Week 7 saw several defenders go down with season-ending injuries, most notably New England SS Rodney Harrison. Denver also lost both of its Bailey brothers (Champ and Boss) for a significant period of time.
One player's loss is another player's gain, as there are now a number of guys with newly-acquired starting jobs that have a chance to produce for IDP leaguers.
Here is your list of IDP pickups heading into Week 8.
Brandon Meriweather, SS, Patriots -- The aforementioned Harrison has been lost for the season with a torn right thigh, which leaves a vacancy at the spot that has produced the fourth-leading tackler among defensive backs (behind Eric Weddle, Gibril Wilson and Yeremiah Bell). Meriweather, a second-year talent from Miami, will fill the role at strong safety and has all of the tools to become an IDP stud. Already with three interceptions, Meriweather should also add more tackles and is a solid addition.
Brandon Johnson, OLB, Bengals -- Johnson has Hines Ward to thank for his newfound IDP value. Ward's legal block on Keith Rivers resulted in a broken jaw and a trip to injured reserve. With Rivers out for the season, Johnson will attempt to help fill the void at the weak-side linebacker spot. He finished with seven tackles in relief of Rivers last week and should continue to put up seven to 10 tackles a week. With Cincinnati being one of the worst teams in the league, they'll likely continue to fall behind in games. That means opponents will force-feed carries to their running backs, and Johnson will be waiting on the other side to increase his tackle numbers.
Jason Jones, DE, Titans -- Jones has looked great as a key member of Tennessee's rotation on the defensive line and certainly benefits from the talented guys around him, most notably Albert Haynesworth, who will continue to draw double teams. With Tony Brown (ankle) and Kyle Vanden Bosch (groin) banged up and iffy for Week 8, expect Jones to see an increased number of plays and possibly get to Giants quarterback Eli Manning.
Jamie Winborn, OLB, Broncos -- Boss Bailey had looked to be on his way toward a breakout season, posting 40 tackles to go along with a forced fumble and a recovered fumble, but his season was cut short after he suffered a knee injury early in Week 7. Enter Winborn, who will receive his first secure starting gig since logging 4.5 sacks with the 49ers in 2004. Winborn has compiled 14 tackles in his two starts this season. With little competition for playing time, he should continue to rake up tackles and add a few sacks as well.
Daniel Bullocks, FS, Lions -- Bullocks, a third-year player who missed the entire 2007 season after tearing his ACL in the preseason, is a relative unknown. Playing for the lowly Lions doesn't help his case either, but IDP owners should get familiar with his name. Bullocks has been a machine since winning the Lions' starting gig at free safety following the season opener, having compiled 40 tackles and two forced fumbles over the last five weeks. The numbers don't lie, and Bullocks' stats merit his ownership for any team in need of an extra defensive back.
Lawrence Timmons, ILB, Steelers - Timmons has a great deal of potential as he continues to see more time on the field. While James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley have taken advantage of Pittsburgh's 3-4 scheme -- one that depends heavily on getting a pass rush from its linebackers -- Timmons could be the next name to emerge as one of the IDP elites. He still sits in favor of Larry Foote on running downs, so his tackle numbers will continue to lag, but he has come up with three sacks in the Steelers' last three games. If he wins the starting job from Foote and sees the vast majority of snaps, a scenario that is by no means out of the question, Timmons would produce huge numbers and become an instant IDP hit. As it stands now, he's still worth a flier.