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New IDP column at rotoworld (1 Viewer)



For those who have never been in a fantasy league that features individual defensive players (or IDPs), you're missing out. It's the next level of involvement, and puts a lot less luck into leagues than drafting whole teams of defense and special teams units.

Most IDP leagues require an owner to start 4-6 players, usually with at least one defensive lineman, one linebacker and one defensive back. Many leagues start up to 11 players in a 3-4-4 alignment. Players typically score points for tackles, sacks, interceptions, fumble recoveries and passes defensed. Tackles, like yards on offense, is the most reliable IDP stat.

While the high-priced free-agent moves of quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers grab the headlines, a good IDP fantasy owner will keep a close eye on the happenings of defensive players whose stats are likely to move up or down. Seeing a player move from weakside linebacker to strongside linebacker may not make headlines, but it can turn a fantasy stud into a fantasy dud at the speed of light.

Defensive Line – Going Up

Robert Geathers, DE, Cincinnati Bengals (’04 stats: 9 tackles, 3.5 sacks): Geathers will be under everyone’s radar this season, as he slides into the right defensive end slot for the Bengals. Geathers was a fourth-round pick for the Bengals in 2004, but could be the first Bengal in years to record 10 sacks.

Chike Okeafor, DE, Arizona Cardinals (’04 stats: 40 tackles, 8.5 sacks): Okeafor moves from Seattle to Arizona, where he’ll almost assuredly see no double-teams with Bertrand Berry on the other side of the defensive line. He’ll be playing left-defensive end, which means he probably won’t get as many sacks as a guy like Berry, but he’ll definitely score some good points, and pick up 8-10 sacks along with steady tackle numbers.

Reggie Hayward, DE, Jacksonville Jaguars (’04 stats: 31 tackles, 10.5 sacks): The Jaguars pounced quickly on this 26-year old pass rusher, and with guys like John Henderson and Marcus Stroud clogging the middle, his job will be to utilize the one-on-one matchups he sees and go get the quarterback. I expect 12+ sacks from Hayward and reasonable tackle numbers.

Mike Rucker, DE, Carolina Panthers (’04 stats: 35 tackles, 3.5 sacks): Rucker played hurt for the first half of last year, and it showed in his stats. Through 11 games, he had 23 tackles and just one half of a sack. In the final 5 games, he got healthy, and had 12 tackles and 3 sacks, which in a full season adds up to double-digit sacks, with good tackle numbers. That’s all you can ask for with a guy who will likely get taken in your draft at least 5-6 rounds below his teammate, Julius Peppers.

Defensive Line – Going Down

Greg Ellis, DE, Dallas Cowboys (’04 stats: 44 tackles, 9 sacks): Unfortunately for Ellis, who had for a while been a solid defensive line scorer, his numbers seem likely to take a huge drop this year as Dallas switches to a 3-4 defense. That’s typically is a death-knell for defensive linemen stats. Expect his tackle numbers to go up a little bit, but plan on his sack numbers to fall through the floor.

Jason Taylor, DE, Miami Dolphins (’04 stats: 40 tackles, 9.5 sacks): Taylor could become another victim of a team switching defensive formations, as the Dolphins appear to be interested in a potential move to the 3-4. In minicamps, Taylor has already seen different looks at different positions, and could be making a move to outside linebacker, which would turn him from a fantasy superstar into a very average player. He’s now 30 years old, and his production could soon be taking a serious dip.

Justin Smith, DE, Cincinnati Bengals (’04 stats: 41 tackles, 8 sacks): Smith has never put up the sack numbers that fantasy owners have craved, topping out at 8.5 sacks his rookie season. Now he’s on his way to the left defensive end position, which means those numbers will only drop. He’s never been below 40 tackles on the season, so if you are in a league that doesn’t place high value on sacks, it doesn’t hurt you that bad. If your league values sacks though, drop him from your board.

Linebacker – Going Up

Kailee Wong, LB, Houston Texans (’04 stats: 51 tackles, 5.5 sacks): Ever since leaving Minnesota, Wong’s fantasy value has gone south. That will change this year, as he moves to inside linebacker. He and Morlon Greenwood will replace Jamie Sharper and Jay Foreman at inside linebacker. Expect his sack numbers to dip, but also expect him to at least double his tackle numbers, as Sharper and Foreman were both IDP stars for the Texans the past three years.

Edgerton Hartwell, LB, Atlanta Falcons (’04 stats: 55 tackles, 0 sacks): He obviously couldn’t be the man in Baltimore with Ray Lewis in town, but he definitely has the opportunity in Atlanta. In 2002, he topped out at 102 solo tackles as he took over while Ray Lewis is hurt. Having Rod Coleman up front to suck up blockers will help as well, as he should at least equal his 2002 stats, if not exceed them.

