IDP Upgrades and Downgrades: Week 2

Takes a look at which IDPs are moving up or down in value this week.

I’m going to try a new format for this article and break out the IDPs who stood out in each game for better or worse. I’ll try to focus on players whose production was much better or worse than normally expected. Note there is sometimes limited information available when this article is written, but I will try to give everyone an early look at players who are moving up or down in value among IDP circles. It’s difficult to give waiver advice for IDPs since there is such a wide variety of lineups and scoring systems, but hopefully the information provided can help inform your waiver and trade decisions. If you have any questions on specific players or situations, feel free to email me or reach out via twitter.

Email: rudnicki@footballguys.com
Twitter: @a_rudnicki

Pittsburgh @ New England

Upgrades
S Will Allen (PIT) was the most active defender on the field for the Steelers all night. He led the team in tackles with 8 solo stops, which also included a sack on a safety blitz. The numbers were certainly helped by the matchup, but the Steelers have a very weak pass defense so he should be pretty busy in most weeks.

LB Dont'a Hightower (NE) got the start at middle linebacker and was also part of the team’s nickel package. He has improved enough in coverage for the Patriots to trust him in that role, but he also can make a big contribution as a blitzer. He led the team in tackles with 8 (6 solos, 2 assists) and also added a sack.

Downgrades
LB Lawrence Timmons (PIT) played 100% of the defensive snaps in the game (61), but was only credited with 3 tackles (2 solos, 1 assist) and a pass defensed. He can be inconsistent at times, so don’t overreact here but fellow ILB Ryan Shazier could wind up being more productive this year.

LB Jerod Mayo (NE) was not part of the Patriots nickel package and that limited him to just 15% of the defensive snaps in the game. He finished with just 2 tackles in the game (1 solo, 1 assist) and unfortunately, it looks like he will be a matchup-dependent option this year.

Indianapolis @ Buffalo

Upgrades
LB Nigel Bradham (BUF) is playing WLB and is likely to be a very active player in most weeks. He showed that this week against the Colts as he led the team with 8 tackles (7 solos, 1 assist) while also contributing a sack and an additional QB hit.

CB Stephon Gilmore (BUF) is likely to move around on defense to match up against the opponent’s best receiver. The Bills will rely on him to try and neutralize that player, but that could also lead to him seeing a lot of targets. We saw some of the potential he has this week as he picked up 6 solo tackles and 4 passes defensed while mostly facing T.Y. Hilton and Andre Johnson.

DE Henry Anderson (IND) is an underrated rookie who is going to be counted on heavily by the Colts defense this year after the preseason injury to Arthur Jones. He led all players with tackles in the game this week (8 solos, 1 assist), with 3 of them coming behind the line of scrimmage as the Bills piled up 36 rush attempts. Anderson didn’t see much time on passing downs so may have limited upside in some scoring systems, but he’s likely going to be a good 2-way DE.

Downgrades
DE Mario Williams (BUF) is a great player but he is going to have some games like this where he winds up getting shut out on the stat sheet. He played significant snaps and helped the defense generate consistent pressure on Andrew Luck, but wasn’t able to generate any stats that count. The return of Marcell Dareus from suspension next week should help make things a bit easier, but remember the Colts only had 13 rush attempts from the RB position in this game too.

Green Bay @ Chicago

Upgrades
LB Julius Peppers (GB) tormented his former team with another strong game. He finished with 5 tackles (4 solos, 1 assist) and added 1.5 sacks plus another QB hit. The Bears offensive line was not a tough matchup, but with Clay Matthews moving inside it’s likely that Peppers could see more pass rush opportunities this year.

Downgrades
LB Sam Barrington (GB) was questionable coming into the game with an ankle injury but was healthy enough to start. Unfortunately, he aggravated the same injury early in the game and was kept out the rest of the way. He was replaced by Nate Palmer, who finished with 6 solos and 1 assist.

S Morgan Burnett (GB) did not play as he missed practice time with a calf injury and was on the inactive list. As one of the few elite players at the safety position, he should be fine once he’s healthy but hopefully the injury isn’t something that will linger or hinder him going forward. He was replaced in the lineup by Micah Hyde.

CB Kyle Fuller (CHI) struggled during the preseason and didn’t look much better on Sunday. His only solo tackle came on a run play by Aaron Rodgers, and he was later flagged for a 34-yard pass interference penalty while covering James Jones. The Bears changed defensive systems this offseason, and it could take him some time to adjust.

