All through the off-season, we work to give DLF readers an edge in their dynasty leagues. That’s useless unless we can prove we’re OK at actually making decent predictions. This series looks back through our final preseason projections and sees how good or bad they were.
The Bills were tough to watch for large parts of 2018 but the defense was pretty good. You can see some impressive performers here.
At tackle, Adolphus Washington was cut after one game (instead of being the top performer as predicted here). Not a great start. Star Lotulelei was underwhelming. It was surprising given his game and the high rushing volume we see in Buffalo but he just didn’t play enough. Kyle Williams had an excellent final season as a player. He came in four solos, two assists and three sacks up on prediction. Rookie Harrison Phillips predictably failed to record many stats. He came in slightly up but he was unstartable as an IDP.
At end, Jerry Hughes was the star of this team. He ‘only’ managed seven sacks (one up on prediction) but he could have had several more. He did, however, fail to meet his assists target. Trent Murphy was short of solos but accurate elsewhere. Shaq Lawson came in very close – to his terrible predictions.
At linebacker, rookie sensation Tremaine Edmunds was just one solo away from his predicted total. He did miss his assists by eight and manage seven more PDs than expected (due to him being targeted a huge amount) but he came in bang on for sacks. Next to him, Matt Milano played exactly the number of snaps predicted and was close for all stats. Lorenzo Alexander overachieved with seven sacks and good numbers across the board. The Bills used a lot of base personnel which helped him stay on the field.
Corner Tre’Davious White predictably had a much worse IDP season than his 2017 rookie year. He was targeted 81 times last year but just 52 this season. As a result, his total tackles dropped from 70 to 54. This is typical for second-year corners. Fortunately, you read the Bills preseason article and knew exactly what he would post. Didn’t you?
Aside from White, it was a rotating cast of players at the position. Philip Gaines and Leonard Johnson underdelivered while Taron Johnson played much more than expected and was pretty competent. Vontae Davis is a story all of his own.
At safety, Jordan Poyer managed 19 more tackles than predicted whilst Micah Hyde managed 19 fewer. Hyde was always a regression candidate and so it proved. He disappointed many owners and although he came in short here it was pretty close.
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The Dolphins were weak at defensive tackle in 2018 and it shows here. Davon Godchaux managed ten more solos than expected but everyone else was close to their pedestrian totals.
On the edge, the team used a very rare five-man rotation when healthy. This is almost unheard of and needless to say, it didn’t really seem to work. Cameron Wake and Robert Quinn both came in very close to predictions with Charles Harris and William Hayes having terrible years (Hayes through injury). Fifth wheel Andre Branch managed to beat his targets but was still unstartable.
At linebacker, Kiko Alonso led the way but played awfully again. He’ll be cut in the off-season. He came in just a handful of stats away from his predicted totals. Behind him, Raekwon McMillan and Jerome Baker were stuck in an awkward timeshare. Baker produced more than expected and was impressive for a rookie. McMillan also outproduced as a tackler. They’re both likely to be good options for 2019.
Xavien Howard was a breakout player at corner. He was by far the best option the team had and came in well short of solos as he was avoided. His assists and PDs were very close, but his seven interceptions were a big surprise. Bobby McCain was very close across the board and is a safe option. Rookie Minkah Fitzpatrick was a huge disappointment for most of the people who drafted him too early based on name value but actually did well here. His 16 more solos and 18 more assists were impressive. Even if not up to scratch for his safety designation.
Speaking of safeties, Reshad Jones came in just four solos away from prediction. He was a big regression candidate based on him overproducing in the system in 2017. He’s also a potential cut in the off-season. Next to him, T.J. McDonald had a good year and came in a whopping 33 total tackles above prediction. He was still barely useable as an IDP. Above prediction does not mean good.
New England Patriots
The Patriots were actually a surprisingly tough team to project in the summer given Matt Patricia’s departure. Fortunately, under Bryan Flores the scheme did not radically change.
Trey Flowers doesn’t quite put up the numbers we expect of an elite DE, but he really is one. He was just three total tackles and a sack away. Adrian Clayborn is a dreadfully pedestrian player. His nine solos and two assists were woeful. Deatrich Wise is a much better talent but very inconsistent. He ended up doing what was expected of him.
At LB, Kyle Van Noy was ten solos short this year. He started the season playing on the edge most of the time and moved there quite a lot. It hurts his tackle efficiency. Dont’a Hightower also came in short of his low tackle predictions. He’s not an IDP option at all. Rookie Ja’Whaun Bentley was hurt early but started the season playing the mike role. He’s a stash for 2019.
Stephon Gilmore had a fantastic season. His target of 14 PDs was very high but he managed 20. Very impressive. Eric Rowe was a disappointment and never came close to the numbers predicted. Jason McCourty and Jonathan Jones though smashed theirs and were surprise hits. Keion Crosses was a big failure too. This is a good example of how getting the depth chart quite wrong can be a problem.
On the back-end, Devin McCourty was uncannily accurate. The biggest issue was the eight snaps he finished away from prediction. Patrick Chung was similar. He finished seven solos under but eight assists up. And lastly, Duron Harmon had a good year in his terms. He managed 15 more solos than expected. As a part-time specialist free safety, he’s still nowhere near startable.
New York Jets
The Jets again played a huge amount of defensive snaps. They finished fourth. Under Adam Gase in 2019, this trend is likely to continue. So although some of their players produce via volume rather than efficiency, it’s volume that is at least reliable.
At DE, Leonard Williams came in very close to his targets. Henry Anderson was the surprise as he had a bit of a return to the form he flashed as a Colt before his injury woes. Rookie Nathan Shepherd was a disappointment.
At inside linebacker, Avery Williamson broke his assists target but was very close for everything else. Darron Lee finished 15 solos short though which is very worrying. He’s still no a very good NFL player.
Outside linebacker was a disaster. There’s nothing good here at all. No accuracy. No NFL class. Gregg Williams will rip this up and start again.
All three top corners were accurate. Trumaine Johnson fell a little short of solos and surprisingly (given how much he gambles on routes) PDs. Morris Claiborne was close across the board as was Buster Skrine.
Jamal Adams is by far the best player on this unit and had a great season. He smashed his solos target by 25 and assists by 11 whilst also overdelivering on sacks and PDs – a truly elite season. The only question is whether he can keep it up. With Adams hoovering up stats, all the other safeties underwhelmed.
Thanks for reading.
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