Ian Gold, LB, Denver Broncos (’04 stats: 54 tackles, 0.5 sacks): After a year in Tampa, Gold gets a chance to redeem himself in Denver, and gets a prime spot: weakside linebacker next to Al Wilson. In 2002, he had 85 tackles and 6.5 sacks at the same spot before he tore his ACL in October of 2003. He should make the most of those opportunities and will probably approach, if not exceed those numbers.

Dontarrious Thomas, LB, Minnesota Vikings (’04 stats: 42 tackles, .5 sacks): Thomas started just five games last year as a rookie, but will man the weakside linebacker spot this year. He should do nothing but improve as he gets more and more time on the field. This is a guy who has huge upside, and could be a breakout player for 2005.

Linebacker – Going Down

Julian Peterson, LB, San Francisco 49ers (’04 stats: 23 tackles, 2.5 sacks): He played in just five games before blowing out his Achilles tendon, but was having a monster year to that point. However, everything changes now that the 49ers are changing to the 3-4 defense. I love Peterson as a player, but he just isn’t a guy who puts up enough fantasy points to own, especially now that he’s in a 3-4.

DJ Williams, LB, Denver Broncos (’04 stats: 81 tackles, 2 sacks): Williams had a monster rookie year, but this year he gets sent to the dreaded strongside-linebacker position, which will drop his tackle numbers significantly. With Al Wilson and Ian Gold in Denver at linebacker, there just won’t be enough tackles to go around to make every fantasy owner happy. My guess is that Williams is the one who suffers.

Brian Simmons, LB, Cincinnati Bengals (’04 stats: 73 tackles, 1 sack): Simmons was quietly a very solid contributor last year, as the revolving door at MLB last year netted Simmons a pretty good season at weakside. Now that Odell Thurman will be setting up shop in the middle, Simmons’ numbers will likely take a dip. Expect 60-70 tackles, but nothing spectacular.

Defensive Back – Going Up

Roy Williams, SS, Dallas Cowboys (’04 stats: 73 tackles, 2 INTs): After a monster rookie year in 2002, Williams has been very quiet the past two seasons, as he was playing out of position, allowing Darren Woodson to retire before moving to strong safety. Now that he’s where he should be, look out. Think Ed Reed but more vicious. I expect him to finish top-three at defensive back, if not at the very top spot.

Dwight Smith, FS, New Orleans Saints (’04 stats: 72 tackles, 3 INTs): Smith moves across the division from Tampa to the Big Easy, and should make a ton of tackles in the weak New Orleans secondary. Jim Haslett went as far as to bash Tebucky Jones, saying “I don’t know why he can’t catch a ball.” Smith not only caught 2 balls in the Super Bowl, but also took them both back for touchdowns. He’ll probably do more of the same in New Orleans.

Philip Buchanon, CB, Houston Texans (’04 stats: 50 tackles, 3 INTs): Remember how I wrote about how I love Julian Peterson as a player, but not as a fantasy player? I feel the complete opposite about Buchanon. He’s a gambler, who calls himself ‘Showtime’. Luckily for you, you don’t lose points when he jumps on a route, and gets beat for a touchdown. He also helps if you get points for punt returns.

Mike Brown, FS, Chicago Bears (’04 stats: 9 tackles, 0 INTs): People could very easily forget about Brown on draft day. In his first four years in the league, he was a top-20 defensive back, topping out at 83 tackles his rookie year. With another year in Lovie Smith’s defense, expect solid tackle numbers and continued interception numbers.

Defensive Back – Going Down

Sean Taylor, FS, Washington Redskins (’04 stats: 60 tackles, 4 INTs): It’s never a good thing when you see a player on the police-blotter. Taylor now has a DUI arrest (which was eventually dropped) as well as the current weapons charges. Even if charges are dropped, Taylor could be subject to a suspension from the NFL or the Redskins. Unless you’re in a deep league, or a dynasty league, there’s no need to hold onto a defensive back that could miss games. Go find somebody who will play on the waiver wire.

Gary Baxter, CB, Cleveland Browns (’04 stats: 70 tackles, 1 INT): After being alongside Chris McAllister in Baltimore, Baxter is now ‘the man’ in Cleveland. Now instead of being thrown at all game, it’s likely he’ll see a lot less balls coming his way, which means lesser stats this year. Daylon McCutcheon should outscore him fantasy-wise.

Dunta Robinson, CB, Houston Texans (’04 stats: 73 tackles, 6 INTs): Much like Baxter, he’ll see a lot less balls come his way this year, as teams will go after Philip Buchanon and leave him alone. Robinson was the top defensive rookie last year, along with Jonathan Vilma, but he should fall back to earth statistically in 2005.


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