Start ‘em, sit ‘em: Week 1 Individual defensive players (IDP)

Some players seem primed for a great week… and some not so much. Check and see which IDP should start or sit.

IDP is much more difficult to predict than offensive players. But that’s okay. I’m not that good with the offensive players either. Here are some educated hunches and thoughts about first-week IDP projections. 

START THIS GUY: Landon Collins, New York Giants (at Dallas)

Collins is a safety, but he plays like a middle linebacker. He picked right off where he left off last season during his limited appearances in the preseason. He can’t tone it down a notch. In the Jet game, Collins was in for eight snaps and recorded four tackles and a deflected pass. His motor will only rev faster when the Giants take on their biggest rival. Look for double-digit tackles and at least two special plays from NFL fantasy’s third ranked IDP of 2016. 

SIT THIS GUY: Tahir Whitehead, Detroit (vs. Arizona)

Whitehead was an IDP league dynamo last season with 132 tackles. The Detroit Lions realized that was largely because there was a dearth of other tacklers helping him out. This season, they drafted a new middle linebacker and moved Whitehead to an outside position. This will adversely affect his tackle opportunities. Take the rookie (Jarrad Davis) if you want a Detroit linebacker. 

START THIS GUY: Christian Kirksey, Cleveland (vs. Pittsburgh)

From the “kill-or-be-killed” category, we find the weakside linebacker of the Cleveland Browns who will find himself in the path of oncoming rushers way more than any person should ever hope to be. Opportunity brings fortune, though, and Kirksey will get his hands on Le’Veon Bell and company enough to warrant an IDP play. 

SIT THIS GUY: Alec Ogletree, Los Angeles Rams (at Indianapolis)

Ogletree is a perennial top-five linebacker in IDP leagues, but this week he finds himself in the exact opposite position of Cleveland’s Kirksey. The Rams face off against the Colts. Besides the defense expecting a bunch of three-and-outs, expect Los Angeles to run Todd Gurley all day, draining the clock and limiting Ogletree’s on-field time even more. The Rams’ linebacker will have big weeks on his way to another top five finish, but this won’t be one of them. 

START THIS GUY: Telvin Smith, Jacksonville (at Houston) 

Another opportunity presents itself to Jacksonville’s Telvin Smith. Houston’s offense will be on the field a lot. Smith will occasionally rush the passer and is always around the ball. Myles Jack wants to be the leader of the Jaguar defense, but right now, it is Smith. He will have a big game in a long day overall for Jacksonville. 

SIT THIS GUY: Muhammad Wilkerson, New York Jets (at Buffalo) 

For some reason, some folks read the names of the Jets’ defensive linemen and claim it is a special unit. They always include Wilkerson and I don’t know why. He seems to be among those adversely affected by the Jets’ reported tanking of the season. He played uninspired ball throughout the preseason and I don’t expect him to turn it on in Buffalo. Avoid him at all costs. 

Too-easy-to-write-about top five

JJ Watt, Luke Kuechly, Kwon Alexander, Bobby Wagner, Joey Bosa

Week 1 flash in the pan prediction 

Bill Belichick assigns linebacker Dont’a Hightower to shadow running back Kareem Hunt all night. The result is 12 tackles, including two for a loss and an easy interception when a screen pass is bobbled by the shaken rookie running back.

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Pat Opperman


Pat recently retired from real life to watch sports and write. Look for references to games and events from ancient times as memories of an earlier Age of Sport tend to pop into his head.