For all of you bold owners out there who like a few IDPs flavoring your fantasy soup, we've got your back. Every week, we'll bring you news on notable defensive players to keep you informed. So without further ado, we bring you the inaugural edition of "Reading the Defense."
First down: It hasn't been much of a preseason for Pittsburgh Steelers tackling machine James Harrison. The former Defensive Player of the Year is still working his way into shape after offseason back surgery and has admitted to being fatigued during games. It hasn't helped that coach Mike Tomlin has limited Harrison's reps as a precaution during the linebacker's recovery.
Harrison likely isn't the only player whose fitness isn't up to par following the truncated NFL offseason. But the four-time Pro Bowler has averaged 94.5 tackles and racked up 45.0 sacks over the past four seasons while displaying arguably the biggest mean streak in the league. As long as the issue is one of conditioning and not a recurrence of the back aches that plagued him last year, Harrison will be punishing opposing ball carriers once again.
Second down: Speaking of conditioning, the Panthers hope linebacker Jon Beasonwill be ready to go against the Cardinals after undergoing foot surgery last month to help him recover from a bone bruise. The fifth-year pro has never missed a start in his NFL career, but is concerned about how he will perform after being hampered for the past couple of months. There's also the issue of how well he adjust to new defensive coordinator Sean McDermott's system, but for a guy who has averaged 135 tackles in his first four seasons, that concern should be minimal.
Third down: After an extended holdout in 2010, Jets shutdown cornerback Darrelle Revis got a full serving of training camp this year and recently told NFL Network's Michael Irvin that after a slow start to last year he's "coming back strong" in 2011. That's an encouraging statement for Jets fans and fantasy owners after Revis finished with no interceptions and a career-low 10 passes defensed. Revis remains one of the game's top defensive players and if opposing quarterbacks feel confident in once again dropping in on Revis Island, his numbers should be back.
Fourth down:D.J. Williams has led the Broncos in tackles in three of the past four seasons, but he's in danger of missing the team's first two regular season games because of a dislocated elbow. Add it to the growing list of injuries for the veteran linebacker, who has missed time in recent seasons with shoulder, hip, knee, thigh and hamstring injuries. The ailments might have taken their toll on the 29-year old Williams, but with a lack of depth at the linebacker, the Broncos will put him in spots to make plays as long as he's healthy, making him worth a fantasy pickup once he's ready to go.