Welcome to another edition of the Dynasty Dime Package as we look at more second-year Individual Defensive Player (IDP) prospects and what the future may hold for them from a fantasy standpoint.
There is an air of electricity as free agency has opened (officially) and teams are enjoying the unexpected extra cap space to raid the market. ‘Dream teams’ are being put together piece by expensive piece.
Of course, that doesn’t always translate into success on the field. Just ask the Philadelphia Eagles of a couple years ago. Sorry, it was just too easy, Eagles fans.
What does translate into IDP dynasty fantasy success is hitting it big with early-round selections (hey, I believe that works in the NFL, too) and having the patience to ride out a rocky beginning to a young man’s career.
The two names that we will look at are prime examples of player’s that were expected to fire out of the gate and be fantasy relevant immediately. Well, according to an aptitude test I took in ninth grade, I was supposed to be a doctor.
Hey, it happens. Let’s get to it…
Arthur Brown, ILB, Baltimore
I’m guessing that just reading this young man’s name has the blood of many an IDP owner boiling. There was no more hyped IDP rookie prospect than the second-round selection out of Kansas State (via the University of Miami) heading into the 2013 season.
The stars were aligned for Brown to have an excellent season and to possibly vie for Defensive Rookie of the Year while posting great fantasy numbers. Ray Lewis had just retired and it appeared that Brown would step right into a starting inside linebacker position for Baltimore after racking up more than 200 tackles during his final two years in college.
It also appeared at one time that the world was flat. Not as flat as the rookie season that Brown would have as it turns out. After being drafted in the top 10 of many redraft and dynasty leagues, Brown would finish the year with 15 total tackles. Yes, you read that right – 15 total tackles.
Brown was relegated to purely a reserve role and ended the season having played only 211 snaps. His best game came in Week 14 when he put up three solo tackles and forced a fumble in a win against Minnesota. He forced an Adrian Peterson fumble but the ball went out of bounds. In that game, Brown played 11 snaps. Yeah, redraft owners had given up on him way before that (and should have) while dynasty owners were cursing every ‘expert’ who had predicted high-level production for Brown (yes, my hand is up).
To be fair, there was probably too much expected of Brown especially after Baltimore signed former Jacksonville Jaguar Daryl Smith to also play inside linebacker. Further hampering Brown’s progression was the sports hernia surgery he underwent in the offseason. He would be forced to sit out some organized team activities (OTAs) and although he participated in training camp, it’s likely he was not 100 percent.
The Ravens chose the safe and sound route of going with the combination of the more experienced Josh Bynes and Jameel McClain lining up next to the veteran Smith at inside linebacker. The two combined to play 841 snaps but failed to impress, putting up 97 total tackles and a single forced fumble between them.
As bleak and disappointing as his rookie season was, there is still cause for optimism heading forward. We come here not to bury Brown, but to praise him.
As stated many times before, patience is key in dynasty formats and the savvy owner who took Brown suffered through the growing pains last year with their eye on the future. Those who did will be rewarded and those who decided to drop or trade him for less than equal value will rue the day they did so.
I’ve often stated that there are no bigger grudge holders than fantasy football owners but there is no place for that in dynasty formats. It’s a marathon not a sprint, and owners need to reel in their need for instant gratification.
It’s vital to keep in mind that Brown still possesses the attributes as a player that had folks salivating prior to last season and the Ravens are looking for him to assume a starting role in 2014.
It’s expected that Baltimore will do its best to resign Daryl Williams (he led the team with 123 total tackles) and the wheels are already in motion to have Brown line up next to him. Jameel McClain has been released and incumbents Josh Bynes and Albert McClellan are expected to assume reserve/special team roles.
Brown is an instinctive player who has shown the ability to take on blockers and is a sure tackler. He’s got sideline-to-sideline speed that allows him to be solid in pass coverage as well as the quickness to shoot gaps and be used in blitz packages.
It may be a year later than expected but Brown will prove worth the wait as he puts up at least the tackle numbers that McClain and Bynes did while also bringing big play potential. Look for solid LB2 numbers with upside in 2014 for Brown.
Dee Milliner, CB, New York Jets
When New York took Milliner with the ninth overall selection in the draft, IDP owners in both redraft and dynasty formats immediately began thinking of the ‘rookie corner rule.’ After racking up 136 total tackles and six interceptions during his three years at Alabama, he was the first defensive back off the board.