Kansas City @ Houston

Upgrades
DE Allen Bailey (KC) is an athletic 3-4 defensive end and likely among the better pass rushers at his position. He posted solid numbers a year ago (27 solos, 5 sacks), but could be in line for a breakout year after his strong start to 2015. He teamed up with Justin Houston to make things difficult for the Texans QBs as he was credited with 3 solos, 1 assist, 2 sacks, and a fumble recovery.

CB Marcus Peters (KC) was a first round pick of the Chiefs this year and he came up with an interception on his first snap of the year. Being a rookie corner typically means teams are going to test you as much as they can, but Peters held up well as he finished with 5 solos, 2 assists, 1 interception, and 3 passes defensed.

Carolina @ Jacksonville

Upgrades None

Downgrades
LB Luke Kuechly (CAR) posted great numbers despite playing only about a half worth of football. Unfortunately, he was forced out with what looked like a pretty serious concussion. He’s obviously among the elite at his position when healthy, but serious head injuries are always cause for concern and could make him more susceptible to future concussions.

LB Shaq Thompson (CAR) got the start at strongside linebacker but only played 25% of the defensive snaps and was shut out completely on the stat sheet. Cover skills are his strength so he should be able to work his way into some subpackages eventually, particularly if Kuechly is out for any length of time. Coaches are apparently going to take things slow with him though, so dynasty owners will probably need to be patient.

DE Kony Ealy (CAR) has a great opportunity given the departure of Greg Hardy and season-ending injury to Frank Alexander. He played about two thirds of the game for the Panthers, but didn’t seem able to generate any consistent pressure on Blake Bortles and was shut out on the stat sheet. Too early to write him off, but this was a disappointing start.

Cleveland @ NY Jets

Upgrades
S Calvin Pryor (NYJ) was a bust last year, but could be headed for a breakout year. The Jets have much better players at cornerback this year, and that will allow them to move Pryor up in the box where he is at his best. He led all players in the game with 8 solo stops, and added a pair of assists and a forced fumble.

Downgrades
LB Calvin Pace (NYJ) is a month away from turning 35 years old, and unlikely to provide much help for fantasy owners anymore. He did have a surprising 10 sack season in 2013, but has otherwise been pretty disappointing as a pass rusher. Pace was on the field for over 50 defensive snaps this week, but was only credited with 1 assist and zero pressures.

Seattle @ St Louis

Upgrades
DT Aaron Donald (STL) won the defensive rookie of the year award last year and figured to join the ranks of the elite. If week 1 is any indication, he could be even better than most expected though as he led his team in tackles (5 solos, 4 assists) while also picking up 2 sacks in an overtime win over the Seahawks.

Downgrades
S Kam Chancellor (SEA) did not play as he continues his holdout into the season. It certainly looked like they missed his presence on the field, but it remains to be seen if the team will cave into his contract demands. He was replaced by Dion Bailey who had 4 tackles in the game but slipped and gave up the game-tying touchdown late in the fourth quarter.

Miami @ Washington

Upgrades
LB Koa Misi (MIA) was moved from MLB to SLB this preseason to make room for Kelvin Sheppard, but he remained part of the team’s nickel package. Regardless of the position he starts in, he saw 92% of the defensive snaps and led the team with 9 solo stops (plus 2 assists). Sheppard split time at MLB with Zach Vigil and Alfred Morris had surprising success running against them so the Dolphins may consider moving Misi back inside fulltime.

Downgrades
DE Cameron Wake (MIA) and Olivier Vernon (MIA) both were shutout in the game, and neither really generated any type of pressure while rushing the passer. It was expected that the addition of Ndamukong Suh inside would strengthen the run defense and free up both ends to terrorize the QB, but it certainly didn’t happen in week 1.

S Duke Ihenacho (WAS) won the starting strong safety job in camp, but was knocked out of the game early with a broken wrist. This marks the second year in a row he was lost to a significant injury early in the season. He was replaced in the lineup by Trenton Robinson, who posted 8 tackles in 48 snaps but he appeared to really struggle in coverage so it’s unclear if he will keep the job.

