Curtis Lofton was diagnosed with a high ankle sprain and will sit out the remainder of the preseason. He insists that he will be ready to go Week 1, however. Teammate David Hawthorne underwent surgery on his meniscus and his status is in doubt for the season opener and no timetable has been set for his return. These injuries, in addition to suspensions, led the Saints to trade for journeyman linebacker Barrett Ruud. I don't see a ton of value with Ruud as his play has severely declined in a short period of time. He has been beaten out by rookies in two consecutive seasons and will likely only serve as an injury replacement in New Orleans.
James Harrison had a knee scope done on his left knee and may miss some regular season action. He stated that he believes he will be ready for Week 1 however, despite not full-on practicing since 2011. If history is any judge, I think Harrison will be on the field sooner rather than later. If he does miss time, 2nd year player Chris Carter will be first in line for fill-in duties and is worth a look in deep, big-play leagues.
All-Pro linebacker Brian Urlacher has been suffering through significant knee issues and consequently took a trip to Europe to receive an experimental blood-spinning procedure that has helped other superstars such as Kobe Bryant return more quickly from injury. Even with this said, the Bears are "pessimistic" that Urlacher will be ready for Week 1. He's a notoriously tough guy, so if this injury is keeping him out, it must be quite serious. I'd let someone else take Urlacher in this year's fantasy drafts.
Jon Beason recently admitted that he suffered a hamstring injury while overcompensating for his surgically-repaired Achilles tendon and is questionable for Week 1. With Thomas Davis' status also up in the air, James Anderson would slide into an every down role with Luke Kuechly if both players were unavailable Week 1.
Fourth round selection Miles Burris will enter the 2012 regular season as the Raiders starting weak side linebacker. Aaron Curry was expected to fill that role but his troublesome knees have now suddenly landed him on the roster bubble. Burris is only a two-down linebacker for now, but that could change later on in the season if he plays well enough. Definitely a player to keep an eye on in dynasty leagues.
Jordan Babineaux, perhaps my top DB sleeper, is now reportedly in a position battle with Robert Johnson for the Titans starting strong safety position. This is definitely a IDP situation to monitor. If Babineaux can hold onto the starting job, he has a solid shot at DB1 numbers.
Erik Coleman has been starting in place of the injured Amari Spievey in preseason and has a good chance to take over the starting strong safety duties. Although his tackle opportunity may be more limited in Detroit than in other places during his career, he's still a player to watch as he's put up 70+ solo tackles five times during his nine year career.
With Darian Stewart sidelined with a hamstring injury, Craig Dahl has been getting valuable playing time and has performed well. Stewart recently returned and played along side Dahl as free safety Quintin Mikell was out with his own injury. At this point, both players seem to have an equal chance at garnering the starting job. Until a starter has been named, it's a situation I'd probably avoid for fantasy purposes (although it will likely be a valuable one once the dust settles).
Lavonte David has been used occasionally in nickel packages so far this preseason but I fully expect him to take over a full-time role in the coming weeks. He's the popular option to lead the Bucs in tackles this season, and while that may be the case, keep your eye on Mason Foster as a dark horse candidate to be Tampa's tackle leader. His play has been much improved over last season and he figures to be a focal point of Greg Schiano's defensive scheme/philosophy.
With Aaron Curry really struggling with knee issues, Phillip Wheeler has been slotted into an every down role in Oakland. Playing on the strong side will ultimately limit his upside, however.
Jonathan Casillas figures to get the lion's share of base and subpackage snaps on the weak side for as long as David Hawthorne is out. I've never been a big fan of the outside linebackers in New Orleans' scheme and don't see much value there. However, Hawthorne's absence does make Curtis Lofton that much more attractive from a fantasy perspective.
Bruce Carter has taken the lead over Dan Connor in the battle for the "TED" linebacker position in Dallas. He's a very good coverage linebacker and has consequently been playing in subpackages along with his base duties. I've bumped Carter way up in my rankings and if he enters the season as the starting every down inside linebacker next to Sean Lee, he has immediate LB3+ value.
Jerrell Freeman was playing alongside Kavell Conner in nickel subpackes and figures to be a nice late round draft/waiver wire selection in those SUPER deep leagues for at least the first handful of games while Pat Angerer is sidelined. Ultimately, Conner is the player to own though.
Bobby Wagner continues to leave the field on the majority of third downs. This has me a bit concerned and I've dropped him not my rankings 10-15 spots. With the linebacker position being so deep, I just don't think it makes sense to take a gamble on Wagner as a starter (LB3) in 12 team leagues until we can be confident he will be an every down player.
Derek Wolfe, a 2nd round selection in this year's draft, has impressed the coaching staff and quickly moved into the starting LDE role opposite Elvis Dumervil. He will play end on base downs and bump inside in subpackages. He's quickly shaping up to be a nice late round, upside selection in deeper leagues (especially if he's classified as a DT).
According to Rotoworld, the NFL has suspended Chiefs OLB Tamba Hali one game for violating the league's substance abuse policy.
The Colts acquired Vontae Davis from the Dolphins for a 2nd round and conditional 6th round pick in 2013. He's just what the doctor ordered for the Colts as they needed a big, physical press corner man like Davis. Much like the rest of the Colts IDPs, expect Davis to see above average tackle opportunity for his position. He's worth a flyer in deep CB-required leagues.
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Last Updated: August 27, 2012 Related Posts: