Cleat Geeks

The IDP Geek Huddle: Arizona

Image result for steve wilks cardinals

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In this coverage on NFL teams that should have some changes on the defensive side of the ball that may affect our IDP lineups, we will cover the Arizona Cardinals and see if we can piece together an outlook for 2018. With each team coverage we have been approaching this from different angles and in this case, it should be a little more cut and dry on how things can play out. Other than a few personnel changes the overall aspect of the defensive unit shouldn’t change drastically for our IDP purposes. Let’s dig in and see if that assumption holds true.


Scheme Overview

Pending any new information from new head coach Steve Wilks leaking out the indications at the moment are they will go with the trend hitting the NFL by game planning and using both the 3-4 and 4-3 based schemes depending on the opponent. Yep, here we go again, clear as mud. But realistically with the personnel the Cardinals have, we shouldn’t stray too far from the idea that our main IDP targets from the squad should differ greatly from the past. We’ll now have a look at each area and see how this should play out.


Defensive Backs

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Photo by; ESPN

We’ll start with the defensive backs by again remembering I do not “take” on the cornerbacks. Shutdown corner Patrick Peterson will still be avoided by most quarterbacks and likely won’t produce much in terms of IDP points or more than his normal output. And on the opposite side, whether it is Tramon Williams, a free agent signing, a rookie or another corner on the depth chart that steps up, the player across from Peterson could hold more “upside” for fantasy production as the player likely targeted over Peterson. This “other” corner may not play out until sometime this coming summer, so unless there is a notable player signed or a rookie drafted we’ll simply wait this out. Personally and for a big reason I don’t “take” on cornerbacks for IDP is as I always say, cornerbacks are dime a dozen on most waiver wires throughout the season. It will be notable to perhaps target this player across from Peterson, but wouldn’t suggest going out of the way at this time to “force” a roster spot and occupying space for a player in another position holding more value down the road if they happen to work out for us. Yes, we should rather roster a “flier” over a cornerback at this time of the year.

The safety situation could possibly be where we see some changes from what we saw at the end of the 2017 season. Budda Baker is our likely top target as the starting strong safety in the defensive backfield. Of course, depending on how far the new coaching staff strays away from how Baker was used in a linebacker/safety role will determine his real IDP value. Remember we have a whole new coaching crew so it is way too early to lock anything down concerning that hybrid role still being utilized going forward. Hopefully, by OTAs, we have more information on this. But for now, we should look at Baker as the traditional strong safety with potential to be a top 10 producing defensive back.

As for the Tyrann Mathieu at the free safety position, he has recently been asked to take a pay cut after not producing up to the level of his current contract. He has endured thru some injuries and his play on the field has dipped as a result. As of the moment, I sit here typing there is no new information stating if he’ll take the cut and remain with Arizona. With this being said, there are just a few free safeties that are in our top tier of defensive backs for IDP. Those are mainly reserved for strong safeties based on the yearly output by the positions versus each other. While still suggesting a free safety over a cornerback when possible, whoever ends up as the free safety for the Cardinals in 2018 should hold enough value to have on the roster and possibly be in the DB2 range in our lineups.

UPDATE: During a pause, while writing this article Mathieu was released. Guessing that pay cut wasn’t happening. At this point, we should assume a rookie or a free agent signing may happen. This is a situation to monitor.



As I mentioned above in the update, I paused here in writing this article and there was a re-signing of a linebacker we will cover towards the end of this portion. But first, we will cover the two linebackers we know should have roles in 2018.

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Photo by; Seattle Seahawks

Deone Bucannon had somewhat of a down season in 2017. That’s actually putting it nicely. After he had a stellar second season he seemed to take a step back in his third season with his play on the field in 2016. The third season is actually when most linebackers or players, in general, will take another step in putting it all together. So we should keep this in mind. He actually ended the 2016 season on injured reserve. This happens of course, but what came between the end of 2016 and heading into 2017 is also something we will want to keep in mind. There were reports of friction coming out of Arizona that Bucannon was in the doghouse over the injury and the step back he took. In the end, he did return to the starting lineup in 2017 after missing three weeks over the injury he had that put him on I.R. at the end of 2016. We’ll note that it didn’t seem like he was at that second-year form when he did return. But at this point 2018 is a new season with a new group of coaches so we should assume he’ll have a major role until further notice.

Before we move forward, keep in mind I’m using what I know and what I can currently locate for this “take”. It might not be “in-line” with many other “takes”, but it is how I think things will play out.

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Photo by; Zimbio

Bucannon is one of the original “tweaker” linebackers we have recently seen teams targeting. He basically is the size of a strong safety playing linebacker. Afterall he was a safety in college. He has the speed to burn and it is how he made his money in year two of his career when he had a combined 112 tackles while being fast to the ball and a “tackler”. From what we can assume was his best asset that season should land him at the weakside linebacker position in 2018 as long as the rumors are true and the Cardinals go more of a 4-3 base. This will again make him a great target for IDP purposes. But keep all that’s been stated in mind. Could he lead the Cardinals in tackles in 2018, yes? But we shouldn’t think that it would be at the upper tier one level at this time. He just isn’t big enough to be the middle linebacker who will have the most opportunities. Until we see how he responds to the scheme change he should likely be looked at as a high LB2 or lower LB1. We possibly have seen his ceiling in tackle production in that year two season of his career. He is far from an avoid, but expectations should factor in some concerns when drafting or trading for him. On our rosters, we should want a better option as our lineups number one and two linebackers to play each week. Personally, if I own him he is a player I add something to for an upgrade “sure thing” at the upper tier. In drafting, I believe he should be looked at as the 3rd or 4th linebacker I try to pick while I fill my lineup out.

Haason Reddick is a superb athlete, and because of this, we should consider a couple things. This is one that I figure some may disagree with me when I say there are indications he won’t be manning the middle of the defense as the middle linebacker. The next portion of this article will relay that same thinking by all indications at hand. With the trend of the NFL teams looking to use multiple schemes, he is fitting in as the starting strongside linebacker if the trend holds true. Normally a strongside linebacker wouldn’t be an every snap player. I don’t think this will be the case for Reddick. In one shape or form, they’ll have him on the field. On early downs as the strongside player in coverage and containment to support the run-stopping. While adding a pass rush at times as well. As for any passing down, we should think they would want him rushing the passer or taking on coverage duties. Being that it is a hybrid 4-3 and 3-4 scheme he’ll likely see some outside linebacker snaps each game. With this thinking, he’ll firmly be on the LB2 radar. If the following player I’m about to throw the wrench into this “take” doesn’t live up to what looks like he should be for the team in 2018, then Reddick would likely be the middle linebacker vaulting him into the LB1 tier with upside to be top of that tier. We may not know exactly how this plays out in the camp this summer or even into pre-season. No one freak out here, Reddick may not live up to our expectations we acquired him at last year, but he will still be productive enough that we won’t flat out regret the investment. And always keep an open mind when a new coaching staff and scheme are introduced, anything can happen.

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Now to throw the “wrench” into this. And to clear the air now, I kinda seen this coming. To the point, I took a flier on this player a month ago in my own 32 team flagship league, where digging deep matters. So while I lay it out, keep in mind even if I do have a personal investment here, I’m “taking on this as it has presented itself,” not on what I hope happens. Here me out, at the worse, we have a flier in play.

