You may have noticed that I tend to bang on about efficiency a lot as a predictive tool. With the draft nearly upon us, I wanted to plant my flag in the ground with a list of players who are young, efficient, and may be heading towards increased value and performance in 2017 and beyond.
He finished third of all DTs in 2016 (behind Terrell McClain and Snacks Harrison) in tackle efficiency with 23 total tackles in just 204 snaps. He really only played when Steve Mclendon was injured, but I think it was clear Simon was the better player when on the field. It’s also worth noting that the other players on the Jets D-line tend to take up a lot of attention, so Simon could profit from being relatively lightly focused on.
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Brandon Williams is the unquestioned Big Dog on the Ravens D-line, but Pierce managed to see significant snaps even so as part of the rotation. Lawrence Guy has left that rotation, so there is an opportunity for more volume. When on the field he managed to finish tenth in tackles per snap – just ahead of teammate Williams and Danny Shelton. Pierce is not a glamorous player at all, but defensive interior rarely are.
Rankins missed a huge chuck of the season with injury, but when finally fit managed 4.0 sacks from just 336 snaps. That put him second from all DTs behind Geno Atkins (and just ahead of Aaron Donald). He rushed the passer on over 70% of his snaps so the opportunity will likely be there in 2017 too.
Rankins isn’t going to get you ten-plus sacks a season, but it’s very possible his owner overpaid for him last season and is happy to take a low pick to get rid of him.
Clarke finished joint 15th of all Des in 2016 in sack efficiency. He managed 4.0 sacks from just 372 snaps (only 252 of which were rushing the passer). Margus Hunt has left the team and Michael Johnson seemed like he was in terminal decline last season so I believe there is currently an opportunity for Clarke to secure more playing time opposite Carlos Dunlap.
He’ll hardly be a “breakout”, but Lawson has been forgotten in some circles. Sean McDermott ranks number ten as a defensive coordinator from 2014-2016 in terms of DE sack efficiency and I think there’s a good chance that continues in Buffalo. Injury kept Lawson sidelined last year and then he was used sparingly when he was fit (23 snaps per game) so there’s a good chance he gets a lot more playing time under a coach who likes to unleash his DEs.
Similar to Lawson above. He only played 300 snaps and managed 21 total tackles. That efficiency placed him 24th of all Des in between Jadaveon Clowney and Rob Ninkovich – two of the better run defending ends in the league. Washington clearly doesn’t have the same pass rushing ceiling as Lawson does (hence their draft position) but I like to roster both types of DEs and I think he’s worth a gamble in deeper leagues.
Roberts has had a great deal of ups and downs already in his short career. He was undrafted almost everywhere in rookie drafts, then a popular waiver grab after Jamie Collins was traded, then downgraded after his playing time dropped. I think he’s going to step into a significant role in his second year because when he was on the field he was astoundingly efficient as a tackler.
The only other comparable player to Roberts’ efficiency was Bobby Wagner who was the undisputed king of tackling in 2016. Roberts only managed 270 snaps but in those snaps he recorded 45 total tackles. As a comparison Nick Kwiatkowski managed 42 total tackles on 457 snaps and he’s a popular stash going into 2017.
There’s a decent chance Elandon Roberts does nothing, but there’s also a chance he’s the new Chris Borland.
Martinez was in a three-way job share in 2016 with Joe Thomas and Jake Ryan. And Martinez had the fewest snaps at just 439. That’s not ideal. But again, if you dig into efficiency, a different story appears. Martinez was the best of the three players in solo tackle efficiency, assisted tackle efficiency, pass defense efficiency and sack efficiency. PFF graded him as the best of the three in the run game and as a pass rusher too. It’s Green Bay so the LB situation is muddled but I think there’s a good chance he’s the top dog next season.
Ramik again was a tackle efficiency monster. In his 524 snaps he managed to make 76 total tackles, placing him 14th in efficiency (a few spots above Kwon Alexander). Derrick Johnson has signed a new deal but I think Wilson is in line to secure a greater portion of inside LB snaps even so. Johnson is in his mid-30s after all.
Collins managed just 424 snaps last season but they came in essentially seven weeks as a full-time starter (60 snaps per week). He managed ten passes defensed in those snaps which is a good if not spectacular ratio. Of course the Falcons had injury issues at corner but I’m expecting Collins to see some solid action.
Roberts played 285 snaps across eight games (935/game) as the Jets number four corner. And he wasn’t very good. He finished outside the top 112 corners according to PFF. So why do we care? Because he managed six PDs which put him at number 14 on the coverage plays efficiency table. With Darelle Revis out of the picture it’s entirely possible Roberts gets significant playing time and he could be that perfect mix in corners – high snaps, high targets and
49 total tackles in 376 snaps was good enough for Miles to finish fourth overall in tackle efficiency. In assists he was number two overall behind only Kemal Ishmael (who was a starting LB at times last season). Miles failed to record a single PD or INT so he’s not exactly an all-round safety but he does have a nose for getting in on tackles and could prove value in a Jets backfield that currently lacks star power.
So there you have it. Eleven players who may not be stars already but have shown glimpses that they could prove to take the leap forwards in 2017. If you’re feeling doubtful you have every right to be. Not all of them will become useful IDPs. But if there’s anything we know in fantasy football it’s that uncertainty dominates and big changes happen every year. Rather than stocking up on rookies who will never do anything securing some slightly older players who just might break out could be a smart move.
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