IDP Watch: Week 16

Steve Wyremski

branchIDP 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 ten players I’ll be watching all offseason and targeting:

Andre Branch, DE JAX

He is on a TEAR. He was the top rookie defensive end drafted in most leagues last season and he’s justifying that now. He has a sack in three straight games and in five of the last six weeks. There’s no question he’ll enter 2014 as a high upside end. He’s a DE1 over the last six weeks. It’d be surprising to find him on the wire in any league at this point.

Jonathan Massaquoi, DE ATL

He added another sack last week against the 49ers after starting again in week 16 and playing close to 70 percent of the team’s snaps. He’s now pushed Osi Umenyiora to a limited pass rushing role in an effort for the Falcons to see what they have in some of their young starters. Massaquoi’s shown well and appears to have earned a shot at a starting role in 2014. He’s still a free agent in many leagues and is worth a look given the short productive showing in 2013 and the opportunity he’ll see next year.

Shariff Floyd, DT MIN

He didn’t have a great rookie season, but veteran Kevin Williams is a free agent in 2014 – that should leave Floyd and Letroy Guion competing for starter snaps. Given Floyd’s pedigree and the fact that Floyd has out-snapped Guion thus far in 2013, he’ll be the favorite to start and see an increase in production in 2014. Now may be the time to acquire the cheap tackle in defensive tackle required leagues.

Cortez Allen, CB PIT

He has started the last two weeks after being pulled in an out of the starting lineup for much of the year. His early inconsistency can be blamed on a training camp injury that required surgery as opposed to his play. He’s now past the injury and is playing well and consistently. Because of that, 2014 should be a nice season for the young corner given how he’s finished 2013. If your league scores passes defended, that’s a bonus. I’ll be swiping him off the wire in many corner required leagues come the start of next season.

Shamarko Thomas, SS PIT

He is saying all the right things and is planning to work his tail off this offseason. The next few months will be crucial for the rookie safety as there is speculation that this may be Troy Polamalu’s last year unless he takes a pay cut and Ryan Clark is set to be a free agent. The Steelers traded up for Thomas last season and it’s clear he’s a part of their future plans with the likelihood that he has a shot to make an impact as a starter beginning next season.

Dont’a Hightower, SLB NE

He has been dominant the past three weeks and is set for increased snaps in 2014 with the likely departure of Brandon Spikes. He’s a prime talent, possesses the ability to play every down, and may slide into the middle with Spikes expected to move. That could end up being a perfect IDP recipe. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he finishes as a LB1 in 2014 and becomes a top IDP linebacker.

Khaseem Greene, WLB CHI

He started four games this season due to an injury to Lance Briggs, but he was held to a two-down role over that time. Greene is extremely versatile and there’s now a rumor circulating that Jon Bostic may not stick in the middle and will be pushed to the outside. If that happens, Greene will be someone to keep a close eye on. That move may work in Greene’s favor if he gets the middle linebacker spot. He’s been fairly productive in the limited opportunities presented to date. He just needs to see the snaps and he should be productive given what he’s shown thus far. This move for Bostic present Greene with a nice opportunity.

Allen Bailey, DE KC

He continues to play extremely well on a per snap basis. He gets to the quarterback and plays well in run support. His production will be capped by the 3-4 scheme long-term, but he’s a productive end who is set to assume a starter spot in 2014 as free agency creates some individual opportunity for the Chiefs.

Arthur Brown, ILB BAL 

Brown was a huge disappointment in his rookie season, but he’s apparently working extremely heard. He’s one of those ‘first to arrive-last to leave’ players who’s doing everything he can to succeed. The coaching staff is acknowledging that. Unfortunately, the Ravens have brought him along slowly and his snap sample is extremely small. Watch the offseason reports on Brown closely to see if he’s going to follow the unfortunate Nate Irving path from top rookie linebacker to bust.

William Gholston, DE TB 

He has been mentioned the past few weeks and with good reason. He’s accumulating a significant chunk of snaps and is putting up numbers. In week 16, he started his first game of the season and played well yet again on 78 percent of the team’s snaps. He’s situated to maintain a starting defensive end role in 2014 and represents a great buy or pickup depending on the league depth.

Follow Steve on Twitter at @SteveWyremski