The 2012 fantasy football campaign has come and gone, and as is usually the case there were as many players that defied expectations as those that lived up to them. That was especially true in the wacky and often unpredictable world of Individual Defensive Players. Whether it was good or bad, many IDPs left us scratching our heads and wondering where their 2012 numbers came from.
It’s vitally important in IDP leagues that you don’t read too much into the past (even if it just happened), but it’s just as important that you glean what information you can from it before moving on to the future, so with that in mind let’s try to straddle that line by looking at some of the most pleasant (and not-so-pleasant) IDP surprises of the 2012 season.
I Knew It All Along!!!
J.J. Watt – DE, Houston Texans: After finishing the 2011 season strong many IDP experts predicted that Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt would take the mythical “next step” in his second NFL season, but no one thought that step would involve Watt jackstomping his way through the NFL.
Watt’s 81-tackle, 20.5 sack explosion in 2012 not only netted him the best IDP season by a defensive lineman by a huge margin, but Watt was the top IDP overall in Default IDP Manor Scoring, and while that sort of ridiculous production may not be easy to duplicate next year Watt has gone from upside pick to bona fide stud.
Geno Atkins – DT, Cincinnati Bengals: Defensive tackles are notoriously unpredictable for IDP purposes, but after finishing third at his position in 2011 there was room for some optimism where Geno Atkins of the Cincinnati Bengals was concerned entering this season.
Atkins lived up to that hype and then some in 2012, racking up career highs across the board, finishing sixth in the NFL with 12.5 sacks, and not only finishing the year as fantasy football’s top defensive tackle but also posting top five numbers among all defensive linemen.
Luke Kuechly – MLB, Carolina Panthers: It may not seem entirely fair to label Luke Kuechly of the Carolina Panthers a “surprise” given that he was the first rookie taken in most IDP drafts last summer, but after Kuechly opened the season as a part-time weak side linebacker many fantasy owners likely thought they’d drafted a dud.
Then middle linebacker Jon Beason got hurt, Kuechly flipped to the MIKE position where he belongs and by season’s end, all the youngster had done was lead the NFL in tackles with 164 and finish as fantasy’s third-ranked linebacker.
Jo-Lonn Dunbar – OLB, St. Louis Rams: Entering 2012, St. Louis Rams linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar was a four-year NFL veteran who had never topped 80 tackles in a season but he was possibly worth a late-round pick given his new role as the every-down weak side linebacker in the Gateway City.
By the end of the year, however, Dunbar had shattered his career highs across the board, topped 10 tackles in a game five times, and that end of the draft flier had become a weekly starter who finished inside the top 20 at his position.
Reshad Jones – FS, Miami Dolphins: Miami Dolphins free safety Reshad Jones is the 2012 poster child for why you should wait to draft defensive backs in IDP leagues, as the third-year pro likely began the season on the waiver wire in most leagues.
Jones certainly didn’t end the season there, however, as a torrid second half to the season propelled Jones to a career-high 95 tackles, which coupled with his two forced fumbles, four interceptions and a sack was enough to rank Jones sixth among IDP defensive backs for the year.