When next we see an NFL game, it’s going to count.
Thursday’s thrilling slate of games featuring guys who will more likely than not be delivering pizzas in a month closed out the 2018 preseason. By this point most position battles have been settled. Depth charts are set. Next time, it’s go time.
For some individual defensive players, the past month was a coming-out party. Whether it was a young player showing off just how immense his potential really is or a veteran who appeared to turn back the clock, some IDPs shined.
Others fell flat. Players who were once thought locks to start are now glued to the bench. A few may even find themselves looking for work when final cuts come down.
With one more big weekend of fantasy drafts on top before the Atlanta Falcons and Philadelphia Eagles kick off the season next week, knowing which players are trending in what direction can afford savvy IDP owners a nice little edge.
With that in mind, here’s a look at a dozen players who have seen their value either rise or fall over the past several weeks.
UP THE LADDER
Myles Garrett – DE, Cleveland Browns
Chris Simms of Bleacher Report has been very impressed with Garrett this preseason. So much so, in fact, that he predicted Garrett will be the 2018 Defensive Player of the Year. “He’s the most impressive rusher that I have seen so far in the first two weeks of preseason,” Simms said. “He is a specimen. If he played the whole game against the starters last week against Nate Solder and the Giants, I have no doubt that he would have had three sacks in the game. If he played the whole game last weekend against the Buffalo Bills, he would have had three more sacks.”
In his most extensive playing time of the exhibition season against the Philadelphia Eagles, Garrett didn’t notch three sacks – he only had two. Simply put, he has looked like an unblockable force of nature in his second season. If Garrett stays healthy, he could be set for an absolutely monstrous year.
Robert Quinn – DE, Miami Dolphins
After watching Quinn consistently shine in his first offseason in Miami, head coach Adam Gase made it clear to Andy Cohen of the team’s website that he’s glad and then some the Dolphins traded for Quinn back in March. “I know this, I’m really glad we made that trade,” said Gase. “When you play quarterback, you can just feel him coming all the time. He’s disruptive. It’s just consistent.”
Quinn piled up three sacks over his first three preseason games, looking very much like the elite edge-rusher who racked up 40 sacks from 2012 to 2014 with the Los Angeles Rams. Defensive linemen with top-10 upside who are available as IDP DL2 don’t grow on trees.
Quinn is just such a lineman in 2018.
Matt Milano – OLB, Buffalo Bills
Per Sal Maiorana of the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, teammate Lorenzo Alexander has been impressed by Milano’s development in his second NFL season. “Matt is a guy, the more confidence he has the better he plays and that’s why the classroom is so important,” Alexander said. “He has a great understanding of what’s going on and knows the calls, the checks, knows where he has to be at, and he’s going to fly around and make a lot of plays with his athleticism.”
Milano is the winner of the camp battle with Ramon Humber to start on the weak side in Buffalo. Better still, he’s staying on the field on passing downs. While the other fantasy owners in your IDP league are tripping over one another to grab rookie Tremaine Edmunds, you can grab the other three-down linebacker in Buffalo for relative pennies by comparison.
Kyzir White – OLB, Los Angeles Chargers
A converted safety from West Virginia, White has wasted no time making an impression on the Chargers’ staff – including head coach Anthony Lynn. “It’s hard for me to talk about Kyzir because I get real excited,” Lynn told reporters, via Chris Anderson of 247 Sports. “So I don’t want to jump the gun. I want to get him in some games and watch him play. But just watching him out here running around, and the things he did this offseason, I get real excited talking about him.”
In the Chargers “dress rehearsal” preseason game with the Saints, it was White (and not Jatavis Brown) who started at WILL for Los Angeles. Not only did he stay on the field in the nickel, but White was the Chargers’ dime linebacker as well. As if that wasn’t enough reason to be intrigued, White even has positional eligibility as a defensive back with some IDP providers.
Hasean Clinton-Dix, S, Green Bay Packers
Clinton-Dix is being counted on as one of the leaders of a young Green Bay secondary in 2018. According to ESPN’s Rob Demovsky, the 25-year-old feels up to the task. “The sky’s the limit,” Clinton-Dix said. “Super excited. I’ve got a great opportunity in front of me to lead this secondary, pick up where I left off. I’m excited for that.”
In addition to all the new faces on the back end of Green Bay’s defense, a new role has evidenced for Clinton-Dix in the preseason—a role where he’s spending more time close to the line of scrimmage. If that holds into the regular season it shouldn’t be too hard for Clinton-Dix to post the second 100-tackle season of his NFL career.
Clayton Geathers – S, Indianapolis Colts
The Colts finally got Geathers and Malik Hooker back into game action in the team’s dress rehearsal, but now that they’re back defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus told the Associated Press he expects they will start making plays in short order. “They have what we talked about, the instincts and the strike and the speed and all those things, and the quickness,” new defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus said. “And those guys, as they get playing with the system and with other guys in the unit, we should see them blossom. We should see them really take off and see them make really impactful plays that will change the game for our team.”
Geathers injury history is extensive – there’s no guarantee he’s going to be able to stay in the starting lineup long-term. But so long as he’s the starting strong safety for a suspect Colts defense playing behind arguably the weakest cadre of linebackers in the league, the tackle opportunities are going to be there. He’s an outstanding value target late in the secondary.