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 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 seven performances:
Terrell Suggs, BAL DE
No one expected it, but Suggs was active last week against the Texans and played 44 snaps. He actually played well and looked good coming back from a torn Achilles from back in April. He registered a sack in his surprise return and immediately becomes a must start at defensive end. Playing 55 percent of the team’s snaps squashed any concerns dynasty owners had on Suggs returning to form. He’s back and confirmed as a top dynasty option at end.
Dre Kirkpatrick, CIN CB
The rookie corner hasn’t been active for a game yet in 2012 due to a knee injury, but that should cahnge when the Bengals return from their bye in week nine against the Broncos. Kirkpatrick is a fantastic tackler and should be a long-term option in corner-required leagues. He’ll immediately be inserted in to the Bengals starting lineup and be a viable option both in 2012 and prospectively.
Bruce Carter, DAL ILB
For a second straight week, Carter played every down for the Cowboys. Looking at his tackle numbers of three tackles and two assists in each of the last two weeks, you wouldn’t think he played every down, though. He hasn’t been terribly active just yet. Long-term, he is an every down inside linebacker, so the value and production should ultimately be there. Now is the time to acquire him while his snaps are high and the performance is not yet there. With Sean Lee potentially out for the remainder of the year with season-ending toe surgery, Carter should continue to play every down as the team’s signal caller and the increase in production may be on the horizon.
Demario Davis, NYJ ILB
As we mentioned last week, it looks like the elder Bart Scott is giving way to the younger Davis. We saw a glimpse of that in the snap counts from week six and that continued in week seven against the Patriots. Davis played 71 of the Jets’ 80 snaps as compared to Scott’s nine snaps. Part of the reason is that Davis is playing sub-packages and that’s exactly what the Jets played most of the game against the Patriots. While he posted six tackles and an assist, this week is going to be a big indication of what the rest of 2012 is going to look like for the rookie. The Jets should play a lot more base formations against the Dolphins. If Davis continues to see more reps than Scott, Davis would represent an immediate fantasy impact player down the stretch in 2012. Either way, Davis is looking like a solid long-term dynasty option at linebacker with linebacker two upside.
Quinton Coples, NYJ DE
Coples clearly has the confidence of the Jets’ coaching staff as he again played a large percentage (88%) of the team’s snaps in week seven. He only posted three tackles, but he got to Tom Brady hurrying him four times. While I haven’t been a huge fan of Coples, he has played well. Long-term, he’s unlikely to ever be a stud fantasy end given the scheme he plays in, but he should be serviceable if he continues to play like he has and continues to improve. Given his play against the Patriots this week, he certainly should be watched to close the 2012 season.
Frank Alexander, CAR DE
The fourth round rookie only has one assist in his last two games, but he’s getting to the quarterback. In the last five games, he has ten hurries. Four of those came in the last two weeks. He’s still not playing more than 50 percent of the team’s snaps yet, but with Charles Johnson continuing to disappoint other than his ridiculous week four performance against the Falcons, Alexander could see increased snaps as the season progresses. It’s anyone’s guess what changes are going to be made in Carolina with the less than stellar season thus far, but long-term Alexander is an intriguing watch given how he’s played thus far.
Charles Woodson, GB FS/CB & MD Jennings, GB FS
With Woodson’s broken collarbone, Jennings should see the start and increased snaps while Woodson is out. Jennings has quietly played well over the last two weeks on the field for roughly 40% of the team’s snaps. Given how dominant the Packers defense has looked over the past few weeks, Jennings should see increased tackle opportunities with the forecasted increase in snaps while Woodson is out.
Miles Burris, OAK WLB
Again in week seven, Burris played every down over Rolando McClain. McClain only played 33 of the team’s 65 snaps and looks to officially be a bust following enormous expectations after being drafted eighth overall in the 2010 draft. On the other hand, in week seven Burris posted a quarterback hurry, a sack, and a quarterback hit, along with four tackles and three assists. One thing to keep an eye on is that Aaron Curry returned to practice this past week, so there is the potential that either Burris or Wheeler lose snaps should Curry be activated from the PUP list. Right now it looks like Burris has the potential to be a decent linebacker option long-term, though.
