Cleat Geeks

The IDP Geek Huddle: New York Giants

Scheme Overview

Because it is likely we see a major overhaul with the Giants defensive scheme, I’d like to start this article on the team IDPs with a recent Q&A from early April. The question was directed to the new defensive coordinator James Bettcher in a press conference.

Reporter Q: “It seems like that from the personnel moves that you guys have made that at least the base of your defense is going to look like a 3-4. Is that something that has to be declared or decided?”

Bettcher A: “I think each and every down we might look different on defense. But again, I’ll tell you what — I can’t tell you today who we’re going to be on defense and really what we’re going to look like until we get through training camp, until we get into meetings, until we actually get on the field, until we don’t just play some basketball on grass in the offseason program. Until we get to training camp and we have helmets and pads on and we’re striking and separating and playing off of blocks and what we’re really going to look like. But yeah, there are certainly some 3-4 principles if that’s a term we want to use. There are certainly some 4-3 principles if that’s a term you want to use. At the end of the day, it’s about playing hard with a relentless mindset, playing fast, playing physical and being a smart football team.”

In the process of doing this series I’ve received a lot of interest in this Giants article to the point I’ve decided to make my statement on what scheme we should see, and then do the “takes” as such. But at the end of each, I will mention the other case scenario for whoever we cover just to try and get it right.

We have found a great partner in the IDP space with The IDP Guys Podcast! In this weeks episode the guys look at Free Agent Linebackers with our own Gary VanDyke, Defensive Back Invesments with another Cleatgeeks writer George Murphy as well as New & Notes, Gut Check, and the continuation of the Top 100 IDP list. It is great audio to have in the background while you read our articles on cleatgeeks!

With that being said and knowing the recent moves the Giants have made on the defensive side of the ball with Jason Pierre-Paul traded away to Tampa Bay along with Alec Ogletree being acquired from the L.A. Rams, we will expect a 3-4 scheme in base packages. The new DC James Bettcher came from Arizona where he ran the 3-4 with a lot of success and there is no reason to think the intentions are not to run “his” defense in New York. We need to keep in mind this article and my “take” here is pre-draft. So barring any major draft picks this is along the lines of what we should count on per our IDP purposes.

There will be one change how I approach this article over most of the articles I have recently done on the different team’s IDPs. I will not go by position category as DB, LB, and DL. We are going to address this by the player and his likely role in the defensive schemes, again mainly from the 3-4 to start with. And also from who we should consider in order the most relevant to probably produce for our lineups. With this approach, we won’t cover every single defensive starter, but simply the ones we should target for some form of significant impact in IDP.

The Tier 1 Targets

Alec Ogletree has to be by far our top potential upper-tier 1 player at linebacker. It was big news when the Giants made a trade with the Rams to get him in New York, and for good reason. He is a “known” top linebacker in the NFL by skill set and talent. If not for a down year in 2017 when the Rams switched from the 3-4 scheme to the 4-3 scheme and one injury year in 2015 holding us back, he would likely be a top-five option in IDP linebacker rankings by every “guru” doing the ranking. The Giants have not had a great track record with linebackers over the last few seasons and it’s apparent to someone something had to be done. As a result not only was it probably our best option as IDP owners who may have Ogletree but after how the Rams used him as the MLB in the 4-3 scheme it’ll likely be the best thing on a personal note for Ogletree and his career. 2017 was the first year other than the year he was hurt that he did not total more than 100 combined tackles at a still solid 95 combined. The way that the Rams DC Wade Phillips runs his 4-3 scheme doesn’t favor the MLB in tackle opportunities as most 4-3 schemes in the league. Hence the Rams willing to trade Ogletree as he was “overkill” at the position and in the cap hit on the team for the role he played.

