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2014 IDP Free Agency Reaction

All I know is I’m glad it’s not my money that’s being spent. There has been crazy money thrown at the free agent defenders at the beginning of the new NFL year. Guys like
Karlos Dansby


Michael Johnson

Donte Whitner and DeMarcus Ware got paaaaaid.

Follow along with this blog for updated thoughts on the IDP impact of the latest free agent signing.


UPDATED AS OF MARCH 17, 2014


Nate Allen, FS/SS
(Re-Signs with Philadelphia)

Nate Allen’s market was non-existent as free agency has rolled along. Allen inked a deal to stay in the City of Brotherly Love for another year.

Allen was average in coverage and didn’t play the run very well, but was on the field for well over 1,100 defensive snaps. Allen is coming off a pedestrian 2013 campaign from an IDP standpoint. Allen finished with 83 tackles and a tackle rate of 7%, which is low for the position and the amount of snaps he appeared in. He’s not going to make the big plays either, with just an INT and six defended passes.

As of now, Malcolm Jenkins and Earl Wolff are penciled in as the two safeties, so his IDP value at this point is nil. If the Eagles draft a safety in the draft, he’ll compete with him, as well for a third safety spot. He’s not someone to count on in IDP leagues.


Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
(Signs with New York Giants)

DRC has gotten off to a relatively slow start in his career. After grading out near the bottom of cornerbackers, Rodgers-Cromartie put together a contract-year wonder and parlayed into a 5-year deal with the Giants.

DRC hasn’t been an IDP stalwart. Only twice has he been over the 50 total tackle mark and hasn’t had more than 6 INTs in a season since his 2009 season. He has seen an increase in targets over the last few seasons (149), turning that into 32 defended passes. That’s certainly his strong point, as he has had just one season of less than double-digit defended passes.

The Giants have, what appears to be, a solid cover corner opposite Prince Amukamara. For IDP purposes, he’s not someone I can trust until those deflections turn into INTs. He’s a nice addition for the Giants, but outside of the deepest of IDP leagues, he’s putting together a low 0.13 fantasy points/snap, so he can be left on your waiver wire.


UPDATED AS OF MARCH 16, 2014


Vincent Rey, ILB
(Re-Signs with Cincinnati)


Vincent was a revelation for the Bengals in three starts. He’s been a special teamer throughout his career, but might have earned more snaps after proving to be an effective linebacker in 2013.


In three starts, Rey recorded 32 tackles and a 3 sack game in Week 10. As a restricted free agent, Cincinnati retains his rights and his IDP value in 2014 remains up in the air.


Vincent Rey was certainly an asset on the field and more effective than his counterpart, Rey Maualuga. Grading positively overall in all aspects of his defensive game, Vincent has a shot to be a breakout candidate if he can beat out Maualuga during the offseason. Until the situation shakes out, Rey is nothing more than bench depth. Wait as long as you can to draft to get an idea of the situation.


Darryl Sharpton, ILB
(Signs with Washington)


Sharpton saw an increased role on the Texans defense thanks to an injury to Brian Cushing. He parlayed his play into a one-year deal with the Redskins.


Sharpton saw 13 starts and appeared in 743 defensive snaps for Houston. From Week 9 on, he was a three-down ‘backer and notched a career-high 87 tackles (57 solos) and a solid 11.8% tackle rate. He was effective against the run but a liability in coverage which could prevent him from having significant IDP value in the future.


Outside of Perry Riley, the ‘Skins are thin at linebacker and has proved to be nothing more than a backup. If Washington doesn’t address linebacker in the draft, he could carry IDP sleeper in deeper leagues. I look at him more as a 5th LB for depth in the event of injuries or bye weeks.


Brandon Spikes, ILB
(Signs with Buffalo)


Spikes stays within the AFC East, he he signs a one-year deal with the Buffalo Bills. Spikes saw a little more playing time thanks to injuries, but couldn’t get on the field for a three-down role.


What changes in Buffalo? He should anchor the middle in Buffalo’s 4-3 defense, which kicks second-year LB Kiko Alonso to the outside. Spikes’ strength is definitely stopping the run, grading as Pro Football Focus’ top ranked run stuffer among ILB. It translated to just 86 total tackles, of which 48 were solos.


In Buffalo, he could secure a three-down role which would definitely increase his IDP appeal. Another strength of Spikes is that he doesn’t miss on tackle attempts. He missed just 4 on the year, leading to a missed tackle in every 22 attempts (a more than respectable rate). Keep an eye on his transition and if he earns those nicke/subpacakge snaps, he’ll have LB3 value in most IDP formats. It still remained a big if at this point.


