IDP Upgrades and Downgrades: Week 2

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

This article attempts to immediately highlight defensive players whose production was significantly better or worse than normally expected for the prior week of games. 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

CAROLINA @ DENVER

Upgrades

S Tre Boston, CAR (4 solos, 1 sack, 1 PD)
Kurt Coleman had a huge year in 2015 with 90 combined tackles and 7 interceptions. Boston only played a part-time role, but he showed promise and has earned a full-time job at free safety this year. He was one of just 4 defensive players for the Panthers to take every snap against the Broncos, and made the most of it with 4 solos as well as a sack and pass deflection. The 3rd year pro may not get many tackles due to the strong LB group in front of him, but he’s a good young player who may surprise.

Downgrades

DE Kony Ealy, CAR (0 tackles, 1 PD)
Ealy led all Panthers defensive ends with 40 snaps in the game and had plenty of opportunity, but was held without a single tackle or QB hit. He does deserve credit for the pass deflection as it likely prevented an easy touchdown when he batted the ball down at the line of scrimmage. If he’s going to improve on the solid numbers he posted a year ago and possibly reach DE2 status, he’ll need to get more involved in the run game.

TAMPA BAY @ ATLANTA

Upgrades

LB Kwon Alexander, TB (15 solos, 2 asst, 1 sack, 2 QBH)
Alexander picked up right where he left off last year with one of the biggest IDP games we’ll likely see all season. He posted an incredible 15 solo tackles while also adding a sack, and this came despite the presence of tackling machine Lavonte David playing alongside him for the entire game. Tampa also upgraded the strongside LB spot with the addition of Daryl Smith this offseason, but it’s looking like nothing will slow down Alexander.

Downgrades

DE Jacquies Smith, TB (0 tackles)
He only got to play 1 defensive snap in the season opener before suffering a non-contact ACL injury while covering a punt. While he wasn’t a starter, Smith was lined up as a DE in the team’s nickel package and could have made a very effective pass rush specialist. Unfortunately, he’s headed to IR and this figures to create more chances for rookie Noah Spence.

DE/LB Vic Beasley Jr, ATL (0 tackles)
The Falcons made a puzzling move when they asked Beasley to switch to linebacker this year, and it certainly didn’t help his fantasy value as he was a non-factor against Tampa. He saw 39 snaps (61%), but was held completely off the stat sheet. His strengths as a player were his edge rushing skills, so it feels like a waste to have him operating out in space and further away from the QB.

BUFFALO @ BALTIMORE

Upgrades

CB Shareece Wright, BAL (11 solos, 3 TFL)
Wright finished 2015 strong and was rewarded this offseason with a 3-year contract to stick around. He repaid the Ravens with an extremely strong game in the season opener as he was credited with 11 solo tackles. In addition to playing lockdown coverage primarily on Robert Woods, he also was very active reading plays and came up with 3 tackles for a loss.

Downgrades

S Corey Graham, BUF (1 solo)
Graham added a pair of tackles on special teams, but it was surprising to see him finish with just 1 solo stop on defense. As one of the best tackling safeties in the league a year ago, Graham piled up 96 solo tackles and 31 assists. It wasn’t a question of opportunity here as he played all 68 defensive snaps, but the Bills may have kept him deeper than normal after they were burned by the 66-yard Mike Wallace touchdown in the second quarter.

CHICAGO @ HOUSTON

Upgrades

LB Jerrell Freeman, CHI (9 solos, 8 asst)
LB Danny Trevathan, CHI (7 solos, 4 asst, 1 sack)
The Bears new ILB tandem looks like they are capable of posting some very big numbers this year. This is the same defensive scheme under Vic Fangio that used to provide enough opportunities for Patrick Willis and Navarro Bowman with the 49ers. While Freeman and Trevathan don’t have the same talent level as those two, they are no slouches and the weak surrounding class figures to keep them on the field for plenty of snaps each week.

Downgrades

LB Brian Cushing, HOU (1 solo, 1 asst)
Cushing was in the starting lineup, but only lasted for 9 snaps before leaving the game with a knee injury. It was later reported that he suffered a torn MCL, which is expected to keep him out at least 6 weeks. The Texans turned to special teams standout Max Bullough in his place, who responded with 5 solos in just 28 snaps.