The Cardinals just re-signed linebacker Josh Bynes recently. This is a 100% under the radar move for us to keep track of. The signing was only a three year deal for about 10 million. It isn’t the money, it’s the length of the contract we should note. Bynes was brought in last season as depth and ended the season with a few notable facts. One would be that he started getting time on the field with the starting unit subbing out main run-stopping linebacker Karlos Dansby on passing downs. Another is while on the field he played well and didn’t embarrass himself while actually improving the defense as they needed him to do. It was a low-key move by the Cardinals setting themselves up for 2018 that mainly went unnoticed. But yet, he was one of the first free agents they resigned. Bynes will be 29 years old in August, a player his age isn’t normally signed long term like the three years here unless the special teams are his bread and butter. There are so many options out there for special teams, it’s just the normal to think youth and Bynes isn’t an ace on special teams. Bynes has bounced around the league and has experience on the 3-4 and the 4-3 scheme. At one time he was a hot name in the league for an up and coming player but things just never seemed to work out for him. You’ll hear he is mainly a run stopper, but yet he was the sub for Dansby on passing downs. At this point, we shouldn’t lock him down as just one of either. He has worked his way thru the NFL and with his journeyman tag can be a very important piece to Arizona as they re-work the roster over the next few seasons. If any of you have kept up with the total package of changes needing to be made or being made we can simply say it’s a rebuild overall at this point for Arizona. Even if they try and compete with there division rivals who are also making strides with much younger rosters.

With all this being said, free agency isn’t over till it’s over and there is a draft coming. Arizona has a lot of needs and I don’t think inside linebacker is now at the top of the list. This is purely a “gut call” on Bynes. I don’t have a chart or information to throw out here to convince anyone of anything. Between him and Reddick, we should think one will likely take the middle linebacker position with Bucannon at the weak side of whatever scheme for his speed and hopefully improved coverages skills. We should simply pencil in Bynes in the starting line up for Arizona right now with both upside and downside. With his upside reaching as high as tier one or the downside of him being a backup or package player. We should hear from me in this situation often over the next few months as things continue to develop, or don’t develop in this case. If we see no more major signings or drafting of linebackers Bynes appears to be a lock one way or another.

Defensive Lineman

Another “wrench”, and only mentioning one player here throwing that wrench into everything, even the linebackers.

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Photo by; Arizona Cardinals

Chandler Jones is a beast! There we got that out of the way. In 2018 will he be a defensive end which is what most prototypes outside linebackers translate to in the change from a 3-4 to a 4-3? One would have to think so. We will note here to make sure we see what the “wrench” is, he could also play the SLB position easily. As unlikely this will be, it is something to keep in mind. Jones will be a top tier DL option as long as he is designated a DE. And is currently the only defensive lineman I care to “take” on as being one we should have on our rosters. We can keep an eye on the “others”, but that’s more than likely at this time how they’ll play out in 2018, the “others.”


A Safe “Gut Call” In Targeting The Players

Budda Baker as a DB1 at the SS spot
Whoever is the free safety, “safe” would be as a low DB2
Bucannon and Reddick as upper LB2
Jones as a solid DL1 with upside to top of the tier, and in case it happens, as an LB2, if at SLB.

Bynes is a wildcard, with nothing at all to an upper LB2. If he (whoever) can lock the middle linebacker down with an every-down role, he would shock us as a solid LB1 easily. Invest accordingly, good luck with that one.

Again, with what looks like a major scheme change and positional shifting, no need to throw out the “playmaking” chart here from 2017.


That’s it, thanks again for reading and be sure to catch me on twitter @HBogart27 for anything IDP.

How to Structure Your Dynasty League Team For Success

Just like an NFL team, dynasty owners need to evaluate their team every year and set themselves up for sustained, long-term success. As a dynasty league commissioner and league champion, I would like to offer my suggestions on how to build each position group. My recommendations will be based mainly on the roster structure of my own leagues, but I will also offer some more general comments.

My main league that I run is a 10 team, 0.5 PPR, dynasty IDP league that has 35 roster spots and 2 reserve spots. We start 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 R/W/T flex, 1 K, 1 DL, 1 LB, and 1 DB. After a 12-1 championship season in the first year of this league, the loss of David Johnson hurt me in 2017. Still, I’m very happy with this team and it fits my format below fairly well, but obviously I am a bit biased. I’ll have the first pick in each round this season, but no picks in the first two rounds.

My second team that I recently took over this past week is in a 12 team dynasty league with 32 roster spots but 25 max keepers and 3 reserve spots. We start 1 QB, 2 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 R/W/T flex, 1 K, and 1 DEF. I still have some work to do to make that team look the way I’d like it to. I’ll have the 12th pick in each round of this year’s draft.

For each position, you want to have as many top players as possible, obviously. However, this is not usually feasible. A more attainable goal is to have one top-X player at each position, X being the number of teams in your league. For example, since my main league has 10 teams, I would like to get at least one top-10 player at each position. From there, you want to have a player(s) to fill each category I will lay out below. Keep in mind some players may cover multiple categories and give you a little more freedom.


Quarterback (QB)

Depending on the size of your roster, I recommend having at least two (2) quarterbacks, and no more than four (4). You want to have youth wherever possible. Players I own are highlighted in red, blue, or purple (both), depending on the league.

Coming into 2018, Patrick Mahomes (15) will lead the Chiefs offense with some explosive playmakers at his disposal

Top-X Starter

At the quarterback position, having a top-caliber, high-floor, high-ceiling guy that’s able to score 15+ points per week consistently is very valuable. In 2017, the top 10 scoring quarterbacks were: Russell Wilson (SEA), Cam Newton (CAR), Alex Smith (KC, now WAS), Tom Brady (NE), Carson Wentz (PHI), Kirk Cousins (WAS, now free agent), Philip Rivers (LAC), Matthew Stafford (DET), Drew Brees (NO, now free agent), and Ben Roethlisberger (PIT). Perennial top-10 quarterback Aaron Rodgers (GB) only played in 7 games in 2017 due to injury, and 2016 NFL MVP Matt Ryan (ATL) still made the top 15 last season. These players produce in a variety of ways, whether it be throwing for 300+ yards and multiple scores each game, or using their legs as true dual-threat players.

Young, Promising Starter

In real-world terms, this is what we would call your “franchise quarterback”. This is a player who is young (under age 28) and has shown solid development and potential as a starting quarterback in the NFL. Carson Wentz falls into this category, as well as being a top-10 starter from 2017. Other members of this category include Jared Goff (LAR), Dak Prescott (DAL), Marcus Mariota (TEN), Blake Bortles (JAX), Derek Carr (OAK), Jimmy Garoppolo (SF), and Jameis Winston (TB). These players may have their ups and downs, but they will be the ones to take over as the aging veterans start to show declines in production or retire. Andrew Luck (IND) is another player to watch, but with his injury history and the fact he will be 29 when the season starts, he may not be worth the investment.

Sophomore or Rookie Development

If the 2017 quarterback class wasn’t discussed enough, the 2018 class has surely made up for it. Without knowing yet where they will land, this years prospects certainly have the potential to be very good. The top 5 (Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Baker Mayfield, and Lamar Jackson) could all have starting jobs within the next three seasons, and some will be given a chance from day 1. If your roster allows for it, take a chance on one of them and see what happens. If you’re not quite ready for that, Deshaun Watson (HOU), Mitchell Trubisky (CHI) and Patrick Mahomes II (KC) will both have starting roles in 2018 and they are all still in their early 20’s.

