IDP Buy Low / Sell High - Week 16
by Anthony Borbely
December 20th, 2012

As a long time IDP dynasty league player, I understand the importance of always looking ahead and trying to be prepared for the future. Trade deadlines may be gone in most leagues, but the offseason will be here soon, and now is the time to start planning ahead.

For the next few weeks, I am going to be looking at the Buy Low/Sell High IDPs who we should be targeting during the early part of the offseason. Of course, things will change once free agency and the draft get here, but for now, it's time to peer into the future as best we can and see if there will be some deals to be made once your league's offseason begins. Beginning with week 13, I am going to devote one week each to DL, LB, DB, and rookies. Pay particular attention to their team's circumstances and any reports about the particular player for the rest of the season and more importantly, the early part of the offseason.

This week's article will focus on rookies that we want to be buying low on during the early part of the offseason.

NOTE: There are a couple of players that have been written about in recent weeks, most notably Brandon Taylor last week, but I wanted to make sure that the main non-stud rookies that I am interested in are all listed together in this all-rookie article, hence the repeats. I will also add that this crop of rookies has much less depth than any group I can recall in recent years. If there is a rookie not listed that you would like an opinion on, feel free to email me.

Buy Low

DL Andre Branch, Jacksonville Jaguars: Branch began the season playing significant snaps before the Jaguars realized he just wasn't ready for a major role. That should not come as a big surprise to anyone. Defensive ends usually take longer to develop than any other position on the defensive side of the ball and it is usually more related to pass rushing than run defense. Branch was considered a solid two-way defensive end when he entered the league, but wasn't necessarily considered an elite pass rushing prospect. But defensive ends can post, for example, 40 solos and 8 sacks without being an elite pass rusher and become solid top-20 defensive linemen. When Branch was drafted, that is the kind of season I expected him to have in the future and despite his struggles this season, I think it is still a reasonable expectation. Branch is way under the radar right now and can probably be acquired for a pretty cheap price and should be near the top of your low-cost buy-low options in the early offseason.

DL Vinny Curry, Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles are finally giving some of their younger defensive linemen playing time and they made a move to free up more playing time for them by releasing veteran defensive end Jason Babin. Curry was not active in any games during the first 12 weeks of the season, but he has played in the last three with mixed results. One thing to keep in mind is something I mentioned earlier and in fact something I mention every year and that is the fact that defensive ends, on average, take more time to develop than players at other defensive positions. Curry has not played much this year so there is very little to go on when it comes to his performance, but remember the Eagles did use a second round pick on him last year. I expect Curry to have a very low cost unless he blows up in one of the last two games. Since pass rushing defensive ends are the most difficult position to fill on the IDP side of things, it might not be a bad idea to take a shot at Curry. If the risk is low and it doesn't pan out, then you really haven't lost much. The upside makes it worth it in my opinion.

DL Shea McClellin, Chicago Bears: McClellin was one of the better natural pass rushers in last year's draft and the Bears drafted him with the 19th pick in the first round. McClellin only has 2.5 sacks this year but like I said several times, patience has to be the rule when talking about young pass rushers. I believe McClellin has the potential to reach double-digit sacks in the future and young players like that are usually near the top of my offseason buy-low list. I think McClellin offers more big play potential than either Branch or Curry, but I don't believe he will ever be a high tackle player. McClellin should not cost much to acquire so if you have an extra spot or two on your roster, McClellin may not be a bad player to target.

LB Demario Davis, New York Jets: Davis saw an increase in playing time while Bart Scott was battling an injury and he showed enough to put him near the top of any buy low list of linebackers. Scott is highly unlikely to be back with the Jets and Davis is expected to take over his starting spot at inside linebacker. With limited playing time, it is tough to get a feel for what Davis' owners will want in return. He played well enough in limited action to suggest most of his owners will hold, but there are some that are not going to be patient and if you have one of those owners in your league, I suggest making a move on Davis and sooner rather than later. I would not wait until official news about Bart Scott's status comes out. Make your move before that to keep the cost down.

