Star: CJ Mosley - The top scoring LB in 2017 returns to a team with practically no changes on defense from 2017. The offense will be offensive and unless Lamar Jackson gets a chance to replace Joe Flacco, they will once again be bottom dwellers in the NFL. This will lead to teams running the ball and giving CJ plenty of opportunities to put up top 5 numbers again in 2018.
Falling Star: Patrick Onwuasor - I traded for Onwuasor in February, while I was trying to add cheap pieces to improve my depth. I am still hanging onto the hope he holds off rookie LB, Kenny Young. Unfortunately, like Fortunato in The Cask of Amontillado, his fate may already be sealed.
Sleeper: Kenny Young - The lightning-quick LB from UCLA was drafted in the 4th round of the 2018 draft. He is currently slotted as the backup Will behind Onwuasor, but will have the opportunity to overtake him by mid-season.
Star: Geno Atkins - Entering his 9th season with the Bengals, Geno Atkins has to be one of the most criminally underrated defensive lineman in the league. He has had sustained excellence for the Bengals for his entire career. Despite turning in two duds in weeks 14 and 16, Geno finished as a DT1, again. As long as he remains healthy, you can expect this trend to continue.
Falling Star: Carlos Dunlap - Although I still enjoy watching Carlos Dunlap play, I believe his best days are in the past. In his 9th year on the Bengals, we have watched Dunlap’s point total decline since it’s peak in 2015. I expect him to retain his starting role for this year, but playing fewer snaps as the season progresses.
Sleeper: Carl Lawson - Carl Lawson, my man! I am very excited to see that he may be designated a DE again. Lawson is a physical specimen who will build upon a solid rookie season where he finished with 8 sacks on only 389 pass snaps.
RisingStar: Myles Garrett - The pensive poet poised on the precipice. As an English teacher, I respect all athletes who take an interest in literature. I also respect athletes who can record 7 sacks in his first 11 games. PFF graded him at 80, which is excellent for any player, and he played the run as well as he rushed the passer. He is at the beginning of a beautiful career.
Falling Star: Christian Kirksey - Schobert is too easy of a target, so I am going with Christian Kirksey. Look past the great point totals and realize his performance was subpar last year. He lost some playing time in the preseason opener to Kendricks, who looked great while he was in the game.
Sleeper: Larry Ogunjobi - The 2nd year tackle is in the perfect position to take over the starting role. He is currently behind Jamie Meder, who PFF scored at 62.9 for his injury-shortened 2017 season. Ogunjobi is quick with strong hands, enabling him to disengage from blockers and run down plays from behind.
Star: Cameron Heyward - The DE from Ohio State has been improving every year he has been in the league. As a veteran leader of the Steelers’ defense, Heyward finished as a DE1 despite playing as a 3-4 end. You can expect him to continue his level of play in 2018 and finish as a DE1 again.
Falling Star: Bud Dupree - I feel like we, like the Steelers, keep trying to make Dupree a thing. Much like “You, Me and Dupree”, Bud is a bomb in every sense of the word. PFF rated him at 55.4 in his 850 snaps in 2017. Unlike other players in this category, he doesn’t have anyone breathing down his neck, but don’t expect anything from the 3rd year OLB.
Sleeper: Tyler Matakevich/Jon Bostic - Someone has to win this job and the job is valuable in IDP. Nobody can replace Ryan Shazier, but the player who wins this role will inherit plenty of tackle opportunity. Keep your eyes on the situation and be ready to pounce as the preseason shows us who will be the starter.