Serviceable Veteran

If you still haven’t acquired the number of quarterbacks you desire, there are still a few players to look for in the event that your starter is injured. Although they are older and their production may be mediocre, players like Joe Flacco (BAL), Andy Dalton (CIN), and Eli Manning (NYG), and Tyrod Taylor (BUF, now CLE) should be available or cheap to get. Depending on how free agency and trades shakes out, Sam BradfordCase Keenum, Josh McCown and Nick Foles could all make it into this category as well.


Running Back (RB)

Depending on the size of the roster, I recommend having at least six (6) running backs. You want to have plenty of depth because injuries are common. You also want to have youth wherever possible. Players I own are highlighted in red, blue, or purple (both), depending on the league.

David Johnson (31) will look to return to his 2016 form this season after missing nearly all of 2017 with a dislocated wrist

Top-X Starter

Just like with quarterbacks, having a top “bell cow” running back to plug into your lineup regardless of matchup will help your fantasy team and reduce the stress of over thinking who to start. Players who have prominent roles in both the running game and passing game consistent because they aren’t as affected by game script. If your league awards points per reception (PPR), three-down backs are even more valuable. Last year’s top 10 scoring running backs were: Todd Gurley (LAR), Le’Veon Bell (PIT), Alvin Kamara (NO), Kareem Hunt (KC), Melvin Gordon (LAC), Mark Ingram (NO), LeSean McCoy (BUF), Leonard Fournette (JAX), Dion Lewis (NE, now free agent), and Carlos Hyde (SF, now free agent). David Johnson (ARI), who had over 2000 scrimmage yards and 20 total touchdowns in 2016 missed the majority of the 2017 season with a wrist injury. Overall, these top backs are able to receive a large majority of their teams running back touches and should be able to score 8-12 points each week. Any more than that is just a nice bonus to make up for any players who don’t perform well in a given week.

Solid Second-Tier Running Back(s)

Ideally, you would like to have another running back to play in your second spot also ranked in the top-X range, but if this is the case, you are usually deficient at another position or were fortunate with your acquisitions and draft in recent years. If you are in a 10 team league, a more realistic goal is to have your second running back fall in the top 20 scorers. Quickly, the next 10 scorers at RB in 2017 were: Christian McCaffrey (CAR), 2016 leading rusher Ezekiel Elliott (DAL), who missed time in 2017 due to suspension, Jordan Howard (CHI), Duke Johnson (CLE), Devonta Freeman (ATL), Lamar Miller (HOU), Jerick McKinnon (MIN, now free agent), Alex Collins (BAL), Frank Gore (IND, now free agent), and C.J. Anderson (DEN). Even if you have #1 and #20, their combined production each week should keep you competitive at the running back position. If you can add a few more from the top 30, it certainly won’t hurt.

Young, Promising Starter(s) or Backup(s)

When you are building depth, you want running backs that will be able to contribute to your team, whether it be in the flex slot or the running back slot during a bye week or should your regular starter suffer an injury. These players have usually been in the league 3-4 years and have climbed up to the top one or two spots on their team’s depth chart. They may also be playing at a high enough level that the starter ahead of them may be released in the near future, which would give them an increased role. With the Titans releasing DeMarco Murray, third year former Heisman trophy winner Derrick Henry will assume the starting role, and will only be 24 at the start of the season. Besides some of the backs that have made into the other categories above, other young backs to consider are Jay Ajayi (PHI), Isaiah Crowell (CLE), Tevin Coleman (ATL), Ameer Abdullah (DET), Giovani Bernard (CIN), Kenyan Drake (MIA), Javorius Allen (BAL), and T.J. Yeldon (JAX).

Sophomore or Rookie Development(s)

The last two years have been great for running backs taken early in the draft. Elliott, Howard, Kamara, Hunt, Fournette, and McCaffrey have all been able to make an immediate impact. Others may be primed to breakout this year, including Joe Mixon (CIN), Dalvin Cook (MIN), Elijah McGuire (NYJ), Marlon Mack (IND), Wayne Gallman (NYG), Aaron Jones/Jamaal Williams (GB), Samaje Perine (WAS), and Peyton Barber (TB). The 2018 class is led by Penn State’s Saquon Barkley, but has quite a few running backs that could find success early. Although these players may not end up in or currently be in the best situations, and may not be producing at as high of a level as others, you have to remember this is a dynasty league, and you’re here for the long run. Pay attention to free agency and retirements. Suddenly the guys that you took a chance on will (hopefully) be creeping up the depth chart.

Clear-cut Handcuff

The notion and value of the “handcuff” running back is debated in the fantasy community. For teams that have a star running back, their replacement will not be found in one person. Take David Johnson for example in 2017. The Cardinals acquired Adrian Peterson, but they still used four other backs to help fill the void left in their backfield. There is no sense in really owning any of these guys unless one of them truly emerges a favorite. There are only a few players not previously mentioned that I would personally consider owning if I had the starter in front of them as well: Latavius Murray (MIN), Chris Ivory (BUF), LeGarrette Blount (PHI), and Tarik Cohen (CHI). One last note, just based on my personal biases: stay away from the Seahawks backfield altogether.


Wide Receiver (WR)

SAME AS RUNNING BACK. Depending on the size of the roster, I recommend having at least six (6) wide receivers. You want to have plenty of depth because injuries are common. You also want to have youth wherever possible. There are certain players that become better fantasy options in PPR leagues, so know your league settings. Players I own are highlighted in red, blue, or purple (both), depending on the league.

Mike Evans (13) had a “down year” in 2017 and still surpassed 1000 yards receiving

Top-X Starter

Every quarterback has their go-to receiver. Being a go-to receiver leads to more targets, which usually leads to more fantasy points. Each of the top 10 receivers from 2017 led their respective teams in receiving, and half of them had over 100 receptions, which is phenomenal for PPR leagues. In order, they were: DeAndre Hopkins (HOU), Antonio Brown (PIT), Keenan Allen (LAC), Tyreek Hill (KC), Jarvis Landry (MIA, now CLE), Michael Thomas (NO), Julio Jones (ATL), Larry Fitzgerald (ARI), Adam Thielen (MIN), and Marvin Jones (DET). For as many opportunities as there are in today’s pass-heavy NFL, it certainly pays to have No. 1 guys like these to put into your lineup each and every week.

Solid Second-Tier or Third-Tier Wide Receivers

Similar to running back, you want to have your next two or three wide receivers be solid WR1 or WR2 options. Some teams may even be able to support three fantasy-relevant receivers. Because there are so many receivers in the league, players in this range may extend all the way to the top 50 receivers in your league. There are still 22 teams with a go-to option that didn’t happen to make the top 10 above, and at least half the all teams have a clear No. 2 option that is worth having on your team. A.J. Green (CIN), Brandin Cooks (NE), Doug Baldwin (SEA), Davante Adams (GB), Mike Evans (TB), Alshon Jeffrey (PHI), Amari Cooper (OAK), T.Y. Hilton (IND), Allen Robsinson (JAX, now CHI). I won’t name them all. Another word of advice: While you can certainly have them on your team as a sort of “handcuff”, I wouldn’t recommend starting two receivers from the same team, as they are unlikely to both produce consistently, unless their quarterback is averaging 400 yards per game.

Promising Depth Chart Climber

Young receivers are not always given the opportunity to start right away. They may be factored into four-wide sets, but otherwise may only see the field during the week at practice. Sooner or later though, guys will earn more playing time and find themselves moving up to that third spot on a team’s WR depth chart. Sometimes this transition period can take a few years. Be on the lookout for statistical trends that may be indicative of this transition and buy these receivers while their price is still low. Chemistry development between quarterback and receiver is another important factor, especially is you want to receive even a glance from Aaron Rodgers (GB).

