Rising Star: Tremaine Edmunds - Rookie LB in a great situation. He will benefit from plenty of runs as teams ice games against them and has a famously generous stat crew.
Falling Star: Micah Hyde - The veteran safety will not be a bust, but we can expect a regression. Hyde has a career year in 2017 and with the addition of Edmunds will see less opportunity for tackles.
Sleeper: Trent Murphy - The former Washington DE was signed as a free agent in the offseason. He has had a strong camp and is currently slated to start at left defensive end. With strong interior defenders, Murphy has the opportunity to fulfill on the promise that Shaq Lawson failed to meet.
Rising Star: Raekwon McMillan - At 6’2” and 240 lbs, the 2nd year linebacker is poised for a breakout season. A torn ACL cost McMillan his rookie year, but he is back and ready to lead the team in tackles.
Falling Star: Robert Quinn - After a promising start to his career, Quinn has seen his production decrease since his breakout season in 2013. Although he has regained his DE designation, serious doubts remain about Quinn regaining his former playing level.
Sleeper: Davon Godchaux - A favorite of Brandon Thorn, Godchaux has the opportunity to take the next step in becoming a dominant defensive tackle. With strong, violent hands, he is able to disengage with blockers and will be a force if he continues to develop.
New England Patriots
Rising Star: Trey Flowers - Flowers is everything you want in a defensive star:young, talented, and in the hands of a great defensive coach. With the additions of Danny Shelton and Adrian Clayborn, Flowers will be given every opportunity to build on his breakout 2017 season. Grab him and don’t let go.
Falling Star: Kyle Van Noy -After a strong start to the 2017 season, Van Noy faded after Hightower went down with an injury. Van Noy missed the last four games of the season with an injury, but did return in the playoffs, notching five tackles in their loss to the Eagles. Hightower’s return could foretell a return to prominence; however, the more likely scenario is a return to mediocrity.
Sleeper: Eric Rowe - The 4th year CB will see a big jump in production in 2018. After the departure of Malcolm Butler, Rowe is set to start opposite of Stephon Gilmore. PFF graded Gilmore at 83 and Rowe at 54.9 for 2017. It is obvious that he will be targeted and will be a solid pick in your IDP drafts.
New York Jets
Rising Star: Jamal Adams - In order to be fully transparent, I am a diehard Jets fan and sometimes have a hard time balancing what I want to believe and reality. Adams’ rookie year was considered disappointing by many, but he finished as a top 20 safety in most leagues. After a strong offseason and with the departure of Wilkerson, Adams has emerged as the leader on the defense. I believe that he will finish as a top 10 safety and will continue for many years.
Falling Star: Darron Lee - The 3rd year linebacker is on the precipice of his career. He fell into bad patterns and was known to follow the malcontents in the Jets’ locker room. I am hoping that he will become a better technician and pair that with his elite speed at the linebacker position. Unfortunately, I think the game will be too hard for Lee and he will fail to live up to his potential.
Sleeper: Nathan Shepherd - The Jets picked Shepherd in the 3rd round of the 2018 NFL draft. The DE from Ft Hays State is a solid addition to the Jets defense. At 6’3” and 315 lbs, Shepherd has the physical qualities to dominate at the pro-level. He is farm strong and possesses a great motor. He may be a better player than an IDP choice, but he is worth a shot on your deeper rosters.