With Darrelle Revis no longer a part of the Jets secondary, Milliner would be slotted to step right in as a starter opposite Antonio Cromartie. With Cromartie coming off one of his best seasons in 2012, offenses would be certain to test the rookie. Let the fantasy points start rolling in!
Well, offenses attacked Milliner early and often but it did not lead to the fantasy bounty many had counted on. Instead, it led to New York benching the rookie multiple times in favor of third-year undrafted free agent Darrin Walls. Apparently, the Jets were less enamored with the ‘rookie corner rule’ and more concerned with the consistently lax coverage that Milliner was playing.
Too often, receivers were getting behind Milliner as Miami’s Mike Wallace did in Week 13 for a 28-yard score or simply catching everything thrown into his coverage as Cincinnati’s Marvin Jones did in Week 9 with three grabs for 84 yards and a touchdown.
For the season, Milliner graded out as the 66th ranked cornerback according to
Pro Football Focus while allowing 14.5 yards per reception and seven touchdowns. He finished his first season as the 36th-highest scoring cornerback using the Fantasy Sharks Default IDP scoring.
That’s not to say the ‘rookie corner rule’ failed by any means, as fellow first-round selection, cornerback Desmond Trufant (22nd overall by the Atlanta Falcons), finished his rookie campaign grading out as the seventh-best cornerback according to
Pro Football Focus and the 16th-highest cornerback using the Fantasy Sharks Default IDP scoring.
The opportunities were there out of the gate for Milliner to match Trufant’s production (if not surpass it) but he struggled with a preseason shoulder injury as well as hamstring issues during the year. Being pulled from games certainly didn’t help his cause either.
Demonstrating a trait that has been the mark of elite secondary players throughout the years, Milliner would exhibit the ability to put his early-season struggles behind him and finish the season strong. He was named the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month for December.
In the Jets’ Week 16 and 17 victories over Cleveland and Miami, Milliner posted a combined 13 tackles (12 solos), 10 passes defended and three interceptions.
He was particularly impressive when called upon to cover white-hot Cleveland receiver Josh Gordon. Gordon was thrown to 12 times while Milliner covered him and was held to five receptions for 73 yards and no TDs.
Milliner’s Week 17 matchup against Miami would give him the chance at redemption as he’d get to cover Mike Wallace, who had abused him earlier in the season for a score, leading to a benching. This time around Milliner held Wallace to 29 yards receiving on four receptions (one for a score) while intercepting two passes.
Heading into the 2014 season, Milliner will be entrenched once again as a starting cornerback for the Jets. Who will be lining up opposite him is a bit unclear as New York did as expected and released Cromartie, saving $9.5 million in salary cap space by doing so.
One thing that can be counted on whether Cromartie returns with a restructured deal (not likely) or someone else lines up opposite Milliner, is that teams will continue to attack New York via the pass. Last season New York was third in the league against the run and 22nd against the pass. You get the picture.
After seeming overmatched for most of the season, the light seemed to click on for Milliner late and he looked to be utilizing the natural speed and instincts he had displayed in college. Moving forward, he should only get better and produce at a much higher pace fantasy wise.
The cornerback position is difficult to pin down on a year-to-year basis, as there seems to be more fluctuation here than at any other IDP position. It’s the reason I often advise owners to wait as long as possible before drafting from that pool of players.
It’s also what I like to refer to as the hamster of all IDP positions (the disposable pet) as there is always one or two on the waiver wire who can contribute each week.
Landing a high-end cornerback in dynasty drafts is a coup because it eliminates the need to deal with that same dilemma for at least the next season.
Dynasty owners who snagged and held on to Milliner in leagues that differentiate between the secondary positions could have a top-5 cornerback on their hands heading into 2014. In standard scoring formats Milliner could also finish as high as the top 20 in overall defensive back scoring.
As we continue to look at second-year IDP players and their dynasty value moving forward, make sure to keep coming back to Fantasy Sharks for all your IDP fantasy information.
My IDP loving colleagues Gary Davenport (@IDPManor) and Mike Woellert (@Mike_Woellert) are breaking down this year’s rookie class and their IDP potential here at Fantasy Sharks as well as at IDP Manor.
The entire Fantasy Sharks staff will bring you the latest fantasy ramifications of this wild and crazy free agency frenzy. Now, let’s all sit back and watch that money fly around!