Other players that may be worth taking a flyer on are those who join new teams and assume a starting role. New system, new teammates, and new opportunities may lead to fantasy success that hadn’t been seen before, like in the case of Jermaine Kearse following his move from the Seahawks to the Jets. Pairing Sammy Watkins (LAR, now KC) with the arm of Mahomes may bring him his best season yet.

Sophomore or Rookie Development

Fill the rest of your WR bench slots with young sophomores and rookies with potential that may even start out as a WR3 or higher. Last year, JuJu Smith-Schuster (PIT), Cooper Kupp (LAR), Keelan Cole (JAX), Chris Godwin (TB), and Kenny Golladay (DET) were able to make significant contributions. Top 2017 prospects Corey Davis (TEN) and Mike Williams (LAC) dealt with injuries for most of the season, but will look to breakout this year. The 2018 class, including Calvin Ridley (Alabama), Courtland Sutton (SMU), D.J. Moore (Maryland), Christian Kirk (Texas A&M) and others, will be looking to be drafted early and earn their place on the field for Week 1 as well.


Tight End (TE)

Depending on the size of the roster, I recommend having at least two (2) tight ends, and no more than four (4). You want to have youth wherever possible. Players I own are highlighted in red, blue, or purple (both), depending on the league.

Hunter Henry (86) is a rising star at the tight end position

Top-X Starter

After the top tier of tight ends, the position drops off in terms of consistent production. While you only need to start one tight end and it won’t be the biggest loss if you can’t get one of the big names, having Rob Gronkowski (NE), Travis Kelce (KC), or Zach Ertz (PHI) is a plus. The rest of the top 10 consists of Evan Engram (NYG), Jimmy Graham (SEA, now free agent), Delanie Walker (TEN), Kyle Rudolph (MIN), Jack Doyle (IND), Cameron Brate (TB), and Jason Witten (DAL).

Solid Second-Tier Tight End

Because teams in the NFL have either gone to using multiple tight ends or hardly using a tight end at all, consistent options are hard to come by. After your starter, you just need someone to be able to fill in in case of injury and on bye week. Jordan Reed (WAS) and Greg Olsen (CAR) are great options, if they can stay healthy. Try to get someone in the top 20 range. Tight end is a position that some even consider streaming, which I would not be opposed to if you’re without a top-X starter.

Young, Promising Development

Tight end is one position where it is commonly known that rookies rarely find success. However, if you hold on long enough, you might strike gold. The best example is Hunter Henry (LAC), who has consistently cut into the snap count of future Hall of Famer Antonio Gates over the past two seasons and may finally force him into retirement with a solid 2018 season. 2017 and 2018 both have been noted as having some of the best tight end prospects in recent memory, so find a guy you like and hold on to him for a while. Look for other teams that use their tight ends frequently and have aging starters that will need a youthful replacement in the near future, like Dallas, Baltimore, and Tennessee.


Kicker (K)

Depending on the size of the roster, you really only need one (1) kicker, and there will always be someone available as a bye week fill in. Players I own are highlighted in red, blue, or purple (both), depending on the league.

Jake Elliott (4) lifted the Eagles to a win over the Giants with a 61-yard field goal as time expired

I’m not going to spend much time here. Find a kicker on a team with an offense that will score touchdowns and get into field goal range consistently each week. Don’t waste time streaming kickers each week, just find a guy and stick with him unless he really isn’t producing. If you find a good one, let the Chargers know where to find him. After his 61-yard game winner in week 3, I picked up rookie Jake Elliott (PHI) and haven’t looked back.


Team Defense(DEF)

This is for traditional, non-IDP leagues. Keep scrolling for IDP leagues. Depending on the size of the roster, you really only need one defense, but having a second defense with a different bye week than your main team will avoid having to “stream” defenses. Teams I own are highlighted in blue.

The Jacksonville Jaguars had a historically good defense in 2017

Top-X Team

In 2017, the Jaguars were the defense to own, and with their youth, they seem to be the team to own going forward as well. Defenses can vary greatly, but if you can find a team that can consistently force turnovers, get after the quarterback, and keep opposing offenses from scoring more than 17 PPG, keep them. I own the Vikings who fit this description pretty well. I also own the 49ers, who are one of the teams on the rise heading into 2018, especially with their recent addition of Richard Sherman.

Other Options

One of the most popular positions to “stream” is team defense. Based on the matchup each week, you can acquire and start a team likely to score more points against of lower quality opponent. However, if your league has a waiver budget or transaction counts, this can be a risky method. I’m personally not a fan of streaming defenses, but I have done it when necessary and plenty of people have success doing it.


In addition to reading the information below, also check out my article Keys to IDP Success: OPPORTUNITY.

Defensive Line (DL)

This is for IDP leagues. Team defense (DEF) is above. Depending on the size of the roster and how many IDPs you start, you want at least enough starters at one backup at each position. You do not want to hold onto too many IDP players because there are so many and quite a bit of variability. Players I own are highlighted in red.

Demarcus Lawrence (90) tied for second in the NFL in sacks in 2017 with 14.5

Top-X Player

For the defensive line position, the majority of the top scorers are defensive ends that rack up points on sacks and tackles for loss, rather than interior lineman. Most are young and given the opportunity to play 75% or more of their team’s defensive snaps. From top to bottom, the top 10 from 2017 were Cameron Jordan (NO), Calais Campbell (JAX), Khalil Mack (OAK), Joey Bosa (LAC), Demarcus Lawrence (DAL), Jadeveon Clowney (HOU), Melvin Ingram (LAC), Jason Pierre-Paul (NYG), Cameron Heyward (PIT), and Yannick Ngakoue (JAX). You don’t want to reach too much for IDP in drafts, but I would still recommend grabbing a top guy before they are all gone.

Solid Second-Tier Defensive Lineman

Due to the variability of IDP scoring settings, top scorers can vary, so I won’t list the next tier, but as with offensive positions, you want your next defensive lineman to be a solid player capable of stepping and producing in for you rather than just a random pickup at the last minute. Look at their stats and look for consistent production, not huge weeks followed by goose eggs. I chose to make IDP a priority and fortunately own two of the top 10 players, so I am not concerned here heading into 2018.

Young, Promising Development

As I mentioned, the top scorers are usually young defensive ends that have the motor to keep them on the field and give them more opportunity to make plays. Look for top picks from recent drafts like Myles Garrett (CLE) or the upcoming draft like Bradley Chubb (N.C. State) to keep on your bench until they enter the top tier themselves.


Linebacker (LB)

This is for IDP leagues. Team defense (DEF) is above. Depending on the size of the roster and how many IDPs you start, you want at least enough starters at one backup at each position. If you have IDP flex slots, linebackers are typically the most consistent, highest scoring defensive players. You do not want to hold onto too many IDP players because there are so many and quite a bit of variability. Players I own are highlighted in red.

