With cutdown day upon us, action is happening all over the league and it’s not just affecting players on offense. Linebacker Sio Moore was traded to the Colts in exchange for a 2016 sixth round pick. This trade helps the IDP landscape on a couple fronts. First, it buoys Moore’s value because he gets a fresh start instead of being stuck on a team where he has lost favor with the coaching staff. Second, this makes the Oakland linebacker corps a little more clear for IDP purposes. The entire fallout from the trade is easiest to evaluate by team.
Malcolm Smith, WLB
Smith may be the biggest winner in this trade. He was already having a nice preseason with ten tackles, four assists and only one missed tackle. This move just solidifies Smith’s starting role. Oakland paid up to acquire Smith and he is locked into a mostly guaranteed $7 million dollar contract through 2016. It is relatively safe to say he will be a three down linebacker for at least this year and next, due to his well-rounded skills, coverage abilities, lack of competition and guaranteed contract.
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Ben Heeney, MLB
It is a poorly kept secret that I have been driving the Heeney bandwagon since he was drafted by Oakland. Honestly, he played worse in the preseason than I hoped, especially in coverage purposes. He really needs to step up those skills to make a strong bid at being a three down linebacker. This trade does not clear the way for him to start since he is still locked behind Curtis Lofton. Although this may open the door for Heeney to become a nickel linebacker or even make a case to play Sam if Ray-Ray Armstrong falters. It is over ambitious to expect consistent starter snaps from Heeney this year, but he has a chance to steal Lofton’s job next year. Keep in mind Lofton has no guaranteed money on his contract after this season.
Curtis Lofton, MLB
This move directly has little impact to Lofton’s value. He was already losing nickel package snaps and Moore’s play, or lack thereof, had nothing to do with it. Moore’s departure will not help Lofton gain more third down action. Lofton’s two down thumper role stays the same, although the sell window is dwindling by the day. If you are counting on him for more than this year, it may be a good time to re-evaluate that notion.
Ray-Ray Armstrong, SLB
One could argue Armstrong is really the biggest winner over Smith. I think this is flawed notion even though he is currently running as the starting Sam linebacker. According to Pro Football Focus, he is the second worst linebacker in Oakland this preseason. Armstrong is a 2013 UDFA from Miami (FL) who showed average athleticism at his Pro Day. However, once you factor in his slender 220 pound build, he just seems below average. Adding insult to injury, his coverage have been abysmal this preseason. On a better note, he did display reasonable coverage skills during his 243 snaps from last year. Armstrong may serve as a reasonable deep IDP fill in early in the season – I just don’t see him keeping the job. It looks as if Oakland is going to struggle in coverage in nickel situations. I would not be surprised to see recent safety signee Taylor Mays see some linebacker snaps in nickel formations.
Neiron Ball, LB
Ball was Oakland’s fifth round pick this year. Some thought he might even start the year on the PUP list due to his microfracture surgery last November, but he looks to be recovering more rapidly. Ball is an above average athlete with a very consistent motor. I think the Sam linebacker and nickel linebacker positions are up for grabs. At this point in time, Ball is as good a guess as any. He is a player to file away and watch to see if he is getting increasing snaps.
Moore is the second biggest winner in this trade, although it merely stops his plummet instead of increasing his value. He played close to average last year, making him one of the better linebackers in Oakland. This off-season, he fell out of favor with coaching staff and tumbled down the depth chart. Coach Jack Del Rio even said he was competing just to be a role player. He has been recovering from hip surgery and missed most of the preseason because of it. Moore is a versatile linebacker who showed a knack for rushing the passer last year. It is not clear how he really will fit into the Colts linebacking corps. The good news is the Colts have multiple aging linebackers and are in need of more talent. Unfortunately, Moore may ultimately settle into more of 3-4 outside linebacker role, which is not as helpful in most IDP formats. Either way, his chances of scoring your team points are much better in Indianapolis than they were in Oakland. I do not think Moore will crack the starting line up immediately, but he is reasonable hedge in deep leagues against injuries to the older Colts’ linebackers. Even though the Colts starting linebackers are 29 or older, they are all signed at least through 2016 with serious amounts of guaranteed money – this will make it hard for Moore to claim a starting spot without injuries.
Other Colts Linebackers
Unless the Colts report otherwise, Moore doesn’t seem to be an initial threat to any of the current starters and rotational linebackers. Dynasty owners should already be aware D’Qwell Jackson, Robert Mathis, Trent Cole, Jerrell Freeman and Erik Walden should not be counted on producing more than a two-year window. One could perceive this as a hit to Nate Irving’s value, but Moore and Irving serve different roles. Irving is more of run stopper while Moore is better in coverage and rushing the passer. I am not changing my current dynasty valuation on any of the Colts linebackers, but none them were highly regarded in my rankings anyway.
- IDP Dynasty Debate: Linebackers - March 1, 2017
- IDP Dynasty Debate: Defensive Line - February 18, 2017
- IDP 20/20: Raekwon McMillan - February 17, 2017