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The Fantasy Impact of OTAs on IDPs

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Teams across the National Football League recently conducted organized team activities, and while the biggest fantasy story of OTAs may have been the broken foot suffered by New York Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks there was plenty of news that could have an impact on the value of several Individual Defensive Players, including a significant injury on the defensive side of the ball as well.

That injury was suffered by Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Da’Quan Bowers, who tore his Achilles’ tendon while participating in OTAs on May 10th. Some had predicted a breakout sophomore season for Bowers, who started the last six games of 2011 for the Bucs after a knee injury delayed the beginning of his NFL career.

Now, with Bowers quite possibly out for the entire season another major injury has decimated Bowers’ fantasy value, leaving veteran Michael Bennett as the starter (and a serviceable IDP DL3) at defensive end for at least one more season in Tampa.

Baltimore Ravens defensive end Terrell Suggs didn’t tear his Achilles’ at OTAs, but developments at Ravens OTAs may have shed some light on how the team intends to replace the reigning NFL defensive player of the year, who is out until at least November after suffering the injury while working out in Arizona.

When MyFantasyLeague.com released their latest set of positional eligibility changes at the beginning of May veteran Paul Kruger was listed as a linebacker while rookie second-round pick Courtney Upshaw was listed as a defensive end, which would imply that Upshaw would slide into Suggs’ “hybrid” role and possess more IDP value.

However, Kruger lined up with has hand down at Baltimore’s OTAs, while Upshaw was slotted at the SOLB, which would change matters significantly. Granted, this is a fluid situation that could change multiple times between now and opening day.

If things hold as they stand today more positional eligibility changes may be in store, and while Kruger’s redraft fantasy value would receive a sizable bump as Suggs’ replacement Upshaw’s short-term IDP value will take a big hit if he stays outside on the strong side of the Ravens’ 3-4 defense.

That wasn’t the only IDP surprise of organized team activities, as Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Juan Castillo pulled an interesting switcheroo at outside linebacker, installing rookie Mychal Kendricks as the first-team strong side linebacker over third-year pro Jamar Chaney, who had 92 tackles for the team in 2011.

Given Chaney’s experience manning the strong side it was assumed by many that Chaney would align there this season, with Kendricks battling second-year pro Brian Rolle for snaps on the weak side.

However, Chaney himself told the Cherry Hill Courier-Post that it will be him fighting Rolle for the weak-side job, and if that holds true even if Chaney wins the starting job Rolle would likely take the field in the nickel, while Kendricks’ strong-side role would limit his IDP upside as a rookie.

Things could easily change as we move into training camp and the preseason, but as things are right now Castillo’s decision will have a negative fantasy impact on just about every linebacker in Philadelphia not named DeMeco Ryans.

Finally, we’ll close with news on a rookie linebacker who could be set to make a big dent in his first season in the NFL. With Seattle Seahawks linebacker Barrett Ruud still recovering from injury former Utah State star Bobby Wagner ran with the first-team at middle linebacker in Seattle’s recent OTAs, and if Wagner can hold off the veteran for the starting role he could vie for IDP LB2 status as early as this season, especially if the speedy rookie sticks in passing sub-packages as well.

These are far from the only IDP storylines emerging as we head into summer’s fantasy draft season, and to keep up on all the latest updates from training camps around the league be sure to visit the Fantasy Sharks IDP Forum and follow IDP Manor on Twitter. Also, if you have a question about a particular player feel free to shoot me an e-mail at askgary@fantasysharks.com and I’ll do my best to help.