IDP leagues can be won with some preemptive in-season pickups or trading for players who are on the rise, but the masses have not picked up on it. Each week, we’ll detail a handful of IDP players or trends that are 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 six performances:
Akeem Dent, ATL MLB
With Stephen Nicolas limited on Sunday with an ankle injury, Dent played in sub-packages and ended up playing every down after being relegated to a two-down role until this point in 2012. On 74 snaps, the young middle linebacker tallied six tackles and two assists while struggling in pass coverage. While his production in an every down role is a positive sign long-term, don’t expect Dent to continue in this role once Nicholas returns. Nicholas and Sean Weatherspoon are the Falcons sub-package linebackers for the foreseeable future.
Mario Williams, BUF DE
Don’t get too excited by Mario’s two-sack performance against the Cardinals this past week. The Cardinals are the worst pass blocking offense in the league by a wide margin. Last week was one of the few weeks I’d advise starting the disappointing defensive end right now. He should continue to underperform unless his match-up is extremely favorable like it was in week six. If you can deal Mario now and take advantage last week’s performance for a solid long-term option, I’d do it.
Kamerion Wimbley, TEN DE
Like Mario Williams, Wimbley has been a huge disappointment and has been non-existent in the box score thus far. While that’s definitely frustrating as an owner, keep in mind that he had nine hurries in week six and now has 25 on the season which ranks third among defensive ends. I wouldn’t consider dropping him in any league at this point unless it’s super shallow. In a few games thus far, he got to the quarterback. He just needs to play more consistently and convert those pressures and hurries to sacks. Don’t give up just yet. On the flip side, if he’s been dropped, he should be stashed.
Demario Davis, NYJ ILB
Davis is starting to see a spike in snaps and has over the last four weeks. On Sunday he played 30 snaps of the team’s 71 snaps, which was his highest of the season. This was at the expense of Bart Scott who played his lowest of the year with 34 snaps. Davis proved he belongs on the field with one quarterback hit and two hurries to go along with one tackle. We may be witnessing a changing of the guard at inside linebacker in New York, so keep an eye on the snaps for Davis versus Scott. Davis has the long-term ability to be an every down linebacker and be a valuable dynasty linebacker.
Quinton Coples, NYJ DE
Last week was the rookie’s first start for the Jets as he continues to play more as the season progresses. Coples hasn’t proven to be terribly explosive off the line thus far, but in his first start he registered two sacks, one quarterback hit, one quarterback hurry, a tackle, and an assist playing 77% of the team’s snaps. Overall, a solid performance from the young defensive end. Given this performance and the fact that he is likely to play 70% or more snaps, he’s a decent long-term defensive end prospect to watch and/or consider despite the act that he’s not overly impressive.
Jimmy Smith, BAL CB
With Ladarius Webb tearing his ACL early in the game against the Cowboys, Smith assumed his spot and put in a solid tackle performance with a total of seven tackles and a pass defense. With Baltimore playing well and putting up points, Smith will be tested by opposing teams who are likely going to need to throw often to keep up with the Ravens. Known as a great tackler, we should expect Smith continue to put up five plus tackles on a weekly basis. This may be the opportunity he’s been waiting for to take hold of a starting spot for the long-term. Given the physical nature of the young corner, he could be a viable starter long-term in cornerback-required leagues.
Amari Spievey, DET SS/FS
Throughout the preseason and early on in 2012, Spievey struggled with concussion symptoms. He appears to be past that now as he started his first game of 2012 in week six and played 100% of the team’s snaps. He finished the game with six tackles and an assist. Spievey’s start came at the expense of Erik Coleman who appears to have lost his starting spot. At 24 years old, Spievey represents a young safety who still possesses some upside. Given that he was dropped in most leagues, he is worth considering depending on the depth of your league.
Jerry Hughes, IND OLB
With Robert Mathis inactive with a sprained knee, Hughes started at outside linebacker and the former first round pick tallied three tackles, a sack, and five assists. He also hit the quarterback twice to go along with two hurries. With Mathis out two to three weeks and Dwight Freeney banged up again, Hughes should be in line for more opportunities. Sure, as a 3-4 outside linebacker, Hughes isn’t as valuable as other fantasy linebackers, but the athletic linebacker is excelling after a position change from defensive end to outside linebacker. The previously tagged first round bust is redeeming himself early in 2012. He’s a must add in big-play leagues and other sack favorable scoring leagues as he has the potential to stick as a starting linebacker long-term with the aging Mathis and Freeney.
Jason Worilds, PIT OLB
With Lamar Woodley out last week, Worilds started, played 100% of the snaps, and played well with a sack, hurry, quarterback hit, and a tackle. Worilds will be a starter in the Steelers’ defense when James Harrison retires and has the potential to be as good as Harrison is from a fantasy perspective. Worilds should be stashed in dynasty leagues in preparation for a long-term starting linebacker role as a sub-package linebacker as he continues to exhibit long-term potential.
Olivier Vernon, MIA DE
Vernon played well again in week six. Unfortunately, the rookie was injured after only 26 snaps. In a handful of snaps, Vernon tallied two hurries, two tackles, and two sacks playing extremely well rushing the passer and against the run in limited action. Given his play thus far, Vernon is flashing the potential to be a dominant defensive end long-term.
Miles Burris / Rolando McClain, LB OAK
McClain was relegated to a two-down role in week six as he continues to struggle to perform consistently. It’s not just these first six games as his inconsistent play dates back a few seasons. After playing every down through week five, McClain only played 18 snaps in week six. Burris played every down in McClain’s place. Unfortunately, Burris only recorded two tackles and two assists. Given this development, it looks like the Raiders may be ready to move on from McClain who was once believed to have the potential to be a top NFL middle linebacker. Despite the lackluster performance, if not already rostered, Burris should be added given the potential every down role.
Ray Lewis, BAL ILB
With Lewis’ career potentially over due to a torn triceps, his vacated role on the Ravens’ defense could be a fantasy goldmine. Currently, Jameel McClain is listed as the starter in Lewis’s place. However, both McClain and Dannell Ellerbe are likely to see increased snaps as the team’s starting inside linebackers going forward. Both have the ability to be a viable starter in the short and long-term should Lewis decide to call it quits.
Players and Trends to watch:
Casey Hayward (CB; GB) is likely to start in place of an injured Sam Shields in week seven. Watch the 2012 second round pick who has performed well as a nickel back thus far.
John Hughes and Billy Winn (DT; CLE) both played well in week seven and represent viable long-term defensive tackle options in a now crowded Browns’ interior defensive line.
Jasper Brinkley (MLB; MIN) played every down over Erin Henderson in week six.
For the second straight week, Bobby Wagner (MLB; SEA) played every down.
With Dont’a Hightower out, Brandon Spikes (MLB; NE) continues to play increased snaps.
DJ Smith (GB; ILB) is out for the season with an ACL tear. Brad Jones is expected to start in his place.
We’ll see you next week for our Weekly IDP Watch. Follow Steve on Twitter.