IDP Corner: Real Deal or Pretend Player 2018

The first three weeks of the preseason are not always going to produce the next great superstar but, they can provide insight into who may earn a more prominent role. For a proper preseason sample size, the three week mark works best to show us the underdogs from camps around the league. In case you are wondering I just find that week 4 is such a crap shoot of teams letting first stringers go a whole half… or just 4 snaps which really isn’t any insight into who they are trying to get useful reps out of. So it’s time once again to analyze what we’ve seen in the preseason. We will be looking at the top 3 producers in tackles, sacks, and passes defended to try to determine if these are the real deal or pretend players. As an added bonus this year I am also looking at the player with the most tackles in a single game!

Top 3 Sacks:

Cap Capi, DE ARZ – 4 sacks, Pretend Player

a notorious preseason juggernaut the conversation in Arizona right now is not if Capi could start, it is if Capi will make the 53. Capi has been lighting up the preseason since 2015, but only last year finally made it on the field during the season. Given Arizona’s transition to a 4-3 defensee, I think he makes the 53, but only by a hair.

Hassan Ridgeway, DT IND – 4 sacks, PUSH

No cop out here, one Indy paper is saying he won’t make the 53 but a local sports reporter is claiming he’ll be the starting DT in their new 4-3 scheme. Ridgeway’s numbers certainly suggest he can be a viable DT both in the NFL and in Fantasy. The reality is Indy’s front 7 is one big huge question mark right now (and their secondary for that matter). I am suggesting to keep an eye on Ridgeway through the first couple of weeks but refrain from adding him to your team at this point.

Kamalei Correa, OLB TEN – 3.5 sacks, Real Deal

In May there were a number of reports that Correa had a new attitude coming into this year and he’s played like it, Tennessee traded for him and for good reasons. They have a quickly aging Brian Orakpo, a questionable for week 1 Derrick Morgan, and what is really a DE in Harold Landry for their OLBs right now. I think he has a chance of starting at OLB in week 1 and will likely be locked in once everyone realizes Landry is playing DE.

*There are 3 other players that had 3.5 sacks in the 3 preseason games, of those I feel it’s only worth noting that Carl Lawson, DE CIN, was a member of this group but since he put up an 8 sack season in a sub-package in the Bangles defense last year he should already be on your radar, so I chose to talk about Correa instead.

Top 3 Passes Defended:

Anthony Harris, FS MIN – 5 passes defended, Pretend Player

Andrew Sendejo and George Iloka are ahead of him on the depth chart, nothing to see here. Seriously, Sendejo and Iloka will be switching between starter and back up week to week. There is no room for Harris to get out of a deep back up spot right now.

Chuck Clark, SS BAL – 4 passes defended (and has 2 interceptions this preseason), Pretend Player

Of note, I am not opting to highlight Clark’s teammate Stanley Jean-Baptiste (who also has 4 pd and 2 int) due to his overall inability to get on the field in the regular season and then produce anything when he actually does. Jean-Baptiste is widely considered a 2014 draft bust and would be the 53rd man on the roster. Tony Jefferson is the starter here. Clark will see plenty of nickel packages as he was a CB in college but he just won’t be on the field enough to worry about.

Keion Crossen, CB NE – 4 passes defended (and 11 solo tackles), Pretend Player by a hair

Crossen has a chance of being a patented Belichick late round diamond when it comes to his talent. The problem is there are 3 wonderfully talented CBs in front of him on the depth chart. And don’t forget this is New England, so heck you could see Crossen throw a TD to Brady because reasons… but I’m still not expecting a dramatic boom this year.

Top 3 Total Tackles:

John Timu, ILB CHI – 26 tackles, Pretend Player

Timu has made a career out of playing on Chicago’s special teams and that is what he’ll be doing again this year. With just 9 starts in the past 3 seasons he will fill in from time to time but, his fantasy production is wildly unstable.

Neville Hewitt, ILB NYJ – 21 tackles, Pretend Player… for now

This preseason Hewitt has shown flashes of quality play including allowing just 3 first downs on 11 passes that he had to cover. The knock here is that almost 100% of his snaps were played against backups so we can’t really compare his play against that of starters like Darron Lee or backups like Kevin Minter. The even bigger knock against Hewitt though is the number of talented and well paid ILBs in front of him on the depth chart. Lee has been “about to be the next guy” since his rookie year, Avery Williamson is about to benefit from Lee’s inability to be the next guy, and Kevin Minter & Kevin Pierre-Lewis were not brought on cheaply. This leaves Hewitt on the bottom of a very long totem pole.

Kenny Young, ILB BAL – 20 tackles, Real Deal

Chris Board (also ILB in BAL) has also totaled 20 combined tackles this preseason but, the reason why I’ve chosen Mr. Young is that he is the one splitting first-team snaps with Patrick Onwuasor in practice. Better yet, it currently looks like Young will be getting the chance to start week 1. Onwuasor was already competing for starts and snaps last year with Kamalei Correa who now works for Tennessee, so it makes sense that Young would get a chance. Keep an eye on Chris Board in your deeper dynasty leagues as I think we’ll hear more from him in the future. In every interview I’ve read he sounds very hungry and dedicated to being in the NFL.

Most Tackles in a Game:

Damontae Kazee, SS ATL – 11 tackles (9 solo, 2 assisted), Pretend Player

Kazee has turned many heads this offseason even before he became known as the guy who took out Marqise Lee. My concern for Kazee isn’t that he plays well, which he does, it’s that I don’t expect him to see that big of a jump in snaps/playing time this season. Yes, Atlanta has sub-packages for him but he played in 14 games last year and saw 164 snaps. Ricardo Allen is starting in front of him and I’m not expecting him to give up much of his 950+ snaps from last year. You add in the newly acquired Ron Parker who will be the backup SS to Kazee’s back-up FS and that I’m expecting the Atlanta offense to be on the field longer this season and it just does not produce a good mix for me to get hyped on Kazee.

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