Bobby Wagner (54) has averaged nearly 10 combined tackles per game since entering the league in 2012

Top-X Player

For the linebacker position, the majority of the top scorers are 4-3 middle linebackers who pile up tackles working sideline to sideline, as well as a few high-profile pass rushers that can score in the same ways as the top defensive ends. On average, they play 95%of their team’s defensive snaps. From top to bottom, the top 10 from 2017 were C.J. Mosley (BAL), Bobby Wagner (SEA), Blake Martinez (GB), Demario Davis (NYJ), Deion Jones (ATL), Joe Schobert (CLE), Wesley Woodyard (TEN), Christian Kirksey (CLE), Luke Kuechly (CAR), and Telvin Smith (JAX). You don’t want to reach too much for IDP in drafts, but I would still recommend grabbing a top guy before they are all gone. For those of you that follow the work of IDP guru Gary VanDyke (@HBogart27) here at CleatGeeks and elsewhere, he is a huge advocate for Deion Jones as the top dynasty linebacker going forward.

Solid Second-Tier Linebacker

Due to the variability of IDP scoring settings, top scorers can vary, so I won’t list the next tier, but try to find a second linebacker that gets a high volume of tackles so that he has a consistent floor that you can count on. I chose to make IDP a priority and fortunately own two of the top 10 players, so I am not concerned here heading into 2018.

Young, Promising Development

To fully take over a middle linebacker role as captain of the defense may take a few years, but when it happens, these players don’t lose that spot very easily. Jarrad Davis (DET) will look to progress even further in 2018 after a strong rookie year. Roquan Smith (Georgia) and Tremaine Edmunds (Virginia Tech) will both likely be drafted in the first round and could be difference makers early in their careers.


Defensive Back (DB)

This is for IDP leagues. Team defense (DEF) is above. Depending on the size of the roster and how many IDPs you start, you want at least enough starters at one backup at each position. You do not want to hold onto too many IDP players because there are so many and quite a bit of variability. Players I own are highlighted in red.

Keanu Neal (22) has developed a reputation as a big-hitter, with eight forced fumbles in his first two seasons combined

Top-X Player

For the defensive back position, the majority of the top scorers are safeties that frequently play closer to the line of scrimmage and help in run support. Defensive back fantasy production can vary quite a bit by game script, for example if these safeties are forced to drop into coverage and play conservatively rather than aggressively blitzing off the edge. Even if you see familiar faces, there will almost certainly be new members of the top 10 each year. In 2017, the top 10 in my league were Reshad Jones (MIA), Adoree’ Jackson (TEN), Keanu Neal (ATL), Jordan Poyer (BUF), Kevin Byard (TEN), Landon Collins (NYG), Desmond King (LAC), Sean Davis (PIT), Devin McCourty (NE), and Glover Quin (DET).  You don’t want to reach too much for IDP in drafts, but I would still recommend grabbing a top guy before they are all gone.

NOTE: My league gives points for return yards, which helped Adoree’ Jackson make it into this group.

Solid Second-Tier Defensive Back

Due to the variability of IDP scoring settings, top scorers can vary, so I won’t list the next tier, but try to find a second defensive back that is also a safety that gets a high volume of tackles for the position rather than relying on interceptions or defensive touchdowns. To plug Gary VanDyke again, his article here highlights teams using sub-packages with three safeties that may lower IDP opportunities relative to teams that do not employ this formation. I chose to make IDP a priority and fortunately own two of the top 10 players, so I am not concerned here heading into 2018.

Young, Promising Development

Defensive backs entering the NFL these days are versatile and have the ability to play cornerback, safety, and linebacker. Players like Jabrill Peppers (CLE), who was not used properly last year, may be able to break out in 2018 if their teams take advantage of their strengths in all three phases. Minkah Fitzpatrick (Alabama) and Derwin James (Florida State) are both in the conversation to be taken in the first 10 picks of 2018 and could provide a versatile defensive weapon for their new team and yours.


Thank you for reading my takes on how to structure your team at each position. Hope it can help you find success!

Find me on Twitter @brad_petrowitz and feel free to send questions or thoughts my way!

Keys to Consistent IDP Production: OPPORTUNITY

Panthers’ middle linebacker Luke Kuechly (59) has six straight seasons with over 100 combined tackles

For those new to fantasy leagues that use Individual Defensive Players (IDP) as opposed to the traditional team defense, you may jump right in and grab the big-name players like you would on the offensive side of the ball, but I’m here to tell you that the defensive side takes a bit more research to be successful.

Most IDP leagues have slots for defensive line (DL), which will include defensive tackles and true 4-3 defensive ends; linebackers (LB), which will include 3-4 linebackers; and defensive backs (DB), which will include cornerbacks and safeties. Some 3-4 outside linebackers with fall into the DL category, depending on how a team uses them most frequently, but most are listed in the LB category. Some leagues can get more specific, but these three are the default.

The key to consistent fantasy production is opportunity. The more you are on the field, the more opportunities you have to score fantasy points. Period. On offense, we you can think of it as having a change of pace back that only comes in on third down passing situations, or a wide receiver that is only involved in 4 WR sets. These players are not nearly as reliable as a true workhorse back or a high target volume WR1. On defense, it is the same way. Players that only come onto the field for specific sub packages do not have the same amount of opportunities as those who have a consistent role across all sub packages.

Starting with the defensive line, the fantasy studs are often found at the defensive end position rather than the interior defensive tackles. 17 of the top 25 scoring players at the DL position are listed as defensive ends. These top scorers averaged 77.2% defensive snaps played, led by leading scorer Cameron Jordan (NO) at 93.3%. Many of them were among the league leaders in sacks and tackles for loss. When you mix increased opportunity with the fact that the nature of the majority of their tackles are sacks or tackles for a loss with an increased chance for a forced fumble, it only takes two of those plays and suddenly you are scoring 6-7 points per game. Other leagues where the points awarded per sack are higher further this take.

Saints’ Cameron Jordan (94) was the foundation of the defensive line for New Orleans in 2017

Moving on to the linebacker position, the NFL has evolved to include various types of linebackers, and depending on the scheme of the defensive coordinator, these positions can vary greatly in terms of use. Looking at the top 25 scoring linebackers of 2017, they averaged 94.9% defensive snaps played, with three players playing every single snap. These players are mainly 4-3 middle linebackers (MLB) or 3-4 inside linebackers (ILB) that are always around the ball and can stay on the field regardless of the sub package. 18 players were able to accrue over 100 combined tackles (solo and assisted), which leads to consistent fantasy production when averaged out across the season. Players like Ryan Kerrigan (WAS) and Von Miller (DEN) who are listed as outside linebackers (OLB) but play more of a consistent pass rush role in a 3-4 defense and around 80% or more of their team’s snaps can be effective in the same way that the defensive ends are, racking up sacks and getting stops behind the line of scrimmage. Chandler Jones (ARI), who led the league with 17 sacks and 28 tackles for a loss, played 98.5% of the Cardinals’ defensive snaps from an outside linebacker position.

Cardinals’ linebacker Chandler Jones (55) brings down Titans’ running back Derrick Henry for a loss

Finally, we come to perhaps the most difficult position to find consistency at: defensive backs. Big name defensive backs like Patrick Peterson (ARI), Richard Sherman (SEA), and Josh Norman (WAS) are known from their “shutdown” ability and often play 95% or more of the team’s defensive snaps. However, this is where we have to break the mold a bit. Because they are known for their coverage skills, these players are less targeted and are often involved only in plays that come to their side of the field. Most cornerbacks don’t get enough tackles on a consistent basis, and interceptions and true passes defended cannot be relied on. For the defensive back position, I recommend looking at every-down safeties, particularly those who play in the box or close to the line of scrimmage frequently. Of the top 25 scoring defensive backs of 2017, 18 were listed as either free or strong safety, and they averaged 94.5% defensive snaps played. Players like Landon Collins (NYG), Keanu Neal (ATL), and Reshad Jones (MIA) that can produce similar numbers of combined tackles to the top linebackers are dependable starters each and every week.

