IDP leagues can be won with some preemptive in-season pickups or trading for players who are on the rise, but whom the masses have not picked up on. Each week, we’ll detail a handful of IDP players or trends essential for dynasty players to monitor.
Often, things like quarterback hurries, quarterback knockdowns or snap counts don’t appear in the box scores – these are key indicators of potential value changes that may be forthcoming as they show a particular player is getting after the quarterback and a string of sacks may be on the horizon or a linebacker may be coming off of the field more than originally expected.
The goal is to largely avoid stellar IDP players since many of those individuals are already heavily in the eyes of IDP owners. Instead, here are some key trends based on week four performances:
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- James Laurinaitis, LB missed the first game of his career and Nathan Stupar filled in, not Stephone Anthony. The Anthony downward spiral continues.
- The Broncos preferred to stick with defensive backs against the Buccaneers’ over their linebackers. Typically an every down player, Brandon Marshall, LB only played 69% of the team’s snaps. This was his first game in 2016 playing less than 88%. Concerning to say the least.
- Denzel Perryman, LB left with a shoulder injury early in the second quarter against the Saints. Jatavis Brown led all linebackers with seven tackles on 93% of snaps.
- For the second straight week, Cory James, LB played virtually every down accumulating 12 tackles, three assists and a forced fumble. Malcolm Smith also left the game with an injury. He was initially replaced by Ben Heeney, LB. James wore the green dot with Smith out.
- Erin Henderson, LB returned for the Jets and cut Darron Lee’s snaps. Lee only played 57% of snaps and struggled covering Jimmy Graham. It’s the second straight week with tight end coverage issues.
- Shaq Thompson, LB outsnapped Thomas Davis for the first time this season. The coaching staff needs to find ways to keep Thompson on the field as he’s playing well. His time will come; it’s just a matter of when.
While Denzel Perryman’s shoulder injury is not believed to be serious, he’s being outperformed by Jatavis Brown. I originally thought Perryman would hold off Brown, but Brown’s making it difficult to keep him off the field. The every down ability for Perryman is becoming an increasing concern, even with Manti Te’o out of the picture. Perryman owners should be concerned, if they aren’t already.
Not only was Ben Heeney pulled after only eight snaps and a missed tackle in relief of an injured Malcolm Smith, but he was then placed on injured reserve earlier this week. While Heeney immediately filled in for Smith, he was pulled in favor of Daren Bates who filled in adequately in 23 snaps. If Smith can’t return week five, it’s unclear if Bates or the newly signed Perry Riley will see snaps.
Regardless, either is unlikely to have worthy IDP value beyond a few matchup plays. Instead, James appears to be the target. He’s what everyone thought Heeney was going to be in 2016 and represents the player with the most immediate near term value. He still needs to prove his worth after only two games as a starter, but he also presents the most long-term upside considering how active he’s been over the last two weeks.
News to Follow
- Navorro Bowman, LB was placed on injured reserve after tearing his Achilles, ending his season.
- Myles Jack started in place of the injured Dan Skuta at strongside linebacker. He played 30% of the team’s snaps finishing with three tackles, an assist and a pass defended.
- Earlier in the week, the Colts surprisingly released their leading tackler, Sio Moore, LB.
- Sean Weatherspoon, LB was constructing a comeback season after three weeks, but he ruptured his Achilles for the second time in his career and will miss the rest of the season. With De’Vondre Campbell working through an injury and Paul Worrilow struggling to get healthy, the Falcons signed AJ Hawk as depth.
With Navorro Bowman out for the year, it appears Nick Bellore may initially start in his place. Michael Wilhoite is expected to man the other inside linebacker spot. Bellore hasn’t been anything more than a career special teamer, but he filled in for Bowman in week four playing 29 snaps and accumulating four tackles, so it’s possible he produces this week.
While, as mentioned last week, my expectation was for Gerald Hodges to assume Ray-Ray Armstrong’s role, he was benched in favor of Wilhoite in week four (eck). Wilhoite finished with ten tackles and two assists. A very solid showing. However, I would be surprised if Hodges doesn’t emerge from this heap of lard as the ultimate winner. For this week, I would only be comfortable starting Wilhoite, who appears to be a certainty for snaps and production. Whoever emerges should see a very high volume of tackle opportunities through the end of the year, though.
As far as Bowman’s dynasty value, I still have him in the top 15 among linebackers at only 28 years old, but two major injuries in three years is concerning. They’re freak occurrences, but still concerning. If you’re looking towards next year already, he’s an obvious target as his owner is highly likely to be snake-bitten.
The Colts defense is a disaster. After ‘teaching’ Jerrell Freeman a free agency lesson this off-season and refusing to re-sign him, the Colts have struggled to replace him. Sio Moore has (or had) potential, but it didn’t emerge quick enough. The Colts grew tired of waiting. Unfortunately, short-term, Moore may be replaced by both Antonio Morrison and Josh McNary. Chuck Pagano already said he expects a committee to replace Moore. The most probable situation is McNary assumes subpackage snaps, while Morrison handles the base. Morrison is the dynasty play of the two as the only one with long-term potential.
