Many owners struggle to differentiate between IDP prospects once the well known targets are off the board. They get caught in the trap of checking the waiver wire for the past week’s top scorers and wind up adding a player whose performance in the previous game was an outlier, not a sign of sustainable future success. The result of this “dart-throwing” approach is often disappointment with the new player’s performance and even worse, losing games for our fantasy teams.
DLF’s IDP Report Card will aid owners who wish to see beyond the box score and focus on trends rather than events. Understanding when to avoid a pickup because the player’s perceived value is based more on circumstance than skill will help you improve your scoring efficiency and stack up wins. So, with a special thanks to Dan Meylor, proprietor of the offensive version of DLF’s Dynasty Report Card, here is the Defensive version.
Player Evaluation #1
Ken Crawley, CB NO
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The Saints defense is hardly a defense at all. While Craig Robertson has been a standout in IDP leagues this season, there’s been very little on the unit to get excited about. Second year hopeful Stephone Anthony has played less than 18 percent of the team’s snaps this season. Hau’oli Kikaha tore his ACL. Sheldon Rankins and Delvin Breaux each suffered broken fibulas and will miss most, if not all of the year.
It’s Breaux’s injury that has opened the door for Ken Crawley, an undrafted free agent whose unlikely role on the team has been a roller coaster ride. The two-point conversion Michael Crabtree caught in week one was at Crawley’s expense, as was the long bomb Victor Cruz caught streaking down the sideline in week two. There were probably a lot of eager Julio Jones owners who thought the wideout would torch Crawley when the Saints took on the Falcons on Monday Night Football. Much to their chagrin, Crawley held Jones to just one catch for 16 yards on the night.
He’s played more snaps than any Saints’ defensive back in 2016. As a back-up it’s unknown what his role will be upon Breaux’s return to the lineup, later this season. For now, Crawley is making a name for himself and improving weekly in the opinion of his coaches. His 21 tackles are second on the team to Craig Robertson’s 29 stops. Those 21 tackles put Crawley on the cusp of DB2 status in IDP leagues. His value is even higher in formats that mandate starting a cornerback.
While his performance in coverage has been up and down, Crawley has been impressive in run support. When the Saints return from their bye next week, they will play six consecutive games against run-heavy offenses. (Panthers, Chiefs, Seahawks, 49ers, Broncos, Panthers, Rams)
When you consider that running the ball is one of the best ways for opponents to keep Drew Brees off the field and take into account quarterback’s love for picking on inexperienced rookie corners, Crawley should have ample opportunities to rack up tackling stats in the coming weeks. He is an affordable option for IDP owners in a bye week pinch, and has some upside as a longer term starter should he continue to improve in coverage.
Player Name: Ken Crawley Student Grade: (Instructor’s Notes)
Player Evaluation #2
Zach Orr, MLB BAL
The inside linebacker job in Baltimore comes with a pair of “size 52” cleats to fill. Zach Orr will never exceed the legend of Ray Lewis, but the third year veteran has been impressive as he assumes a starting role for the Ravens’ defense. Since week two, Orr has come off the field just twice. He is currently tied for 13th in solos tackles and is just outside of LB1 territory in IDP scoring.
Among Orr’s best attributes is his ability to slide off blocks and make tackles in run defense. Through four games, Zach Orr has outpaced his teammate C.J. Mosley in that category. He’s also flirted with double digit tackles in each of the last three games.
Back when Lewis was the man in the middle of the Ravens’ defense, he enjoyed the benefit of playing behind guys like Sam Adams, Tony Siragusa, and Haloti Ngata. That relationship between inside backer and nose tackle is similar to the one between a fullback and tailback. The big fella takes care of the obstacles, so the little guy can run free and bust people in the chops.
For Orr, that big road grader has been Timmy Jernigan. Both Orr and Jernigan are in their third professional season. Year three is a time when the game seems to “click” for many young players. Orr and Jernigan have each hit their stride for the Ravens’ defense at the same time, helping the team achieve its 3-1 record to date. Currently DL18, Jernigan is also making his name a staple in IDP leagues this season with eight tackles and three sacks to date.
The Ravens are remixing an old formula which served them well in the past. Zach Orr is the man in the middle of that revival who could help IDP owners “B-More” than the also rans. For anyone doubting whether his performance to date has been for real, you are running out of time to lock him up for the stretch run.
Player Evaluation #2
Student Name: Zach Orr Player Grade: (Instructor’s Notes)