This season this column will be a weekly occurrence. Instead of listing reams of data and knowledge, it’s about trying to boil it down into a few useful nuggets.
1. The Steelers have played 168 defensive snaps in two games.
After their overtime game in week one, the Steelers played a very average 68 snaps in week two. They still lead the NFL in average snaps, but it’s a good example that team volume is nowhere near as reliable as people think it is.
The old idea that teams play more defensive snaps if their offense isn’t very good is just not that true. Sure, there are examples where it is true, but more examples of times when it has not held up. This all adds to yet another reason why picking IDPs based on counting stats (like tackles) is not a very good process.
2. The Packers have played just 103 defensive snaps in two games.
The Pack played a paltry 41 defensive snaps in their week two game against the Bears meaning they’re averaging just over 52 per game. Remember the Steelers played 100 snaps in week one alone.
There’s no real reason for the Packers to play so little though, so good times are likely coming.
3. After two games, Preston Smith has generated more pressures than Rashan Gary.
Even with such a volume deficit, we’ve seen plenty of good fantasy scoring already anyway from Packers players.
Smith recorded two sacks this week from six pressures on an excellent day. This means he’s got 11 so far to Gary’s eight.
This is important because Gary’s value in both redraft and dynasty leagues was massively higher all off-season long. He was a top-12 edge with a boatload of hype attached to his name, while Smith was an afterthought taken well outside the top 60.
It’s hard to trust in the inefficiency of ADP and resist taking shiny, exciting defensive players early on, but this is the sort of reward that is on offer.
4. George Karlaftis has nine pressures so far, with no sacks.
Nine pressures places the Chiefs’ rookie joint tenth among edges so far. The other players with nine pressures right now are:
That is absolutely stellar company to be keeping. It’s no guarantee of a spectacular season or career of course, but pressure is indicative of ability, and it’s a great sign.
It’s very likely that Karlaftis’ value is only going to increase. Right now, in IDP we’re in a glut market of edges. There’s only a handful of truly elite guys, and a huge second tier of players who can get sacks, but not take games over.
Karlaftis has the talent and profile to elevate himself above the likes of Odafe Oweh, and Azeez Ojulari.
5. Christian Wilkins has recorded a tackle on over 15% of his snaps this season.
In the summer you may have read this DLF article about unsustainable stats heading for regression. One of the key players detailed in it was Christian Wilkins and his otherworldly tackle rate in 2021. Wilkins in 2021 recorded a tackle on an incredible 10.8% of snaps.
That is elite territory for an interior lineman when combined with high volume (734 snaps), and Wilkins’ 80 tackles led the position.
Through two games of 2022, he has not only avoided regression, but actually significantly improved to a tackle efficiency of just over 15%.
He has recorded 13 tackles already, putting him on pace for an absurd 111 for the season. Clearly, that will not happen (no interior lineman has even reached 85 in modern history), but right now it’s exceptional production.
It’s not all sunshine and rainbows though. Wilkins has rushed the passer 44 times in two games and is yet to record a single pressure of any kind.
6. Bucs corner Carlton Davis leads the NFL in targets so far with 22.
The relationship between how good a defender is and how much he is targeted is often overstated. Modern offenses are so good, and the advantages offenses have are so significant that shutdown corners like Nnamdi Asomugha are largely a thing of the past.
Having said that, we still sometimes see some players act as magnets for the ball. Through two games, Superbowl-winning corner Davis has been that guy.
He’s played a total of 97 coverage snaps so far, so quarterbacks have decided to throw at him on an enormous 23% of snaps. The good news is that Davis is a playmaker. He has double-digit pass breakups in each of his last three seasons. So in leagues where PDs are scored as the significant plays they are (ideally five or six points per PD for corners) then Davis is in for a big season.
7. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah has sat on the bench for 24 of 124 snaps through two games.
This is being written in the immediate aftermath of the Thursday night game where Owusu-Koramoah was injured. In that game, he played 22 snaps before hurting himself on a non-contact play.
In those first two games he was fully healthy though, and still only played around 80% of snaps. This is hugely worrying for his IDP prospects. The biggest determining factor for LB scoring (by far) is playing time. Being the top LB on the team and playing 80% of snaps sounds like a good thing, but that 20% is a major drain over time.
The average game in the NFL is about 67 snaps. A full season of defensive play is just over 1,100 snaps. An 80% player could only expect to play around 900 snaps. So, a 200-snap deficit. This is equivalent to about three fewer games over the season.
That’s the sort of thing that turns an IDP linebacker from being a top option into being a disappointment. It doesn’t mean he is valueless. But in this era of declining LB reliance, the value of those few full-time options has never been higher. Any time we see a player likely fall out of that tier is bad news.
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