Determining the value of IDP players roaming the waiver wire is tough given that they don't receive nearly as much attention as their offensive counterparts. And their production can be so hit or miss. This is especially true for players that rely on sacks or interceptions to justify their value. Here are a few defensive players that had strong season openers that should be able to maintain solid production throughout the season.
Parys Haralson, LB, 49ers -- The fact that post-game stat corrections bumped Haralson down from his originally-credited 2.5 sacks to just 2 doesn't mask the fact that Haralson was able to pressure Kurt Warner. Haralson will continue to receive plenty of blitz opportunities as an outside linebacker in San Francisco's 3-4 scheme. The 49ers' addition of Justin Smith at defensive end should help draw attention away from Haralson and free him up on his path to opposing quarterbacks.
Bryan Thomas, LB/DL, Jets -- Former first-round pick Thomas has been a one-year wonder with the Jets thus far with only one productive season (2006). That happened to be the first year he was switched to outside linebacker, and he responded with 8.5 sacks and 77 tackles only to digress again last season and resurrect the talk of him being a bust from impatient Jets fans. Thomas has quieted them for the time being with his great season opener, finishing with 4 tackles and 2 sacks. Over the course of the season, he has the potential to reach double-digit sack totals. He's a must-add if he happens to be eligible at defensive end in your league given the sack opportunities.
Michael Griffin, CB, Titans -- There is another former Longhorn named Griffin, other than the Vikings' Cedric Griffin, worth owning. Griffin, a first-round draft pick in 2007, didn't win a starting gig until Week 8, but he still finished with a nifty 54 tackles to go along with 3 interceptions. He had a nice Week 1 against Jacksonville, finishing with 7 tackles to go along with his first career sack. Consider picking him up, but at least monitor his production over the next week or two. Health permitting, Griffin will start all 16 games for the Titans this season.
Alex Brown, DE, Bears -- The Bears put up a great performance against Indianapolis in Week 1 and it makes you wonder if, at least on the defensive side of the ball, they can get back to the form that vaulted them to the Super Bowl just two seasons ago. Brown has quietly put together a solid NFL career since he entered the league in 2002. He is free to rush the quarterback with Adewale Ogunleye and Tommie Harris on the line, and linebackers Brian Urlacher and Lance Briggs behind him. Brown should have more sacks to come working mostly in one-on-one situations against opposing offensive linemen.
Kawika Mitchell, LB, Bills -- Mitchell compiled over 100 tackles in each of his final two seasons with Kansas City from 2005-06 before his totals fell to 76 with the Giants last season. He had a sack and four tackles in his premier with Buffalo on Sunday. Mitchell should be on the field nearly every snap this season with the Bills thin at outside linebacker following their placement of Angelo Crowell on injured reserve.
Others to Watch
Zach Diles, LB, Texans -- Diles won a starting job with Houston this offseason and had a nice debut in his first career start, already matching his 2007 season totals with 13 tackles. If Pittsburgh's game plan is any indication, opposing teams will be running plenty against Houston and Diles will be there to increase his tackle numbers.