IDP Corner: TNF Week 1

Annnnd we’re back! Welcome to the 2018 version of my Thursday Night Football articles. Just as a reminder each Thursday I’ll first point out players from that week’s game I expect to be owned and started in most leagues, and then I’ll be discussing players who I feel are worth highlighting.

Most weeks, I also give an analysis on the actual game, but I’m highlighting more than my normal number of players this week, and I wish to remain focused on the actual players this season.

As promised, here are the players that I expect to be most likely owned and/or started in your league: Deion Jones, Keanu Neal, Brandon Graham, Jordan Hicks, and Malcolm Jenkins.

Now on to the players I wish to highlight in this week’s Thursday Night game.

Defensive Linemen:
Vic Beasley Jr.: After spending last season at OLB Atlanta moved Beasley to back to DE this year, so I’m interested in how he’ll look against a real offense compared to his solid work this preseason as he transitioned back to the role that netted him 15.5 sacks in 2016. I don’t expect too much in the way of overwhelming production against a normally fast paced Philadelphia offense, but this week should be a good litmus test for how well he can produce against top tier opponents through the season.

Takkarist McKinley: After producing 6 sacks last year on basically a 40% snap share over the course of last season, many IDP pundits have their eye on Takk to see if he will be given a full workload and then if he can keep up the rate of sacks that he was able to produce. In the playoffs he did score a sack on the Eagles, but they were without their Pro Bowl Left Tackle Jason Peters, so he’ll have a tough battle to fight this week. If he is not rostered in your dynasty league that has starting DL spots, he is certainly worth a guy grabbing and sitting on for the early part of the season to see what happens.

Derek Barnett: The only young defensive lineman in Philadelphia that will be in heavy rotation, he will still be starting opposite Brandon Graham, but will be sharing time with Michael Bennett, Chris Long, and to a lesser extent defensive tackles Fletcher Cox and Haloti Ngata. The key point here is that he will be the likely starter, and besides 27 year old Cox, Barnett is the youngest of this group by 8 years. We should see him lead in snaps just because he has the energy to do so. My only hesitation in having him on my team is what I’ve mentioned above, PHI has a crowded D Line, that said for the more aggressive of you out there, I think his ceiling is higher than Takk McKinley, but his floor is lower too, and you should add him to your roster with such a mindset.

Linebackers:
Duke Riley: Atlanta liked to play in two LB sets last year which typically featured De’Vondre Campbell and Jones, this should continue, and the expected usage of Riley will be to fill the empty space that Beasley used to occupy. The Falcons defense of late (past 4 or so years) is not built to support more than about 1.5 fantasy viable LBs and Campbell has the #2 spot covered currently, what I am looking for from Riley is whether he can be the next version of Beasley, which is basically a DE who stands up behind the line. Keep an eye out for Foye Oluokun as well, who could take some snaps from Riley as well might play Full Back a couple plays a game. I wouldn’t advise Riley being on your roster in any league at this time, but he is certainly on my radar.

Kamu Grugier-Hill: After fighting all offseason to prove that he’s worth keeping on the 53 man roster, Grugier-Hill is not only on the roster, but has a clear shot at starting this week, and even in the future after Nigel Bradham is back from his 1 week suspension. Even if he does not see consistent starter time, he will be seeing a significant jump in snaps over the 85 he saw last year. Grugier-Hill has been under the radar the majority of the offseason, so if you’re in a tight spot and need more depth at LB and most of the high end talent is gone in your league, Grugier-Hill is worth the add, especially when you factor into his ceiling that Jordan Hicks has played in 31 games in his 3 seasons in the league.

Defensive Backs:
Sidney Jones: The Slot Corner, Nickel Corner, Safety Back, or Nickel Back (shudder on thoughts of the band Nickelback), no matter what you call the position, when it comes to IDP Fantasy Football it usually means lower production if a player is moving from a starting Safety job, or higher tackle totals if it’s a starting Cornerback that has moved over, and a mess of anything else in between. Jones is a CB moving to the spot and has been rather impressive most of the preseason while doing it. I’ll be watching to see how many snaps he actually gets, as right now it appears he is the lead in a rotation at this spot. Certainly Jones is only a player I’m adding if I have room for speculation on my bench, otherwise he is currently is just on my radar.

For Atlanta, Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford will be starting CBs with Brian Poole filling in the Nickel role, and Ricardo Allen will be the FS, all of whom are rather solid players, that will continue to fly outside of fantasy starter levels, but in leagues with larger team sizes could be viable back ups.

Good luck to everyone on the beginning of your fantasy season and your Thursday endeavors. Finally, as always if you have questions feel free to reach out via twitter to me @decoylife or the other gurus @TFFGurus, @DaFantasyFather, and @TheFantasyBoys.

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