Examining past performance is an important part of determining Individual Defensive Player (IDP) value. However, by looking to the future, and not the past, IDP owners can do some serious damage.
This isn’t to say that it’s easy. For all the research that fantasy “experts” do, a lot of the advice that they offer is essentially an educated guess. It can be even more difficult in the realm of individual defensive players, who can be a very unpredictable lot.
With all that said, though, there are indicators that can be pointed to as signs that an IDP is getting ready for a breakout campaign, be it talent, situation, or the sage advice of the all-knowing Oomfoofoo the Omniscient.
OK, so I
may have made one of those up, but you get the gist.
For each of the players listed here there’s at least one factor that has their IDP value trending in a positive direction, and this quintet of IDPs are all solid candidates for career years in 2013.
Carlos Dunlap, DE, Cincinnati
The Cincinnati Bengals entered the 2013 offseason facing a conundrum, as their talented trio of defensive linemen were all entering contract years. Geno Atkins will be sticking around one way or the other (hello, franchise tag!), which left the team to decide between ends Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson.
The team appears to have made their choice, inking Dunlap to a $40 million extension in July. It’s not hard to see why the Bengals made the choice they did, either. Granted, Johnson had a great season a year ago, but Dunlap is a ridiculously athletic 24-year-old who tallied 40 tackles, six sacks and four forced fumbles in a rotational role in 2012.
Durability is a bit of a concern with Dunlap, who has yet to play in 16 games in his career and who has already been sidelined by a concussion in training camp. However, if the fourth-year pro can stay on the field this year, his first season in a full-time role is apt to produce at least a dozen sacks and a top 10 fantasy finish at his position.
Derrick Morgan, DE, Tennessee
At first glance, Derrick Morgan’s 2012 production doesn’t seem like a lot to write home about. The 59 tackles were nice, but 6.5 sacks and a single forced fumble isn’t eye-popping. Nor was his 20th-place finish in Fantasy Sharks Default IDP Scoring.
However, dig a little deeper and there are signs that point to much bigger things for Morgan in 2013. According to
Pro Football Focus, the fourth-year pro finished in the top 10 in the National Football League in both quarterback hurries (42) and hits (21) in 2012. In other words, Morgan came
close to notching a lot more than 6.5 sacks last year.
Assuming that Morgan is able to convert a few of those near-misses into sacks in 2013, a double-digit sack prediction in 2013 isn’t a stretch. Add that to Morgan’s strong tackle production from a year ago, and you have the recipe for an IDP breakout.