Rey Maualuga, CIN ~ As mentioned above, Maualuga, who has already been nick-named by his Bengals teammates as 'Who-Dey Rey', was considered to be a first round pick in this year's draft. After slipping into the second round, he was snapped up three picks after the Rams passed him over in favor of Laurinaitis.
"Maybe the defense they had [St. Louis], they weren't looking for the type of guy like me. When they picked James, it's like ... I don't know," said Maualuga. "He's a good player, don’t get me wrong," Rey qualified, referring to Laurinaitis. "And a good guy. He's going to do great things for them."
So far Who-Dey has been working with the second team, but expect him to get significant playing time this season. The USC star is already among the team leaders in tackles despite missing the first preseason game. Dynasty leaguers should grab him now. Unless you're in a 14 team or greater league this season, I'd just keep note of him for now. He could be a nice pick up later on this year.
Bryan Cushing, HOU ~ The goal the Texans had in mind when they drafted Cushing out of USC was to toughen up their defense. Ironically, he suffered a sprained left knee early in camp that has kept him out of preseason play so far. However, don't let that stop you from considering him for your deeper fantasy leagues. He will be a tackle machine alongside DeMeco Ryans and Zach Diles. Cushing has been back on the field this week and is hoping to play in the preseason finale against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Defensive backs are arguably the most difficult IDP position to speculate on. Each season sees a high turnover in top performers from the season before. Last season saw only a handful of 100 tackle DBs. However, if your league includes return yardage points, then DBs can offer quite a bit of weekly consistency for those who get return duties added to their gig.
Patrick Chung, NEP ~ Pat Chung is Bill Bellichick's kind of player. The former Oregon Ducks standout immerses himself in the game, and is a committed team player. Bellichick is never one for gaudy words of praise for rookies, but last season he was unusually complimentary of Jerod Mayo, who had a mammoth first year. This season the coach seems to have a similar fondness for Chung.
"He's got a great future." Bellichick told the Concord Monitor last week. "Patrick's worked hard. He's a very diligent kid. He's smart. He takes a lot of notes. He pays a lot of attention to details, little things. He asks good questions. I think football's important to him, he takes it very seriously."
Coming from Coach B, that's almost a marriage proposal. Through three games, Chung is tied for the team lead in tackles in limited duty, and he's also been returning punts (for you owners who get return yards). Take a late round flyer on Chung in 12 team or larger leagues, and snap him up in dynasty leagues.
Michael Mitchell, OAK ~ Nobody thought much of Mitchell when the Raiders drafted the Ohio safety. At least they didn't think him worthy of a second round pick, which is what the Raiders used. But apparently the Chicago Bears had their sights set on him two picks later. What do Da Bears and Raiders know? The kid is a rocket that hits like a semi. He's on the ball fast and the opposition like an anvil. The only knock on the kid is he missed much of the preseason with hamstring injuries that will limit him when he returns for game one of the regular season. Coach Tom Cable says Mitchell's simply missed too much practice time to jump right in. Keep checking those box scores, and when he gets on the field more, be prepared to snap him up if you are weak at the DB position.
Alphonso Smith, DEN ~ Smith is fighting for a shot to play opposite Champ Bailey for the Broncos. So far the Wake Forest alum's preseason has been a mixed bag. However, he is the future at corner back for the team, and will get his chance sooner or later. If your league does not get return yardage, simply keep Smith on your radar. However, he will be returning punts and kicks, if you're league rewards such things. If so, he could be fantasy gold, and worthy of a roster spot.