IDP: 7 Players whose Stats Don't Tell the Whole Story
The additional wrinkle IDP brings to fantasy football is something to be cherished. A little additional random luck never hurts since in any given week, a player might get lucky, scoop up a fumble or snag an interception and return it for a touchdown. It's also futile to predict when one of your pass rushing DEs or LBs puts together that four-sack performance. Those huge point swings also inflate a player's value and shouldn't be counted when ranking players in the future. Sure, great players put themselves in position to make big plays, but there's no denying the pure chance of a pick-six or a fumble which falls right into a linebacker's lap.
A big year may also have come at another player's expense, such as an injury. Sometimes the opposite is true when a stubborn coach sticks with an underperforming veteran when there is youth on the team worth developing. Reading between the box scores is easier said than done, but here I attempt to decode the numbers and find some hidden truth which hopefully helps you in the future.
DT Dontari Poe, Kansas City Chiefs
Most fantasy leagues don't require a starting DT, but for those that do, Poe quickly fulfilled on his upside by delivering nine tackles, one assist, one PD, 3.5 sacks and three TFLs in his first two games. That hot start catapulted him to the top of his positional rankings, but by the end of the season, Poe was simply running on fumes. After the Chiefs' Week 10 bye, Poe averaged a paltry 3.83 fantasy points per game to close the season. To be a starting DT in fantasy football, an average of at least six FPs per game is ideal. Instead, the former Memphis star produced more like a DT50. He failed to register a single sack after Week 5. Poe isn't a commodity moving forward.
DE Cameron Heyward, Pittsburgh Steelers
Most 3-4 DEs don't produce fantasy-caliber stats. They're asked to occupy space, handle the occasional double team, seal an inside gap to create a rushing line for a blitzing linebacker, etc. Heyward didn't even start in Pittsburgh's first four games and had just four tackles after Week 7. Up until that point, the son of former NFL great Craig "Ironhead" Heyward (RIP) was a bit of a disappointment, having only contributed on special teams. Heyward finished 2013 on a monumental rise. From Weeks to 9 to 17, Heyward averaged 9.1 fantasy points per game. Only four players bested that total: Robert Quinn, J.J. Watt, Justin Tuck and Rob Ninkovich. Heyward's second-half was something very special and should be thought of as a red-hot sleeper to consider for 2014.
DE J.J. Watt, Houston Texans & DE Robert Quinn, St. Louis Rams
During a dynasty IDP startup draft last summer in a league which included two starting spots for DEs, it was expected that Watt would be the first IDP off the board following his monster 2012 campaign. He ended being selected in the third round, three rounds before Peyton Manning. Hindsight may be 20/20, but was there any reason to expect him to pack the stat sheet in such a dominating fashion yet again? Of course not. Huge big play totals are rarely duplicated by IDPs. For those of us with an active memory, we can recall 2011 and Jason Pierre-Paul's amazing performances. In Weeks 14 & 15 of that year, JPP went nuts with 17 tackles, seven assists, three sacks, one blocked kick, one FF, one safety and 3.5 TFLs. That's a career for some guys yet he did it in two games. His stock went through the roof and consequently, he was overdrafted in 2012. He ended up finishing third in the positional rankings and nearly 100 fantasy points behind Watt. What's the moral of the story? Well, Watt and Quinn both had great 2013s and should be commended for being two of the best defenders in the NFL. There's no reason to reach for them though. Quinn is unblockable and Watt is a manimal. They're both marginally better, statistically, than their position mates.
LB Sean Lee, Dallas Cowboys
Entering 2013, many thought Bruce Carter would emerge as the Cowboys' top IDP since he had shown much promise in '12. Lee was having none of it. Despite missing five games, Lee still led his linebacking crew in fantasy points and his points per game average was just outside the Top 5. He put it all together in Week 4 when he tallied 15 tackles, three assists, one PD, one INT, one INT return TD, 52 INT return yards and a TFL. Depending on your scoring system, he may have nearly eclipsed 35 fantasy points. That's nearly Peyton Manning territory. When healthy, Lee can play at a LB1 level. It's just a matter of him staying on the field. Only take on his risk if you plan on drafting a backup who can start as well.
LB Paul Posluszny, Jacksonville Jaguars
Poz was the model of consistency of all IDPs last season. Even in a game where he only tallied four tackles, he managed a sack and PD to push his point totals in double digits. In fact, while I can only speak for one of my league's scoring systems, the former Penn State star score at least 11.3 fantasy points in every single game. He was the only IDP to score double-digits in every single game. Speaking of the Nittany Lions, the No. 2 LB, NaVorro Bowman, was also from Penn State. So is Sean Lee, who could have challenged for a Top 5 ranking if he injuries didn't derail the second half of his season. PSU is long-known for being LBU and there are currently 10 LBs in the NFL from the school. Poz was the best of them all since the Jags have no other talented defenders to speak of surrounding him.Consistency at IDP is hard to find and as has been explained here previously. It's nearly impossible for a player to replicate a dominant year as offenses adjust their attack away from a defense's best players. But the Jaguars are so starkly miserably, so defiantly terrible, that if they go another season without significantly improving the rest of their starting linebackers, there's really no one else in the front seven to stop Poz from accumulating another 140-plus total tackles.
CB Richard Sherman, Seattle Seahawks
By the very nature of the position, the best cornerback in the league (self-proclaimed or not) is not going to lead his position in fantasy scoring. If a corner is great, his wide reciever won't see as many targets due to excellent coverage and thus, there won't be as many opportunities to score fantasy points. That is precisely the situation for Sherman who "only" managed to finish toward the bottom of the Top 20. To his credit, Sherman snatched eight INTs for the second consecutive year. Such a feat is almost unheard of for cornerbacks in the modern era. He is the first corner to have eight or more INTs in back-to-back seasons since Champ Bailey did it in 2005 (8) and 2006 (10). If you're clueless, and many of you are, you just might draft Sherman now that everybody knows who he is from his many rants and press conferences discussing his rants. Unfortunately, drafting him would be a mistake because he simply does not belong on a fantasy team unless it's a big play league where INTs are gold and tackles mean absolutely nothing.
S Johnathan Cyprien, Jacksonville Jaguars
There are a number of high profile young safeties out there. It seems every season, one or two of them emerge as the next big thing on their team. Over the years, there has been Earl Thomas, Harrison Smith, Kam Chancellor, Morgan Burnett, Mark Barron and even a couple other rookies this year like Eric Reid and Kenny Vaccaro. The most impressive rookie and the one in the most fortunate situation looking ahead has to be Cyprien. As you may have noticed by now, the Jags are bad. When a defense is bad, they are on the field longer and they give up more long plays. Therefore we can assume if it's a big play, it's probably the safety making the tackle. Cyprien finished as a no-brainer DB1 and should be just as highly-touted as Smith was after his excellent rookie campaign with the Vikings. Cyprien will only improve into the future despite the absolute lack of media attention which will come his way. It's already hard enough for a strong safety to make a name for himself, let alone one from Jacksonville from a no-name school. Considering he missed one game, Cyprien could have finished second among all DBs in total tackles.