In a week that saw some bizarro defensive performances (zero points from the Seahawks?!?), there were still quite a few big games from IDP options around the league. As always, Reading the Defense is here to recap what was and look ahead to what might be. Let's get to it.
When you talk about IDP defensive linemen, there have generally been two names that immediately spring to mind -- J.J. Watt and Robert Quinn. It's time to add a third name to that list ... Chandler Jones. Last season, the Patriots defensive end was the third-highest scorer at his position and has gotten off to a flying start again in 2014. His signature play in the first two weeks was the blocked field goal and subsequent return for a touchdown in Sunday's blowout win over the Vikings (see the video above), but Jones also registered a pair of sacks in the game.
In his third season, Jones looks like he's ready to back up his 11.5-sack total from a season ago. Moreover, he could possibly top last season's tackle totals in which he logged 79 total stops. The former Syracuse standout is becoming a force on the end of the New England defensive line and should become a name that is coveted in all IDP leagues.
Cason goes rolling along
After losing Captain Munnerlyn to the Minnesota Vikings in free agency, the Carolina Panthers added veteran Antoine Cason to fill the gap. After six fairly average seasons in the NFL, there were concerns that Cason would struggle to fill Munnerlyn's shoes in the Carolina defense. While the results on the field have been mixed thus far, the fantasy returns have been positive.
In the first two weeks of the season, Cason has averaged 13.50 points per game. The veteran does have one interception, but he made hay in the second week with two forced fumbles and one recovery. Cason has also logged seven or more tackles in each of the first two games.
That's the part that is cause for concern. A higher number of tackles means Cason is giving up completions. If he isn't intercepting passes (he's never posted more than four picks in a season), he's going to continue to be picked on. It's hard to count on a forced fumble every single week. There's reason to think this type of fantasy production won't last.
» Last season, Charles Tillman landed on injured reserve with a torn triceps. This season, Charles Tillman has landed on injured reserve with a torn triceps. It's a big blow to a Bears defense looking to rebound from a disappointing 2013 season. It's also a big blow to fantasy owners looking to take advantage of one of the NFL's most consistent defensive backs. Isaiah Frey was promoted from the practice squad, but it's likely to be Tim Jennings who will take Tillman's place in the starting lineup.
» The Giants also suffered a season-ending injury in their secondary, losing cornerback Walter Thurmond to a torn pectoral muscle. Thurmond struggled mightily during the preseason and hadn't been a whole lot better in New York's first two games in the regular season. But he was still one of the team's better talents and more importantly filled a role on a team that doesn't have a whole lot of depth in the defensive backfield. Trumaine McBride could become the Giants' new nickel back, but there could be extra pressure on Stevie Brown to provide support from the safety position.
» After a week to think about retiring, John Abraham is back to work with the Arizona Cardinals. The veteran defensive lineman still needs to pass the league's concussion protocol; once he does, he'll be back in the team's starting lineup. With Darnell Dockett lost for the season, Arizona could use a legitimate pass rusher. Considering how 49ers tackle Jonathan Martin struggled with the Bears' Willie Young on Sunday night, Abraham could provide dividends if he is able to return for Week 3.
» Brandon Meriweather's latest suspension might have served to correct the defender's on-field behavior. Meriweather will return after a two-game ban for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Torrey Smith in the preseason and says that he will lower his strike zone going forward. Let's hope so. Meriweather has the potential to be a playmaker -- not just a big hitter -- but his propensity to go for the big shot has led to injuries and suspensions. Hopefully he can remain on the field in 2014.