Cleat Geeks

The IDP Geek Huddle: 2018 Defensive Linemen Investments 0.1

To continue the first part of our series on investments in 2018 we’ll cover a few defensive linemen who are likely to take the next step this year. In which a minimal investment could very well pay dividends on the tail end of a trade or later on in redrafts. If you happen to have read the linebacker and safety articles I recently published you’ll probably notice the introduction here with the DLs will be a bit different. It’s pretty simple as to why it’ll be a different way to look at these investments. These DLs might be on the radar, but they are not truly worth much of an investment by themselves. Actually, they may just be on the waiver wire in dynasty leagues.

This particular group we are about to cover are more often than not players we want to keep an eye on until OTAs and reports come around. They may be worth a late round pick later in the summer. It’ll be around the time OTA’s roll around that camp reports will tell us if we should go ahead and pull the trigger. The trick to remember about the DLs in most standard leagues is that there are always some you can plug and play via match-ups. And unless we are talking a top 12 DL, where at that point those guys have there own value to deal with, most are not worth investing into at this time of the off-season. If you don’t have a top 20 at the least the DLs almost become “a dime a dozen”.

Here is a thought for when we do need to fill out our lineups. We should consider fielding a defensive tackle each week that might only average 5 pts per contest, but they give it to us nearly every single week. There are plenty of defensive ends with weeks that get us hardly anything, but then hit a few weeks out of the season with games they score big. The question is when they didn’t score did they cost us overall. In other words, it’s the difference between a steady shortstop hitting doubles all the time or that guy in right field trying to hit a home run every pitch. Consistency matters at the Defensive Linemen position and not receiving a steady stream of fantasy points on average is merely not using the position at all. And these players should be looked at right now as possible DL2/3 with “upside.”

Image result for davon godchaux dolphins

Miami’s fifth-rounder DT Davon Godchaux was arguably the most productive rookie this past season for the Dolphins. Well, let’s just say he is in the conversation. For a player to handle the workload they gave him and he did so much more than just being a “solid” contributor showed well for Godchaux. The buzz back last spring was that the Dolphins got lucky when he was still there in the 5th round. And all signs now say that assumption held true. In a rotational role where he did receive some spot starts, he recorded some notable numbers.

From week seven and on he had a nice average. He played on average 50% of the defensive snaps at an even 500 count. For a fifth rounder, this is as solid as it gets on what we could ever have expected from a fifth rounder. Godchaux had a small stretch of games mid-season that he really showed up and actually was their most productive DL for fantasy purposes. Looking at the reports for those contest he earned what he got and the team was really impressed.

The only reason he didn’t continue showing up as strong after that mid-season point was the fact that Andra Branch started stepping up and had a productive second half of the season. Godchaux ended the season with 40 total tackles and this was only eight combined tackles behind Mr. Suh. The difference was Mr. Suh was on the field for 877 defensive snaps versus Godchaux 500. This leaves me wondering what last years rookie would have done with another 200 snaps. We can’t go the full 377 difference in snaps between the two because Mr. Suh is simply a beast. Those are ironman numbers for a DT these days at a season average of 84%. If Godchaux makes any noise this off-season when OTA’s and such are in full swing he’ll need to be considered a player that could break out in 2018.

I made a call on Atlanta’s DT Grady Jarrett this time last season and the situation is nearly the same here. The comparison to me is uncanny. If you find yourself looking for a player with plenty of “upside” and don’t want to invest a whole lot, but before his value could go up, Godchaux should be considered for the top of that list.

*Note: Tackles for loss also a part of the playmaking count.

 

The Carolina Panthers drafted DT Vernon Butler out of Louisiana Tech in the 1st round in 2016 and the reports are out of Panthers camp that it’ll be tough to think that the Panthers resign stud DT Star Lotulelei. The team just resigned DT Kawann Short to a pricey long-term deal last year, leaving Lotulelei expendable at the price he’ll demand on the open market.

We don’t have a large number of statistics to go over with Butler as he really hasn’t played a lot with the starting defense. He has also had a bit of an injury history compounding that situation. But he has shined in some areas that put him on the radar just to see how it plays out. If Butler can get healthy he is in a great situation to step up next season as a full-time type DL. The playmaking ability he has shown from time to time could translate nicely if he does receive more opportunities with the starting unit. With Carolina dealing with a few older players they need to decide on in free agency Butler should find himself getting the chance to show he is worth the first round pick they invested in him. Butler actually isn’t your prototype DT either, he has a thinner stature relying on speed and quickness to get the job done. This could also give him another option in the lineup. Carolina ran with longtime veteran DE Julius Peppers who was very serviceable in 2018. But at Peppers age, one has to think that he is about to slow down or that the Panthers may want to simply get younger rather than continue to rely on the likes of Julius Peppers and Peppers respectfully. Butler needs to be on the radar for a investment if he enters camp this coming summer as an uncontested starter. The opportunity will be there for Butler as well as for IDP owners that are looking for a DL2/3 type in standard-sized leagues.

Image result for alex okafor saints

New Orleans has a decision to make with Alex Okafor who showed well as a converted OLB to a DE who should attract some attention on the open market. He actually had a very interesting stretch this past season where he was firmly on the fantasy radar.

If Okafor, who is still only 27 years old, can finally put it together after transitioning to DE he holds a lot of promise. He is definitely a player to pay attention to depending where he lands this offseason. He was a big part of the turnaround of the Saints defensive unit in the front seven as any of them. And after he was hurt there was a noticeable drop off on the unit overall. He was showing like a solid DL2 while adding some real playmaking traits. Looking over his career numbers this was the best season he has put together. At the least, we have to figure that maybe he gets a “prove it” deal either in New Orleans or elsewhere. Okafor worked with Cameron Jordan and Sheldon Rankins and together they shored up a defensive line unit that had struggled in prior seasons. And at times they were downright dominant in terms of being able to make plays.

*Note: Tackles for loss also apart of the playmaking count.

 

This isn’t my typical approach to writing about players that we should keep on our IDP radars. As I mentioned above DLs are “dime a dozen” unless they are truly in the top tier. We never should target them more than in a really late round or as a player to balance value in a trade. But when the situation arises these guys could potentially breakout in 2018 and worth the small investment.

 

Thanks for reading and be sure to hit me up with any questions you may have on twitter @HBogart27

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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