Three weeks from today everything shifts to the evaluation of this year’s draft and what grades each team should receive. While it is too early to accurately grade any draft the day after its completion, it has always been done that way and, to the benefit of no one, will be done that way again.
In the meantime, we’ll continue to evaluate the Individual Defensive Player (IDP) ramifications of free agency 2013 as it unfolds, and this week take a gander at the NFC North. Once a division dominated by intimidating defenses, the former “Black and Blue Division” potentially boasts three of the more proficient passing attacks heading into 2013.
While Aaron Rodgers, Matt Stafford and Jay Cutler figure to air it out plenty next season, the division has had more than its share of intriguing defensive free agency action.
It’s interesting to note that while Detroit and Chicago have been restocking and retooling thus far in free agency, the two teams that made the playoffs in 2012, Minnesota and Green Bay, have been very quiet.
The Lions made the most of their scheduled visits as they landed former Houston free safety Glover Quin and Seattle defensive lineman Jason Jones. Both players will have an immediate chance to contribute as they fill positions of need on the Detroit defense.
Lions head coach Jim Schwartz is familiar with Jones from their time together in Tennessee, and look for Detroit to utilize the 6-foot-5, 276-pound lineman at both end and tackle. He has 19 career sacks and has shown the ability to bring pressure from both the edge as well as from the interior when healthy. It’s the staying healthy part of the equation that has held Jones back from reaching the potential he flashed early in his career.
Detroit must hope that the reunion with Schwartz will rejuvenate Jones and he will help to pick up some of the sacks and tackles that they lost with the departure of Kyle Vanden Bosch, Cliff Avril and Sammie Hill. For fantasy purposes, Jones is an interesting name to keep in mind as a player that can put up surprisingly good numbers providing he stays healthy. Jones is not worth drafting in IDP leagues but does warrant keeping an eye on in leagues that require the defensive tackle position as a waiver wire option.
Quin will step right in as the starting strong safety in Detroit alongside the returning Louis Delmas, who is slated to play free safety as of now. Wherever Quin ends up in the Lions secondary, fantasy owners can count on him to put up nice fantasy numbers. The former cornerback is capable in coverage and more than solid against the run. He’s versatile and can play both safety positions and will see plenty of tackle opportunities in Detroit.
Look for Quin to at least match the 78 total tackles he’s averaged in his four NFL campaigns as well as add an interception or two in 2013. He’s a solid DB3 with DB2 upside.
Former Jacksonville defensive tackle C.J. Mosley has also been signed on the heels of a career-high 45 total tackle performance in 2012 while adding 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble. He’ll provide solid defensive line depth and have a rotational role for the Lions holding decent fantasy value in leagues that require the defensive tackle position. Mosley is a DT2 with upside if he can approach the 600 or so snaps he played last year in Jacksonville.
The Bears have been busy on the defensive side of the ball in free agency as they look to replace icon Brian Urlacher on their defense. They have brought in veteran fantasy producers in middle linebacker D.J. Williams, formerly of the Denver Broncos, and SLB, James Anderson, from Carolina.
Williams is slated to step into the middle linebacker position, and, if he can manage to avoid his third suspension in a calendar year, offers excellent fantasy value. When he plays, he produces as his 826 total tackles, 21 sacks and 12 career forced fumbles can attest. He is a solid LB2 with upside as a versatile linebacker that racks up tackles in bunches as well as offers big play potential.
Anderson found himself the odd man out in Carolina and was released in a cap-cutting move by the Panthers as they make room for the return of a healthy Jon Beason. After seeing his snap count drop to only 521 last season after averaging 1,055 during the 2010-11 seasons, Anderson managed only 73 total tackles. In the previous two years, he averaged more than 137 combined tackles and added 5.5 sacks, three interceptions and two forced fumbles.
Anderson is a better fantasy linebacker than actual NFL player and annually grades out as weak against the run according to
Pro Football Focus but racks up very nice fantasy totals. Or at least he did in Carolina.
As the SLB for Chicago playing alongside fellow new addition (I so badly want to drop a Bobbie Brown joke here), Williams and Lance Briggs, it’s doubtful that Anderson will even surpass 90 total tackles. He’ll represent low-end LB3 value but is a name I would consider adding late in IDP drafts as somehow when he plays Anderson racks up big tackle numbers.
The Bears signed former Indianapolis and Baltimore safety Tom Zbikowski, and, as an avid boxing fan I will always have a special place in my heart for Zbikowski (he’s 4-0 as a pro fighter). What I won’t have is a spot for him on my IDP fantasy teams. He’ll be depth behind starters Major Wright and Chris Conte while playing special teams. No fantasy value.
Chicago has also signed the much-traveled defensive end Turk McBride to help solidify its deefnsive line. After a two-year stint in Detroit from 2009-11 during which he amassed 60 total tackles, 6.5 sacks and three forced fumbles, things were looking up for McBride.
Flash forward to today and he’s coming off of a miserable couple of seasons in New Orleans where he managed to play only 15 games and total 10 combined tackles and two sacks. He’ll be nothing more than a rotational piece of the Bears defensive line and a non-factor in fantasy circles.