Matt Lane gives you a rundown of all the depth chart movement going into the first week of the NFL season
In Buffalo, Rookie LB Randell Johnson has been assigned the starting WLB spot. It was expected that Preston Brown would be the replacement for Kiko Alonso’s snaps. Randell Johnson is a good pickup in dynasty leagues but I would still expect snaps to be shared early in the season.
The Bears LB group has Khaseem Greene and Jon Bostic listed as second string at MLB and WLB respectively, but both could have opportunities to rise up the depth chart, even without injuries to starters DJ Williams and Lance Briggs. This is a situation to monitor only at the moment.
Christian Kirksey didn’t get the starting job at Cleveland, but Craig Robertson is likely going to be used mainly as a run stopper. Kirksey is a more athletic player and I would imagine he winds up as the starter come the end of the season.
Over in Dallas, Rookie DE Demarcus Lawrence isn’t going to see first team snaps quite so often in his rookie year. George Selvie and Jeremy Mincey have been given the nod to start at Defensive End. Mincey is not much of a pass rusher (20 sacks in 66 NFL games) and could easily be edged out if Lawrence can get some QB pressure on 3rd down.
Derek Wolfe and Malik Jackson will fight over snaps in Denver, neither have impressed enough to get a major stake on the defensive line – though Wolfe appears to have the early edge in this battle.
In the Motor City, Ashlee Palmer appears to have been given the go ahead as starting OLB for the Lions, but if you drafted Kyle van Voy in your dynasty draft you may not have to wait too long before he sees some significant time on the field. Palmer hasn’t held down a starting role in his previous 5 seasons and has an average of les than 2 combined tackles per game and just one lone sack.
Texans’ defence looks cruel in terms of pass rush and #1 Overall pick Jadeveon Clowney has been designated as the JACK linebacker. The Jack is a compromise between linebacker and lineman and is focused almost exclusively on rushing the passer, but will also be present on passing downs too – giving Clowney a huge role on defence which can only be good for his IDP prospects. A good rundown of the ‘Jack’ role can be found here on ‘From The Rumble Seat’
Joe Mays has been given the 4th LB spot in Kansas City. He will be alongside Derrick Johnson, Justin Houston and Tamba Hali and shouldn’t be much of an IDP starter.
At the Giants, Mathias Kiwanuka still has the starting job opposite Jason Pierre-Paul, but that could change. Damontre Moore had a nice spell in pre-season and should see plenty of looks on 3rd down as he is eased into some NFL action.
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In Pittsburgh, it looks like Rookie DE Stephon Tuitt has been given the starters job ahead of Brett Keisel. In the secondary Mike Mitchell has been given the FS spot ahead of his move from Carolina. Mitchell was a top 10 DB last year and could be in the top 15-20 this year alongside Polamalu.
The 49ers have serious injury issues on defence and Quinton Dial replaced Glenn Dorsey at DT. Wilhoite replaces Bowman at ILB and Dan Skuta comes in in place of Aldon Smith who is serving a 9 game suspension. This defence has truly been decimated but the stars, Willis and Justin Smith should still be good IDP contributors (If Smith is listed as a DT). Chris Culliver, who missed all of last season is in at RCB and should have a good start to the year after a long time on the sidelines.
Kamerion Wimbley has won the ROLB job in Tennessee over Akeem Ayers. I don’t see much prospect for any pass rushers in Tennessee but Wimbley might be the best one on the roster, which isn’t much of an accolade.