There are still some glaring holes (which I’ll get to), but I also managed to invest wisely and timely in “good stock” Individual Defensive Player (IDP)-wise last year: D.J. Smith, Jurrell Casey, Adrian Clayborn, Robert Quinn, etc.
As much as I’d like pat myself on the back, though, the team is very far from finished. I’d say we’ve happily moved on from a major rebuild/project to more of a transitional phase.
For those new to following the Sharks’ IDP team, here’s the inherited roster and the 2011 one we built last year. You can also follow all the ups-and-downs of last year here.
Thanks to a largely unlikely “title tilt,” any chance I had of landing any major targets had well and truly evaporated. Say “so long, farewell, adios and vaya con dios” to the likes of: Chandler Jones, Bruce Irvin, Luke Kuechly, Mark Barron and Bobby Wagner (amongst the rookies). We hardly knew ya!
As you can see, the total lack of defensive end depth, which was exposed badly at times last year, has matured somewhat (Clayborn and Quinn look good for a progression and increase in production this year), but still lacked both depth and a true DE1 to anchor the weekly lineup.
John Abraham (Atlanta defensive end), while a decent plug-and-play, isn't someone that I’d consider a solution to the problem. At least not until Atlanta gets some production across from him off the other edge!
So we said “sayonara” to Oakland linebacker Rolando McClain (and his dodgy ankle) and hello to Cameron Wake. We also exchanged picks, my 3.11 for his 6.08.
Looking at the scoring (it’s heavily biased towards linebackers), I’d say I overpaid slightly. Given how short the benches are in this league, I’m fairly confident the waiver wire will bear fruit as it did last season, and McClain at least is no longer my headache!
1.11- Demario Davis, rookie LB, New York Jets
Given it’s a linebacker-driven league, I couldn’t afford to not take what was left. Rex Ryan loves him. Ryan loves everyone, though. David Harris is the obstacle ahead of him, but is being paid $9.9 million and $10.9 million for 2012 and 2013. In 2014, he’ll be owed a shade under $5 million...30...and an unrestricted free agent the following season. This is when I expect to see Davis making himself relevant, barring injury.
With my linebacker depth as it is, I can afford to be patient.
2.11- Harrison Smith, rookie S, Minnesota
I’m short at safety and he’s going to start Day 1. The defense in Minnesota is in need of a major overhaul as it’s relatively weak along the “spine” (defensive tackle/middle linebacker/safety), which should equate to lots of tackle opportunities.
Traded (Rolando McClain for Cameron Wake and 6.08)
4.11 - Aaron Williams, CB, Buffalo
Stephon Gilmore (Buffalo cornerback) is good; in fact, he could be great. As a result, I think people will be more likely to throw in Williams’ direction, instead. Welcome to the wonderful world of cornerbacks! Ron Brooks could end up pushing Williams down the line, but he’s on Injured Reserve right now, so it’s not something I’m concerned about. 5.08 -
Traded (London Fletcher for 5.08 in 2011) - Jerrell Freeman, LB, Indianapolis
Another gift to a friend. I’m far too generous, but then again I needed the roster room and am set at linebacker. Pat Angerer is down and I’m unsure about Kavell Conner now that I’ve seen Freeman play. The guy is a Canadian Football League import and looks...well...“beastly.” I like him a lot, and just as I stashed D.J. Smith last year, I’m keen to get a lynchpin on Chuck Pagano’s defense. 5.11 - Larry Grant, LB, San Francisco
I own Bowman; I now have the top backups for two of the Top 5 linebacker positions in IDP.
Received in Rolando McClain trade - K.J. Wright, LB, Seattle
He’s an upside LB2. He plays passing downs, he can play Mike if Wagner gets injured, he’s a bye week/matchup guy I like as a player in the last round of the draft.
At the moment this is how the 2012 roster is looking:
The guys in “green” are what I’d consider cornerstones, pieces to build around. Those in “blue” are rookies, while everyone else is in a state of flux...tradeable or cutable. Their stock can rise and sink over the course of this year.
As usual, I expect cornerback to remain a position where I’ll likely cut and shut/turn and burn all season long.
Safety is my biggest concern. If I could get a big-hitting, every-down strong safety, quite frankly I’d probably be doing cartwheels around the room right now.
As it is, I have a lot of question marks. Is T.J. Ward going to play like it’s 2010 or 2011? Can Kurt Coleman do as good a job mopping up behind that “Jim Washburn nine line” in Philadelphia, or will he fail so completely in coverage he’ll be on limited downs? Can Darian Stewart take that step up he’s been threatening to do?
No idea. I’d like to think all of them will come up with the goods, but I think it’d be unrealistic to expect that all of them will.
Ultimately, this is a linebacker-driven league, and, in that respect, I’m excited about 2012.
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Bring on Week 1. Bring on the waiver wire. Bring on the pain!
James Elvins is a writer for Fantasy Sharks and a member of the Fantasy Sharks Writers Association.