IDP Watch: Week Three

Steve Wyremski


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 monitor.

Often, things like quarterback hurries, quarterback knockdowns, or snap counts don’t appear in the box scores. These are key 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.

The goal is to largely avoid stellar IDP players since many of those individuals are already heavily in the eyes of IDP owners. Instead, here are some players to keep an eye on based on week three performances:

Tahir Whitehead, MLB DET

Stephen Tulloch tore his ACL with a ‘discount double-check’ celebration against the Packers on Sunday and is out for the rest of the season. Whitehead will move into the starting middle linebacker spot and, as a result, he immediately becomes IDP relevant. He’s in for a high volume of snaps as a subpackage player and a good amount of tackle opportunities – that should drive IDP production, which will immediately start in week four with a juicy matchup against the Jets. Whitehead is a valuable option through the rest of the year and, potentially, longer if he plays well. Should he struggle, keep an eye on Ashelee Palmer in deeper leagues.

Mychal Kendricks, ILB PHI

Kendricks will miss his second straight game on Sunday against the 49ers. It’s a huge hit for the Eagles and IDP owners given Kendricks’ production over the last year plus. He’s an IDP cornerstone who should be a top linebacker for years to come. However, in the near-term, it’s Casey Matthews and Emmanuel Acho who will likely fill-in. Don’t bother looking to these two for IDP production – even in the deepest of leagues – as they’re unlikely to be viable options. The reason Kendricks is on this list is to highlight him as a trade target. With the multiple week injury and the severity of the calf injury, it’s a great time to catch his owner in frustration.

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Marcus Smith, ILB/OLB PHI

We discussed Matthews and Acho above as the stop-gap options for Kendricks, but Smith may be a serious option as well. Originally drafted to play outside in the Eagles’ 3-4 defense, the coaching staff is letting Smith learn the ropes at inside linebacker. He actually played 16 snaps inside against the Redskins in week three and played decently well. The Eagles staff is now saying this is a “let’s see if he can do it” approach with Smith, which insinuates he could eventually play the inside spot long-term if all goes well. DeMeco Ryans is signed through 2015 so, if Smith plays well, Ryans could become expendable next off-season. It’s a situation to watch in tackle-heavy leagues.

Jamari Lattimore, ILB GB

This is the third consecutive week Lattimore is appearing in this series. He’s quietly playing very well in place of Brad Jones. With Jones out again in week three, Lattimore started at inside linebacker and played 61 percent of the team’s snaps. He finished the game with seven tackles and two assists. Defensive coordinator Dom Capers recently noted he’s happy with Lattimore’s play thus far, so there is a question as to whether Jones will regain his starting spot back once healthy. At the very least, Lattimore gets another chance to prove he should remain the starter against the Bears with Jones expected to miss another game. He’s an appealing dynasty option with the potential value spike on the horizon.

Jacquian Williams, WLB NYG

Like the Giants as a whole, Williams was awful in week one against the Lions, but he’s played well over the last few weeks. Through four games, he’s played 98 percent of the team’s snaps and has averaged four tackles and a little over two assists per game. Those are not fantastic numbers, but the raw athlete is still maturing and rounding into an every day player. He’s someone to continue to monitor, stash, or acquire depending on league depth as he continues to progress. While the numbers aren’t dynamite just yet, he’s playing every down and still possesses significant potential in an defense lacking a playmaker at the linebacker position.

Tyvon Branch, SS OAK

Branch suffered a broken foot last week and will miss the rest of the 2014 season. It’s a big blow to the Raiders’ defense and is now the second straight season Branch has suffered a major injury costing him the year. Charles Woodson should slide into the strong safety spot with Usama Young at free safety. With the injury, Woodson is a nice short-term option as he’s been productive to date on 100 percent of the team’s snaps and should now see a larger share of opportunities with Branch out. While Young is the immediate replacement for Branch, rookie Jonathan Dowling is worth monitoring in deeper leagues should Young falter.

Khalil Mack, SLB OAK

Mack’s snap percentage has increased every week to date with last week’s share at 97 percent. He’s quickly become an every down linebacker and is also surprisingly active in the tackle department despite his strongside linebacker position. He hasn’t been getting to the quarterback and accumulating sacks as much as we expected, but that should come with time. The notable items are he’s playing well and his tackle numbers from the last two weeks are solid (averaging four and a half tackles and two assists).

Vincent Rey, MLB/WLB CIN

Rey hasn’t been particularly active in the box score yet, but he’s playing more snaps than the tackle statistics suggest. Through three games, he’s played 65 percent of the team’s snaps. He’s starting on the weakside while is out with concussion issues, but the key is he’s consistently playing more snaps than Rey Maualuga (see week one and part of week two when all linebackers were healthy). It appears the Bengals’ coaching staff is finally seeing what may of us saw a year ago – Maualuga is a liability and is of better service on the sideline. Unfortunately, Rey’s upside will be limited as Emmanuel Lamur and Burfict are virtual locks for the subpackages, but Rey is still an option to consider in deeper leagues.

Deep Dynasty Looks

Avery Williamson, ILB TEN

Wesley Woodyard has one inside linebacker spot locked down, but Zaviar Gooden isn’t doing anything to hold onto the other one. Keep an eye on Williamson who may get a shot at some point this season. He’s worth a stash in deeper leagues. 

Cassius Marsh, DE SEA

Marsh is seeing anywhere from 20 percent to 25 percent of the team’s snaps on a weekly basis. He’s only amassed one tackle and three assists on the year. However, these statistics came last week and Cliff Avril is in the last year of his contract. Marsh is someone to continue to watch given the snaps thus far and Pete Carroll’s explicit support for him over the summer.

Bashaud Breeland, CB WAS

Deangelo Hall is out for the year with a ruptured Achilles and rookie Bashaud Breeland assumes his starting spot. Breeland will be targeted often as a rookie corner with limited experience, so in deep corner-required leagues, he’s a worthy option for 2014.

Gerald Hodges, WLB MIN

With Chad Greenway injured during the Vikings’ week three matchup with the Saints, Hodges stepped in and immediately produced with six tackles and an assist on only 19 snaps. That’s tremendous production on that small number of snaps. Should Hodges perform well with Greenway out, he could take over for the mediocre Jasper Brinkley in the middle. He’s worth a stash in deeper leagues.

Follow Steve on Twitter at @SteveWyremski