It’s the final week of the 2011 National Football League regular season, which means that the vast majority of Individual Defensive Player (IDP) leagues have wrapped up for the year, with congratulations being in order for all those prescient fantasy owners that guided their teams in a successful quest for IDP glory this year.
It’s never too early to start looking ahead to 2012, so in the final edition of IDP Waiver Wire for 2011 we’re going to take a look at some young IDP “flier” types, players who, for whatever reason, could be in for the sort of uptick in fantasy value next season that makes them worth a look as a pre-emptive add in IDP Dynasty leagues for teams that have the roster space.
Brandon Graham, DE, Philadelphia:
A serious knee injury caused Graham to begin the season on the Physically Unable to Perform list this year and limited the second-year pro to only three games played, in which the former Michigan standout recorded all of four tackles for the season. However, the former first-round pick is undoubtedly a talented player. Although Graham is mired behind Trent Cole and Jason Babin on the depth chart at defensive end for the Eagles, given how much Philadelphia likes to rotate its defensive linemen Graham should see plenty of opportunities for production if he returns fully healthy in 2012.
Lawrence Jackson, DE, Detroit:
The fourth-year pro was fairly productive as the third defensive end in the Motor City this season, tallying 23 tackles and 4.5 sacks in 10 games so far this year. Starter Kyle Vanden Bosch is 33 years old and defensive end Cliff Avril is a free agent, so there’s a very real possibility we could be seeing a lot more of Jackson on the field next season.
Bruce Carter, LB, Dallas:
A torn ACL suffered last year at North Carolina dropped Carter into the second round of last April’s NFL Draft and got him a spot on the Physically Unable to Perform list to begin the 2011 season. Even after being activated Carter played sparingly, logging only six total stops on the season. Given a full offseason, a healthy Carter should have a very good chance of earning a starting spot next season, and the youngster has loads of upside if he’s given the opportunity to showcase his considerable talents.
Nate Irving, LB, Denver:
After the NFL Draft it appeared that the Denver Broncos’ third-round pick may have had the easiest road to a starting spot of all the rookie linebackers, but the truncated offseason caused by the lockout stole any chance the former North Carolina State standout had of winning the job, and Irving spent the season planted firmly on the bench. Irving will be afforded a much better chance of unseating journeyman Joe Mays as the starter at middle linebacker for the Broncos in 2012, and given that I’m confident he’ll win the job, Irving is a very interesting prospect for next year.
Chris Prosniski, S, Jacksonville:
The Jaguars’ fourth-round selection in the 2011 NFL Draft, Prosniski spent a good deal of the season stuck on the bench only to see a thumb injury end his season after his first career start. Assuming that Prosniski is fine entering training camp he’s the leading candidate to start next to Dawan Landry at the back end of the Jaguars’ secondary next season, and sometimes defensive backs on bad teams can make for sneaky IDP adds if only because of the abuse that’s regularly heaped upon them.
T.J. Ward, SS, Cleveland:
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Ward went from a Top 10 fantasy defensive back in 2010 to a high draft pick in IDP drafts over the summer to a nightmare of a 2011 campaign that was somewhat mercifully cut short by a foot injury. Ward was almost certainly cut loose in many IDP leagues, and while picking him up involves more than a bit of hopeful speculation he has shown to be capable of monster production in the past, and that alone may be worth a flier if you’ve got the roster space.