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.
The Saints are the worst defense in the league. They conceded 454 points last season. That’s 28 points each and every game. The year before it was 476 points (30 per game). In 2015 it was 424 points (26.5 per game). They’re just endemically bad at this point. Of course that could mean good IDP production given the time their defense are on the field but they’re just so inept they can’t even do that. I like Drew Brees as much as anyone but it’s hard work watching them fail so miserably at stopping anyone.
There are rays of hope of course. They drafted extremely well. And how could they be any worse? But realistically I don’t think they’re going to improve hugely until they get a coach who’s vaguely interested in defense and their GM isn’t also a full time executive of a team in an entirely different sport.
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I think he’s a very underrated player actually. He does have some major lapses of concentration but he’s also an impact defender. He tends to be not accepted as a top player in IDP circles but he’s right up there for me at #6 safety.
Key stats: 805 snaps, 71 solo tackles, 28 assists, two sacks, five passes defended, one Interception.
Sheldon Rankins, DT
One of the rays of sunshine I mentioned earlier. Rankins played last year but he was never really fully fit. He has the potential to be an absolute monster inside and I have him at #13. Personally I think Nick Fairley’s heart issues hurt him as he could do with some resting given how many fast-paced shootouts the Saints are involved in.
Key stats: 700 snaps, 33 solo tackles, 15 assists, three sacks, three passes defended.
Cameron Jordan, DE
Jordan is unlucky not to be in the star category actually. He’s such a dominant force and a great player to watch. He’s certainly far and away the best pass rusher on the team. I’ve got him at #9 but I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he finishes higher. I could easily see a huge sack season happening for him.
Key stats: 902 snaps, 39 solo tackles, 15 assists, seven sacks, four passes defended.
AJ Klein, LB
Saints linebackers. Ugh. If it’s not dropping first round players after promising years it’s drafting athletic rookies with chronic injury issues. Or starting random no-names. I’ll be honest – I have very little clue what will happen here. I think Klein gets the main job but it could easily be Craig Robertson. Or someone else. Whoever gets it will be my #25 linebacker.
Key stats: 1,024 snaps, 75 solo tackles, 37 assists, two sacks, three passes defended, one Interception.
Craig Robertson, LB
As above Robertson could easily be the man to own again. Or on the bench. It’s the Saints so expect the worst. Currently I have Robertson as my #48.
Key stats: 821 snaps, 61 solo tackles, 18 assists, four sacks, three passes defended, one Interception.
Lattimore was the clear top corner for me in a draft class that was absolutely stacked at the position. He also ticks a lot of boxes for what I want in a corner; he’s a rookie, he plays in a dome, he’ll be in shootouts, he might get some returns… He’s my #44 but again he could easily be much higher than that with a Vernon-Hargreaves-like season. I wouldn’t blame anyone for stashing him.
Key stats: 929 snaps, 44 solo tackles, 12 assists, 10 passes defended, one Interception.
Vonn Bell, S
The Saints played a lot of big nickel last season after Bell got into the team. I expected him to be higher than where I have him at #47 frankly. But Vaccarro is the clear box safety (and big nickel) which limits Bell’s opportunity.
Key stats: 841 snaps, 47 solo tackles, 19 assists, one sack, four passes defended, one Interception.
Oof. One of the more frustrating teams frankly. Similar to Saints fans I just keep thinking they should be so much better. But they just never are. There’s some value here but also some red herrings which you’re best of steering clear of.
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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Are you going to compile a final rankings list?