Falcons strong safety Keanu Neal (22) had 105 combined tackles as a rookie in 2016 and 113 in 2017

In addition to defensive snaps, any snaps your players play on special teams or on offense increase their opportunities for fantasy points. If your league grants points for return yards, a player like Adoree Jackson (TEN) could be of interest. Let big A’Shaun Robinson (DET) in there to block a few field goal attempts as he did in 2017.

Lions defensive tackle A’Shaun Robinson (91) had two blocks in 2017, including this one against the Vikings

There are exceptions at each position obviously. Some players make the most of limited snaps and can fill the stat sheet, but consistent production is rare. Game script can have an effect on whether teams play more aggressively or more conservatively. Injuries can happen in the middle of a game, but they are unpredictable. Big plays and defensive touchdowns will score lots of points, but they are also unpredictable. Overall, know your scoring settings for defensive players in your league, know the schemes that defensive coordinators use, and draft players that have the most opportunities to score points.

For reference, my IDP league and the top 25 scorers at each position are based on the following basic scoring settings: solo tackle (1pt), assisted tackle (0.5pt), tackle for loss (0.5pt), sack (2pts), interception (2pt), pass defended (1pt), forced fumble or fumble recovery (2pts), defensive TD (6pts).

Thanks for reading! Be sure to check out all my other articles! Hit me up on Twitter @brad_petrowitz

Snap counts were obtained from Pro Football Reference

IDP: Top 15 Defensive Back Acquisitions of 2017 Part 1 of 3

IDP: Top 15 Defensive Back Acquisitions of 2017

Part 1 of 3


This is my first attempt at writing about fantasy IDP ! I’ve always been fascinated with adding defensive players into leagues and hopefully this will become a series of article focusing on various positions. So lets jump straight in: Defensive Backs.

Per Football Outsiders, 52 Defensive Backs participated in 90% or more of their teams defensive snaps in 2017. Of these 52 players, 15 were either rookies or new additions to their team.

With such a huge work load in year 1, lets see how productive they were for IDP leagues and keep our fingers crossed their usage continues in to 2018.

All scoring is taken from the the NFL default IDP scoring system which is as follows: Tackle = 1pt; Sack = 2pts; INT = 2pts; Force Fumble = 2pts; Fumble Recovery = 2pts; TD returned = 6pts and PBU = 1pt.


Name Team Snaps Played Games Played Tackles Sacks PBU INT FF FR TD Total IDP Points PPG Points per Snap
Jordan Poyer BUF 1038 15 95 2 13 5 0 1 1 130 8.67 0.125
Barry Church JAX 990 16 74 1.5 8 4 0 0 1 99 6.19 0.100
Micah Hyde BUF 1065 16 82 0 13 5 0 0 0 105 6.56 0.099
Tre’Davious White BUF 1092 16 69 0 18 4 1 2 1 107 6.69 0.098
Eddie Jackson CHI 1055 16 73 0 6 2 1 3 2 103 6.44 0.098
Mike Adams CAR 967 16 69 0 10 2 2 2 0 91 5.69 0.094
Tre Boston LAC 1041 16 79 0 8 5 0 0 0 97 6.06 0.093
Adoree Jackson TEN 1022 16 70 0 17 0 3 1 0 95 5.94 0.093
Marcus Williams NO 960 15 73 0 7 4 0 0 0 88 5.87 0.092
DJ Swearinger WAS 1095 16 79 0.5 10 4 1 0 0 100 6.25 0.091
Jamaal Adams NYJ 1103 16 83 2 6 0 1 2 0 99 6.19 0.090
AJ Bouye JAX 1015 16 56 0 18 6 0 0 0 86 5.38 0.085
Tony Jefferson BAL 1085 16 79 2.5 2 1 1 0 0 90 5.63 0.083
Marcus Maye NYJ 1066 16 79 0 2 2 1 0 0 87 5.44 0.082
Brandon Carr BAL 1024 16 56 0 12 4 0 0 0 76 4.75 0.074

With the current default scoring weighing so heavily towards tackles, it is no surprise that defensive backs do not have a huge level of fantasy production (on a per game basis). It seems that their relative success is predicated largely on their play making ability. Perhaps if forced turnovers were more valuable DBs (corners in particular) would be as valuable as Linebackers? Maybe.

So, rant over. Time for a break down of these top 5* DB acquisitions from 2017!


*Order of players is based on their Fantasy Points per Snap.



Jordan Poyer – SS – Buffalo Bills

Height: 6’0” Weight: 191lbs Age: 26 years Experience: 5 seasons

Image result for jordan poyer bills

The Buffalo Bills truly had one of the most rocky but successful seasons they’ve had in years! Aside from making the play-offs for the first time in my lifetime, they benched their starting QB to a disastrous end (#FreeTyrod). But, their off-season additions were truly something to celebrate.

Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde arrived in Free Agency and Tre’Davious White was drafted in the first round. Not only were all three of these phenomenal (White specifically), more importantly, they all appear on my list.

And I mean that with no level of arrogance. The fact that they are on this list means they played 90%+ of their teams snaps, a huge achievement for newly added players, all 3 in the secondary.

Now, on to Poyer. This season for him was the definition of a ‘career year’. His total career INTs = 7; INTs this year = 5; total career tackles = 219; tackles this year = 95. Not only that but he also played (and started) 15 or more games for the first time since 2014 which was the only other time in his five year career.

Moving forward, I would not expect his usage to change, there’s no reason it should, outside of the Bills drafting Derwin James (he won’t still be on the board at pick 21). The Bills depth at safety is non-existent and besides Morgan Burnett, the Free Agency market is slim at the strong safety position.

Furthermore, his cap hit for 2018 is a mere $3.875 million (, making him the 30th highest paid Safety in the league next year. Let’s hope he can stay healthy.



Barry Church – SS – Jacksonville Jaguars

Height: 6’2” Weight: 218lbs Age: 30 years Experience: 8 seasons

Image result for barry church jacksonville jaguars

Photo by; Zimbio

One of the many new passengers on the Jags’ hype train, the long-time Cowboy had an impressive first year for this historic defense. His numbers were bolstered by a ridiculous supporting cast, notably his Pick 6 which he expertly plucked from the air after an acrobatic Jalen Ramsey Pass Break Up. But he was still a good player in his own right.

Recording the second highest Points Per Snap of the 15 DBs listed above (behind only Jordan Poyer), he was making plays all over the field. At 30 years of age he still has a few years left in him and his cap hit is fairly minimal at $5 million for 2018.

The addition of Church seemed to add just a little more spice to an already red hot defence and in essence, that is exactly what a competent safety can do for a defence. With most of the Jags defensive players returning for another year of dominance, expect Church to continue his reign of terror in Florida.

Unfortunately for opposing QBs the Jags are strong throughout their secondary, so unless they want to run the ball 50 times again they will be forced to pass at some point. Church, although a good coverage player, may be deemed as the weakest link of all their DBs (unless the slot position isn’t filled), which is good for us. More targets = more tackles, more PBUs and more chance for an INT. Don’t forget, we don’t care if he gives up 200 yards and 2 TDs a game in coverage – unless it gets him benched.



Micah Hyde – FS – Buffalo Bills

Height: 6’0” Weight: 197lbs Age: 27 years Experience: 5 seasons

Image result for Micah Hyde

Along with Casey Hayward a few seasons ago, add Micah Hyde to the list of: “Defensive players the Packers really wish they hadn’t let go and now want them back, please.” These two ball hawks may soon be joined by fellow safety Morgan Burnett when he joins the Colts and starts dominating the AFC South.

