Rising Star: Deion Jones – Elite! Freak Athlete. I had a tragic end to my fantasy season this past year and Deion Jones was the culprit. He is versatile and has great hands for a LB. His rise in value last year was unexpected to the average fan, but he is another 120+ tackle monster. He is very dangerous and rare athlete in a position on the field to dictate the game. A one man wrecking crew with room to grow. The Falcons have big dreams of getting back to the Super Bowl. Jones is a catalyst in a group prepping for dominance in 2018. Draft him, set back and smile as he makes you look smart.
Falling Star: Desmond Trufant – A torn pectoral muscle ended Trufant’s season in 2017. His performance wasn’t good enough last year to warrant any attention in the fantasy football realm. His tackle numbers were low in 2017 (35 solo) which means if he is not making plays on the ball, he is basically not worthy of a roster spot. His tackle numbers have dropped in each of the past few seasons. He may even play a nickel-back role which would limit his upside in a defense full of eager play makers.
Sleeper: Keanu Neal – 116 tackles, 3 FF, and 1 pick. For a safety these are elite numbers! Neal has a presence on the field and receivers keep track of where Neal is at all times. A punishing hitter. He likes to THUMP! Not a big name, but he has big game. Draft him and reap the rewards.
Rising Star: Luke Kuechly – Recovering well from shoulder surgery, Kuechly is a prime time performer. A tackle monster, his peak can reach 150 total tackles, which is one of the main reasons he is atop most rankings lists at his position. Last year he was around 120 total tackles. 3 interceptions. The only downside to his play is that he is somewhat injury prone. He is a punisher though and well worth a draft pick in an IDP league.
Falling Star: Thomas Davis – Once upon a time he was a tackling machine, now he is on the back side of his career and he’s suspended for the first four games of the regular season. No thanks.
Sleeper: Shaq Thompson – With the absence of Thomas Davis, Shaq Thompson is going to get his reps. He has shown good coverage skills and will be needed by Carolina to contribute immediately. His numbers haven’t been staggering, but he could make a leap in production this year due to the plethora of opportunity.
New Orleans Saints
Rising Star: Cameron Jordan – The All-Pro DE had another highly productive year as an IDP star. Coming off a not-so-serious surgery in the off-season on his left foot, Jordan looks to once again remain a top IDP option. Last season Jordan scored the most points at his DE position, more than all other edge rushing ends. He snagged 13 sacks last year. He makes plays all over the field. The 11 passes defended last year will add to your team a great long term value over the season. You will need all the opportunities to score in IDP and you want to win. In order to win, you need to be savvy about your IDP roster. You can build a great balanced squad to dominate your league. He could even help win you the chip.
Falling Star: Kurt Coleman – His tackle production dropped quite a bit last season in Carolina. He should keep himself around the 70 total tackle range. He will possibly add more tackles, passes defended, and INT’s due to the Saints history of a porous defensive back field. You could do worse for sure. There is a chance he drops off the IDP radar.
Sleeper: Marcus Williams – A player with upside who performed solid as a rookie last year. 73 tackles, 4 picks and a career all ahead of him, puts Marcus on my sleeper list.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Rising Star: Kwon Alexander –The 24 year old epitome of a tackle monster is again ready to lead a Tampa Bay defense at the middle linebacker position. 97 total tackles last year. 145 the year before. He makes plays on the ball and is dangerous player that can score IDP points in bunches. Take him and unleash him on your competition.
Falling Star: Lavonte David – He’s only 28 years old, yet there may be a downward trend happening currently. His tackle production has dropped quite a bit in the last 2-3 seasons. He’s averaging 40 less tackles per year in that span. I do not see him as elite anymore until he bounces back up to elite numbers, i.e. sacks, interceptions, etc.. He does get sacks on the QB, but he seems to have declined some.
Sleeper: Jason Pierre Paul – Don’t worry about his injury. For the most part he is still an effective pass rusher. His tackle numbers hover near 8 sacks the past two seasons with NY. He is returning home to Tampa Bay. This could ignite him to play with more fire and have a comeback season.