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 eight performances:
Note: This was written earlier than normal due to hurricane Sandy. We, unfortunately, did not incorporate the Monday night game as a result.
Bruce Carter, DAL ILB
With Sean Lee out for the season, Carter took charge of calling the plays for the defense and continued to play every down. While Carter only had four tackles, he was second on the team in tackles in week eight. Expect him to be at the top of the tackle list for the Cowboys through the end of the season without having to compete with Lee for tackles. This will go a long way in previewing where Carter is headed and if he’s likely to reach to top echelon of linebackers like many expect.
Demario Davis, NYJ ILB
With Bart Scott out with a toe injury against the Dolphins, Davis started in the middle. He finished the game with three tackles and three assists playing every down. The rookie linebacker is a quick, aggressive linebacker who injects instantaneous speed to an aging linebacker group. Even when Scott returns, reports suggest Davis will continue to see a large number of snaps – that’s especially the case with sub-packages. Several recent reports also suggest that Davis will continue to keep the starting spot when Scott returns, but we haven’t heard anything from coach Rex Ryan just yet. Davis will still have to compete with David Harris for tackles, but he presents phenomenal long-term upside with immediate limited production.
Brandon Graham, PHI DE
Many suggested that rookie Vinny Curry would be active this week as changes on the defensive side of the ball were expected with the Eagles’ firing of their defensive coordinator, Juan Castillo, during the bye week. While Curry was still inactive, Graham saw increased snaps and led the team’s defensive ends with four tackles. That playing time was at the expense of both Jason Babin and Trent Cole, who both had their snaps cut due to underperformance to date in 2012. While things are looking promising for Graham (a former first round pick who possesses tremendous talent), it’s time to be concerned with both Babin and Cole who are underperforming and now losing snaps.
James-Michael Johnson, CLE SLB
The rookie linebacker only played 63% of the team’s snaps after starting against the Chargers, but was extremely productive tallying five tackles, five assists, a quarterback hurry, and a forced fumble. Playing the strong-side in place of injured Scott Fujita, Johnson’s upside is limited in the near-term. However, given this showcase of ball-hawking skills and the ability to get into the mix, Johnson is showing tremendous promise for the long-term. Given the potential to play any of the three linebacker spots, Johnson could ultimately find himself on the weak side or in the middle in an every down role. He’s a great long-term linebacker option in all dynasty leagues and is an immediate add, watch, or trade target depending on your league size.
Danny Trevathan, DEN MLB
We mentioned Trevathan as a watch in the preseason due to some early training camp buzz and the continued struggles and move of Nate Irving to the strong-side. This past week against the Saints, Trevathan played his highest snap total of the season and finished the game with three tackles and a pass defended. The rookie linebacker saw his first action of the season in week four and has seen 20-plus tackles in three of the last four games. With Irving’s aforementioned struggles, he’s an unlikely option as the answer in the middle for the Broncos. Tervathan should be in the mix if he continues to impress and develop like he has thus far.
Miles Burris, OAK WLB
Burris has been a subject of these watches for the past few weeks as he’s assumed the every down role for Rolando McClain. He continues to show long-term potential as he posted seven tackles for the week. Continue to watch or look to acquire Burris as he should be a long-term player in the Raiders’ linebacking corps.
Being a rookie, Hicks is a part of a rotation at defensive tackle and isn’t playing significant snaps, but he’s playing anywhere from 25-50% of the team’s snaps. In week eight, he finished with three tackles and a forced fumble. In defensive tackle required leagues, he should be stashed given the early production.
Chris Prosinski, JAX FS
The second-year safety started again at free safety in week eight and posted three tackles, an assist and a pass defended. This was his second straight start with Dwight Lowery out with an injured ankle. This isn’t likely to be a long-term change once Lowery returns, but with the significant amount of snaps Prosinski is playing, it’s a positive sign for his long-term prospects.
Nolan Carroll, MIA CB
Carroll started the last three weeks and continues to be very productive from a fantasy perspective. It all started in week four when he played 58% of the team’s snaps. Since then, he’s started three games and is posting solid numbers. In particular, in week eight against the Jets he finished with seven tackles, an assist, a forced fumble and an interception. He’s a must pickup in cornerback-required leagues. His long-term prospects don’t matter much given that cornerbacks are a pure commodity in dynasty leagues and are best dealt with on an annual basis.
Alfonso Dennard, NE CB
Dennard started the last two weeks after showing promise in weeks five and six. Now, the rookie corner has two interceptions in the last two weeks. Given how well the Patriots’ offense is playing, expect Dennard to continue to be productive in the tackle department. With Ras-I Dowling now on injured reserve, there will be less competition for snaps going forward. Like Carroll, Dennard is a solid option in corner-required leagues.
Colin McCarthy, TEN MLB
While he isn’t playing particularly well in pass coverage, McCarthy finally appears to be back to his pre-injury self after posting nine tackles and two assists in week eight. He returned to an every down role after missing week seven with an ankle injury. McCarthy should return to form soon.
Other Players and Trends to Watch
Casey Hayward (GB) – He started again with Charles Woodson out and finished with six tackles and two assists. He is a great long-term option in corner leagues as this secondary should continue to see a high volume of opportunities with Aaron Rodgers and a potent offense around for the foreseeable future.
Brandon Spikes (NE) – People continue to refer to Spikes as a two-down thumper, but the middle linebacker again played a high volume of snaps and finished with eight tackles and two passes defended.
Jerrell Freeman (IND) – He again played the highest number of snaps among the Colts’ linebackers. However, keep in mind that Pat Angerer isn’t yet full speed. He only played 25 snaps. That isn’t going to continue once Angerer is 100% and Freeman’s time is likely to be cut once that happens as a suspected rotation of Freeman and Kavell Conner is likely.
Stevie Brown (NYG) – He is playing out of his mind right now. He’s involved from a tackle perspective and also making big-plays, making him a very valuable short-term option at safety.
Linval Joseph (NYG) – He continues to play extremely well both in run support and rushing the passer. With Jason Pierre-Paul demanding double team attention, Joseph should continue to see play-making opportunities. Surprising to many, Joseph is now a top ten defensive tackle in a majority of leagues – this guy is a must target in defensive tackle required leagues.
Vinny Curry (PHI) - He was inactive again in week eight, but expect that to change in the near future as changes are being made on the defensive side of the ball with Trent Cole and Jason Babin aging and struggling. There have been multiple reports of this and many expected him to be active in week eight.
Andre Branch (JAX) – He finally posted his first NFL sack – it only took him eight weeks. The sack was a monster one as he sacked Aaron Rodgers, forced a fumble and recovered it. This is what most were expecting the rookie end to perform like straight away, but he’s disappointed until that one play. I wouldn’t flop and expect this on a weekly basis, but keep an eye on Branch if his owners are frustrated.
Gregg Scruggs (SEA) hasn’t played more than 20 snaps to date, but the rookie end is getting to the quarterback and could find himself in a pass rushing role. Many suspect that he’ll see increased snaps over the next few weeks. He’s not worth a speculative stash just yet, but he’s worth keeping an eye on.
We’ll see you next week for our Weekly IDP Watch. Follow Steve on Twitter.