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IDP Projection Marking: AFC West

We finish up marking last season’s IDP projections, today focusing on the AFC West.

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.

Denver Broncos

There’s good accuracy all along the defensive line here. Starters Domata Peko, Derek Wolfe and Adam Gotsis were all within two solos and three assists from their predicted endpoints.

Inside linebacker Brandon Marshall was a big disappointment given he played just half what was expected. With him missing Todd Davis stepped up as the unlikely hero with more than 20 solos over his target. Davis was a nice surprise but he’s unlikely to retain much value in 2019.

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Outside linebackers Von Miller and Bradley Chubb both had excellent years in terms of sacks coming in a total of 11 over. Both overperformed in tackles as well. Frankly, I expected there to be much more rotation involving Shaq Barrett and Shane Ray which makes the whole position a miss.

Corners Chris Harris and Bradley Roby both performed well. Harris had five fewer solos and Roby ten more, but they were in the ballpark with PD totals very close.

All four safeties came in very close to what was expected. Simmons and Stewart were just seven solos and four assists combined away from target with PD and INT numbers also close. Will Parks and Su’a Cravens were the backups they were expected to be.

Kansas City Chiefs

Up front, Xavier Williams lived up to hefty expectations with 47 total tackles against a target of 44. He also came in perfect with three sacks. Rookie Derrick Nnadi came on strong but was relatively unproductive,

Chris Jones was a big surprise for most people. He’s always been a good player, but 14 sacks and 35 solos were breath-taking. 2018 will likely go down as his career year. Jarvis Jenkins underperformed as the depth chart was wrong – Allen Bailey was the second starter again which was wrong here.

Anthony Hitchens may have some serious issues as an NFL player but he’s an IDP asset for sure. He did well here, being within five solos, but his 54 assists were absolutely huge for his production. Notably, he failed to manage a single coverage play. He is abysmal in the passing game. Reggie Ragland played the part-time role expected of him and finished just one solo out – although he also piled up huge assist numbers as the stat crew went crazy. Dorian O’Daniel did OK for his rookie season – he was only expected to post marginal numbers.

On the edge, Dee Ford surprisingly took over as the top option for the team. If he and Justin Houston had their order flipped it would have been an excellent prediction. As it was it was merely decent. The same goes for Tannoh Kpassagnon and Breeland Speaks. Getting depth charts correct before the season starts is so important.

Kendall Fuller came in a bit over his tackle numbers but was OK as the team’s top corner. Steven Nelson played a huge amount but still came in close to his numbers across the board. Orlando Scandrick was extremely accurate as the third corner.

Eric Berry had a weird season. He spent the majority of the season not on IR but being weekly inactive due to health reasons. As a result, he came nowhere near to targets. Ron Parker ended up much closer and was just six solos and two assists out.

Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers were pretty weak at tackle as predicted. Brandon Mebane and Darius Philon were both pretty close to their targets – which made them unstartable IDPs. Behind them, Corey Liuget and Damion Square were similarly uninspiring.

Joey Bosa spent much of the season hurt but Melvin Ingram was much better. He was just one sack out which is exactly why predicting players to manage back-to-back big sack seasons is a bad idea. He was also just eight solos and five assists out.

Denzel Perryman and Kyzir White both failed to stay healthy at linebacker leading to big misses. Jatavis Brown stepped up to perform well – and ‘safety’ Adrian Phillips again played linebacker in their absence. At least Uchenna Nwosu and Hayes Pullard were accurately predicted.

Casey Hayward was also close to what was expected. He was a handful out in all categories. Trevor Williams was hurt and missed plenty of time, leaving Michael Davis to step up. Desmond King had another excellent season in the slot with a very high tackle count.

At safety, Derwin James came straight in with a fantastic season. The team did use him plenty at free safety early in the season with Jahleel Addae in the box but ultimately, they settled the other way around – hence the discrepancy. As mentioned above, Adrian Phillips played LB late in the season. He’s been a great cheat code two years running but will likely be switched to LB on MFL in 2019.

Oakland Raiders

With the Raiders having a car-crash of a season, there were some unusual numbers for the team. Maurice Hurst was only one solo out but came in 11 assists and three sacks short. Justin Ellis couldn’t get healthy and missed most of the season with P.J. Hall picking up his role.

Bruce Irvin was clearly not motivated to play this year and got himself cut mid-season. Somehow, he still managed to rack up the seven predicted sacks, but he was way short on tackle numbers. Frostee Rucker and Arden Key were both poor replacements with neither making much of their excellent opportunities. Key played a lot but was staggeringly unproductive.

Veteran linebacker overachiever Tahir Whitehead had a fantastic IDP season with 88 solos (17 over prediction). He finished ten assists under though, so this is really a stat crew issue. Derrick Johnson was horrific on the field and was quickly cut. Seemingly everyone saw this coming but Jon Gruden. Expecting him to be able to play nearly 700 snaps was a big mistake.

Rashaan Melvin was a red-hot corner tip preseason. He met expectations and finished just three solos and a PD under. Although he was also 11 assists short. Gareon Conley, however, disappointed by delivering way under the tackle numbers expected. He was close on PDs and assists but his solos were way out.

Lastly, safety was a mess with four players getting significant playing time. As a result, Marcus Gilchrist and Reggie Nelson came in short of targets whilst Karl Joseph and Erik Harris came in high. None go down as accurate predictions, but it was a very weird situation.

That’s it for 2018 so thanks for reading along. Overall the year was a mixture (of course) with some striking accuracy backed up by wild over and underpredictions. Such is the IDP world.

The point of doing this is not to crow over glories or bemoan failures – but to identify systematic weaknesses that can be corrected. There will always be some players who finish far from predictions. Going through the results player by player is more about working out areas where similar sorts of players are consistently wrong.

This year, it was mainly the edge rushers. So, for 2019 the model is moving from a sack-based one to a pressure-based one that derivates sacks. That should make the whole thing much more stable and robust. After the draft, you can expect the first predictions to come out.

Thanks for reading.

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Tom Kislingbury

Being from England Tom only discovered American Football in the late 90s. From there he's gone from casual defender to devoted obsessive and likes to delve into deep data primarily about defensive players. He spends his days trying to pretend the spreadsheets and graphs he makes about football are actually work for his day job. No-one is fooled. You can find him and his unwieldy graphs on Twitter at @TomDegenerate
Tom Kislingbury
IDP Projection Marking: AFC West
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