I believe that to properly analyze the 2017 IDPs you need to have an idea of how they’ll ALL perform so you can benchmark and compare them effectively. So I built a model using past performance, efficiency, scheme information and coaching tendencies to predict what will happen in 2017. I’ve applied that to my best estimates for how teams will use players this year which gives a projection and ranking for all IDPs. You can read more about what I did and how here.
Remember after the 2014 season the Lions had one of the best defenses in the league and Teryl Austin was getting interviews for head coaching jobs? Since then they’ve become a great case study in showing how tough building a top unit is. Not only do you need to have a star player or two (Ndamokung Suh was great for them back then) but also to NOT have any glaring holes. Of course, the Lions are a team that always has gaping holes on defense. It’s very often the number two corner, or end and linebacker has been an issue for years but there’s always something offensive coordinators can remorselessly exploit.
Sadly I can’t really see that trend ending this season. In fact looking at the personnel they might have several of those areas which means it’s likely to be a long season up in Motor City.
None. In fact it’s been a little while since I’ve had the opportunity to write about any of them to be honest. If anyone’s reading this then tell me in the comments who the next one will be. If you get it right I’ll send you a prize.
Ezekiel Ansah, DE
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This is more like it – everyone loves them some Ziggy! Or do they? He was obviously a huge disappointment in 2016 after his breakout 2015, so should you be confident with him in your line-up?
Moderately is my answer. I have him down as my #14 defensive end with a bounce back to full fitness. I don’t think he’ll be a star but I do think he’ll be very good some weeks.
Key stats: 658 snaps, 34 solo tackles, 11 assists, ten sacks, two passes defended.
Jarrad Davis, LB
The hype is pretty crazy, but sometimes the truth is that obvious. He was drafted into a great spot by a team who obviously has a lot of confidence in him. Austin’s defense tends to make one linebacker look great and Davis will be that man in 2017. He’s my #15 linebacker for this year and he could have a very good early career.
Key stats: 932 snaps, 98 solo tackles, 33 assists, two sacks, six passes defended.
Darius Slay, CB
Big Play Slay is a rare number one corner I like a lot – mainly because he’s so reliable at getting his hands on the ball. In leagues that reward PDs significantly (they all should) then he’s a top corner. In NPLB scoring he’s my #17 and eminently startable.
Key stats: 916 snaps, 46 solo tackles, 12 assists, 15 passes defended, two INTs.
Blur or Oasis? Natural Selection or Intelligent Design. Bourbon or Custard Cream? No. The great debate of our time is who will play strong safety in 2017 for the Lions.
Personally I’m squarely in Team Tavon having never really liked Killebrew. I think his instincts are bad and he’s too slow. But the Lions show many signs of being fans so we must at least allow for the possibility he starts. Regardless, I see a job share here with both of them startable at times but no dominant season. The lead player will be my #25. The second-stringer my #74.
Wilson key stats: 708 snaps, 61 solo tackles, 16 assists, one sack, four passes defended, two INTs.
Killebrew key stats: 455 snaps, 31 solo tackles, 14 assists, one sacks, three passes defended, one INT.
A’Shawn Robinson, DT
Remember a year ago when the draft class was the greatest defensive tackle class in who knows how long? Now those players have acclimatized to the NFL I think we’ll see a few of them start to shine. Haloti Ngata is a shadow of his former self with Robinson the man to own. He owned played around 400 snaps as a rookie in 2016. I expect a significant increase there and some excellent production in the run game. The Lions tend to award solo tackles quite heavily so in DT-premium leagues he could be a smart buy. He’s my #18 tackle.
Key stats: 638 snaps, 30 solo tackles, nine assists, four sacks, three passes defended.
Kerry Hyder, DE
The archetypical Lions weak spot player. Hyder is fine, I guess, but just doesn’t have the upside to be excited about. You can do better. When he has a sack he’ll look good, but overall he’s just my #40 end.
Key stats: 600 snaps, 24 solo tackles, nine assists, six sacks, one pass defended.
Paul Worrilow, LB
Worrilow is obviously the hero for bad-real-life-player-IDP-star thinkers and there’s no reason to think that might change. Like the Bengals the Lions have shown a predilection for older, dull linebackers and I expect Worrilow to be the number two option for the Lions behind Davis (ahead of Tahir Whitehead and Jalen Reeves-Maybin). He’s my #64 linebacker.
Key stats: 606 snaps, 50 solo tackles, 20 assists, one sacks, four passes defended, one INT.
This is a key battle to watch in camp. I think Tabor wins that battle. I loved his tape, don’t care too much about the 40 time and just don’t they would have invested a second round pick if they believed in Lawson.
Assuming that my model has Teez as just my #71 corner but this is one of those times I expect him to outperform those stats. In fact I think there’s a good chance he could drastically outperform them and be a startable option. In my corners I look for: starters with high snap volume, preferably number two corners on their team, decent ball skills, solid tacklers. Add to that he’s a rookie and plays in a dome and it looks very positive indeed for him. He’s worth a flier in leagues where corners score decent points.
That leaves Lawson down as my #114 cornerback and totally worthless of course which feels very odd to say given he’s a totally serviceable NFL corner. This is a key situation to watch.
Tabor key stats: 832 snaps, 42 solo tackles, five assists, eight passes defended, one INT.
Lawson key stats: 359 snaps, 22 solo tackles, three assists, five passes defended.
Glover Quin, S
He’s not quite a starter at #26, but is definitely a useful player and very possibly good value given his perceived value. I’m starting to think we devalue free safeties a bit too much. Check my projected numbers here against Tavon Wilson’s above. It’s not an enormous difference frankly.
Key stats: 1,006 snaps, 56 solo tackles, 13 assists, one sacks, seven passes defended, four INTs.
This is frustrating. I don’t think they’ll be a good, but equally there won’t be any IDP stars. The worst of both worlds. Fortunately my frustration and lack of hope is just a pale shadow of the same for long-suffering Lions fans. Good luck gents. I’d love you to be a good team again. In fact, having recently read Paper Lion, I’m cheering for you hard.
Those are my predictions as of right now. Obviously things will change as we get a better idea of who will play and how going towards the season. If you disagree with any assertions here feel free to leave a comment or contact me on Twitter (@TomDegenerate) and I’ll be happy to discuss.
Thanks for reading.
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