In the world of individual defensive players, there isn’t a more vexing position than the defensive front. The reason is simple. Positional scarcity. With each passing season, it seems that the number of dependable weekly fantasy starters along the defensive line dwindles. Acquiring one of those elite fantasy options can offer IDP squads a huge edge.
A few years ago, New York Giants defensive end
appeared destined to join those ranks. Now, after back-to-back disappointing seasons, things are much less certain. Can Pierre-Paul recapture past glories and return to the top 5 at his position, or are IDP owners throwing good money after bad by chasing the past?
One thing is certain. Back in 2011, it didn’t look like we’d ever be asking those questions. Not after the second season Pierre-Paul had. In 2011, Pierre-Paul tallied 86 tackles, leading all defensive linemen. His 16.5 sacks ranked fourth in the league. Pierre-Paul ranked sixth among 4-3 defensive ends at
Pro Football Focus that year.
Most importantly, only
(and his 22 sacks in 2011) posted more fantasy points than Pierre-Paul, who finished a full fantasy point per game higher than the No. 3 defensive linemen. The Giants went on to win the Super Bowl.
The sky was the limit where Pierre-Paul’s future was concerned.
Unfortunately, that’s also as good as things ever got.
Battling a back injury for much of the season, Pierre-Paul’s sack numbers dropped by double digits in 2012. However, thanks largely to a robust 66 tackles, Pierre-Paul remained a Top 10 fantasy option in
Fantasy Sharks Default IDP Scoring
After the season, Pierre-Paul had back surgery, telling
Associated Press via NFL.com in July of 2013 that “The discomfort is gone. When I sit down I don’t have that pain any more. When I am standing up I don’t have that pain. I can stand up straight. Basically everything is gone. That’s a good thing. I am doing pretty good.”
Pierre-Paul didn’t look good once the season started. His recovery from that back surgery lingered well into the season. Pierre-Paul’s statistical production free-fell even more. By the time a shoulder injury ended Pierre-Paul’s 2013 season after 11 games, he had managed only 27 tackles, two sacks and a 90th-place finish among defensive linemen.
Now, we enter 2014 asking essentially the same question we did a year ago. Which Pierre-Paul is going to show up this season?
For his part, Pierre-Paul was saying all the right things back in May, according to
Michael Eisen of the Giants’ website
“I feel great,” Pierre-Paul said. “I’ve been running. I feel good. Nothing’s been bothering me, so that’s a good thing. I’m definitely at full-go. I’m out there practicing with the team and nothing’s affecting me, so I’m good.”
The 25-year-old also said he’s put 2013 squarely in the rearview mirror. “It’s behind me,” Pierre-Paul said. “It’s a whole new year. I barely played last year. I wasn’t at 100 percent. It is what it is. That was last year. This is a new season, new faces. I’m ready to get out there and show everybody.”
However, Pierre-Paul recently backtracked on those statements a bit while speaking with
Connor Orr of
The Newark Star-Ledger
“I still feel a little something, I still feel a little something, but at the end of the day, it’s nothing that is going to bother me while I’m playing,” Pierre-Paul said. “Now, I’m flying to the ball. Last year, I was completely — back surgery, you couldn’t expect me to come in and do what I did in (2011) — then I got hurt with my shoulder.”
Pierre-Paul then added that it’s his intention to “shut a whole bunch of people up,” in 2014.
It would appear that, for the most part, IDP owners have left last year in the past as well. According to early
Average Draft Position data at My Fantasy League
, Pierre Paul is being drafted 30th overall among IDPs and sixth among defensive linemen, albeit nearly six rounds after Houston’s
and almost three rounds after Carolina’s
Not the lofty draft-day investment once required to land Pierre-Paul’s services, but a substantial one nonetheless.
The thing is, it’s a risk worth taking. Yes, his 2013 season was a hot mess, but Pierre-Paul remains a very young, very talented player. Dinged up two years ago, Pierre-Paul ranked
third overall among 4-3 defensive ends at
Pro Football Focus and first against the run. Even during last year’s nightmare Pierre-Paul ranked 21st and 12th, respectively.
Pierre-Paul’s skills in run support, and the tackle production it generates, helps keep his IDP production more consistent. Even if Pierre-Paul doesn’t get a sack in a given week, the handful of tackles he’ll generate prevents the sort of “doughnut” weeks that drive IDP owners up the proverbial tree.
Then there’s the upside. Simply put, defensive ends with 80-plus tackle, 10-plus sack potential don’t exactly grow on trees. Pierre-Paul’s 2011 season was the third-best by a defensive lineman over the past five seasons.
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The opportunity should be there. With
now in Oakland, Pierre-Paul will be counted on to anchor the Giants’ pass rush in 2014. Odds are he won’t be leaving the field much.
Given that, and assuming Pierre-Paul stays healthy in 2014, his numbers from two years ago would appear a reasonable estimate as to his IDP “floor” in 2014. Those numbers were good for an eighth-place fantasy finish, which isn’t too far out of line with Pierre-Paul’s average draft position.
Pierre-Paul’s fantasy ceiling, of course, is much, much higher, and if he comes anywhere close to his 2011 production this season Pierre-Paul will find himself squarely in the conversation as IDP’s MVP overall in 2014.
As IDP draft season gets underway in earnest, Fantasy Sharks has you covered. Whether it’s player rankings for redraft and dynasty leagues, projections, player spotlights, sleepers and busts or strategy tips, IDP Staff Writers Walton Spurlin and Mike Woellert and IDP Senior Staff Writer Gary Davenport have all the information you need to dominate your IDP league in 2014.
Also, for additional IDP information be sure to check out
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Gary Davenport is the IDP Senior Staff Writer at Fantasy Sharks and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) and Pro Football Writers of America. Davenport’s IDP work has been featured in a number of national print publications and on both satellite and terrestrial radio, and he was a finalist for the FSWA Web Article of the Year in 2013.