Week 5 Upgrades/Downgrades
Posted 10/3 by Aaron Rudnicki, Exclusive to Footballguys.com
DL Kalimba Edwards, Detroit (3 solos, 2 sacks, 1 FF)
Edwards has always teased IDP owners with his potential as a pass rusher, but he's had trouble staying healthy and tends to wear down as an everydown player. He got a lot of playing time yesterday as normal starter James Hall had to leave the game early with a groin injury, and he responded with a great game. Hall hasn't been able to practice for 2 full weeks now and it looks like this is a problem that could linger for awhile, so Edwards might have some potential going forward if he can put up a few more games like this.
DL Chris Canty, Dallas (5 solos, 1 asst)
Although Canty was drafted much later than 1st round pick Marcus Spears, he's becoming a major contributor for the Cowboys and beginning to look like one of the steals of the draft. Canty is a huge player at 6'7", 280lbs, which makes him a great candidate to play DE when the Cowboys go to a 3-4 front. Canty isn't the type of DE that will threaten for 10 sacks, but he's a solid all around player who should put up good tackle numbers if he can continue to earn more playing time. His 5 solo tackles this week were only 1 behind ILB Bradie James and SS Roy Williams while Spears didn't show up on the stat sheet at all.
DL Derrick Burgess, Oakland (4 solo, 2 sacks)
Even though Burgess isn't starting for Oakland, he showed that he can still have some fantasy value with a 2-sack performance against the Cowboys this week. After 4 games, Burgess is on pace for a 48 solo, 12 sack season which would probably place him among the top-5 fantasy DL. The Raiders don't want to wear him out by playing him too much, but he'll continue to see a lot of time on passing downs.
DL Bryant Young, San Francisco (5 solos, 1 asst, 2 sacks, 1 FF)
Young has been one of the biggest surprises so far this season. He's thrived with the 49ers switch to a 3-4 defensive front, and has 6 sacks after only 4 games. If he keeps it up, he may be able to set a career high for sacks at 33 years of age. His tackle numbers are nothing to sneeze at either (14 solos, 3 assists) and indicate he could be a reliable DL even if his sack numbers cool off a bit.
LB Lofa Tatupu, Seattle (9 solo, 1 asst, 1 sack)
After a disappointing week 3, Tatupu responded with a huge game against the Redskins this week. He collected 6 tackles in the first quarter alone, notched his first sack, and also helped block a FG attempt on special teams. The Redskins appeared to take him lightly and were leaving him unblocked for much of the game, but he was good enough to take advantage of it.
LB Peter Sirmon, Tennessee (7 solos, 3 asst)
Despite playing on the strong side, Sirmon has been a productive fantasy linebacker in the past. He missed all of 2004 with an injury and missed some practice time this week with a knee problem, but it didn't appear to slow him down much on Sunday. Sirmon's 7 solo tackles were as many as stud WLB Keith Bulluck and MLB Brad Kassell had combined. Sirmon is probably available on most waiver wires, and could help out as a bye week fill-in for teams that need some help.
LB Sam Cowart, Minnesota (8 solo, 1 asst, 1 sack)
Cowart has only played in 3 games for the Vikings this year, and he didn't do much in the first two, but he already ranks 3rd on the team in solo tackles after his productive game against the Falcons this week. Health will remain a key issue for Cowart going forward, but don't be surprised to see more games like this in the weeks ahead.
LB Demorrio Williams, Atlanta (8 solo, 2 sacks)
Williams and the Falcons defense made things miserable for Daunte Culpepper on Sunday, sacking him 9 different times. Through 4 games, Williams leads all Falcons with 26 solo tackles and his presence in the nickel package has turned Edgerton Hartwell into a disappointing 2-down player. Williams is undersized for the SLB position, but he's very quick and athletic and appears headed for a breakout year.
LB Jeff Ulbrich, San Francisco (10 solos, 2 asst, 1 PD)
Along with Bryant Young, Ulbrich has been one of the main benefactors of the 49ers switch to a 3-4 defense. He's been starting at ILB alongside Derek Smith and currently leads the team with 24 solo tackles. The 49ers are a bad team who can't stop anybody on defense, which should provide Ulbrich with plenty of tackle opportunities each week.
DB Deke Cooper, Jacksonville (6 solos, 1 asst)
After Donovin Darius went down with a season ending injury in week 1, Cooper replaced him in the starting lineup. Cooper started off a little slow, but he seems to be getting more comfortable over the past two weeks and it is showing up with improved production on the stat sheet. Cooper has played well in the past when given an opportunity, and at 28 years old he should be entering the prime of his career.