Hyde is the second of three Buffalo Bills in our top 5 for this week. As previously mentioned, the Bills knocked it out of the park when improving their secondary. The 2017 Pro-Bowler and Second-team All-Pro picked himself 5 passes out of the air in his fifth NFL season.

Pair that with career highs in tackles (82) and PBUs (13), Hyde had a great IDP season for a safety posting the third highest Total Points, Points per Game and Points per Snap of those in our top 15.

Just with Poyer, the depth behind Hyde (that’s not fun to read aloud) is poor and his cap hit, although higher than our previously two entries still ranks 16th in terms of Safety salary in 2018.

Lets hope this safety tandem can grab another 10 INTs between them next season!



Tre’Davious White – CB – Buffalo Bills

Height: 5’11” Weight: 192 Age: 23 years Experience: 1 season

Image result for tre'davious white buffalo bills

Graphic by; Pro Football Focus

Perhaps the best rookie defensive player behind DROY Marshone Lattimore, Tre’Davious White was a revelation. Without a doubt the Bills best first round pick since Stephon Gilmore in 2012, White developed quickly into one of the top 10 Corners in the league. He is also the only CB in our top 5.

Paired with another new addition to the team (EJ Gaines traded from the Rams) the future of the Bills CB core is a very bright one. Once again, the Bills successful in their secondary has already been discussed- twice!

With an enormous 22!! Plays on the ball in 2017 (18 PBUs and 4 INTs) white proved to be one of the top DBs in IDP league, especially in dynasty leagues. He also added 4 total Fumble plays and a return TD for good measure.

Players of White’s calibre do not enter the league on a regular basis and we all hope that his success continues long into the future. The issue with his immense talent as a shut down corner is the reluctance of opposing QBs targeting him. This was illustrated in 2017 as 13 of his plays on the ball occurred within the first 8 weeks of the season with only 9 to come in the following half of he season.

This may not seem like a huge disparity, but in 4 of those final 8 games, White recorded 0 plays on the ball including 0 in the final two weeks of the season. Now, this may be due to his own poor performance (which I doubt) but it is more likely it was due to teams avoiding him.

That was my poor attempt to disparage you from adding White to your fantasy roster, so he’ll be there for me instead. Selfish, I know, but worth a shot. This man is a stud and I loved watching him play.



Eddie Jackson – SS – Chicago Bears

Height: 6’0” Weight: 202lbs Age: 24 years Experience: 1 season

Image result for eddie jackson chicago bears

Photo by; Chicago Sun Times

At the embarrassment of the Carolina Panthers, Jackson will be forever embedded in NFL history as the only player to return 2 defensive touchdowns of more than 75 yards in the same game. A huge, monstrous achievement. But, also, not a great indication for fantasy. Those two plays alone account for 18 of his 103 points for the season (17.5%) in the form of an INT, a FF, a FR and of course the 2 TDs.

Despite this, he still put together a solid season as a rookie. Namely, playing an enormous 99.7% of the Bears defensive snaps!! The highest mark of any DB in the league, tied with Tennessee’s super start Safety Kevin Byard (per football outsiders).

Fourth round picks rarely pan out to be such impact players. But this lack of invested capital can have an adverse effect. IF a better player presents themselves to the Bears, their willingness to rotate Jackson further down the depth chart will be higher.

But, I cant see that happening. A roster with so many glaring holes it is unlikely the Bears will up-heave one of their strongest players. Furthermore, the Bears recently released veteran Quintin Demps, a player who, in the past has been more than competent.

Eddie Jackson is yet another example of high-value defensive players that came out of the 2017 NFL Draft. His future is bright, now we ask for more consistency.


I hope you all have enjoyed my first entry tackling fantasy IDP! Fingers crossed part 2 of this article will be out within the next couple of days. In which we will discuss the following players: Adoree Jackson, Jamaal Adams, Tre Boston, Mike Adams and Marcus Williams.


As always, feel free to contact me, comment, like or share on any of my work, I appreciate all feedback. You can follow me on Twitter @Murphy123George


Cheers Guys!

George Murphy



All stats (unless otherwise indicated) were taken from


The IDP Geek Huddle: 2018 Linebacker Investments 0.2

This is that time of the off-season that has guys like me reaching deep to bring up potential IDP players for the coming season to bring to our attention. This “take” will reflect that issue. What exactly do we mean by issue and reaching, well it’s not as uncomfortable as it might sound. It basically means the following players are guys we want to keep on our radars or stash on the tail end of our rosters more than making a move on them until we know. Or even possibly pay a late round pick to acquire them as their odds are as good as any late round pick to work out. With the Combine underway, free agency, and then the draft coming up many fantasy football owners will need to push players as they fall in love with a rookie or two or will become in-hammered with newly signed players. This can open opportunities for low investments on players as the roster scrambling takes hold. We should take these following players and at the least file them in the back of our minds as players that by OTAs could show even more reasons to invest one way or another for our lineups in 2018.

Calvin Munson was signed by the New York Giants out of San Diego State the last off-season after going undrafted. The plan had to be to sign him as a special teams player and add depth to the linebacker corp. Little did they know that he would end up playing 388 defensive snaps and actually be in the starting lineup for a few of their contests. The Giants had been struggling at the linebacker position for some time coming into 2017 and that didn’t change. With injuries to multiple starters, they found themselves leaning on the undrafted rookie a lot. Munson didn’t actually excel as a starter but he didn’t embarrass himself either considering the situation. With 60 combined tackles and two sacks he actually was a productive rookie when given the chance. He was a decent tackler with limitations in coverage overall. Heading into his second season with experience under his belt there will be room to grow and possibly take that next step.

Why He Should Be Tracked?

As of this moment the Giants are sitting on around $22 million in cap space, that could possibly grow if they release some players. But for now, that’s not as much as one thinks when considering what veteran free agents can cost a team. The veteran linebackers Keenan Robinson, Jonathan Casillas, and Devon Kennard are all free agents this year. And if new head coach Pat Shurmur has been paying attention over the last few years he shouldn’t be in any hurry to have any of them resigned. As a group, they just haven’t managed to get the job done for a couple of seasons now. We know B.J. Goodson will return for his third season and has high upside, but he also was injured a lot last season and has some question marks heading into 2018. As of the moment, Munson should be looking pretty good to the new coaching staff. And with a new rumored defensive scheme reportedly being inserted the situation could actually play into Munson’s skill set better than it did in 2017. Reportedly they will be switching from the 4-3 scheme to a 3-4 scheme. If Munson remains an inside linebacker he could possibly be a good fit at the run-stopping inside linebacker position. In that scenario putting Goodson in the coverage inside linebacker position. But here’s the thing about that whole scenario. When we set Goodson side by side with Munson by looking at Munson’s pro-day results and Goodson’s combine results it is splitting hairs overall. Neither linebacker has top notch speed with a range in the 4.6 area in the forty. While the rest of the results has Munson just shy of what Goodson accomplished. Both players were known more for their run stopping abilities coming out of college over their coverage skills. So can they actually use these two at the same time?

