120 total tackles for D’Qwell Jackson this season?
On the surface this seems like a fairly open and shut question. It is simple. If Jackson stays healthy or even relatively healthy he should get to 120 no problem. If he is hurt he will not. However, this isn’t so cut and dry. Firstly there is the injury history. Jackson has missed his last 26 regular season games with torn pectoral muscles. He tore one after 6 games in 2009 and then tore the other one before the season started last year. This eases my concerns and yet also concerns me for a few reasons.
My mind is set at ease a bit knowing that these are injuries to his chest. He didn’t blow out a knee, tear a hamstring, etc. His legs are fine and his speed, agility, range and ability to change direction should all be intact. That is a huge plus. My concern is how these chest injuries may be a result of some fundamental flaw in the way DQ is tackling or shedding blocks. It could be that these were just two fluke injuries that happened to the same body part, the same way, on different sides of his body in subsequent years. That could be the case. It could also be that he is trying to hold off blockers, chuck blockers, or make arm tackles and his arms are getting violently thrust backwards and tearing his chest muscles in the process. If that is the case, the chance of a re-occurring injury is high, unless DQ identified the problem and addressed it this off-season.
The funny thing, however, is that even if DQ stays relatively healthy, he isn’t necessarily a lock for 120 tackles. He has only accomplished that once in his 5 year career (his 154 tackle effort in 2008). As a matter of fact, he has only cracked 100 tackles two times in his five year career, and the first time was only 101 tackles at that. Over the course of his career, DQ has averaged 8.31 tackles per game. He needs to play in 14.5 games then in order to reach 120 tackles. He has only played more than 14 games in a season one time in his career and that was in his 150+ tackle 2008 season. As such, I am anticipating DQ being great (as demonstrated in my high ranking of him in the LB Rankings); maybe playing 13 or 14 games, but falling short of the 120 tackle mark. Verdict: UNDER
12 games played for Thomas Davis this year?
Thomas Davis was a model of fairly good health prior to the 2009 season. Up to that point he had played in 16, 14, 16, and 16 games during his first four seasons. In 2009, however, he missed 9 games. Then the following year he missed the whole season. He is very much like D’Qwell Jackson in that when he is healthy his is phenomenal, but he has missed over a year and a half of football. Davis has a chance to be a 100-120 tackle guy if he can play 14-16 games. He was on a 140 tackle pace before getting hurt in 2009. That said, he is coming off of two serious knee injuries.
The Panthers apparently do not have any reservations about Davis. They gave him a nice, new contract extension this off-season and are not even trying to ease him back into the lineup slowly. He followed up a four tackle effort in the second preseason game with an 11 tackle effort in game three. If Beason misses any time (and even if he doesn’t and simply isn’t 100%) then Davis could be the leader amongst the LBs in tackles. While it is a gutsy call, I am going to say he remains healthy enough to play more than 75% of Carolina’s games. Verdict: OVER
6 games played for Bob Sanders this year?
As a die-hard Colts fan and a defensive aficionado, I am a huge, huge, huge Bob Sanders fan. He is truly football’s equivalent of a missile. He flies all over the field, breaks up passes, tears guys down in the backfield, and sacrifices his body to make play. That is the exact reason why the Colts loved and needed him and also why they had to get rid of him. Sanders became way too unreliable. The only thing you could rely on him for was getting injured. Sure he was a superstar for those four games, but hell it was only four games!
To put this into perspective, Bob Sanders has only played in 9 of 48 games (19%) the past 3 seasons. As if that were not an absolutely crazy number, Sanders has only played in 28 of 80 games in the past five years (35%) and only in 48 of a possible 112 regular season games for his career (43%). Are you freaking kidding me? This guy has literally played in less than half of his career games. He has never, and I repeat NEVER played a full 16-game season. He actually has only played more than 6 games in a season in 2 of 7 seasons!