DB Shaun Williams, NY Giants (6 solos, 1 asst, 1 INT, 1 PD)
Williams is a former 1st round pick whose career has been hurt by injuries the past couple years. He began the year as a backup safety, but has been earning more playing time as the year goes on. Williams is a strong tackler who can play either safety position, and at just 29 years of age he should get another chance to start at some point.
DB Derrick Gibson, Oakland (6 solos, 2 asst, 1 sack)
Gibson has generally failed to live up to expectations since emerging as a starter with the Raiders in 2002. He misses too many tackles and doesn't make enough plays, but he had one of the better games of his career on Sunday. With all the problems the Raiders have in their defensive front 7 along with their talent on offense that is starting to come together, Gibson should be involved in plenty of plays this year.
DB DeAngelo Hall, Atlanta (5 solo, 1 INT, 1 PD)
Hall is living up to the expectations the Falcons had when they spent a high pick on him in last year's draft. He's been a surprisingly physical tackler (17 solos on the year, which ties him with MLB Hartwell), but his playmaking (3 INTs) is where he gets most of his value. With the pressure generated by guys like Rod Coleman and Patrick Kerney up front, Hall has a decent chance to lead the league in INTs this year.
DL Grant Wistrom, Seattle (1 solo)
Wistrom has been a fantasy disappointment so far this year, and his numbers have gotten worse each week. This week against the Redskins, who had 39 rush attempts and 75 offensive snaps, Wistrom only managed 1 solo tackle. He has yet to record a sack this season and will have to face Orlando Pace of the Rams next week.
DL Greg Ellis, Dallas (1 solo, 1 PD)
Ellis voiced some concerns about his ability to play DE in a 3-4 formation before the season started, but got off to a good start with 2 sacks over the first 3 games. He lacks great size so the team limits the number of snaps he plays each game to prevent him from getting worn down, which is going to limit his tackle numbers compared to other defensive ends.
DL Kevin Williams, Minnesota (2 solos)
With 22 sacks in his first 2 years, Williams established himself as one of the elite DTs in the league. Like the rest of the Vikings, however, his 2005 season has gotten off to a terrible start and he's yet to record his first sack of the season. The defensive line was expected to be a strength of this team but it has been a major disappointment thus far.
LB DJ Williams, Denver Broncos (1 solo)
Williams made a big impact as a rookie last year and was a valuable fantasy linebacker. This year, however, the team re-signed Ian Gold at WLB and moved Williams to the strong side, which has killed his fantasy value. Through 4 games, he has just 9 solo tackles and 2 assists and probably has minimal value until he changes positions.
LB Chris Claiborne, St Louis (1 solo, 1 asst)
The Rams were hoping that Chris Claiborne would add a physical presence to the middle of their defense and help improve their run defense, but it doesn't seem to be working very well. Claiborne had a good game against the Titans in week 3, but it looks like it may have been a fluke.
LB Napoleon Harris, Minnesota (2 solo, 1 asst)
Harris had a promising start to his career as the starting MLB in Oakland, but his fantasy production has dropped off considerably since he was moved to OLB. Through 4 weeks, he has only 9 solo tackles, 4 assists, and 1 PD and his fantasy value isn't likely to improve so long as he continues to line up on the strong side.
LB Edgerton Hartwell, Atlanta (2 solo)
Hartwell hasn't made quite the impact in Atlanta that a lot of people thought he would. He's an active run defender, but his coverage liabilities and the presence of Demorrio Williams has limited him to being a 2-down LB. He still has the potential for some big weeks, but consistency looks like it will be a problem for him.
DB Tank Williams, Tennessee (2 solos, 1 asst)
Tank Williams is a talented player who was expected to take over for Lance Schulters at SS and put up solid numbers but he's been a bit of a disappointment to fantasy owners thus far. The Titans aren't very good on defense, which should create plenty of tackle opportunities for him. Because of the Titans inexperience at CB, however, he's being asked to help out more in coverage rather than stacking against the run.
DB Ed Reed, Baltimore (4 solos)
This may be premature as the Ravens have only played 3 games so far and Reed's tackle numbers (11 solos) aren't exactly terrible. But, what makes Reed such a valuable fantasy DB is his big play potential, and he's yet to record any type of big play this year. The reigning Defensive MVP of the league will need to pick up the pace to live up to some of the very high expectations people had for him entering this year.
DB Anthony Henry, Dallas (1 solo)
After a monster game in week 1, Henry has practically disappeared from the stat sheet with just 3 solo tackles over the past 2 games. For those who picked him up on waivers after week 1, it may be time to consider dumping him if he puts up another game like this. The Cowboys are getting solid play from their front seven since the season opener, which is limiting the number of tackle opportunities for the DBs.