Roman Harper, SS
(Signs with Carolina)


The Panthers lost out on Mike Mitchell but bring in veteran safety, Roman Harper. With the emergence of Kenny Vaccaro and signing of Jairus Byrd, Harper was deemed expendable.


Harper gets a one-year prove it deal with Carolina, but with lack of depth at safety, Harper could receive more than a situational snaps. Harper saw just 374 defensive snaps and wasn’t very effective.


Thanks to those lack of snaps, Harper compiled just 39 tackles and an INT, his lowest numbers since 2006. Carolina might like his pass rushing ability, as he did record 10.5 sacks between the 2010 and 2011 seasons.


Harper could be playing in the box more, but he has a lost a step. Not only that, he’s playing behind tackle machines Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis. He’s a better option than anyone on the current roster, so as long as he’s healthy, could see an increase in snaps. From an IDP standpoint, he’s worth a look on watch lists as an IDP waiver wire acquisition if he can earn a three-down role or gets off to a good start production wise. Worth drafting in deeper, all-IDP leagues for depth.


Julius Peppers, DE
(Signs with Green Bay)


In one of the more curious signings, Julius Peppers signs a three-year deal worth $30 million. Peppers will be 34 and has very little left in the tank.


The move to Green Bay puts a huge damper on any IDP value he would’ve had. Peppers moves from outside edge rusher in a 4-3 to a 3-4 where he’ll see more attention from the offensive line, gathering attention so that outside ‘backers can do the work.


As of now, Peppers is buried behind Datone Jones and Mike Neal on the depth chart, so he’s looking at being situational pass rusher. It’s unlikely bet that he’ll hit last year’s mark of 7.5 sacks, yet alone double-digits. Let someone else draft this brand name in 2014.


UPDATED AS OF MARCH 14, 2014

Justin Tuck, DE
(Signs with Oakland)

Tuck is coming a solid overall season with the Giants but will find a new home on the west coast in Oakland.

Tuck finished last season with 11 sacks, but the beginning of the year didn’t start off so well. With only 1.5 sacks in his first 8 games, he finished the season off with 9.5 sacks. He also generated pressure on the QB in nearly 13% of his rush snaps.

I would’ve liked to see Tuck lined up with Lamarr Houston, but he went to Chicago, so he’ll line up with newly signed Lamarr Woodley. As long as he’s healthy, he’ll be able to generate the pressure and has DL2 value in balanced and tackle heavy formats.

Mike Mitchell, FS
(Signs with Pittsburgh)

Mitchell leaves the east coast in Carolina for the Steel City. He’ll join Troy Polamalu in Pittsburgh’s defensive backfield.

Mitchell wasn’t a blip on the IDP radar after the first three games of the season, recording just 5 solo tackles. However, after the bye week, his production picked up. He had five games of 5+ solo tackles and finished with a near 3:1 solo to assist ratio. He also added the big plays, recording 4 sacks and 4 INTs.

He’ll replace Ryan Clark where he’ll have DB2 upside as the FS next to Polamalu. If he can produce like Ryan Clark, who averaged 96 tackles per season over the last four, Mitchell will prove to have IDP value in most tackle heavy formats.

Wesley Woodyard, ILB
(Signs with Tennessee)

Not sure why Denver didn’t want him back, but the Titans will be glad to have join their LB group in the Music City.

After suffering a neck stinger, the Broncos inexplicably turned to Paris Lenon at MLB and eventually lost his every-down role. Woodyard still managed to record 84 tackles and a 11% tackle rate in just over 760 defensive snaps.

He still has plenty of speed but, unfortunately, lands in a crowded group of ‘backers with Zach Brown and Akeem Ayers. Woodyard’s IDP value takes a tumble with this signing as he seems destined to play a nickel role. I don’t see him playing more than 50 to 60 percent of the snaps. Keep him on your watch list in the event of an injury to either Brown or Ayers.


Daryl Smith, ILB
(Re-Signs With Baltimore)



The market for Smith was surprisingly slow, once again, in 2014. Smith is one the better overall linebackers as he can play outside or inside in any scheme. Baltimore decided retain their ILB to help the development of Arthur Brown.


Smith dealt with injuries in 2012 that caused him to miss all but two games. Baltimore snatched him up after Ray Lewis’ retirement and he responded by appearing in 1,097 defensive snaps. Although he compiled 123 tackles, his solo to assist ratio was below 1, but did provide the big plays for his IDP owners. He notched 5 sacks and 19 defended passes on his way to 0.22 fantasy points/snap rate.


He’s back in Baltimore to occupy the ILB spot and is no danger of losing his three-down role to Brown or Josh Bynes. He’s one the elite coverage and rush ‘backers and carries LB2 value in most scoring formats.



