IDP leagues can be won with some preemptive in-season pickups or trading for players who are on the rise, but whom the masses have not picked up on. Each week, we’ll detail a handful of IDP players or trends essential for dynasty players to be aware of.
Often, things like quarterback hurries, quarterback knockdowns, or snap counts don’t appear in the box scores. These are huge indicators of potential value changes that may be forthcoming as they show a particular player is getting after the quarterback and a string of sacks may be on the horizon or a linebacker may be coming off of the field more than originally expected.
Here are some players and trends to keep an eye on based on week two performances:
Taylor Mays, SS CIN
It may be time to give up on Mays. He was a sleeper target throughout the preseason and played relatively well, but that ended quickly with a week one benching. In week two, he didn’t play a defensive snap. It’s a shame; he’s physically a perfect fit for the position, but he’s struggled significantly and was beaten on a number of big plays in week one. In week two, Jeromy Miles played in place of Mays. While he was productive from a fantasy perspective with five tackles and two assists, rookie George Iloka is also in the mix despite being injured in week one and missing week two.
Vontaze Burfict, WLB CIN
With Thomas Howard out for the year after tearing his ACL during practice last week, Burfict is positioned for increased snaps. Reports (and indications from last week’s game) are that Burfict will continue to rotate with Vincent Rey in a combination effort to fill Howard’s role. In week two, Burfict was on the field for 22 snaps and played adequately. In limited snaps, he posted two tackles and an assist. Despite his maturity issues that left him undrafted, the once projected first round pick is worth a watch and a stash in deeper leagues given the opportunity presented. If you want a high ceiling linebacker with little investment, Burfict is your man.
Buster Skrine, CB CLE
With Joe Haden suspended for four games, Skrine got the start last week and was targeted nine times. Of course, that led to seven tackles for the young corner. There were reports throughout the offseason the Browns’ coaching staff believed that Skrine would develop into a starter in 2012. Drawing the week two start over Sheldon Brown confirms that Skrine is likely to still be a favorite to start even when Haden returns. In fact, Coach Shurmur noted that Skrine’s start was a coach’s decision and not due to an injury to Brown. This is a situation worth monitoring, but given his low level of NFL experience, Skrine will continue to be targeted by opposing quarterbacks making him a great IDP cornerback option in the short-term and, potentially, long-term.
Cameron Wake, DE MIA
Don’t get discouraged with the two statistically unproductive games from Wake to start the 2012 season. In fact, he’s a perfect buy low candidate. Many owners are concerned with no sacks and three tackles after two weeks – don’t be one of them. While Wake hasn’t posted a sack, he is pressuring the quarterback with five hurries and five quarterback hits after two weeks – those five quarterback hits leads the league among defensive ends. If he continues to put this kind of pressure on the quarterback, the sacks will come. Be patient with Wake and target him as a buy low; he’s playing well despite it not showing up in the box score.
Thomas Keiser, DE CAR
We talked about Keiser as a watch in the preseason, but he didn’t play a snap in week one. In week two, however, he played a roughly 50 percent of the team’s snaps on his way to a sack and two tackles. Given how well Greg Hardy is playing, it’s unlikely that Keiser is going to steal a larger share of snaps, but he should continue to be monitored or added in deeper leagues given his potential long-term value.
George Wilson, SS BUF
Wilson has been pretty average so far in 2012 while facing offenses that presented the Bills with average to above average tackle opportunities in the first two weeks of the season. He’s totaled six tackles and four assists in 116 snaps thus far, while backup Da’Norris Searcy has played only 40 total snaps and his production isn’t that far off with four tackles and two assists. For a safety who many expected top ten production from, he’s underperformed thus far. With Searcy’s production per snap and in-the-box ability, it won’t be surprising to see the veteran safety to lose some snaps going forward. Da’Norris is the long-term strong safety answer in Buffalo.
Russell Allen, WLB JAX
While Allen is currently playing an every down role for the Jaguars, don’t expect it to last. Once Daryl Smith returns from injury, Allen will likely lose his sub-package snaps. His performance in week two was phenomenal with 12 tackles and an assist, but he was also presented with a ridiculous 74 tackle opportunities against the Texans. Don’t expect that type of production to continue. With Allen destined for a two-down role when Smith is back, he is better left on the wire or dealt to a shortsighted owner.
