With the 2017 season rapidly disappearing in our rear-view mirror, everyone’s attention seems to be firmly on the draft process. The tape is being watched, rookies are being pored over (and grubbily pawed), and old friends are falling out over hasty takes. I’ll be getting involved in all of that, of course, but right now I wanted to spend a bit of time on one of the underappreciated aspects of being an IDP dynasty player: Free agency.
Every season we see a whole raft of players lose or gain value overnight with a positive or negative signing. With offensive players, there’s a whole cottage industry devoted to working out potential landing spots and the effect of them on players. But that doesn’t happen much with defensive players. I’ve put together some thoughts to prepare you for how it could pan out. As we always say, IDP is about working harder than your opponents. I’ve covered the defensive line here. I’m a big proponent of DE being the most important position in IDP – so this is key.
Many of us saw Richardson as a truly elite player not that long ago. After he misbehaved himself out of the Jets, that isn’t quite the case anymore but he’s still extremely talented. Even less than a year ago people thought he could be putting up big sack numbers in Seattle. I never thought that was realistic but he could be a difference maker in the right scheme. Buffalo or Minnesota would be especially soft landing spots. He’s worth owning in deeper leagues just because really productive linemen are worth so much.
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This is all about potential. Irving is still just 24 and has flashed fantastic ability – even if he hasn’t been consistently good. In 2017 and 2018, only 11 tackles had more sacks than him. I fully expect Dallas to bring him back but if available this is a great post-hype opportunity.
Watch out for this one. He’s a famous name so people think he’s really good, but in IDP terms he’s not that exciting. For example, in 2017 he finished 32nd in total tackles with 39. At the same time, 21 other tackles finished with more than his two and a half sacks. It’s possible he lands in a good spot – but it’s unlikely. Let him be someone else’s problem.
Beau Allen will not be a good IDP for you. You shouldn’t own him. In his four year career, he’s never played 430 snaps in a season, recorded more than a single sack or managed to hit 20 solo tackles.
On the other hand, he wears a pink bow in his plaited hair sometimes. Mad respect to the big man for that.
Logan is interesting in leagues with a very strong DT-premium but I’d avoid him in most others. He has managed 35 or more solos in three of the past five seasons, which is impressive, but he’s very much a run-stopping player. You can only expect a sack or two from him so he’s only a factor where you’ll rack up serious points for tackle tackles.
Haloti Ngata – He’s just name value at this point. Please don’t roster him. If you already own him, sell him for a future seventh-round pick.
Star Lotulelei – Here’s yet another example of the cool name IDP phenomenon. He’s a good NFL player but not an IDP. In the past five seasons, he’s managed over three sacks once (four in 2016) and over 30 total tackles once (48 in 2013).
Lynch really only flashed way back in 2014 and 2015 when he managed six and six a half sacks respectively. Since then, he’s been limited to a total of just 378 snaps in two seasons. Lynch becoming a productive player is a long shot, but he could do it.
Unfortunately, this is more of a “watch out” than a recommendation. We all remember his six-sack night against the Cowboys this season, but that was really a product of his opponent instead of his own talent. Between 2013 and 2016, Clayborn managed 13.5 sacks. He is not an elite pass-rusher and hoping he will become one in his age 30 season is delusional. Let someone else sign him. Or, if you already own him, trade him for literally anything you can get.
Okafor managed four sacks from just 486 snaps this season and showed marked improvement as a player. I’ll be surprised if he nabs a big contract and a starting role – but not shocked. Across his career, he’s been a solid player and is still only heading into his age-27 season.
I quite like Barwin. I thought he was the Rams best edge player in 2017. Having said that, he’s realistically only going to be an outside linebacker, is in his 30s, and has had one truly good season in the last five.
Ansah is clearly a big name and coming off a 12-sack season. But I advise caution. Over the last five seasons, he’s managed 44 sacks. About nine per season seems really impressive. But if you look through his history, 23 of those sacks came in just nine games. Which means he managed 21 sacks in his other 64 games.
The ability to beat up on bad tackles when given the opportunity is useful but it’s not something I want to bet on. I see Ansah as very much a sell opportunity. If you own him then get what you can and don’t look back.
Demarcus Lawrence – Dallas are going to retain him somehow and he’s already owned in your league anyway. There’s nothing to see here.
Julius Peppers – Only six DEs in 2017 managed a higher sack efficiency than Peppers’ 2.2%. All of those played fewer than 150 snaps except Ziggy Ansah who we’ve already discussed. This is not a sustainable rate.
Kony Ealy – Over the last four seasons, 78 players in the NFL have managed more sacks than Kony Ealy. During that time, Ealy has never managed more than five sacks in a year. He’s a middling talent.
Dion Jordan – Just no. It’s not going to happen. Don’t buy in.
Jeremiah Attaochu – He managed six sacks in 2015 and just four combined across 2014, 2016 and 2017. A great landing spot would give me a sliver of hope but it’s likely his moment has passed, I’m afraid.
Barkevious Mingo – He’s here on name value only. Anyone who was a reserve on the 2017 Colts is not someone I want to put my faith in.
Cassius Marsh – He may have been the single worst player I watched in the NFL in 2017.
That’s it for now. This should give you a good list of names to be aware of and maybe try and pick up early to get an edge on your opponents.
Linebackers, cornerbacks and safeties to watch will be posted shortly.
Thanks for reading.