IDP fantasy analysis for 2012
With the arrival of training camp, it's time to evaluate where IDPs stand. There have been numerous developments worth tracking, even among some of the more established veterans. Between position shifts, injury news, role changes and legal troubles, much of what was conventional knowledge at the end of the 2011 season is subject to change heading into fall.
Noteworthy names are listed below in positional (DL/LB/DB) and then alphabetical order.
Elvis Dumervil, DE, DEN
News: No charges for aggravated assault arrest in July
Stock: On hold
Fortunately for Dumervil, his aggravated assault arrest from July did not result in charges. That news is certainly good, but Dumervil isn't in the clear yet. Although Dumervil wasn't charged, Roger Goodell has a history of handing out suspensions despite the absence of convictions, and that precedent means Dumervil is still susceptible to punishment. Given that this July incident wasn't the first time the law set its sights on Dumervil - he also had an assault arrest (no charges) in October 2010 - he is a risk to miss a game or two until further notice. That said, even if Dumervil misses some time, he's still likely to be one of the top IDP defensive ends upon his return.
Robert Quinn, DE, STL
News: DWI arrest in July
Quinn was charged with DWI in July, but it's his first known offense of any sort as an NFL player, so he should avoid a suspension barring further misconduct. If he is on the field for 16 games, Quinn is set to be one of the league's breakout defenders and could push for the top tiers among defensive line IDPs. He shouldn't see double teams on a St. Louis defensive line featuring Chris Long, Kendall Langford and Michael Brockers, even though he's probably the most talented player of the four. Quinn had five sacks and 23 tackles as a reserve in 2011, but he'll be a starter this season.
James Anderson, OLB, CAR
News: Could lose passing down work
Stock: Down slightly
Anderson has been an IDP monster for Carolina the last two years, but he might make the drop from great to good in 2012. Although he's worth owning in all IDP leagues, he might not be worth the price if the going rate is based on his two-year averages of 138 tackles (100 solo), 2.5 sacks and 1.5 interceptions. The arrival of ninth overall draft pick Luke Kuechly means Anderson could lose some passing down work, because Kuechly is a definite three-down player, and Jon Beason is probably better at handling passing down responsibilities than Anderson, too.
Lofa Tatupu was signed in the offseason to compete with Dent for the starting middle linebacker role in Atlanta - the spot previously held by top IDP Curtis Lofton - but a pectoral muscle tear has left Dent the only candidate standing. He's less athletic than Lofton and shouldn't be expected to match his lofty tackle numbers, but a 120-plus-tackle season seems entirely in reach for Dent. The 2011 third-round pick totaled 125 tackles in 13 games for Georgia in 2010.
Mychal Kendricks, OLB, PHI
News: Likely starter
If you're in a rookie dynasty draft, Kendricks is probably the top linebacker on the board outside of Carolina's Luke Kuechly. Bobby Wagner (Seattle) and Lavonte David (Tampa Bay) are close, but Kendricks brings more talent than David and, in light of the news that Kendricks opened camp as Philadelphia's starter at strongside linebacker, Kendricks also has more job security than Wagner. With defensive back athleticism and standout blitzing ability, Kendricks has three-down potential after totaling 105 tackles (14 for loss) in 13 games for California last year.
Ray Lewis, (3-4) ILB, BAL
News: Lost over 20 pounds
After playing at more than 250 pounds in recent years, Lewis arrived for camp looking almost like a strong safety rather than a 3-4 inside linebacker. Lewis dropped weight in an attempt to be quicker and faster in coverage - a sensible goal when you might need to deal with the likes of Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Antonio Gates, Dustin Keller and Jared Cook in the playoffs. But what does it mean for Lewis' IDP production? Probably nothing. Lewis received criticism for his on-field effectiveness as he played through a turf toe injury last year, but with 95 tackles in 12 games, his IDP owners couldn't have cared less. Bottom line, even if Lewis isn't the player he was a few years ago, he'll still be the player making tackles in Baltimore. Even though he missed four games last year, Lewis led Baltimore in tackles, posting 11 more than the next closest linebacker - 16-game starter Jameel McClain.
Clint Session, OLB, JAC
News: No concussion clearance
Stock: Close to zero
Session is an effective linebacker when healthy, but it's increasingly appearing as if his career could be in danger. He suffered three concussions last year, including two concussions in a single game. He's out during Jacksonville's training camp with no timetable for a return. It's difficult to see him playing anytime soon, if at all, in 2012, so Russell Allen appears to be Jacksonville's most likely starter at linebacker alongside Daryl Smith and Paul Posluszny.
D.J. Williams, OLB, DEN
News: Six-game suspension likely to stick
Stock: Way down
It appears as if Williams will miss at least six games in 2012 due to three failed drug tests, and his roster spot in Denver could be in jeopardy as a result. As one of the league's most skilled linebackers, Williams' absence would be a significant loss to the IDP talent pool. His exit would be somewhat offset by his replacement, Wesley Woodyard, however. Despite missing one game and only starting seven, Woodyard managed to finish 2011 with 97 stops (67 solo), so he's a threat to push for 130 tackles if Williams permanently leaves the picture in Denver.
LaRon Landry, S, NYJ
News: Active for training camp
There remain very serious questions regarding Landry's health and approach to the game, but the Jets activated him from the active/PUP list Thursday, so his problematic Achilles' tendon seems to be in its best shape since late in the 2010 season. That isn't saying much, of course, and Landry remains a relapse worry given that he refused to get surgery on the Achilles, against the advice of doctors. Still, Landry merits a close look in IDP leagues, as long as he enters fall healthy, because he should be one of the league's best tackle sources in the secondary if he's on the field.
Taylor Mays, S, CIN
News: Penciled in as starter
Mays needs to hold off George Iloka to close the deal, but heading into fall he appears likely to start at strong safety for the Bengals. He has a fair amount of IDP appeal if he does win that role because he's a safety/linebacker hybrid at 6-foot-3, 235, with the straight-line speed to turn into a good tackle source. He totaled 48 each of solo tackles and assists in his final year of college - both of which led the USC defense. It's possible that Mays' coverage limitations will actually help his IDP value, because the Bengals could keep him close to the line of scrimmage, keeping him away from route runners and closer to ballcarriers. Keep an eye on the situation, though, because the Bengals are also giving cornerback Nate Clements a look at safety.
Terrell Thomas, CB, NYG
News: ACL injury (non-tear), expected to miss roughly one or two months
Stock: Way down
Thomas suffered an ACL injury July 30 to the same knee that made him miss the 2011 season. Fortunately, it was not a full tear, but the fragility demonstrated by the ligament means he'll be eased back slowly and return with questionable effectiveness. Thomas is one of the league's top IDPs when healthy, but with his durability in so much question he probably isn't worth any draft investments, especially since the Giants have 2011 first-round pick Prince Amukamara to lean on while Thomas recovers.
Charlie Peprah was cut by the Packers after serving as the team's starting strong safety in 2011, a role that allowed him to total 94 tackles and five interceptions. With Peprah gone, Woodson will see more snaps at strong safety than in past years, which should help him improve on his tackle total of 74 from last year. Look for Woodson to hit the 85-tackle mark in 2012 while maintaining his presence in coverage after averaging more than six interceptions per year in his Packers career.
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