Jacksonville Jaguars / Houston Texans IDPs
As alluded to above, the tackle opportunities for the Jaguars were ridiculous in week two. It’s important to keep that in mind when analyzing their week two IDPs’ performance. They’re not as impressive as they appear to be after the Jaguars defense was on the field for all but eight minutes in the first half of their week two game.
Because the Texans offense was on the field so much, the Texans defenders only saw 26 tackle opportunities. So, JJ Watt’s four tackles and one and a half sacks were pretty impressive. Don’t worry about the Houston defenders’ production in week two; it had everything to do with a low volume of tackle opportunities.
DeJon Gomes, SS WAS
Yet again, Gomes walked away with a solid performance starting in place of the injured Brandon Meriweather, posting seven tackles. At this point, it looks like Gomes has secured the starting safety position and represents a great strong safety option in both the near and long-term.
Zach Brown, WLB TEN
Coming out of North Carolina, it didn’t look like Brown could hit and would be willing to initiate contact at the NFL level, but he looked good on Sunday starting on the weak side with Colin McCarthy out with a high ankle sprain. He tallied six tackles, four assists, a sack and a forced fumble. He’s likely rostered in most leagues given where he was drafted in the NFL Draft, but Brown should continue to be watched over the next few weeks with McCarthy out. If he continues to play like this, he has the potential to be ultimately be a top IDP linebacker. He needs to continue to be comfortable with contact, though. He has the athleticism to excel and be an every down player, but needs to continue to be comfortable with contact to achieve that. Given how he played in college, that’s a big long-term question. Last week was a great start, though.
Quinton Carter, SS DEN
Carter was a popular sleeper this off-season, but he’s struggled to get on the field. He’s only played seven defensive snaps thus far in 2012, which all came in week two. He was injured throughout the preseason, but it seems that new defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio may not be a fan of Carter. Mike Adams and Rahim Moore look to be the favorites at safety for the Broncos. Carter shouldn’t be dropped just yet given the potential he showed late last season and into the playoffs, but his prospects don’t look as high as they once were.
Mario Williams, DE BUF
Like Cameron Wake, Williams has struggled to put up the stats through two weeks. After a week one where he failed to put pressure on the quarterback, in week two Williams got to the quarterback for four hurries. Week one against the Jets was a concern considering he couldn’t get to Mark Sanchez and beat mediocre Austin Howard, but it looks like he’s back on track after week two. Like Wake, patience is the key here.
Deep Dynasty Watches
We talked rookie corners to target last week, but this week we’ll focus on some deep dynasty IDPs to watch.
George Iloka, SS CIN
As I mentioned earlier, Iloka is worth a stash in deeper leagues, despite the week one injury. He represented strong competition for the starting spot in training camp before Taylor Mays won the job. When he returns, Iloka will be a strong contender for the starting spot.
Jerron McMillian, SS GB
McMillian isn’t showing up in the box score just yet, but in week two he played 44-of-63 snaps. Given how old Charles Woodson is, McMillian is a solid bet to compete with MD Jennings for snaps going forward absent any off-season additions. With McMillian getting more game action than Jennings, he appears to be the current favorite.
Nigel Bradham, SLB/WLB BUF
Bradham is currently playing the strong side spot rotating with Arthur Moats. Nick Barnett is under contract through 2013, but Bradham has the ability to play both outside linebacker positions. If Barnett goes down, Bradham would be a solid option to slide into the starting spot. With the strong start to his young career already seeing snaps after two weeks, Bradham should be monitored.
Mike Martin, TEN DT
Martin is quietly playing a sizeable percentage of snaps (58%) and is getting to the quarterback. So far this season, he has a sack, two quarterback hits, and four hurries. Despite that, he’s not rostered in many deep leagues.
Tavon Wilson, NE FS/SS
Wilson plays both safety positions and Bill Belichick is already comfortable using him in various packages. Wilson has played well so far, especially in week one where he played 63% of the team’s snaps. He isn’t a dependable player yet, but he’ll offer strong competition for snaps with Steve Gregory and has the potential to be a starter. Given his work ethic, Wilson is a perfect fit for the Patriots as a long-term player.
We’ll see you next week for our Weekly IDP Watch. Follow Steve on Twitter.