It's often more difficult to gauge the value of IDPs at the beginning of the year, not only because they are given less coverage within the press, but also because their production can be so hit or miss, especially when you're looking at guys that rely on sacks or interceptions to justify their value. Still, with the NFL's first three weeks in the books, the statistical leaders you see at the top of the charts start to become less based on one opportunistic game and more based on trends that could last over the course of the season. The following is a handful of guys that may be available in your league whose production thus far has been no fluke.
Jyles Tucker, Outside Linebacker, Chargers -- One thing you certainly can't complain about with Tucker is the number of opportunities he'll get to make plays -- he fills in for Shawne Merriman who had 29.5 sacks over the last two seasons. While Tucker is no Merriman (but then again, who is?), he is a skilled pass rusher. An undrafted rookie who played defensive tackle at Wake Forest in college, San Diego drafted Tucker last season and moved him to linebacker, and he responded with 3.5 sacks in very limited playing time. Tucker picked up two sacks against the Jets on Monday night. He'll reach double-digit sacks by the season's end.
Juqua Parker, Defensive End, Eagles -- Parker, an eight-year veteran, was one of the big reasons why Ben Roethlisberger seemingly didn't have more than a split-second to make any decisions last week. Parker was in his face all day and finished the contest with 2.5 sacks. Parker compiled 11 sacks over the past two seasons despite starting in just a quarter of the games and has been handed a starting gig to open the season for the first time in his career. While Victor Abiamiri (broken wrist) could take a few snaps away from Parker upon his return, he remains out and Parker should continue to see his sack total increase in the meantime.
Nick Collins, Free Safety, Packers -- Collins was almost certainly ignored in IDP leagues after his down year in 2007, but don't forget the 80-tackle, three-interception season he posted in 2006. With three full seasons in the NFL under his belt, Collins is entering his prime and has picked off passes in each of Green Bay's last two games, one of which he returned for a touchdown. With cornerback Al Harris out and opposing teams likely to pick on whoever replaces him (Tramon Williams is the current favorite), look for Collins, one of the league-leaders in passes defensed, to help out and continue to receive chances to make plays.
Tedy Bruschi, Inside Linebacker, Patriots -- Though he remains one of the more recognizable names among the league's defenders, Bruschi hasn't been given much attention in IDP leagues given his rising age, failure to blitz and his lack of a single interception last season. Still, he had 92 tackles in 2007 and he's well on pace to pass that number this year. He could reach 100 tackles this year if the defense is on the field more this season.
Kelvin Hayden, Cornerback, Colts -- Hayden quietly had a very successful season in his first as a starter last year, coming up with three interceptions to go along with 83 tackles, a phenomenal total for a corner. He should continue to improve this season, his fourth in the league, and possesses great ball-hawking skills that could lead to five or six interceptions.
Travis LaBoy, Defensive End, Cardinals -- Last season, LaBoy was able to come up with six sacks despite failing to crack the starting lineup. He won the starting gig during training camp and responded with a two-sack performance in the season opener. Recent injurys have slowed LaBoy, but he's now feeling better and his platoon mate, Bertrand Berry (groin), will be out for three-to-four weeks.
Rocky McIntosh, Outside Linebacker, Redskins -- McIntosh had a great sophomore campaign last year and has picked up right where he left off through three games this year. He's already compiled 22 tackles as well as a half-sack. Even if his numbers end up just slightly improved from last season, that'd still be enough to merit giving him a spot among your roster's linebacker corps.