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 to see how good or bad they were.
The Cardinals were a car crash in 2018 but fortunately you, as a DLF subscriber, were prepared and saw it coming!
Chandler Jones had a weird year. 13 sacks are great but he had a wildly high sack:pressure ratio that looks unsustainable. With a “normal” ratio, he would have been close to the sacks total. Behind him, Benson Mayowa won more of the job over Markus Golden than expected but it was always going to be a timeshare. Playing orthodox DE was a poor fit for Golden.
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Linebacker was a mess. For some reason, Deone Bucannon was not favored and he had a bad season – not coming close to the numbers here. Journeyman Josh Bynes performed well but fell away with injury. He was close in big plays but well short for tackles. Haason Reddick couldn’t quite step up as a reliable starter either. His third year in 2019 is make-or-break for him. He outperformed his third-string predictions here but wasn’t good.
Jamar Taylor was a big let-down. The Cards realized he’s not good enough to be a starter and Ron Parker was the corner to own. Patrick Peterson was just two solos out but also finished with just five PDs against a target of 12.
Budda Baker is listed as a safety here but really played in the slot. He could easily be called a corner. His tackle efficiency is great but predictably he failed to get anywhere near the big play targets some people thought he’d hit based on his debut in 2017. Antoine Bethea zoomed back to relevance by playing strong safety on a high-volume defense. He smashed his targets here but is a trade candidate. He won’t be doing it again.
Los Angeles Rams
The Super Bowl-bound Rams were mostly a solid team here. With two enormous exceptions.
Ndamukong Suh had an Indian summer of a season. The worry was that he’d be stuck playing nose tackle but on this defense he still wreaked havoc. His ten solos and ten assists above prediction were excellent. Ethan Westbrooks behind him was at least more predictable.
Aaron Donald is ridiculous, isn’t he? He smashed his sacks target with a barely-believable 20.5. Through generally being unblockable and amazing, 20.5 sack seasons are just not predictable. He was at least close to his tackle numbers. Michael Brockers was relatively close but had a lot of assists. That’s easy to do playing with Donald.
Linebacker was a big problem here. Mark Barron turned back into a pumpkin after his excellent 2017 whilst Cory Littleton had a spectacular season. Partially this was just a depth-chart error (they’re way closer if you switch them) but mainly it was just flat being wrong. Crow sure tastes good.
Aqib Talib missed a load of the season hurt which was a shame. He’s fun to watch. As a result, he came in well short. Marcus Peters had no such excuse. He was just bad. His failure to reach the PD target was notable. That’s always been his calling card.
Safety was the other big error on this team. John Johnson III simply came up trumps. Wade Phillips has traditionally been a split-safety coach but this year there was a clear strong/free split. Hopefully, you ignored this writer’s advice on him and picked him up. Lamarcus Joyner was very close to predictions but that’s scant comfort next to the miss on Johnson.
San Francisco 49ers
DeForest Buckner was an IDP superstar in 2018 with his 12 sacks. That was three times what he was predicted here. It came as a result of a super-high sack:pressure ratio and isn’t sustainable. But that doesn’t matter. This year he was a bad man.
At end, Arik Armstead and Solomon Thomas both finished high on tackles and low on sacks. They’re both solid players but nowhere near the pass rusher that such high picks should warrant. It’s tough to see them going into 2019 as the starters again.
Reuben Foster is no longer with the team and has his own demons. He got nowhere near his targets of course. Malcolm Smith also failed due to injury. Fred Warner was the smash hit. Plenty of people loved him but this columnist was far more cautious – and it didn’t pay off. He played around 1,000 snaps and piled up numbers as a result of volume.
Both starting corners (Ahkello Witherspoon and Richard Sherman) were disappointing. Witherspoon because he failed to get near the tackles target and Sherman because he missed time and failed to pick up the PDs expected.
Strong safety Jaquiski Tartt was also a huge disappointment. He’s talented but just cannot stay healthy. His projection was to be a top-five option at the position, but he just couldn’t play enough.
Jarran Reed was much heralded when he came out of Alabama and finally put it all together in 2018. He came in significantly above target against solos and destroyed his sack total. If it’s possible to quietly hit double-digit sacks as a defensive tackle he did it.
DE Frank Clark was predicted here to have a huge season and he came up trumps. His 13 sacks were exceptional although he did fall six solos and seven assists short. Rasheem Green was a disappointment though. He needs to play much more to live up to expectations.
Bobby Wagner was his normal awesome self at LB. He was just five solos out but 16 assists up. The Seahawks stat crew was back to their best. K.J. Wright failed to hit his numbers after being injured much of the year. Barkevious Mingo was forced to play in the middle at times because Shaquem Griffin was nowhere near the quality required to play inside linebacker at this level.
Happily, his twin Shaquill Griffin was much more obliging and was about perfect for solos, PDs and picks. Nice. Tre Flowers proved a target magnet across from him and piled up solos whilst Justin Coleman was accurate in the slot.
At safety, it was all change for the Seahawks with no Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas burning his bridges while getting hurt. Bradley McDougald was a great pickup last off-season and didn’t disappoint. He was just one solo away and perfect for PDs and interceptions. Free safety Tedric Thompson did well although his paltry 41 solos is an issue. He’s not a serious IDP candidate anyway.
Thanks for reading.