Myles Jack, LB started at strongside linebacker and played quite well in coverage. He wasn’t overly active in the box score considering due to his position, but Dan Skuta may not get his job back even if healthy. Unfortunately, until Jack bumps Paul Posluszny from the middle, he’s unlikely to see prime production and be IDP relevant.
- Yannick Ngakoue, DE now has three straight weeks with a sack and a forced fumble. He added an interception in week four. He’s playing out of his skull right now. It’s doubtful this pace continues, but he looks to be legit.
- Zach Brown, LB posted his second straight week of double digit tackles with 12 tackles, five assists and a sack. He’s on pace for 136 solo tackles (!).
- With Ryan Shazier, LB out with a knee injury, Vince Williams started and led the team in tackles. He finished with 14 tackles, two assists and a sack.
- Nick Fairley, DT is a top five defensive tackle through four weeks with 11 tackles, five assists and three sacks.
- Vonn Bell, S now owns two games with five plus tackles, playing almost 100% of the team’s snaps in week four. In fact, Bell took over for Jairus Byrd in the Saints’ starting lineup against the Chargers. Byrd was injured on an interception, but appeared to be fine soon after. So, it appears Bell earned increased snaps. With the Saints running a lot of three safety packages, both should continue see snaps, but it appears Bell may be taking hold of the base role and the lion’s share of snaps.
It’s possible AJ Hawk, LB sees snaps in the near future and is productive for a game or two if DeVondre Campbell and Paul Worrilow are still out, but he’s not worth adding. Either Campbell or Worrilow will assume the starting role when healthy. Hawk’s best football is behind him and he’s nothing more than NFL depth and, maybe, a very short-term option if forced into action.
Zach Brown, LB isn’t going to hit the 136 solo tackle mark. Very few have come close in NFL history. The last I can remember is Patrick Willis in 2007 (136 solo tackles). Brown’s regression is coming, so if you can capitalize, now is the time cash in, especially with Reggie Ragland coming back into the mix next season.
Vince Williams, LB played quite well against the Chiefs. Not only was he active in the box score, but he quarterbacked the defense in place of Shazier. It wasn’t Lawrence Timmons with the green dot. Shazier continues to struggle with injuries, so Williams is worth adding or monitoring depending on league depth.
With Sheldon Rankins, DT out for the season, Nick Fairley is living up to his draft pedigree thus far in 2016. He’s playing quite well flashing tremendous pass rushing ability and getting to the quarterback. From a dynasty perspective, on a one-year contract, Fairley is someone who could be a nice long-term piece in tackle-required leagues and is worth targeting, as a result.
- Historically, Anthony Hitchens, LB performed well in limited action. With Rolando McClain suspended and out of favor with the Cowboys, many tabbed Hitchens as a sleeper. After four weeks, he’s averaging three tackles and three assists on 46% of snaps. The Cowboys are keeping the defensive backs on the field instead of Hitchens. Unless Sean Lee goes down with an injury, it doesn’t look like Hitchens will hold much value.
- After a fast start with eight tackles, five assists and one and a half sacks, Devin Taylor, DE only accumulated one assist in two games. A surprising development, considering he faced the Packers in week three (top 10 in sacks allowed).
- Anthony Barr, LB is clearly a better NFL player than IDP option. After four weeks, he’s performing at a LB 5/6 level despite playing well.
- Deone Bucannon, LB is underperforming with an average of four tackles and one assist through four games.
Anthony Barr is playing extremely well as the quarterback of the Vikings defense, but he’s performing at a LB 5/6 level right now. With some ranking him in the LB30 range, he’s been a huge dynasty disappointment. As the Vikings stronside linebacker, this production level is likely to continue with some big games here and there. Don’t expect things to turn around. At best, he’s a LB4.
The Cardinals’ defensive line needs bolstering. The lack of effectiveness is killing Deone Bucannon’s production. Frosteee Rucker has been out since week two and Ed Stinson and Josh Mauro aren’t able to effectively hold things down. They’re sub-par players and it appears to be killing Bucannon’s production. He needs Rucker back, healthy and on the line to be a startable IDP option again.
Deeper Targets to Watch/Add
- Morris Claiborne, CB is in the midst of a redemption year. Over the last three weeks, he’s averaging five tackles and an assist. He’s a viable option in corner-required leagues and playing like his first round pick pedigree. Upcoming is a matchup against the Bengals where he’s likely to be tested frequently in a matchup against AJ Green.
- Bryce Callahan, CB started last week and he lined up frequently against Golden Tate. He basically shut him down. In fact, Callahan may be too good in coverage, but he can tackle. Until he proves he can consistently shut down opposing receivers, he’ll be tested. Callahan appears to be ahead of Jacoby Glenn, so the tackle opportunities should be there.
- Will Sutton, DT only played 42% of snaps, but posted three tackles against the Lions. That’s two straight weeks active in the box score. He’s benefiting from the absence of Eddie Goldman, but he’s worth stashing in very deep tackle-required leagues as he quietly performs.