So it is a slam dunk that he will miss 10+ games this year right? It should be. However, my gut says that is the exact reason why he won’t. The Colts never eased Bob Sanders in. They needed him too much. San Diego is already saying they are going to limit his snaps and spell him often. Granted, the way Sanders plays means he is only one play away from a season-ending injury. However, just to stick it to me and the Colts, Sanders will play 10+ games this year. I just know it! Verdict: OVER
7 interceptions and/or a top-50 finish amongst DBs for Ed Reed in 2011?
Generally speaking, while Ed Reed is one of the best safeties in the game and is simply the best coverage safety in the game, he generally is not a great fantasy player. Most of this is due to his lack of tackles and his reliance on big plays to put up numbers. In his first 3 seasons, Reed averaged almost 80 tackles per 16 game season to go along with his 7 interceptions and 8 passes defensed per season. Those are awesome numbers and in most leagues would lead to a top-20 season for a DB. However, after that Reed’s tackles fell off to around 45 or so per season. As this happened, Reed’s fantasy value fell.
Fast forward (or rewind depending on how you look at it) to the past two years. Reed has missed some games during that time, but in the games he has played he has racked up 87 tackles, 11 interceptions and 21 passes defensed in only 22 games. So over the past two years, Reed has averaged 63 tackles, 8 interceptions, and 15 passes defensed per 16 game pro-rated season. In most scoring formats this would yield around a top-50 or top-60 finish. So while Reed may be getting better at having an impact on NFL games, he is still not making a fantasy impact big enough to be a DB3. For what it is worth, Reed has 7+ interceptions in 5 of 9 seasons. So he has a good chance at that. Verdict: OVER 7 interceptions, but UNDER top-50 DB status (as in he will finish worse than a top-50 DB)
100 total tackles for Bernard Pollard?
Bernard Pollard is one heck of a fantasy DB. The problem is that he is so poor in coverage, that while he racks up tackles and is great in run support, he generally is bad enough on the field in coverage to cost his teams wins and then get cut. That’s what happened to him in KC and then in Hou. He couldn’t have landed in a better spot for his skill set. In Baltimore, Pollard will have Ed Reed covering the middle of the field and will not have to be relied upon to cover nearly as much. As such he can simply focus on being exactly what the Ravens need…..an enforcer in the backside of their defense. Pollard can be to that secondary what Ray Lewis is to the LBs and what Haloti Ngata is to the DL.
Pollard has tallied 90, 98, 102, and 111 tackles the last four years. His tackling numbers keep trending upwards. He has averaged 6.68 tackles per game over the last four years, which pro-rates out to a 107 tackle season. Considering that Dawan Landry averaged 94 tackles in his last three full seasons in Baltimore, 100 his last two seasons, and tallied 111 last season, Pollard is right in line to net 100+ tackles for a 3rd straight year. Verdict: OVER
10 sacks for Elvis Dumervil in 2011?
Dumervil is an interesting case. He was coming off of a stellar, MVP-type season in 2009 before he was lost for the year in 2010 after suffering a torn pectoral muscle. As discussed earlier with D’Qwell Jackson, this is not a devastating injury for his fantasy future, provided it is a one-time type occurrence. Dumervil did not suffer any lower body injuries and still has his explosiveness and edge speed to rely on. He is also heading back to a 4-3 defensive format this year as well.
During his first four years, Dumervil totaled 43 sacks and averaged almost 11 sacks per season. He has two 10+ sack seasons and another 8.5 sack season as well. The lone smudge on his resume is a 5-sack effort in 2008. Denver’s offense is expected to play more ball control and be less explosive this year under John Fox. If the ball control works, then Dumervil will be fresh as the offense allows the defense time to rest. If it does not work, then that means that the defense is on the field a lot and Dumervil gets more chances to rack up stats. Either way it can be a win-win scenario for him. Denver’s D had the 6th most plays from scrimmage last year and if that trend continues, expect Dumervil to hover around 50 tackles and 12-14 sacks this season. Verdict: OVER