With the NFL playoffs underway, it is a time of reflection and rearrangement for many fantasy football owners. Another season has concluded and there are lessons and laments aplenty.
There are, of course, many playoff formats of fantasy football to keep the juices flowing (including an excellent one here at Fantasy Sharks), and I do play in my share of those. For many fantasy enthusiasts it is not the same beast, and, like myself, their attention has already turned squarely towards 2014.
With that in mind (and a lot of time on my hands being snowbound in Michigan) combined with an unhealthy obsession for Individual Defensive Player (IDP) football, here is an early look at some interesting names to keep on the radar heading into next season.
This is a quick collection of names that I find coming up most frequently in my exchanges with fellow IDP junkies as we turn our collective attention to next season.
Keep in mind that some of the players listed here are on teams that do not currently have head coaches or a definitive scheme that they will be playing in for 2014. While that certainly muddies the water a bit, we can still take a look at some IDP players who I feel are poised to be fantasy standouts in 2014.
I’m taking a leap and figuring that if you are reading an article focused on next season in January that you share my obsession and realize that this is as fluid a list as you’ll find this time of year.
Paul Worrilow, MLB, Atlanta:
This name comes as no surprise to IDP owners who picked him off the waiver wire early in 2013 and reaped the benefits. Worrilow may not always appear to be the best linebacker on the field but he posted an impressive 129 total tackles with two sacks in his rookie season. An injury to
elevated the need for Atlanta to get Worrilow and fellow rookie linebacker
on to the field and both performed admirably. With their glaring need for pressure creating defensive linemen off the edge, it’s hard to see the Falcons looking to draft much linebacker help early. Both Worrilow and Bartu should have the chance to secure their positions heading into 2014.
Audie Cole, MLB, Minnesota:
Despite missing Week 17 with an ankle sprain that forced him to leave Week 16 after only five snaps, Cole announced himself on the IDP scene in 2013. Cole started in place of linebacker Erin Henderson and posted 42 total tackles from Weeks 12-15, with 25 of those stops being of the solo variety. Henderson is likely to be released following his second arrest for suspicion of DUI in the last two months and Cole is the front-runner to be the starting middle linebacker for the Vikings next season. He is solid in coverage and racked up one sack in his limited playing time last year.
Vincent Rey, MLB, Cincinnati:
It boggles the mind that Rey was returned to a part-time role once linebacker
returned from injury. In Weeks 9-11, Rey played 217 of a possible 222 snaps and put up 32 total tackles (22 solos) and had one of the best single IDP fantasy weeks of the year in Week 10. Rey registered 15 total stops along with three sacks, an interception and three passes defended against the Baltimore Ravens. Following Maualuga’s return, Rey played a total of 87 snaps in the five remaining regular season games and still managed to rack up an interception for a touchdown as well as a forced fumble and one sack. Look for him to ascend to the starting middle linebacker job in Cincinnati next season and have an excellent season.
Olivier Vernon, DE, Miami:
Vernon carried over a strong finish to his rookie season into an outstanding offseason and training camp, culminating with an excellent sophomore campaign. He led the Dolphins in sacks (11.5) and finished sixth on the team in total tackles with 57. Vernon broke camp as the starting right defensive end and played 929 snaps on a Dolphins defense that finished the season with 42 sacks. Playing opposite sack machine
enables Vernon to consistently bring pressure off the edge as offenses sell out to contain Wake. Look for him to continue to improve in 2014 and post double-digit sacks and 60-plus tackles.
Johnathan Cyprien, FS, Jacksonville:
Cyprien played more than 1,050 snaps as a rookie and posted a healthy 86 solo tackles on his way to a triple-digit finish (102 total). He also registered an interception along with a sack and two forced fumbles. Cyprien may not have graded out very well as an NFL safety in his rookie season (he finished 84th according to
Pro Football Focus), but he did have an excellent fantasy season. He finished as the 18th overall defensive back (corners and safeties) in Fantasy Sharks’ Default IDP scoring. The Jaguars are getting better, but, until they get their offensive woes straightened out, Cyprien will continue to see plenty of action and post great fantasy totals.