LB Melvin Ingram, San Diego Chargers: If you recall the article a couple of weeks ago that discussed linebackers, you may remember that I included Kansas City linebacker Tamba Hali as a buy-low candidate and it was because the Chiefs are almost certain to have a new coaching staff next season. If the new coaching staff brings in a 4-3 defense, Hali would move back to his natural defensive end spot. The situation is similar for Ingram. Norv Turner is as good as gone and we need to pay attention to the coaching search. Ingram has very little long-term value as a linebacker in standard scoring systems, but if the Chargers hire a coach that runs a 4-3 defense, Ingram will likely become a defensive end and that would increase his value significantly. If there is ever a reason to pay attention to coaches and schemes, it is a situation like this that involves a player that can play outside linebacker in a 3-4 defense and defensive end in a 4-3. There is a significant difference in value here.

LB James-Michael Johnson, Cleveland Browns: Johnson had a great chance to begin the season as a starter with the Browns because of the suspension of starting linebacker Scott Fujita, but that opportunity was derailed by injuries. Johnson eventually got healthy and since has become a starter and, depending on the new coaching staff, could have a great chance at earning an every-down starting spot next year. Of course, everything will be dependent on the new coaching staff and that makes this situation difficult to assess. I am very high on Johnson and believe he has the talent to be a solid LB2 in the future. Everything will depend on the type of defense the new coaching staff runs and what their opinion is of Johnson. With that in mind, I am going to advise buying as long as the new coaching staff runs a 4-3 defense. I just think the Browns have too many other holes to fill and they may want to give Johnson a chance to start before deciding whether to acquire a replacement. I think the uncertainty could lower Johnson's price and that is the main reason I am listing him in this article.

LB Keenan Robinson, Washington Redskins: As of right now, there is a lot of uncertainty regarding who will replace London Fletcher once he finally decides to retire. For right now, Keenan Robinson has to be in the discussion, if not one of the favorites. Of course, things can change and Robinson may never get a chance to start. It is a bit concerning that Robinson did not replace Fletcher when he missed time with an injury, but then again, he is a rookie and rookies develop at different paces. The key here is how cheap can you get Robinson and whether you have the roster space to hold him. If both of those answers is a yes, then I would at least inquire about his availability. Robinson is probably on the waiver wire in many leagues but likely owned in deeper leagues. You can probably hold off on this decision if your league is not deep.

LB Tahir Whitehead, Detroit Lions: The current starters at outside linebacker for the Lions, DeAndre Levy and Justin Durant, are both going to be unrestricted free agents at the end of the season and with the Lions having so many holes and not much salary cap space to work with, it is unlikely that they can afford to resign both Levy and Durant. Should that happen, it will leave at least one outside linebacker spot up for grabs and Whitehead figures to get a shot at the job. The Lions made a draft-day trade to draft Whitehead with the thought that he would at worst help their struggling special teams. As of right now, Whitehead is on the waiver wire in the vast majority of leagues and if you have an extra roster spot, it might be worth the gamble to stash Whitehead and wait out free agency and the draft. I am a bit more lukewarm on this one than the other players listed so far, but in most leagues it won't cost you anything except a roster spot.

DB Brandon Taylor, San Diego Chargers: Taylor was one of the few defensive back prospects from last year's draft that I had interest in. He is a physical strong safety and was joining a team with a definite weakness at the position. I did not necessarily expect Taylor to begin the season as a starter, but I am surprised that he has not gotten any extended playing time this year, especially with Atari Bigby being placed on injured reserve and with the Chargers being eliminated from playoff contention. While I am mildly concerned that Taylor has not seen any extended playing time, I am a fan of his talent and believe he will get an opportunity to start next year. Taylor is way off the radar and that is the best time to buy.

Questions, suggestions and comments are always welcome to borbely@footballguys.com.

© 2012 Footballguys - All Rights Reserved