd 7 passes defensed over his 1st 2 pro games, including a pair of INTs, 1 of which he returned for a TD Thursday night. Peters has also added 12 tackles (10 solo). We can't expect these huge numbers to continue, but Peters was a 1st-round pick who probably would have been drafted even earlier if his attitude hadn't gotten him kicked off the team at Washington. This rookie belongs on IDP rosters in leagues that require DBs.
-- Titans ILB Zach Brown played every snap for the Titans last week, at least before the starters got pulled in the blowout win over the Bucs. He also graded out much better than ILB Avery Williamson, who played 8 fewer snaps (including 6 fewer in coverage). We've liked the upside on Brown all along, and he already looks like the better Titans LB to own and use in your IDP league.
-- Preseason trends held for Vikings LBs in the opener. OLB Anthony Barr played every defensive snap, while MLB Gerald Hodges and OLB Chad Greenway came off in nickel situations. That only amounted to 10 snaps against the run-heavy 49ers, so Hodges and Greenway each got an adequate 63 plays. But the numbers could change this week against the Lions, and most offenses will probably force more nickel situations. Greenway seems near done as a worthwhile IDP option. We'll see about Hodges. Barr looks strong just like last year.