Malcolm Jenkins
(Signs With Philadelphia)



The former OSU Buckeye was deemed expendable with the addition of Jairus Byrd and emergence of Kenny Vacarro. Even though he graded out as the 65th ranked S by Pro Football Focus, he still represents an upgrade to the Eagles defensive backfield.



Jenkins saw a dip in his tackle production but did create 4 total turnovers and defended 5 passes. Missed tackles continue to be a thorn in Jenkins’ side, as he missed on 18 attempts in 2013, leading to a miss in every 5 attempts. In fact, he’s missed 38 tackles over the last two seasons, so he’s leaving significant IDP points on the field.



Jenkins can play either safety spot and provides a presence not seen since Brian Dawkins. While his tackle rate has dropped, he should be on the field for significant snaps and has a shot to hit 85-90 tackles, if he can keep the misses down to low double-digits. I look for him to have DB3 value in 2014.

UPDATED AS OF MARCH 13, 2014


Michael Johnson



, DE (Signs With Tampa Bay)

Johnson had a few suitors and ended up inking a 5-year deal with the Bucs. Johnson goes from an aggressive defensive line to another aggressive line in Tampa where he’ll play alongside
Adrian Clayborn

and
Gerald McCoy
.
He’ll have a chance to use his height and length to make life miserable for opposing QBs in the NFC South.

From an IDP standpoint, I think his value carries over from Cincinnati to Tampa. He has a similar teammate to
Carlos Dunlap

in Adrian Clayborn.
Gerald McCoy

is as close to
Geno Atkins

as you can get and that will draw attention away from Johnson. Johnson went from 11.5 sacks in 2012 to 3.5 in 2013, but was still a disruption, getting to the QB in nearly 10% of his rush snaps. Johnson also finished with 56 tackles and looks to be a strong DL2 with DL1 upside heading into 2014.


Karlos Dansby



, ILB (Signs With Cleveland)

Depending on your IDP scoring, Dansby finished as a top-5 LB in most of those formats thanks to his 112 solo tackles, 6 sacks and an amazing 19 defended passes. As the Browns jettisoned the 42nd ranked LB (according to Pro Football Focus) in D’Qwell Jackson, they landed the 5th ranked (according to PFF) in Dansby.

Will Dansby hit 100 solos in Cleveland? It’s doubtful, but certainly not out of the realm of possibility. T.J. Ward (we’ll get to him later) left for the Mile High City and
Craig Robertson

is destined for a special teams role, leaving him as the only playmaking LB as of now. D’Qwell hit the 100 solo mark in 2011, but couldn’t even hit the 80 mark the next three seasons. Dansby is still an LB1, as competition for tackles is low.

There is also a domino effect with Dansby heading to Cleveland.
Daryl Washington

is locked in as a top overall IDP pick and Kevin Minter should be on your IDP radar.


T.J. Ward, SS
(Signs With Denver)

With the signing of Donte Whitner by Cleveland, the writing was clearly on the wall that Ward was walking. Denver gets a solid in-the-box safety at a relatively low price (4-years/$23 million with $14 million guaranteed).

Ward is an immediate upgrade, especially in defending the run, over Mike Adams and Rahim Moore and will step in as the starting strong safety. Ward completed his 2nd full season in 2013, after missing 10 games over 2011 and 2012. Ward finished with a nearly a 10% tackle rate in over 1,100 defensive snaps in 2013 and made the most defensive stops (45) among safeties according to Pro Football Focus.

Is Denver an ideal situation? He still should be considered a DB1, especially in tackle heavy formats. If you get the 2010 and 2013 version, you’ll reap the benefits. Just hope the 2011 and 2012 versions stay in the training room.


Donte Whitner, SS
(Signs With Cleveland)

Cleveland swaps safeties by landing the Cleveland native. More importantly, at least from a real-football standpoint, Whitner is a winner that is strong in pass coverage.

Whitner is long removed from his 139-tackle season from his time in Buffalo and has managed to hit 80+ tackles just once. However, it’s his pass coverage that Cleveland wanted. He’s compiled 27 defended pass over the last three seasons. He can play near the linebackers and make the hit on slot receivers and tight ends to help Cleveland get off the field on 3rd downs.

He could be under-valued and makes a value DB3 pick in 2014. I’m hoping for something in between 2010 and 2012, but not 100+ tackles.


Alterraun Verner



, CB (Signs With Tampa Bay)

Tampa added another piece to their defense by adding the 25-year old Verner. After logging just 669 snaps, he recorded consecutive seasons of 1,000+ snaps which saw him record career highs in defended passes (23) and INTs (5).

