Next week, I'm planning a section on how to approach matchups during your playoff weeks. I'll cover some of the better tackle and pass rush matchups and discuss some stat crew anomalies to exploit, among other useful bits of data. This week, I'm going to suggest players to roster and stash in dynasty leagues before this year's free agent lists close who could see their value jump this offseason. Rostering players like this -- and hitting -- often gives you the equivalent of an extra second, third, or fourth round draft pick.
Each spring, it's easy to get excited about the incoming pass rusher class. Especially so with a class like the incoming 2015 group, which included Vic Beasley Jr, Randy Gregory, Bud Dupree, Dante Fowler, among many other talents. But it seems the general consensus just as easily forgets how difficult it is for college players to translate their pass rush talent to the NFL. Even the most polished and mature -- physically and mentally -- players struggle with this transition.
Often, the time to move on these players is when the owners who draft them give up on them. That time is coming. Not all of these players will end up producing. We're still waiting on Demarcus Lawrence and Tank Carradine and lots of others. But now is the time to consider a low risk flyer and carry them through the offseason.
The following list assumes players like Mario Edwards and Leonard Williams are already rostered in all dynasty setups. If not, they are priority adds.
- Shallow League (Fewer Than 25 DL Rostered) Rebound Candidates -- Vic Beasley Jr > Randy Gregory
- Shallow League Injury Recovery Stash -- Henry Anderson = Dante Fowler
- Moderate - Deep League (25-40+ DL Rostered) Targets -- Vinny Curry > Danielle Hunter > Frank Clark
I like Beasley slightly more than Gregory, but it's close. I'd arguably have a healthy Anderson over both, but a healthy Anderson would like be producing and rostered. Curry makes this list as the most attractive free agent who could move into a more productive situation. Hunter has been a pleasant surprise over the past month. If it's tough on more polished prospects to make it their first year, it's nearly impossible for prospects who have no polish to their college game to make it ever. Under the tutelage of Mike Zimmer and the Minnesota coaches, Hunter now not only appears to have a clue, he looks like he may have a chance to thrive. He and Clark and deep league targets only, but worth stashing in those setups.
I'm not as excited about the stash potential of this group as in previous seasons, but the group is larger than usual. With the ever-increasing number of defensive coordinators who are choosing to platoon their linebackers, there's less upside here than usual.
- Shallow League (Fewer than 30 LB rostered) LB2+ Upside Candidates -- Shaq Thompson >>> Paul Dawson
- Moderate League (Between 30 and 50 LB rostered) Stash Options -- Ramik Wilson > Ben Heeney > Jake Ryan
- Deep League (Greater than 50 LB rostered) Flyers -- Zach Vigil > Michael Mauti
- Big Play Stash Options -- Bud Dupree = Lorenzo Mauldin > Shane Ray > Za'Darius Smith = Nate Orchard > Shaq Barrett
I've got Thompson and Dawson at the top of the stash list, but I'm not sure there's an easy path to playing time for either in 2016. I think Ryan has fallen well behind Nate Palmer in the Green Bay pecking order. If Derrick Johnson leaves in free agency and the Chiefs don't pursue other options, Wilson may be the most valuable add here. None of the Miami linebackers can stay healthy and there's likely to be a new coaching staff next year. Vigil was impressive enough to at least consider in very deep leagues. Mauti could do enough during the second half while David Hawthorne and Dannell Ellerbe assume their usual position in the training room to earn consideration next to Stephone Anthony next year.
There's really no reason to stash defensive backs at this point in the fantasy calendar. The time to move on upside safety prospects is in the few weeks between minicamp and training camp. If you absolutely must, I'd move on Jaquiski Tartt, Ibraheim Campbell, or Clayton Geathers. It's possible one of the Bengals' backups (Shawn Williams or Derron Smith) could end up having value if the Cincinnati depth chart is affected by free agency. And I still like the two way value of Eric Rowe, who could see a favorable role with or without Chip Kelly next season.
More on the defensive backs in the offseason tier features.
EVERY-DOWN LINEBACKER PROJECTION
|TEAM||EVERY-DOWN LB||75-100% SNAPS||INJ | SUSP||NOTES|
|ARIZONA||Kevin Minter : Deone Bucannon||Alex Okafor||Daryl Washington (susp)||Bucannon rested in some packages after limited practice last week|
|ATLANTA||Paul Worrilow||Durability continues to be issue w/ Durant|
|BALTIMORE||C.J. Mosley||Elvis Dumervil : Courtney Upshaw||Terrell Suggs (IR)||Ravens rotated Smith out for Orr last week, could be new trend|
|BUFFALO||Preston Brown : ? Tony Steward||Nigel Bradham||Watch for news on whether Bradham's replacement (Tony Steward) to play every down|
|CAROLINA||Luke Kuechly : Thomas Davis|
|CINCINNATI||Burfict unlikely to be healthy enough to play every down in 2015|
|DALLAS||Sean Lee||Rolando McClain|
|DENVER||Brandon Marshall : Von Miller : Danny Trevathan||DeMarcus Ware||More rotation w/ ILBs than usual of late, likely due to nagging injury to Marshall|
|DETROIT||DeAndre Levy (IR)||Lions appear to swap packages and personnel by gameplan|
|GREEN BAY||Clay Matthews||Julius Peppers : Nate Palmer||Sam Barrington (IR)|
|HOUSTON||Brian Cushing||Whitney Mercilus|
|INDIANAPOLIS||D'Qwell Jackson||Jerrell Freeman||Freeman will miss time w/ hamstring injury, likely replaced by rotation|
|JACKSONVILLE||Paul Posluszny : Telvin Smith Sr|
|KANSAS CITY||Derrick Johnson||Tamba Hali||Justin Houston||Houston to miss multiple weeks, Wilson active last week but didn't play defensive snap|
|MIAMI||Kelvin Sheppard||Jelani Jenkins||Jenkins dinged again, Sheppard best chance of playing every down, watch Hewitt|
|MINNESOTA||Eric Kendricks : Anthony Barr|
|NEW ENGLAND||Jonathan Freeny||Jamie Collins Sr, Dont'a Hightower|
|NEW ORLEANS||Stephone Anthony||Dannell Ellerbe|
|NEW YORK GIANTS||Devon Kennard||Jon Beason (IR)||Casillas (nickel) and Brinkley (base) have chance at 80% snaps by game script|
|NEW YORK JETS||David Harris||Jets now platooning Davis and Henderson|
|OAKLAND||Malcolm Smith||Khalil Mack||Aldon Smith (susp)|
|PHILADELPHIA||Mychal Kendricks : Connor Barwin : Brandon Graham||Jordan Hicks (IR)||Alonso isn't same player, Kendricks best bet for snaps|
|PITTSBURGH||Lawrence Timmons||Shazier hurt again|
|ST. LOUIS||James Laurinaitis : Mark Barron||Alec Ogletree (IR-R)|
|SAN DIEGO||Melvin Ingram III||Manti Te'o||Chargers phasing out Butler in favor of Perryman|
|SAN FRANCISCO||NaVorro Bowman||Aaron Lynch : Michael Wilhoite|
|SEATTLE||Bobby Wagner : K.J. Wright|
|TAMPA BAY||Lavonte David : Kwon Alexander||Still awaiting appeal decision on Alexander's PED suspension|
|TENNESSEE||Avery Williamson||Brian Orakpo||Derrick Morgan||Bass played extensively w/ Morgan inactive|
|WASHINGTON||Will Compton||Ryan Kerrigan : Perry Riley||Keenan Robinson|