As The NCAA version of March Madness joins the ongoing NFL version with the free agency frenzy and mock draft mania in full swing, we continue looking at some interesting second-year players for 2014.
More precisely, we are examining the defensive side of the ball and the dynasty Individual Defensive Player (IDP) value of the class of 2013. OK, OK. Truth be told there is some redraft evaluation going on here as well. We got it all, folks.
JARVIS JONES, OLB, PITTSBURGH
When it was revealed prior to the draft that Jones had been diagnosed with spinal stenosis, some were worried about career longevity. The Steelers showed no such worries and took him with the 17th overall selection last April.
After racking up 28 sacks during his two years at Georgia, Jones was brought in to replace some of the production lost when Pittsburgh released outside linebacker
(who may return in a backup role for the Steelers). After a preseason chest injury that looked more serious than it turned out to be, Jones would back up outside linebacker
as the 2013 season began.
Following a Week 1 performance that saw him record three tackles for a loss while playing only 26 snaps, Jones would be elevated to a starting role in Week 2. He would be the first rookie to start on a Steelers defense since Kendrell Bell did so back in 2001.
Unfortunately, his performance moving forward would not be up to the task of holding down that starting position. By late October, Jones was relegated to the bench after appearing overwhelmed. He was replaced by Worilds.
Jones would finish his rookie campaign with 41 total tackles and merely one sack. According to
Pro Football Focus, he was the 30th ranked 3-4 outside linebacker out of a possible 42. Furthermore, he rushed the passer a total of 308 times while getting home for just that single sack.
So, it was a bit of an auspicious year one for Jones but not one entirely without merit. He actually performed well against the run, grading out positively according to
Pro Football Focus while also being credited with 25 quarterback hurries.
Owners in redraft leagues that drank the Jones Kool-Aid and selected him as a big play outside linebacker were obviously disappointed while dynasty owners are urged to once again practice patience.
As mentioned earlier, Jones seemed a bit overwhelmed last season and that’s not entirely unexpected with the sometimes-complicated responsibilities heaped on defenders in Pittsburgh. There should be a notable jump in Jones’ game as he grows more accustomed to the defensive scheme and plays a more instinctive game.
Jones has spoken about getting better heading into his sophomore season, “I need to get stronger, I need to get faster, I need to become a better student of the game,” he said. He also added, “There’s a lot of stuff I need to work on.”
The right attitude is in place and there will also be plenty of playing time for Jones in 2014. The Steelers released
(who has subsequently signed with Oakland) and are penciling in Jones as the starting outside linebacker opposite
Jones is in the right place to get better as few teams develop defensive talent as well as Pittsburgh. He’ll bring the same high motor playing style and quickness off the edge that he was noted for coming out of college.
After playing 90 percent of the defensive snaps from Weeks 11-17 (despite missing Week 16 due to illness) Jones gained valuable experience that will pay off moving forward. Look for a pro-active player in Year 2 rather than the reactive outside linebacker we saw in his rookie campaign.
Jones will bring more fantasy value in big-play scoring formats as a possible LB4 with upside and could be selected in standard leagues very late as roster depth with upside.
BARKEVIOUS MINGO, OLB, CLEVELAND
New Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine has a defensive pedigree and that bodes well for Mingo. A Rex Ryan disciple, Pettine will look to implement plenty of the blitz heavy schemes and tactics he learned under Ryan. That also bodes well for Mingo.
Despite posting five sacks while playing 688 snaps in mainly a rotational pass-rushing role, Mingo’s rookie season was mainly an underwhelming one.
Mingo did flash the explosiveness that helped him to record 23.5 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks in his final two seasons at LSU. That being said, he also exhibited the rawness that rookies often do and was invisible for long stretches while also struggling against the run.
There are plans for Mingo to add some muscle weight heading into his second season and that will undoubtedly increase his effectiveness against the run. Pettine and his defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil are still high on Mingo and will scheme to turn him loose on opposing offenses.
As the linebackers coach for the Buffalo Bills last season, O’Neil had the opportunity to meet Mingo during the draft process as Buffalo held the No. 8 overall pick and were considering selecting him. The Browns took him with the sixth pick but O’Neil remained impressed with what he’d seen and remains so.
“Obviously, it didn’t happen (Buffalo drafting Mingo), but I’m a big fan of Mingo. I’m looking forward to working with him,” O’Neil said.
At 6-foot-4, Mingo has the frame to add some weight (he played at around 240 pounds last season) while still maintaining the speed and athleticism off the edge that he was drafted to bring. As with the previously mentioned
, he will also have a year of NFL experience under his belt to draw upon.
Mingo’s five sacks would actually have him finish second on the Browns to converted defensive end
5.5 as the team would finish with 40 total. By contrast, the Buffalo defense would rack up 57 sacks under the direction of Pettine, who has already stated that he will call the defensive plays this season in Cleveland.
Look no further than reclamation project outside linebacker
and the season that he had last year in Buffalo to garner some enthusiasm for Mingo’s future. After putting up five total sacks during his first three seasons for Indianapolis, Hughes would post 10 sacks, 46 total tackles and two forced fumbles last season.
While the position he plays and the nature of his duties (getting after the quarterback like a wild dog) will always hinder his tackle numbers, the future is bright for Mingo. He’ll be playing for an aggressive coach that will scheme to free him up to make big plays and wreak havoc in the backfield.
Look for Mingo to be more valuable in big-play scoring leagues but he’ll bring enough production to also be drafted in standard scoring leagues. He could reach high-end LB3 when all is said and done in 2014 and remains a solid dynasty IDP option.
So the third edition of the “Dynasty Dime Package” comes to an end. Picking up on a pattern yet? Yes, again I mention patience, my friends.
Although, in the case of Jones and Mingo, an owner also needs to know his/her scoring system very well. They will both be much improved but are much more valuable in big-play scoring formats, as their roles will limit tackle production.
As always, keep it tuned to Fantasy Sharks as myself and the entire staff brings you all the fantasy information and advice you need to dominate your league!