Now onto his likely role in 2018. Ogletree will be inserted as the defensive captain and calling the plays for the defense on the field. In the 3-4 he’ll assume the “money backer” role that Deone Bucannon benefited from in Arizona. The huge difference is that Ogletree is a true linebacker with speed and strength to make the most out of the position. Something that Bucannon has struggled with in recent years due to his size as a safety converted into the “money backer” role. Ogletree will be better at this position by being able to cover when he needs to and having the size to shed thru blocks to stop the run. And on those occasions, they might field the 4-3 scheme his role will not likely change. The only obvious situation is that the “money backer” could simply be looked at as a roaming weakside linebacker allowing him to cover and support the run. The overall purpose of his role will be to have him as the main one of two players on defense in position to make the play every defensive snap. In our waves we should draft him in redraft leagues it is pretty cut and dry. He should never fall out of the top upper half of the first wave. As for rookie picks value versus acquiring him in standard size leagues, here is one of the few that a rookie first rounder is setting the bar. Personally, if I own him, he simply isn’t on the block for trade unless someone manages to flat out overpay, and I mean a huge overpay. He just isn’t a replaceable talent in my starting lineup unless it is another top of the top tier linebackers such as Jones, Wagner, Kuechly, etc.


There is no surprise to many that Landon Collins will be inserted here as the “other” one of the two main IDP players to be targeted at the highest level. He has managed to surpass 100 combined tackles in each of his first three seasons while being the backbone of the defense overall. Granted he may have benefited over this time from the lack of quality linebackers in front of him to a point, but the addition of Ogletree isn’t going to affect his outlook for our IDP purposes in 2018 or beyond. Collins has managed to be an upper-tier prospect thru hard work by default and lucky for us this new scheme won’t hamper that output. There is only one current concern with Collins, it was recently announced he needs a second surgery on his forearm that he broke in Week 16 of last season. This is a set back in terms of us wondering if he can make a full recovery in time for the start of the 2018 season. At the moment the timetable for him to recover is at six to eight weeks. As long as this holds true and there are no setbacks his IDP owners can breathe a sigh of relief when training camp begins. If he is not ready his owners will want to put him on the shelf until he is ready. We just don’t bail on a talent like his when we can simply find other adequate, but temporary, replacements.

Collins role is likely to be massive in the new scheme. It’ll be big enough that we should see either him or Ogletree leading the defense in IDP points in any given contest. He’ll be in the stud producing strong safety spot that has made household names out of a few players for the Cardinals over the last few seasons. It is a key position in the scheme and how Bettcher runs it. Here is exactly what that role has done for the players who held the role in recent seasons.

Tony Jefferson in 2014 & 2015 reached solid upper-tier 2 level while verging on low-end tier 1. Then in 2016, he reached his peak of an upper-top tier 1 before heading to Baltimore in 2017.

Tyvon Branch was well on his way to upper-tier 1 status until he was hurt in Week 9 and missed the rest of the 2017 season. In 8 games he was already in tier 1 with 69 combined tackles.

After Branch went down rookie Budda Baker took over full time at the position all the way into Week 17. And according to my math in that span, he recorded 62 combined tackles. Now, this can be a bit or take on his numbers as he did play some special teams, but not enough to note. These numbers would have him well into the upper-top tier 1 if he also had a full season at the position.

So what does this mean for Collins who clearly is already a top-tier safety before the change to this scheme? I’ll simply copy and paste from Ogletree’s “take” from here. He should never fall out of the top upper half of the first wave. As for rookie picks value versus acquiring him in standard size leagues, here is one of the few that a rookie first rounder is a bar. Personally, if I own him, he simply isn’t on the block for trade unless someone manages to flat out overpay, and I mean huge overpay. He just isn’t a replaceable talent in my starting lineup unless it is another top of the top tier safeties. As the main safety in this scheme, his role will not change in the 4-3 base, so fingers crossed that he recovers in full from the broken forearm and second surgery.


Damon Harrison may end up falling just a bit in tier 1 to the lower half but just based on his dominating play we can’t take him out of our tier 1 targets among the defensive lineman. The only reason we mention this is that DLs in the 3-4 are not known to get the numbers the same player could in the 4-3 scheme. A perfect example is Harrison himself. Before joining the Giants he was with the Jets and their 3-4 base defense. Let’s have a look at his career stats.


As we can see with the Jets he dipped more into the tier 2 level for two of his three seasons he was a full-time starter of production in the 3-4. But it is a positive he managed the one tier 1 indicating it is safe enough to still think he can pull the tier one off when the Giants roll out the 3-4.