New Orleans @ Arizona

Upgrades
S Tyrann Mathieu (ARI) officially got the start at free safety but played more like a slot cornerback, which helped put him in position to make plays all over the field. The Cardinals gave regular playing time to all 4 safeties, but Mathieu and Deone Buchanon were on the field together for all but 1 snap. With Drew Brees spreading the ball around and completing 30 passes in the game, Mathieu was very active and wound up leading all players with 8 solo tackles in the game. Buchanon wasn’t far behind with 7 tackles himself.

LB Kevin Minter (ARI) looked like a bust over the past two years when he struggled to get much playing time, and failed to produce even with minimal snaps. He received plenty of positive buzz in training camp this year though, and may have a huge opportunity in front of him. Sean Weatherspoon is not fully healthy and they don’t have much depth at ILB, so Minter played 84% of the snaps this week and posted a solid line of 7 tackles (5 solos) with 1 tackle for loss.

Downgrades
S Rafael Bush (NO) posted 2 solos in just 21 snaps this week before suffering a torn pectoral muscle that will likely end his season. The Saints were already without Jairus Byrd, and released veteran Pierre Warren late in camp so they are hurting in the secondary. Jamarca Sanford replaced him, but it’s possible Byrd could return to the lineup soon.

LB David Hawthorne (NO) got the start at weakside linebacker, but did not look great in coverage and was kept out of the team’s nickel package. He was only on the field for 35% of the defensive snaps, and could possibly be phased out completely when Dannell Ellerbe returns from his toe injury. Meanwhile, rookie OLB Hau’oli Kikaha saw 95% of the snaps and looks like a definite breakout candidate.

LB Sean Weatherspoon (ARI) did not start in the game and only saw 12 defensive snaps. Some had high hopes for him, but it appears that Minter will need to slip up for him to play a more significant role. Weatherspoon was generally underwhelming during his time in Atlanta, but whoever winds up manning the ILB spot for Arizona should be worth a look in most deeper IDP leagues.

Detroit @ San Diego

Don’t overreact to some disappointing production from the Chargers IDPs here as they only faced 36 tackle opportunities in the game. Similarly, don’t read too much into the big numbers from Lions defenders as they faced 67 tackle opportunities. These are more likely to even out over time.

Upgrades None

Downgrades
LB Tahir Whitehead (DET) did not get the start even with DeAndre Levy sitting out with an injury. Whitehead was credited with a single solo tackle on 21 snaps, while Josh Bynes played most of the game in Levy’s spot. Whitehead was productive last year after Tulloch went down with an injury, but he was demoted in camp and likely has some work to do to move back up the depth chart.

Baltimore @ Denver

Upgrades
CB Jimmy Smith (BAL) had a huge game against Peyton Manning and the Broncos. He led all players in the game with 8 solo tackles, and also added a 24-yard interception return for a touchdown. Even though he gave up quite a few catches in the game, he generally had tight coverage and tackled the player almost instantly.

DT Brandon Williams (BAL) only played 52% of the snaps in the game, but he was still extremely productive from the nose tackle position. He finished 2nd on the Ravens in tackles with 6 solos and 1 assist and helped limit the potent Broncos running game to just 2.8 yards per carry. The trade of Haloti Ngata has created a void up front and Williams is capable of filling it if you are playing in a DT required league.

Downgrades
LB Terrell Suggs (BAL) played more than half of the snaps in this game before suffering a devastating Achilles injury that will end his season. It’s a huge blow to a strong Ravens defense, as they also lost Pernell McPhee in free agency. They will need to rely more heavily on players like Courtney Upshaw, Elvis Dumervil, and Timmy Jernigan.

Cincinnati @ Oakland

Upgrades
S Larry Asante (OAK) is expected to move into the starting lineup after Nate Allen suffered what appeared to be a torn ACL. Asante replaced Allen against the Bengals and posted 8 tackles (7 solos) in 57 snaps. With Charles Woodson also going down late with an injury, the Raiders limited depth at safety is going to be tested and Asante figures to see a lot of action.

LB Vincent Rey (CIN) took over for Vontaze Burfict at WLB and played 100% of the defensive snaps. Since Burfict is on PUP, Rey should continue to see extensive playing time each week and likely remain very productive in balanced scoring systems. He posted 9 tackles (6 solos) in this game, despite facing just 16 rush attempts from the Raiders.

CB Adam Jones (CIN) started the game and posted a remarkable 10 solo tackles along with a pass defensed and forced fumble. He was matched up primarily with Amari Cooper and held up very well against the talented rookie. Jones was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct when he pinned Cooper to the ground and ripped his helmet off, but reports on Monday said he would not be suspended for it.