With Shurmur probably entering camp with an open mind from what he saw in 2017 game film these two players should be on a level playing field, to begin with. Could we see both on the field side by side, it’s a very good possibility. It’s doubtful the Giants spend big on the few good free agent linebackers with limited cap, nor has it been their style in the past. Will they take an upper round draft pick on a linebacker this coming draft with so many apparent needs across the board? Who knows, for now, we should consider a later to mid-round pick like Goodson was in the fourth last draft at best. We will want to pay attention if they do. If that player has speed and coverage skills he could likely compete for that coverage linebacker position leaving the fight between Goodson and Munson more relevant than most would think. It is a lot more of a critical season for Goodson heading into his third season than a surprise undrafted rookie in Munson in his second. As an IDP guy for some years now, my attention is just as focused on Munson as it is Goodson. He should be kept track of and considered for a low investment now before he surprises us again in 2018. At the least, we track what the Giants do with the personal.

I recently wrote an article that included Detroit’s Jalen Reeves-Maybin in an overall IDP team “take.” I speculate that the Lions will not resign Tahir Whitehead based off what he’ll demand on the open market as one of the better veteran options in free agency. I then inserted Reeves-Maybin into the vacated starting position for 2018 for the Lions and their new defensive scheme under new head coach Matt Patricia. With that being said we will discuss why Reeves Maybin should be a good fit for a starting role and why we should have this player on our radar.

Reeves-Maybin was drafted in the fourth round in 2017 and when we look at his measurables he fits into the mold of a smaller weighted linebacker relying on quickness over pure power. It’s a mold that many NFL teams are turning to when adding talent to their linebacker corps. The one thing that Reeves-Maybin doesn’t possess is top end speed according to his pro-day result with a mid-range 4.6 forty. That still would have ranked him tied for fifth in last years combine among linebackers, however. But it is not in the range of a Falcon’s Deion Jones. He did not partake in the combine due to a shoulder injury. I know that a shoulder injury shouldn’t affect a forty time, but we have to consider his overall health by the time his pro-day rolled around wasn’t 100%. Leaving at least us to wonder if that time would have been a bit faster if completely in shape. And in the scheme that the Lion’s are likely to insert he doesn’t have to be the fastest linebacker on the field. He just needs to be able to cover well enough to not get beat often. The scheme should rely on their three safety sets to cover that area of the field more than any linebacker. They basically need a decent coverage guy and a sure tackler to insert next to Jarrad Davis. And Reeves-Maybin has that skillset.

Why He Should Be Tracked?

Much like Munson above, a fact that the Lion’s are limited in cap space comes into play here, which just got smaller while tagging defensive end Ezekiel Ansah to about an $18 million hit. That leaves the Lions approximately with $27 million while also needing a lot of pieces across the board to get things together and compete. In the article, I “guessed” that Ansah would be the resigned free agent as a defensive lineman was a must for Patricia’s scheme and with little to being offered on the open market. And then “guessed” that they wouldn’t resign Whitehead due to what his production by default cap would demand on the open market also. The later has not happened just yet, but still a viable “take” at this point.

Reeves-Maybin started seeing more playing time towards the second half of the season and performed well. It is a situation that we have a hard time saying just exactly how well he played because he was not inserted into the role that he likely could play in 2018. With Whitehead getting the job done Reeves-Maybin seen a lot of the strongside linebacker position which normally isn’t much more than a position taking up space and protecting the line in most 4-3 schemes. Thus not showcasing his skill set in the open field. We should also consider that most strongside linebackers are stout and physically larger players than his 6” 230-pound frame. An indication that the Lion’s wanted him on the field gaining experience no matter the position. Overall here Reeves-Maybin and Munson’s situation mirror each other. As my article stated HERE about Detroit’s front office trying to turn the Lions into the Patriots, they are likely not going to draft high in the draft at linebacker or are they going to sign a big name free agent to fill the hole when/if Whitehead gets paid elsewhere. Reeves-Maybin is in a perfect situation to enter 2018 as the odds-on favorite as the second linebacker on the field. If he does we could expect LB2 type numbers depending on game planning each week and the scheme that Patricia wants to have on the field. The moment we know about Whitehead’s status we should know what type of investment to make. He is likely to have a role either way in that scheme and an investment of keeping track of the situation is warranted no matter how it plays out. We could be looking at a third or fourth linebacker for depth on our rosters with upside.

While staying on a theme here we will also discuss why we should be watching what happens in New England with outside linebacker Marquis Flowers. Another player I added a small blurb about at the end of the Lions IDP team “take.” He also warrants some monitoring as his situation and the way that the latter part of last season unfolded has him in a position to be invested in. Not to completely give away my Lion’s article here we will address this from the Patriots point of view. I do suggest if you’re interested more in how Flowers was thrown into Lion’s take you give that a read. But for now, we’ll assume he’ll come into play for New England in 2018.

Flowers was drafted in 2014 by Cincinnati in the late sixth round. Without tripling the size of this “take” on him let’s just say the first 3 years of his career have no real notable things to talk about while he was a Bengal. And we will just flash forward to the trade that sent him to New England. From what I’m seeing he was acquired from the Bengals around the end of August of last year for a conditional seventh-round pick. And indications will be that the conditional part worked out for the Bengals better than it did for them having Flowers as a depth player. I’m now flashing to the Van Noy trade I discussed in my Lion’s article, imagine that. So before we move on I’d also like to state that I do not normally “take” on an OLB. It’s a personal matter as they just are not players I suggest for us to line our rosters with at the linebacker position. But in Flowers case, I’m intrigued enough to think his role could be more relevant in 2018 at possibly any one of three roles. And should be worth an investment at the right cost. Possibly as little as checking our waiver wires.

Why He Should Be Tracked?

You’ll see that a few “gurus” are calling Flowers a surprise for the Patriots in 2017. I beg to differ, noting that Bill Belichick does with his roster should be a surprise, it should be a mystery on how he pulls it off. What actually looked like a depth move at the time resulted in a key contributor down the road for the defense in New England. To best describe Flowers role we should compare him to Patriots former stand out Rob Ninkovich, remember him? The linebacker/defensive end hybrid that kept stacking respectable stats for all those years. Flowers thrived well in that type of role from about week eleven onward. For a player that had no real experience in his prior career, he made plays on the field that helped the Patriots make it to the Superbowl. His stats were far from outstanding, but his play on the field for then-defensive coordinator Matt Patricia was exactly what Bill saw in making the trade. Think about it, Bill doesn’t make trades for “shits and giggles”, that’s what signing free agents are for. The Patriots are notorious for turning other teams “scraps” into viable players on the defensive side of the ball. And betting we can name a few offensive guys if we look hard enough. With Flowers having a low cap hit, from being a sixth rounder at less than $600,000 per season, look for the Patriots to pay this guy at the least a prove it deal and watch him enter 2018 as a key member on that defense. If we are lucky he’ll get a DL designation in leagues, if not look at him as a possible solid LB2 with upside as Ninkovich had been. This “take” for us to watch is pure as it gets on a “gut call”, but one we shouldn’t sleep on with an investment as low as a waiver wire pick up at the moment. Bill love’s his hybrids, it’s just not publicized so much that he does. I’ll just leave some info on Flowers in closing this “take” for us to ponder. By the way, read my article on Lion’s and tell me on twitter it can’t happen, but I’m laying money I know where he lands if it’s not with the Patriots.

Wondering why there are no P.A.P.S charts? Simple, Munson and Reeves-Maybin will be in a new system so last season doesn’t matter much, and Flowers just got started towards the end of 2017.

Thanks for reading, catch me on twitter @HBogart27 for everything IDP. And get all your sports news, updates and articles with cleatgeeks!


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