If you look at several sets of Individual Defensive Player (IDP) rankings compiled by fantasy “experts,” one of the first things that leaps out at you is the significant variation from one list to the next, much more so than you’ll usually find in rankings for offensive players. This can reflect differences in the scoring used as a default in generating the rankings (which hammers home the all-important IDP draft rule of knowing the scoring in your league and how it affects player values), a difference in philosophy from ranker to ranker, or even the personal preferences or biases of a particular ranker. For example, I hate Quintin Mikell, as he has been conspiring to destroy my IDP teams since I started playing in this format. I’m on to you Quintin, and you will not succeed.
Rankings also change a great deal as they’re updated and injuries, depth chart changes, and schematic changes or tweaks wreak havoc on individual defensive player values. Nowhere was this more evident than in this truncated NFL offseason, as the rankings that were cranked out before the lockout ended have been eviscerated by the innumerable player moves that have occurred since the NFL light bulb finally came on.
With the help of FantasySharks’ resident IDP mastermind, the honored and esteemed James Elvins (figured it might be nice to involve one person who had an idea what he was talking about), let’s take a deeper look at a few players whose IDP values seem to be up for debate, whether it’s due to a change in role, health or just the fact that fantasy football pundits can be a contrary bunch. With that, let’s start the IDP Showdown!
Paul Posluszny, LB, Jacksonville
You know what, I’m actually liking Posluszny to challenge for No. 2 overall IDP this year (Carolina’s Jon Beason at No. 1 for me – that defensive line is gosh awful. I know some people don’t like him for moving away from the Buffalo Bills value wise, but I don’t think his value is affected in this change. I think it’s improved as you have two franchises at different stages of their rebuilding.
Buffalo have been consistently working on their defensive line for the past three years. Look at their draft picks. Jacksonville has only just come into the light in that respect. They will be starting two rookie defensive tackles. Their big offseason free eagent acquisition on the line (Ron Edwards from Kansas City) has already gone on Injured Reserve. Their former first-round defensive end (Derrick Harvey) has been cut and they have an oft-injured lineman as one of their premier pass-rushers (Aaron Kampman).
Honestly, that’s a pretty mediocre line at best, which makes for pretty good IDP production not just for Posluszny, but for everyone that will have to pick up the pieces behind it.
I look at Buffalo with Marcell Dareus, Kyle Williams and Dwan Edwards, with players like Torrell Troup, Alex Carrington and man-mountain Michael Jasper behind them and I’m thinking, “You know what? That line has the makings of being a good solid foundation moving forward.” I look at Jacksonville and I don’t see that at all.
Terrance Knighton is badly overweight and out of shape, but can play to a decent standard. Tyson Alualu played hurt for much of last season so it’s hard to know what to expect out of him this year. I like the kid, but he’s shouldering a lot of responsibility. Kampman could go down at any time at all on the end and Matt Roth is coming off a season at outside linebacker in Cleveland.
Anyone downgrading Poz because of the move hasn’t accounted for the improvement in Buffalo and regression in Jacksonville. It’s “status quo” in terms of his value – no move, no change.
Jacksonville ranked 22nd in run defense last year, Buffalo 31st. I see them switching places this year and Posluszny owners should be deliriously happy, provided he can stay healthy again. With 151 tackles in 14 games last season and an 8.8 tackle per game career average, you might be happy enough either way.
I’m going to have to disagree with Mr. Elvins on this one, as I believe there are a number of reasons to believe that Posluszny might be in for a dip in IDP production in 2011. First, the Bills’ defense faced a well-above average number of tackle opportunities in 2011, and while I agree that the Jaguars’ defense isn’t going to make anyone soil themselves I’d expect the tackle opportunities Pozluszny sees to decrease this season.
Second, Buffalo’s scorekeepers awarded assists on a ridiculous 32 percent of plays a year ago, while Jacksonville’s stat crew wasn’t nearly as generous, making a drop in Posluszny’s assist numbers (he had 48 in 2010) probable. Finally, the linebackers surrounding Posluszny in Buffalo weren’t as talented as the corps he joins in Jacksonville, and I expect the likes of Daryl Smith and Clint Session to generate considerably more competition for tackles than his teammates with the Bills did.
This is not to say that I’m “down” on Posluszny’s IDP prospects for 2011, as I still expect him to finish safely in LB1 territory, but I think that fantasy owners that draft Posluszny looking for a repeat of his 150-plus tackle 2010 campaign are apt to end up disappointed, and he’s dropped to near the bottom of my Top 10 fantasy linebackers for 2011.