IDP Report Card: Week One

Mo Brewington

Many owners struggle to differentiate between IDP prospects once the well known targets are off the board. They get caught in the trap of checking the waiver wire for the past week’s top scorers and wind up adding a player whose performance in the previous game was an outlier, not an indication sustainable future success. The end result of this “dart-throwing” approach is often disappointment with the new players performance and even worse, losing games.

DLF’s IDP Report Card will attempt to aid owners who wish to see beyond the box score and focus on trends rather than events. Understanding when to avoid a pickup because the player’s perceived value is based more on circumstance than skill will help you improve your scoring efficiency and stack up wins. So, with a special thanks to our very own Dan Meylor, proprietor of the offensive version of DLF’s Dynasty Report Card, here is the Defensive version.

Player Evaluation: #1

Kwon Alexander, MLB TB

The doubters who questioned Kwon Alexander’s viability as a weekly fantasy starter were put on notice last Sunday. The hurting Alexander put on the Atlanta Falcons was a statement to the league that he is out to be one of the game’s best middle linebackers.

Both Kwon and his teammate (Davonte David) played in all 65 defensive snaps of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 31-24 win over the Falcons to open the 2016 NFL season.

There is a fear that Alexander and David cannot each play linebacker for the same team and still be successful fantasy options. Yet in every one of my IDP leagues these two finished as an LB1 and LB2, respectively. As a rookie in 2012, David finished as LB13 in IDP linebacker scoring – this is the only time in his four year career when he has failed to reach the top five in total points. This shouldn’t change. In fact, it is difficult to find evidence that either of these two players will suffer from sharing the linebacking duties. Last season alone, there were two pairs of teammates who finished in the top 12 and five pairs within the top 24 of total linebacker scoring. Alexander and David are a premier linebacking duo in the NFL, second only to Carolina’s Thomas Davis and Luke Keuchly in this writer’s opinion. There will be games where the spotlight is one or the other, but ultimately they will each carve out strong seasons for themselves.

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Against the Falcons, Alexander made the tackle on over 23% of Tampa’s 65 defensive plays. He recorded one sack on the day despite how rarely he was used as a pass rusher. Instead, the Bucs allowed the second year defender to patrol the middle of the field and hit everything moving. If there was a disappointing aspect of Kwon’s performance against Atlanta, it was the amount of times his first step was a false-step in pursuit of a playfake. He repeatedly put himself at a disadvantage by chasing dummy handoffs. Still, Alexander consistently recovered to make the tackle, finishing with 15 stops on the day. It’s frightening to imagine how good Kwon will become. Once he is able to pick out tendencies and anticipate the opponent’s next move, as well as he slices through blockers and corrals ball carriers he could have his own top five scoring streak to rival his partner Lavonte’s..

Readers who view this analysis as an overreaction to one great game should look back at the progression Alexander showed in 2015. There was a steady increase in Kwon’s tackling production over the course of his rookie year. He finished as a top 24 IDP linebacker even though he played in just 12 games due to a PED suspension.

Based on his first outing of 2016, it is safe to say Alexander is on the verge of taking a leap forward in year two. If Kwon Alexander is still floating around on your waiver wire, take the opportunity and solidify your linebacking corp for years to come.


Player Evaluation: #2

Trae Waynes, CB MIN


The nine tackles Trae Waynes generated on Sunday may have piqued the interest of IDP players looking for help in their secondaries, but Waynes’ performance against the Tennessee Titans was a classic example of how owners can be fooled into picking up bad players.

The Vikings starter at cornerback, Xavier Rhodes, was injured in pregame warm-ups, forcing Waynes into the lineup. Given the task of defending Titans rookie Tajae Sharpe, Waynes proved he was not entirely up to the challenge. Sharpe caught seven of his 11 targets on the day. The coverage provided by Waynes was consistently soft, often giving the rookie a cushion of five or more yards pre-snap. Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota did what any veteran passer would have done – he fed the open receiver.

Seeing how Sharpe was playing in his very first game as a professional, it would have made sense to challenge the rookie’s physicality. Instead, Waynes allowed a number of easy catches. He was in position to post the tackle numbers he did simply because he was picked on so often. Unlike Kwon Alexander, Waynes was the victim, not the aggressor.

Areas of Concern

There was a two-play sequence in the third quarter where Waynes gave up back-to-back 15+ yard completions to Tajae Sharpe and Andre Johnson.

After a sack forced 2nd-and-19  from the Tennessee 25, Waynes lined up to defend Sharpe, again offering entirely too much cushion. Sharpe took advantage, turning a skinny post route into an uncontested 17 yard reception.

On the next play, after allowing the Titans to turn second and long into a convertible third and short, Waynes lined up across from Johnson giving very little cushion, for once. Facing a receiver who outweighed him by 40 pounds, Waynes decided it would be a good idea to try and bump Johnson off of his route. While Andre may not be the burner he was in his prime, he is still a physical player coming off the line of scrimmage. Trae Waynes learned this the hard way, as Johnson quickly disposed of the young corner, tossing him toward the sideline and continuing upfield to catch a 16-yard slant. It was the equivalent of a bully banging Trae’s head into a locker, taking his lunch money and laughing as he walked to the cafeteria to buy Tastycakes with it.

Soft Run Defender

Sticking his man in coverage was not the only difficulty Trae Waynes had last Sunday. In defense of the run, Waynes was no more than a bystander. There were too many occasions where he jogged behind his teammates as they tried to tackle a Titan ballcarrier.

Waynes clocked in at the combine with a 4.31 second 40-yard-dash. When a man breaks into the open field, Waynes should be one of the first players on the scene. Instead he chooses to be an on-looker. He refuses to even dive on the pile and make it look like he was in on the play. He’s allows himself to be blocked out of the play without a fight.

There Will Always Be Bullies

Game two will be a huge eye-opener for Waynes, who risk being completely exposed at the hands of Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers this Sunday night . The damage Marcus Mariota and Tajae Sharpe inflicted on Waynes will seem like a sorority party in comparison to the horror show Rodgers, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb are bringing to town. A big game against a passing game as polished as Green Bay’s will go a long way toward validating Waynes’ play


IDP owners have to recognize why performances like this happen and what the consequences are for players like Waynes. Simply putting up big tackle numbers does not make a player a long-term solution in Dynasty IDP leagues. It makes them a bye week replacement, or streaming option at best.

Of course, our goal is to score points and Waynes certainly did that last Sunday. In the long run, playing such suspect defense will get Waynes benched by the Vikings’ coaching staff and he can’t help your team from the pine.



mo brewington
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