Hi everyone and welcome to the fantasy off-season. It was a wild ride in 2017 and I’m still recovering, but there’s no real off-season in the dynasty world. In the summer I made projections for every IDP in the league I thought would be relevant. You can go back and read all of the 2017 IDP Projections here.
I was right in some places. I was wrong in some places. But either way, it’s important to be accountable and honest so I can figure out why and make adjustments in the future. I’ll be going through every team and noting where I was right and where I was wrong. To do that I’ll show what my projections were, how players actually performed, and how big the discrepancies were.
I’ve been saying for a couple of years that the Titans are one of my least favorite defenses in the league. It’s not because they’re bad, it’s because they’re just boring. What do they do well? Very little in my opinion – they’re just kind of average. There are a couple of interesting players but as a unit, they’re fairly dull. I expect Mike Vrabel and Dean Pees to shake things up significantly this year which hopefully will be fun to watch.
The good thing about being a bit dull is that it’s also quite predictable. With only a couple of exceptions, I was very close to the whole defensive roster here – which is nice.
Nothing to see here. Both Sylvester Williams and Austin Johnson finished pretty close to the levels expected but neither of them are IDP-relevant given they played just 351 and 319 snaps respectively. Nose tackles are so rarely rosterable.
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Jurrell Casey is the one name here who should be rostered in most leagues. He was excellent again although he flies under the radar. His 41 solos (target of 32) was an excellent total, as were his six sacks (four predicted). He finished spot on for 19 assists and only managed one batted pass (I was hoping for four).
DaQuan Jones and Karl Klug were pretty close to expectations but again you probably shouldn’t have been owning shares in either of them. Neither of them were likely to secure the required volume or production.
Here’s an interesting player. Wesley Woodyard managed to post the most productive season of his career at the ripe age of 31. He was the only clear full-time starter in the unit and made it count with 81 solos (prediction was just 60). To put that into context, his previous best mark was 70 – way back in 2012. He hadn’t managed 60 or more since then before 2017. He finished just three assists, one sack, three PDs and one interception away from predictions but that solo tackle number came from left field. He’s a prime opportunity to sell. I’d say it’s extremely unlikely he produces to the same level regardless of where he ends up playing.
Behind Woodyard, Avery Williamson disappointed many people. I thought he did about as expected. He was just seven solos short but nine assists over these predictions – and one sack under. Fluctuations between solos and assists can be entirely attributed to stat crews so he goes down as a hit.
Also getting significant playing time as a rookie was Jayon Brown. He’s a darling and plenty of people are seeing him as a stash for 2018 but I advise caution given he played just 490 snaps. He was good for a part-time role player. He came in uncannily close to my predictions across the board.
Brian Orakpo is another one of the small group of Titans who’s actually fun to watch. He and Derrick Morgan aren’t flashy but they’re both effective. In terms of production, they were both successes. Aside from snaps, neither of these players was out by more than four in any predicted stat category. I had both of them correct in sacks, PDs, and interceptions to within one instance. I had both of their tackles total within two.
Logan Ryan was a pleasant IDP surprise in 2017. After a couple of monster tackle seasons where he was heavily targeted in New England, he was suddenly one of the better cover players in Tennessee and the theory was that he’d be targeted much less leading to fewer solos. 2017 was his lightest tackle season as a starting player but he still managed a solid 50 (only 20 corners had more) which was well above the 36 I expected. Elsewhere Ryan finished just one assist and two PDs over and one interception under.
On the other hand, it was always clear that raw rookie Adoree’ Jackson would likely have a high-tackle season. He didn’t disappoint and only three players recorded more than his 61 (against a target of 50). Jackson also finished just one assist away from target but did manage seven more passes defended than expected.
It would be remiss of me not to start with Kevin Byard who was a huge breakout success this season in his second season. Byard managed 62 solos (17 more than expected), 25 assists (eight more than expected), 16 PDs (eleven more than expected) and a league-leading eight interceptions (seven more than expected). Wow.
Those are awesome numbers that made me look silly. And yet I’m not 100 percent he can replicate them next season. The tackles were impressive but 13 other safeties managed more solos and they were a bit of a product of high playing volume with only Jamal Adams and D.J. Swearinger playing more snaps amongst safeties. With that volume, Byard managed a tackle on 8% of his snaps. To put it into context Reshad Jones was on 11.97%. Budda Baker hit 11.24%. Landon Collins hit 10.92%. Byard tackled well for a deep safety but predicting almost 1,100 snaps again for him is fraught with danger.
At the other spot was Johnathan Cyprien. It seemed he’d be used more as a box option opposite Byard than Dick LeBeau usually does and that came through. Unfortunately, injuries were a problem (as it so often is with hard-hitting safeties) and Cyprien managed just 605 snaps for the season. That was about two-thirds of what I expected and it hit his stats. All his numbers were under their benchmarks although the pro-rated numbers were about right.
In terms of accuracy then it was an okay team for me. The linemen were pretty close but none of them excelled. Wesley Woodyard, Logan Ryan, Adoree’ Jackson and Kevin Byard were all much more effective than expected.
So although it seems like a pretty great year for the Titans defense as a whole (in IDP terms), there are signs some of the “breakouts” were unsustainable. Woodyard, Byard, and Jackson are all prime sell-high candidates for me. They all had great years but at the moment I expect all of them to be much less effective in 2018 simply because they performed so far above expectations. This is the core issue in fantasy football. Is a great season a sign of things to come or merely an outlier? Do you hold on to an asset that well or capitalize on overvaluations? We’ll spend the summer figuring it out together.
Thanks for reading.