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.
It was a season of two injuries for the Falcons. Deion Jones was injured for much of the year – a nightmare scenario for anyone who enjoys mobile linebackers. Keanu Neal also only played one game. These two are the team’s top tacklers so their long-term injuries fundamentally altered the IDP production profile.
Grady Jarrett started producing like his performances have warranted in 2018. As a result, he caught up to projections. He was three solos and six assists up on his expected total along with an impressive four sacks. Terrell McClain was a let-down and produced half the tackles forecast. Deadrin Senat had a typically underwhelming season for a rookie tackle but did finish close to his targets. Jack Crawford was much better than expected but not a startable option.
DE was a nasty position for the Falcons. They rotated heavily all season long. As a result, Vic Beasley and Takkarist McKinley (as the expected “starters”) failed to live up to tackle expectations. McKinley did manage seven sacks from 50 pressures, but he still needs a lot of work. Beasley is a very average player at this stage in his career. It’s amazing to think he led the league in sacks once.
For the reasons stated above, Deion Jones finished well short of his projected line. De’Vondre Campbell stepped up in his absence and easily beat his tackle totals. With Jones out, Duke Riley had the chance to play and messed it up. He came in virtually flat but with less credit than expected. Foyesade Oluokon, however, shone. He destroyed the anticipated stats for him.
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Corner was a good position. Robert Alford was very close all the way across the board bar interceptions – where he failed to snag the ball. Desmond Trufant was close too but had an excellent 55 solos – 12 above target. Brian Poole also managed a high solos number. Trufant and Poole were definitely boosted by Jones’ and Neal’s absences.
With Neal missing virtually the whole year, he had no chance of reaching his targets. His fellow starter Ricardo Allen also only played in three games. In their absence, Damontae Kazee stepped into a starting role. He was used in the box at times but primarily played free safety. You can see his numbers were similar to those expected of Allen. He’s very popular with IDP owners right now but should not be seen as a 2019 asset. It’s likely he is not a starter.
Kawann Short is an IDP hero. It wasn’t his best season this year and that was worrying because it came as a result of playing time. He was fit all season but played about ten fewer snaps seemingly as a coaching decision. He delivered against solos, but his assists and sacks were well short of predictions. Dontari Poe and Vernon Butler weren’t far away from their totals, but neither were startable options.
DE was a real problem for the Panthers. Mario Addison managed the nine sacks predicted but was light against tackles. Wes Horton, Bryan Cox and Julius Peppers were all OK. There were no enormous errors (Bryan Cox’s zero sacks maybe) but it was all a bit unimpressive. Efe Obada did come in very accurately but he’s strictly a developmental prospect. He’s English though and therefore great (Editor’s note: Can confirm).
Luke Kuechly was again the centerpiece of this defense. He finished just ten solos up and six assists short although he did come in under on big plays. Behind Kuechly, Thomas Davis and Shaq Thompson shared playing time again – although Davis was the clear starter. The model had them a bit more separated than they actually finished.
James Bradberry was a success at corner. He finished close to all stats. Donte Jackson was even more of a success as a rookie than expected. He beat the model but hopefully, you all picked him up anyway when we highlighted him in the summer.
At safety, Mike Adams produced very close to what was expected but Da’Norris Searcy missed most of the season hurt. His replacement was Eric Reid who was not included here given he was unemployed and seemingly frozen out of the NFL. Rashaan Gaulden did show a little promise as a rookie – as predicted here.
New Orleans Saints
The Saints go down as a good team for the model.
On the interior, Sheldon Rankins finished four solos, five assists and five sacks up – a healthy reminder that we see high variance at interior pass rushers. Remember a year ago he had just two sacks and seemed like a bust. He had around the same amount of pressure year-on-year, but sacks are a poor stat. Tyeler Davison and David Onyemata both did well against their predicted totals. This reflects the game scripts the Saints were up against in a very good year.
On the edge, Cameron Jordan finished close across the board. He was four sacks up but that’s well within the variance level of top-end pass rushers. Marcus Davenport did OK as a rookie. He disappointed some but as you can see this model had him down for limited rookie success. He overperformed as a pass rusher and underperformed as a tackler – exactly what should have been expected of him.
Demario Davis goes down as a very good result. He was just four solos and a single assist out. He did manage three more sacks but finished with one fewer pick too. Alex Anzalone was also remarkably close. Given his injury susceptibility, this is a triumph. Manti Te’o and A.J. Klein don’t look great but that was an error of depth chart identification.
Cornerback Ken Crawley was a disappointment. The model had him down for a big year, but he couldn’t stay on the field. Marshon Lattimore came out very accurately. This is gratifying given the out-of-control hype he had as a rookie.
Vonn Bell beat Kurt Coleman out exactly as predicted and matched his targets. He did that on low volume and is a good target. Free safety Marcus Williams was also accurately predicted. He was another player with far too much hype after his rookie season.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Buccaneers were one of the worst defenses in the NFL in 2018. Nothing really went right for them.
Gerald McCoy was a hotly-debated player in predictions terms. The numbers assigned to him were seen as very low. It’s nice to see him come in fairly close. Beau Allen and Vita Vea were also accurate. Vea was massively over-drafted based on NFL draft position. He’s likely never going to be an IDP asset.
Jason Pierre-Paul was a big miss. He destroyed his predicted totals in solos and sacks on the back of very high playing time. He’s a sell candidate as he fits poorly in Todd Bowles’ scheme. Carl Nassib also overachieved in his first season in Tampa. Noah Spence did very little (as predicted) and is now officially a huge bust.
Kwon Alexander missed a big chunk of the year with injury. He missed all totals as a result. Lavonte David stepped up in his absence and played more in the middle. As a result, his tackle efficiency went up and he came in high. Mike Smith leaving the team is great news for both of these players. Adarius Taylor came in fairly close as Alexander’s replacement. Kendell Beckwith confounded those that thought he’d somehow arrived in 2017 and did nothing.
Vernon Hargreaves is another huge bust and missed most of the season. His career is on life support. Brent Grimes, Ryan Smith and Carlton Davis all came in pretty close to expectations. M.J. Stewart actually started the season in the slot but got hurt. He’s a hot candidate to play the slot role in this defense that Tyrann Mathieu performed so well in.
Lastly, at safety, Chris Conte was a huge disappointment through injury. Jordan Whitehead picked up the slack but is not guaranteed a role going forward. Justin Evans missed his targets – not surprising given how deep a safety he naturally is.
Thanks for reading.