IDP Corner: 2017 Free Agency
What a whirlwind this year’s free agency period has been and for IDP lovers like you and I, it has been busy right from the start! Right away defensive players were getting picked off early, mostly by Jacksonville. Then to top off a wild free agency, you had Zach Brown, who is arguably the biggest name available in this year’s linebacker group, take his blessed time (3 weeks to be exact) to make up his mind. It was going to be between Oakland or Miami for a solid week and then poof out of nowhere it’s the Redskins who swoop in and sign him. It has been a whirlwind but not to worry that is why I am here to help break it all down for you!
Below we explore the major defensive signings (and Margus Hunt):
Nick Fairley – re-signed NO
Coming off of his best statistical year, Fairley seems to have found his groove this past season and New Orleans feels like the best landing spot for him as they will be keeping the line scheme pretty similar. I expect a slight fall off in production this season but the opportunity for Fairley to reproduce 2016’s production is extremely high.
Calais Campbell – JAC
Jacksonville has spent some money this offseason and the talent that will be on the defensive side of the ball is going to be rather respectable. Campbell saw a slight drop off last year but moving to Jacksonville could result in the most sacks of his career this upcoming season because it appears that he’ll get more time on the outside of the line. Tackles will be hard to predict week in and week out given the number of talented players on this defense but if the offense has similar troubles as it did last year, then there could be plenty of chances to rack up tackles in 2017.
Jabaal Sheard – IND
It looks like the Colts may move Sheard to outside Linebacker, which seems par for the course for how the Indy defense has gone over the past couple of seasons. Sheard showed flashes of talent but lost his starting spot in New England last year for reasons unexplained. You mix that with the lack of organization in the squad he’s joining and it could mean he will either do nothing for 2 weeks and then explode for 3 or vice versa. The point is I won’t be trusting his production this year.
Margus Hunt – IND
The only reason I bring up Hunt is because of my man crush on him. This move shouldn’t make things any worse for his limited production, he may even see an increase, but no sane person should be drafting Hunt in any standard format and or roster size.
Karlos Dansby – ARI
With Campbell gone, the Linebackers in Arizona should see plenty of work. Dansby is moving into a more talented linebacking group and will be playing more of a role player type job. Let someone else draft him much higher than he is worth, otherwise grab him in the late, late rounds of your draft.
Malcolm Smith – SF
San Francisco can support two productive Linebackers and Navorro Bowman needs basically a perfect recovery to be ready for week 1 after tearing his achilles last season. Overall, I feel like there is a chance for a slight growth in production over his time at Oakland.
Lawrence Timmons – MIA
Kiko Alonso is the MLB in MIA’s 4-3 defense, so either Miami is going to be shaking things up a bit or they just paid $11 mil for a backup middle linebacker. Best case scenario here is if Alonso moves to the outside or Miami changes to a 3-4 defense. No matter what Miami is going to make room for Timmons and overall I think his fantasy value stays as high as it formerly was in Pittsburgh last season.
Paul Worrilow – DET
After 3 great seasons, last year was a considerable flop for Worrilow in Atlanta. The new scenery of Detroit and being allowed to fight for a starting job should reignite the spark we saw back previous to last season. Many fantasy players and analysts have written him off, so I’ll be targeting him as the last linebacker I grab.
Zach Brown – WAS
After producing elite numbers for the first half of the season last year, Brown along with the rest of the Bills fell off. He did continue to produce great numbers and should have been a top 5 LB in any normal type of scoring IDP league. The fantasy result here are a big question, Brown is only 27 so he should be able to continue to produce but the issue is that Will Compton and Mason Foster are both very good at their job as well. In the end, I think this will drop all three players’ value, barring injuries, which we here at the Gurus have discussed ad nauseum that one cannot predict injuries, so you must draft as teams are drawn up.
A.J. Bouye – JAC
As I outlined before Jacksonville went on a shopping spree this offseason (queue montage with “Walking on Sunshine” playing) and they added talented players at every level of their defense. Expect for Bouye’s passes defended numbers to hold or even go up, his tackles shouldn’t suffer too much either, as he is not a tackle monster, to begin with.
Logan Ryan – TEN
I expect Ryan to continue doing what he does. Jason McCourty is one of the few players in the league who is as good if not better than Malcolm Butler, so if anything Ryan could see a production increase due to teams going away from McCourty. Tennessee also did nothing to help their linebackers and linemen during free agency so the secondary should continue to be the ones who produce.
Marcus Cooper – CHI
After starting 13 games last season Cooper got PAID for his body of work. He will likely be the 3rd or 4th Corner for the Bears, which means I won’t be trying to get him on my team before the start of the season. Though keep an eye out for when Prince Amukamara eventually gets hurt.
Prince Amukamara – CHI
Speaking of which, Amukamara is talented but he has only played one full season of the six-year NFL career. I would not acquire him for a starting fantasy spot, but maybe for back up, he could be on my team.
Stephon Gilmore – NE
As a New Englander, it is beyond rare to see The Patriots pay for top tier talent, especially at a top tier price. Gilmore will be expected to step into Logan Ryan’s shoes and should do so just fine. Gilmore only missed one game last year (the least since his rookie year, no games missed), leading to 5 INTs. If he can stay healthy he should continue to produce and be a great defense back option in ’17.
Antoine Bethea – ARI
There will be more mouths to feed on the Arizona defense than the buffet of available tackles in San Francisco. Do not chase last year’s stats, he only had 4 passes defended and 1 Interception. Did I mention the 110 total tackles last year will not be replicated with how many active players there are in Arizona? Sell him if someone is looking to buy, or draft him later if you really want him, but most likely you will see someone else overpay.
Barry Church – JAC
Coming off of a 3 year stretch of great play, Church fell off a little last year and he needs the Jacksonville offense to continue to NOT click if he wants to see his numbers bounce back. On shear numbers, he should be a late grab in drafts, on speculation he may go sooner. In dynasty formats, I would continue to hold on to him at least for now.
Chris Conte – re-signed TB
He was a great fit in this defense, he won’t ever be elite, but expect similar production going into this season.
D.J. Swearinger – WAS
He stepped it up last year back to what his first two seasons in Houston looked like and I think he can transition last years production to Washington. The other projected DBs are more pass defenders, so he really will get all the reps at Strong Safety and basically play the 5th LB type role. He can be a sneaky grab if you like tackles from your DBs…which I do!
Johnathan Cyprien – TEN
Coming off of the most tackles of his career and moving into a defense that just acquired Logan Ryan, all signs are that Cyprien will be getting some snaps this season at Linebacker, in addition to time at Strong Safety. I’m excited to see how this defense will play this year, I expect similar tackles out of him going into this season.
Mike Adams – CAR
At 36 and coming off a season that looked good at first but when you dive into averages for his production you’ll actually see he dropped off. I expect this trend to continue but moving to Carolina will prolong his career for the length of his 3-year contract but will likely accelerate his fantasy drop off.
Tony Jefferson – BAL
Over his 4 years in Arizona Jefferson proved durable and last year his production took a nice step upward. In Baltimore, I think he has the opportunity to make another jump in production. Jefferson chose Baltimore over higher bidders (see Cleveland), this shows me he is a motivated player that wants to win and I think this will translate into his play this season.
T.J. McDonald – MIA (suspended 8 games)
A bold move by the Dolphins in acquiring McDonald, but I like it. In the real world, this will provide great depth to their secondary in the later half of the season. Fantasy wise, McDonald should only be on your team to start the season if you have deeeeeeep benches. That said, around week 6 or 7 if you need DB help, remember to have McDonald on your radar for pickup.