To quote the late, great Jake Elwood, “We’re putting the band back together. That’s not necessarily true but we are dusting off an oldie but goody edition for this piece.
What can I say? If I get a chance to quote The Blues Brothers then I am all over it.
Anyone who is familiar with my work here at Fantasy Sharks knows that the 53-Deep article was my first weekly assignment when I came on board four years ago (wow…has it been that long? Time really does fly by when you get to do something you love).
The article went on hiatus (or retirement possibly) last season but remains near and dear to Old Uncle Waldo as it began my writing career. So with the regular season fast approaching it feels like a good time to revisit an old friend.
For those of you unfamiliar with this piece it’s a deep dive down IDP rankings to find players that have the chance to step up and contribute some fantasy goodness.
The players are ranked outside the top-50 using the consensus rankings at FantasyPros.com (yes, yours truly is a contributing ranker there).
So let’s do this!
Kyle Van Noy, LB, DETROIT LIONS
After two injury plagued seasons, Van Noy finally seems poised to deliver on the promise he showed coming out of Brigham Young back in 2014 when the Lions selected him in the second round. Abdominal injuries along with a hernia forced Van Noy to miss nine games over his first two seasons and be used sparingly when available (he hasn’t topped 20 defensive snaps in a game). He finally enters the 2016 campaign healthy and is poised to take over a starting LB position for Detroit. The release of Stephen Tulloch and the continuing saga of DeAndre Levy’s hip issue could see Van Noy assume an even bigger role. Van Noy is currently manning the SLB position and racked up three solo tackles in the preseason opener against Pittsburgh. If the kid can stay healthy he could be sneaky good roster depth and a bye week filler for IDP owners.
Justin Durant, LB, DALLAS COWBOYS
Durant returns to a team he spent the 2013 and 2104 seasons playing for. Let’s just say his first stint in Dallas was a bit underwhelming as he missed 16 of a possible 32 regular season games due to a litany of injuries. That’s been the story of Durant’s career as he’s been productive when getting consistent snaps but rarely stays healthy for long stretches at a time. He’s played a full 16-game schedule only once during his nine years in the league. So why do we like Durant as a deep sleeper one might ask? Opportunity awaits in Dallas due to suspensions (looking at you Rolando McClain) and the Cowboys are paper thin at LB. Durant brings a familiarity with the defense to town and doesn’t have a ton of talent to surpass on the depth chart. Kyle Wilber, Andrew Gachkar and Mark Nzeocha are not exactly a murderer’s row of talent at the LB position. Even at 31 years of age, Durant could work himself into a fantasy relevant situation on a depleted Dallas defense.
We bring a ‘two-fer’ to the table as the Bills try to dig out from a mountain of defensive injuries. Buffalo has lost both Reggie Ragland and IK Enemkpali for the season and are dealing with injuries to Shaq Lawson as well as Manny Lawson. Buffalo went out and signed Hawthorne and Spikes and both veterans will look to secure a starting role heading into the season. While their best days are clearly behind them, both brought fantasy value at points in their careers and it remains to be seen which one has more gas left in the tank. In the preseason opener, Hawthorne tallied three solo tackles and Spikes had three total stops. Early reports have Zach Brown as the leading candidate to replace Ragland lining up alongside Preston Brown but Hawthorne and Spikes will push him for run-stopping roles. Both may be more of a two-down thumper and will have more value in tackle heavy scoring formats. Training camp and preseason snaps for the two need to be carefully monitored to figure out which player we may want to snag off the waiver wire.
Derrick Shelby, DE, ATLANTA FALCONS
Shelby continues to fly under the radar after signing with the Falcons. Atlanta is desperate for pass rushing help and Shelby will assume a huge role in that facet of the game. There is talk that he will move inside to DT in ‘nickel packages’ and still remain an edge rushing option at other times. Shelby has quietly put up 7 ½ sacks over the past two seasons while playing mainly in a rotational role for the Miami Dolphins. More snaps will lead to more production for a budding IDP force that currently sits outside the top 55 DL ranks.