Muhammad Wilkerson, NYJ DE
While he’s a 3-4 defensive end and, therefore, possesses limited fantasy upside, the second year player has played well the past few weeks and, particularly, the last two. In each of those games, he posted five tackles. At this point in the year, he ranks as a top 15 defensive end in most leagues. For a guy who many dismissed given a lackluster rookie season and the fact that he’s a 3-4 defensive end, that’s certainly noteworthy. There’s no reason why this shouldn’t continue as Wilkerson is getting to the quarterback (12 hurries) and continues to be involved with 29 tackles on the year. He should be a fixture of this defensive for years and, therefore, a decent second defensive end who comes cheap.
Pat Angerer, IND ILB
Angerer returned to the field in week seven playing 37 percent of the team’s snaps and racking up three tackles and two quarterback hits. With Jerrell Freeman’s emergence, it’s unclear how the inside linebacker spots will be handled between Angerer, Jerrell Freeman, and Kavell Conner, but there is likely to be some sort of rotation. More likely than not, Angerer should assume the every down role given his production in 2011.
Jerrell Freeman, IND ILB
As noted above, Freeman may lose some snaps to Kavell Conner once Angerer is fully healthy and playing every down. That should mean an immediate drop in value for Freeman. Conner isn’t particularly talented and Freeman should ultimately see the higher percentage of snaps, but in the short-term it appears there may be a rotation. As a result, don’t count on Freeman’s early 2012 production continuing; it’s likely to fade.
Junior Galette, NO DE
Galette is not playing more than 40 percent of the Saints snaps, but this guy is getting to the quarterback with four sacks in the last four weeks to go with 11 hurries over that same period. The former undrafted free agent has continued to put presser on the quarterback like he did in the second half of 2011. While he’s competing for snaps with Will Smith and Cameron Jordan, Galette is a great taxi squad addition or stash in deeper leagues. As this strong play continues, he should see increased opportunities.
AJ Hawk, GB ILB
Despite DJ Smith being out for the year, Hawk didn’t play every down in week seven. Instead, Brad Jones played 100 percent of the team’s snaps. Many expected Hawk to see an immediate bump in production with Smith out, but that doesn’t look to be the case. The Packers continue to show they’re less than thrilled with Hawk. While the short-term value for Hawk looked to be on the rise, it’s best to look elsewhere as it doesn’t look like Hawk’s role is going to change much.
Other Players & Trends to Watch
Lawrence Timmons (PIT) now has three straight weeks with solid production and has performed as a linebacker one over that time.
If Luke Kuechly (CAR) sticks as an every down middle linebacker, there’s no reason why he won’t be a top five fantasy linebacker on a regular basis. He looks much more comfortable in the middle as compared to playing the weak side.
Dannell Ellerbe (BAL) looked great in an every down role against the Texans and could be a great short-term play to close out 2012 and, likely, going forward with Ray Lewis all but finished with football as result of last week’s injury. Ellerbe is always mixing it up and involved in the play.
Michael Johnson (CIN) is a top five defensive end in many leagues thus far in 2012. He’s getting to the quarterback (11 hurries, six hits, and four sacks) and playing more consistent than he did in 2011. He’s leading the Bengals’ defensive line in snaps.
Casey Hayward (GB) got the start in place of Sam Shields last week and played well with three tackles, an interception (his fourth in three weeks) and a pass defended. Hayward is another player who should benefit from Woodson’s broken collarbone.
Glover Quin (HOU) is having the season that many expected in 2011. He’s a cheap add and a young safety with decent long-term potential.
Don’t forget about Brandon Taylor (SD). If he’s been dropped, scoop him up. It’s only a matter of time before Atari Bigby moves along. If it doesn’t happen in 2012, Taylor should push for snaps in 2013.
Andre Branch (JAX) continues to disappoint and is not starting for the Jaguars any longer. He only played 28 snaps this week, but did post two quarterback hurries and two quarterback hits.
We’ll see you next week for our Weekly IDP Watch. Follow Steve on Twitter.