Downgrades
S Charles Woodson (OAK) was credited with 7 tackles (5 solos) in the game, but he suffered a shoulder injury late and was scheduled to undergo an MRI on Monday to determine the severity. He’s about to turn 39 years old but was one of the most productive safeties in the league a year ago, so pay attention to the injury updates as they come out. FS Nate Allen also suffered what was feared to be an ACL injury earlier in the game so the Raiders could be in the market for safety help.

Tennessee @ Tampa Bay

Upgrades
DE DaQuan Jones (TEN) was a 4th round pick a year ago who saw very little playing time, but the Titans coaches liked what they saw in camp and promoted him to the starting lineup. He rewarded their belief in him with a strong game on Sunday as he lead the team in tackles with 7 solo stops.

LB Derrick Morgan (TEN) averaged about 7 sacks over the past 3 years, but he has never quite lived up to the high expectations that came with being a 1st round pick. With Brian Orakpo and Jurrell Casey likely to draw plenty of attention, perhaps he’s finally headed for a breakout year. He looked great on Sunday with 5 tackles (4 solos), and 2 sacks plus another tackle for loss and QB hit.

LB Kwon Alexander (TB) didn’t post great numbers in this game (3 solos, 2 assists, 1 PD), but he was on the field for 100% of the snaps. If the coaches trust him enough in coverage to play that much right away, he’s going to have a chance for a very productive season. Note the Tampa stat crew wasn’t very favorable though as Tampa faced 32 rush attempts and 47 tackle opportunities overall but only 51 total tackles were awarded.

Downgrades
None

NY Giants @ Dallas

Upgrades
LB Uani’ Unga (NYG) got the start in place of the injured Jon Beason and filled up the box score with 12 tackles (10 solos) plus an interception while playing 100% of the defensive snaps. It was surprising that the Giants put the 27 year old rookie in that position, but it also indicates the coaches have trust in him. He took some blame for allowing Witten to get into the end zone on the game winning touchdown, but is a player to keep in mind in case Beason winds up missing more time than expected.

Downgrades
DE Jason Pierre-Paul (NYG) was finally examined by the Giants last week and initial reports indicated the injury to his hand was worse than expected. There is concern that he may not be able to play at all this season, and it seems like he would not be very effective if he did return anytime soon.

DE Randy Gregory (DAL) played just 19 snaps in the game and created some disruption in the backfield. Unfortunately, he suffered a high ankle sprain that is expected to keep him out for the next 4 to 6 weeks. The Cowboys were expected to have a much improved pass rush this year, but they will miss Gregory and Greg Hardy for the next few weeks.

Summary (in alphabetic order by position)

UPGRADES

DE Henry Anderson (IND)
DE Allen Bailey (KC)
DE DaQuan Jones (TEN)
DT Aaron Donald (STL)
DT Brandon Williams (BAL)
LB Kwon Alexander (TB)
LB Nigel Bradham (BUF)
LB Dont'a Hightower (NE)
LB Kevin Minter (ARI)
LB Koa Misi (MIA)
LB Derrick Morgan (TEN)
LB Julius Peppers (GB)
LB Vincent Rey (CIN)
LB Uani’ Unga (NYG)
S Will Allen (PIT)
S Larry Asante (OAK)
S Tyrann Mathieu (ARI)
S Calvin Pryor (NYJ)
CB Stephon Gilmore (BUF)
CB Adam Jones (CIN)
CB Marcus Peters (KC)
CB Jimmy Smith (BAL)

DOWNGRADES

DE Kony Ealy (CAR)
DE Randy Gregory (DAL)
DE Jason Pierre-Paul (NYG)
DE Olivier Vernon (MIA)
DE Cameron Wake (MIA)
DE Mario Williams (BUF)
LB Sam Barrington (GB)
LB David Hawthorne (NO)
LB Luke Kuechly (CAR)
LB Jerod Mayo (NE)
LB Calvin Pace (NYJ)
LB Terrell Suggs (BAL)
LB Lawrence Timmons (PIT)
LB Shaq Thompson (CAR)
LB Sean Weatherspoon (ARI)
LB Tahir Whitehead (DET)
S Morgan Burnett (GB)
S Rafael Bush (NO)
S Kam Chancellor (SEA)
S Duke Ihenacho (WAS)
S Charles Woodson (OAK)
CB Kyle Fuller (CHI)


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