As for his likely role on the D-Line we have to assume the three-technique DT or even the DE of the three-man set. As long as he isn’t wasted away as the nose tackle over the center he’ll produce very well. If they run a 4-3 then all is still great and his role stays the same. He should safely take him in the first wave of DLs off the board and worth a generous rookie pick. We will go with “generous” based more off what the leagues score setting is set for the league in question. He doesn’t rake up the sacks as much as he does the run stopping tackles so that range can vary.


The Tier 2 Targets


B.J. Goodson took a bit of a hit when the Giants brought in Ogletree or we would have had him firmly inserted in the Tier 1 portion of this “take”. At times in 2017, he looked like a solid contributor and the unquestionable leader among the linebackers. But when he could only manage to play in seven total contests is the likely reason they made the trade for Ogletree as much as anything. In 2016, which was Goodson’s rookie season, he didn’t receive any significant time with the starting unit at all. This should be taken with a bit of caution also, the 2016 linebacker corp was a mess and had a huge lack of overall talent. So why couldn’t he make an impact other than nine combined tackles? At this point, I need to add, be sure to check out the player I’ve added as a “flier” at the end of this “take”.

As for Goodson’s role with the starting unit in 2018 we have to assume it will be as the “other” inside linebacker next to Ogletree. But to what extent his snap count will be in question at this point. The odds are he’ll be a full-time player so we should approach it as that. In the case, they run the 4-3 he may actually find himself as the MLB as they would likely shift Ogletree to the weak side for coverage purposes. The obvious “safe” part of the second wave to select Goodson in would have to be no earlier than the midsection. It shouldn’t be surprising to see him slip a bit in some redrafts. As for a rookie pick, it would have to be in the second round range if we own him, but if offering a trade for him the base offer should start with a nice third rounder. We need to keep this in mind, it is unlikely we see Goodson hit tier 1 numbers. Between Collins, Harrison, and Ogletree, there just won’t be a huge amount of opportunities left for the rest of the front seven. His ceiling should be around the mid to upper Tier 2 if he can stay on the field.


Free Safety Darian Thompson didn’t actually have a stellar season in 2017 as a full-time starter, but in his defense, the defensive unit as a whole didn’t. We also need to note here that this is a pre-draft “take” and that some caution should be applied until after we see who the Giants select. Some may wonder why I’d be willing to insert Thompson into the tier 2 range here. It really is a “gut call” that if he enters 2018 as the free safety that the improved talent added to the squad this year could force some more opportunities his way. The odds are that he’ll likely receive some production by default as teams work to find ways to avoid Janoris Jenkins, Landon Collins, and Ogletree. If Eli Apple enters 2018 as the starter across from Jenkins at the cornerback position we may see Thompson cleaning up what Apple misses as he has struggled since being in the league.

Thompson’s role will not change much from the 3-4 to 4-3 base. With the history of how defensive coordinator Bettcher used his safeties in Arizona Thompson should receive a firm tier 2 tag and be considered in the late second wave of safeties coming off the board. When acquiring him versus a rookie pick we would have to believe that after a lackluster season in 2017 he could be had for as little as a 4th round pick.


Olivier Vernon’s tier of production may be a little tricky to make a call on at this point. And can hinge greatly on his position classification in any given fantasy league. We should still consider him as a possible low tier 2 type at the moment simply because there just isn’t any other option for the Giants at the outside linebacker position that will likely outplay him. We have to think that outside linebacker could be a position that the Giants address early in the draft but shouldn’t affect Vernon’s role. After trading Jason Pierre-Paul to Tampa Bay he is simply the best option as a pass rusher on the squad.

As an outside linebacker in the 3-4 base, he’ll likely stick his hand in the dirt as a defensive end when the 4-3 is applied. I personally can not suggest taking him earlier than the third wave of linebackers off the board and I have no suggested rookie pick that could be offered. His best value will likely be if a site has him listed as an edge rusher or defensive end in 2018.


The “Flier”

Calvin Munson was a player I wrote about back in early March before the Giants acquired Alec Ogletree. Because of Goodson’s situation is currently not a lock I’m still inserting him here as a player to watch as a “flier” with some upside. Of course, a “flier” deserves just a flier acquisition. If you would like more on Munson please refer HERE to why he remains on our radar.


Thank you again for reading. Please feel free to catch me on Twitter @HBogart27 for anything IDP.

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