There are always defensive players that emerge and dominate in a given year. It’s always a great feeling when you’ve hit on them, but at the same time, you know they are going to be over-priced the following year, like
last year. I’ve identified three defensive players that I believe are going to be overdrafted in Individual Defensive Player (IDP) leagues in 2014.
Robert Quinn, DE, St. Louis:
Quinn is coming off an otherworldly season and there’s no doubt he’s a beast. I remember saying that about J.J. Watt last year and
the year before. Quinn dominated opposing offensive linemen en route to compiling 19 sacks and got to the quarterback on nearly 18 percent of his pass rush snaps. So, he was getting a sack, hitting the quarterback or disrupting the play. So, why am I down on him this year?
I wouldn’t say I’m down on him, but I try not to buy on last season’s stats. After posting more than 20 sacks in 2012, Watt followed it up with 10.5 in 2013 and we know how Pierre-Paul’s last few seasons have gone.
even has seen a regression over the last few seasons. It’s extremely difficult to follow up a 20-sack season with similar results, as it’s almost become the 400-touch mark for running backs (comparatively speaking).
Quinn’s value is going to depend on your scoring system, but even in big play formats, I don’t think he’s worthy of being the top IDP off the board.
In tackle-heavy formats (1.5-2 points per solo tackle/1 point per assist; 4 points per sack), Quinn finished with 219 points (31st overall among defenders, just one point better than
In big play formats (1.5 points per solo tackle/1 points per assist; 2 points/tackle for loss; 10 points per safety/4 points per sack), Quinn finished with 244 points (12th overall among defenders; half-point behind Watt).
Would I like to have
anchoring my defensive line? You bet. Do I think he should reach double-digit sacks in 2014? Of course. Am I willing to take him first overall in an all-IDP league or as the first IDP in a mixed league? Nope. The defensive line spot produces erratic scoring, and while Quinn and Watt are in a tier all to themselves, you can draft highly productive linemen in the later rounds (
and Muhammad Wilkerson just to name a few).
Sure, you can argue that linebacker is deeper, but I’d rather draft high-scoring linebackers and acquire defensive linemen who can average near double-digit points to go along with those linebackers.
Robert Mathis, OLB, Indianapolis:
I could’ve gone a few directions here, but I went with Mathis. Mathis is going to be another polarizing figure in IDP leagues. Mathis shattered his previous career-high in sacks (11) by recording 18.5 in 2014. He also forced seven fumbles and was a force behind the line of scrimmage, recording 14 tackles for a loss. He also compiled 50-plus tackles for the first time since 2010.
Mathis is another big play dependent IDP, similar to Clay Matthews. I’m a big fan of Mathis as he is one of the more underrated defensive players, but unfortunately, he plays the IDP unfriendly outside linebacker pass rusher position. If the Indianapolis Colts had remained a 4-3 base scheme, we wouldn’t be having this conversation, as he would’ve remained at defensive end, where he’s achieved similar success.
From a real football standpoint, he’s a phenomenal talent and graded second (barely) among 3-4 outside linebacker according to
Pro Football Focus. Mathis is the master of the strip-sack and is a cog for the Colts defense. From an IDP standpoint, he’s going to be your fourth or fifth linebacker. His value, as I’ve said before, is going to lie within your scoring system.
In tackle-heavy formats (1.5-2 points per solo tackle/1 point per assist; 4 points per sack), Mathis finished with 197 points (35th among linebackers).
In big play formats (1.5 points per solo tackle/1 points per assist; 2 points/tackle for loss; 10 points per safety/4 points per sack), Mathis finished with 230.5 points (15th among linebackers).
There’s a big difference in value between the scoring formats. I give pause to a career at age 32 (just turned 33 in February), so I’m hesitant to buy him in 2014. Again, you’re not drafting last season’s stats, so be careful on overpaying. Any dip in production could severely impact his already limited fantasy value.
Runner-up: Vontaze Burfict, ILB, Cincinnati
Barry Church, SS, Dallas:
Like defensive linemen, I’m hesitant on drafting the previous year’s top scoring defensive back. In 2013, it was Church. Now, Church is being drafted as the top defensive back in 2014, a year removed from being a waiver wire darling in most leagues.
I tweeted this on March 6th to put the defensive back position in perspective from an IDP standpoint:
In fact, they barely make it back in the top 10 among defensive backs. Morgan Burnett was a top 10 defensive back in 2011 and 2012.
Church vaulted into IDP relevance last season and appeared in 1,048 defensive snaps and recorded a ridiculous 135 tackles, good for a 12.9 percent tackle rate and 0.26 fantasy points/snap clip. Church was contributing plenty before the
injury. Pre-injury, Church was averaging just better than seven tackles/game. After Lee’s injury, that vaulted up to nearly 10 tackles/game.
You have to assume that with the return of
and the addition of another linebacker, Church is going to see a drop in tackle opportunities. In the early mocks, Church is being drafted tops at the safety position, ahead of known commodities like Morgan Burnett, Antoine Bethea and Bernard Pollard.
Don’t forget, Tyvon Branch appeared in just two games and Stevie Brown missed the entire season. Like Church, a waiver wire darling can appear at any moment throughout the season that can produce elite stats. There are plenty of candidates this year for that honor, where Duron Harmon leads that list.
I offer a buyer beware on Church in 2014 and let someone else spend the early-round pick on him.
Mike Woellert is a staff writer and part of the Fantasy Sharks IDP Team. For more IDP insight, follow on Twitter @Mike_Woellert