His tackle numbers were down with just 57 (49 solos), but between his defended passes and picks, he was making a play on the ball on 35% of his targets. Verner is going to be a huge asset in Lovie’s Cover-2 scheme (think
Tim Jennings

or
Charles Tillman

). As long as he stays healthy, Verner is a CB1 in leagues requiring a corner and should hit the 80-tackle mark.


Lamarr Houston



, DE (Signs With Chicago)

Chicago lands one of the best edge run defenders available in free agency. However, the Bears did release
Julius Peppers

so they are still without a legitimate pass rushing threat.

I really like Houston’s IDP value in tackle heavy formats. Since 2011, he’s averaged more than 50 tackles and has two straight seasons of 60+ tackles, which included 56 solos this past year. If you play in a bigger play dependent format, he may not be your guy.

He registered just 6 sacks and was able to get to the QB nearly 12% of his rush snaps. However, he failed to reach the 500 rush snap mark and is more of an edge setter. He’ll make a solid DL2 in tackle heavy formats and nice bookend to a high sack DL on your roster.


Antoine Bethea
(Signs With San Francisco)

The 49ers weren’t without a safety for very long. After losing Whitner, they added IDP mainstay Bethea. With Eric Reid playing free safety, could Bethea be looking at a switch to the strong-side?

Bethea has produced four-straight seasons of 100+ tackles in Indianapolis’ defensive backfield and a near 10% tackle rate in 2013. He was average in coverage, struggled against the run and dealt with missed tackles, he’s been a solid all-around player and should fit in nicely with the 49ers defense. He’ll continue to be an under-valued DB2.


Demarcus Ware



, DE (Signs With Denver)

Ware has been synonymous with the Cowboys, so his release came as a surprise, even with Dallas’ salary cap issues. Ware missed just three games in 2013 and will now call Denver his home in 2014.

Ware was dealing with injuries all season long, in addition to a defensive scheme change and transition to defensive end. How did that translate? He still graded as Pro Football Focus’ 8th ranked DE, despite playing it for the first time. He got to the QB on over 13% of his rush snaps, but translated to just 6 sacks.

If Ware is healthy, he’ll join a defense that has Von Miller,
Derek Wolfe

and
Malik Jackson

who are all capable pass rushers and won’t see nearly as many double-teams. Ware could be under-valued and drafted as a DL2 and produce elite DL1 digits.


Jairus Byrd, FS
(Signs With New Orleans)

Byrd was one of the more sought after safeties because of his ball-hawk skills in a passing league. His asking price was near $9 million and, surprisingly, the Saints ponied up.

Byrd is a big play DB that relies on the INT, as he’s produced less than four just once in his career. Byrd dealt with a foot injury that cost him five games, but still finished with 48 tackles and four picks in just 646 defensive snaps in 2013. He also made a play on the ball on 45% of his targets.

Byrd will join 2nd year safety, Kenny Vacarro in the defensive backfield as New Orleans has let the declining Roman Harper and missed tackle machine Malcolm Jenkins walk. Byrd will be a solid DB2 in big play formats and DB3 in tackle heavy scoring.


Chris Clemons



, DE (Signs With Jacksonville)

The Jaguars continue to rebuild their defense and add Clemons, a defender that Gus Bradley is very familiar with.

After suffering an Achilles injury in 2012, Clemons came back in 2013 to appear in 726 defensive snaps for the Champs. Clemons managed 4.5 sacks and got to the QB in almost 11.5% of his rush snaps, which is an impressive feat in itself, coming back from a major injury at age 32.

He’ll join former ‘Hawk
Red Bryant

and will rush the passer on the outside at DE once again. Can he be relied upon for significant snaps? I’m not sure I can count on him for more than 55% of the defensive snaps, but there’s fuel in the tank. I don’t consider him draftable outside of deeper leagues, but he could make a nice in-season waiver addition.


Jon Beason



, MLB (Re-Signs With New York Giants)

Beason will stay in the Big Apple and continue to man the middle linebacker position.

Beason finished with 109 tackles in just 741 defensive snaps in 2013. These translated to great numbers for those that were able to nab him from the waiver wire. Will his IDP success continue in 2014?

Beason is a shell of his former self, as he graded out 47th among 55 inside linebackers according to Pro Football Focus, including ranking as the 4th worst ILB in pass coverage which opposing teams are going to exploit, including the Eagles who now have both
LeSean McCoy

and Darren Sproles. At this point, the Giants don’t have anyone else to turn to, so that’s one positive in his favor. I wouldn’t trust Beason as anything more than an LB3.

 

Keep up with this blog for updates as big name IDPs continue to sign. For more insight, click on over to Gary Davenport’s IDP Manor for even more IDP free agency madness.

 


Mike Woellert is a staff writer and part of the Fantasy Sharks IDP Team. For more IDP insight, follow on Twitter @Mike_Woellert

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