Top 10 IDP Camp Battles
IDP owners should know that studs quickly can become duds, scheme matters more than talent and players bubble to the surface every single year. Training camp battles separate the meat from bone and instead of stacking your roster with an aging veteran with diminishing skills, you might want to take a shot on that hot, young prospect with the unknown ceiling.
Last season, Indianapolis Colts LB Jerrell Freeman was incredibly productive after everyone swarmed toward Pat Angerer just a year ago. Two seasons ago, Desmond Bishop of the Green Bay Packers was the next big thing at inside linebacker; however, compounding injuries paved the way for ILB Brad Jones (now a consensus Top 25 IDP), while Bishop will have to start fresh in Minnesota. Beyond the established IDP names, keep an eye on these position battles where the emerging starter could find his way onto your fantasy roster.
1. Pittsburgh Steelers OLB: Jarvis Jones & Jason Worilds
First off, the winner of this battle will be a better fit in the immediate short-term in big-play leagues. Both Jones and Worilds were pass-rush specialists in college. Worilds is entering his fourth season out of Virginia Tech and while the Steelers have brought him along slowly, he has very minimal production to show for his progression. He finished 2012 with five sacks and that likely wasn't enough since Pittsburgh went out and drafted Jones, a known speed-rusher coming off the edge. In 2010, Pittsburgh finished first with 48 sacks. In the two following seasons, they failed to crack the Top 14. Jones' youth and edge rush could be the new difference makers in the Steel City.
2. Chicago Bears MLB: Jon Bostic & D.J. Williams
The departure of the truly one-of-a-kind Brian Urlacher swung the door wide open for a new competition. The Bears signed D.J. Williams after Denver cut him loose to save money against the salary cap. Give the Bears credit because by also drafting Jon Bostic, they are positioned well both in the short- and long-term. Williams has a history of injuries throughout his career and wouldn't you know it, he was carted off the field very recently with an apparent calf injury. If Bostic shows some promise, the Bears could be happy to hand over the reins since Williams' contract was filled with performance based incentives and no guaranteed money. If he doesn't play, the Bears don't have to pay and can simply cut him loose with no penalty. Bostic has the early edge given Williams' untimely injury.
3. Baltimore Ravens ILB: Arthur Brown & Daryl Smith & Jameel McClain
Brian Urlacher isn't the only defensive icon to depart from the NFL. Baltimore faces the unenviable task of replacing Ray Lewis. In addition, Baltimore allowed ILB Dannell Ellerbe to depart via free agency to the Miami Dolphins, leaving a gaping hole in the center of their 3-4 defense. Daryl Smith had spent the past nine years plugging running lanes in Jacksonville and will be competing against rookie Arthur Brown and Jameel McClain for two starting spots. McClain's spinal injury a year ago has created an unclear timeline for a return. This may not be a battle at all if McClain misses much of training camp. Brown is considered to be the early favorite to start; however he is coming off a sports hernia surgery which could potentially flare up at any time during training camp. Dynasty owners should certainly covet Brown and he does have some redraft value as well (assuming he firmly establishes a starting gig).
4. New York Giants MLB: Mark Herzlich & Dan Connor
Neither player may end up racking up a ton of tackles for IDP owners, but this position battle is wide open. Connor is on his third team in three years. Meanwhile, Herzlich is the tentative starting MLB in training camp despite only having 30 combined tackles last season. To make matters worse, Connor was arrested early in July for possession of an "offensive weapon" while at the Philadelphia International Airport. Yikes. In 2012, Chase Blackburn (now with the Carolina Panthers) had a decent season manning the middle for the Giants with nearly 100 tackles and three sacks, so their scheme is capable of producing a LB3 or LB4.
5. Minnesota Vikings MLB: Desmond Bishop & Erin Henderson
Jasper Brinkley began 2012 with this job, but his poor coverage skills led to his eventual departure to Arizona. The same fate could find Erin Henderson (was moved over to MLB officially after playing there sporadically on third downs). Bishop could potentially play strong-side linebacker, which would then move Chad Greenway to the weak-side. Minnesota has the freedom to find the best situation given their multiple pieces. Bishop hasn't played a down since 2011 and may be a more natural fit in the middle.