GREEN BAY @ JACKSONVILLE

Upgrades

S Morgan Burnett, GB (8 solos, 1 asst, 1 sack)
Burnett is only 1 season removed from 2014, when he posted 94 solo tackles so he can clearly produce like one of the truly elite fantasy IDPs when healthy. He was not himself for much of 2015, however, and missed almost the entire preseason this year as well while dealing with injuries. Fortunately, he was back to his old self on Sunday and put up some impressive numbers in a tight matchup with the Jaguars. Given the inexperienced inside linebackers playing in front of him, Burnett could certainly lead the Packers in tackles again this year.

Downgrades

LB Miles Jack, JAX (0 tackles)
Jack has huge long-term upside, but he fell in the draft due to medical concerns and the Jaguars are going to be cautious with him. He saw only special teams duties in week 1 as the team spent most of their time in the nickel package. In any event, some observers were expecting Jack to push for a big role right away but it looks like owners will need to be patient as he’s likely blocked at the moment by Telvin Smith and Paul Posluszny.

SAN DIEGO @ KANSAS CITY

Upgrades

LB Manti Te’o, SD (8 solos, 2 asst, 2 TFL)
With the Chargers working out of their dime defense for much of the second half as the Chiefs rallied to force overtime, it was often Te’o on the field rather than Denzel Perryman. That led to Te’o seeing 70 snaps compared to just 32 for Perryman. Te’o was picked on a bit by the Chiefs as well, so if he’s an everydown linebacker he’s probably going to post some strong numbers. Too early to panic on Perryman though.

LB Justin March-Lillard, KC (8 solos, 1 asst)
The second year pro from Akron got the start at ILB and made the most of it with 9 tackles on just 51 snaps. He won the job in part due to an injury to Josh Mauga, but played well enough to beat out Ramik Wilson and earn it. The coaches like his cover skills so he isn’t a guy who will automatically be pulled in passing situations either.

Downgrades

None.

OAKLAND @ NEW ORLEANS

Upgrades

None.

Downgrades

LB Stephone Anthony, NO (1 solo, 1 TFL)
Anthony was the Saints first round pick and leading tackler a year ago, but he wound up playing very little in the opener. James Laurinaitis and Craig Robertson played the entire game as part of the team’s nickel package, while Anthony only saw 13 snaps. Even Michael Mauti somehow got 21 snaps in the game as the 4th linebacker. There wasn’t much defense played in this game, but it’s very disconcerting to see Anthony, who should be a core player for the Saints, have such an insignificant role.

CB Delvin Breaux, NO (0 tackles)
The Saints lost their top corner to a broken leg, but he’s expected to return at some point in the 2016 season. That’s still a huge blow to a defense that can’t seem to stop anybody as they have very limited depth to begin with. His IDP value was not high, but his absence will likely force the Saints to rely on an undrafted rookie as a starting CB.

CINCINNATI @ NY JETS

Upgrades

DE Leonard Williams, NYJ (3 solos, 3 asst, 2.5 sacks, 5 QBH)
Many experts thought Williams was the best player in last year’s draft, and he wound up going to the Jets with the 6th pick. They already have an elite talent in Muhammad Wilkerson, and Williams may be ready to stake a claim soon himself with more games like this. Dalton was rarely sacked a year ago, but the Jets were able to get to him 7 times in this game led primarily by Williams.

LB Karlos Dansby, CIN (5 solos, 6 asst, 1 TFL)
There was some misdirection from the Bengals in the preseason that raised doubts about how Dansby would be used, but those were put to rest in the opener as he played every down. The veteran brings a ton of experience to the middle of the defense and is much better in coverage than Rey Maualuga, who only saw 8 snaps this week. For the time being (until Vontaze Burfict returns from suspension), Dansby can probably be considered a solid LB2.

Downgrades

None.

CLEVELAND @ PHILADELPHIA

Upgrades

DE Carl Nassib, CLE (3 solos, 1 sack, 2 QBH, 1 PD)
The Browns drafted Nassib in the 3rd round out of Penn State and he earned a big role right away. The rookie got the start against Philadelphia and finished with a sack and pass deflection to go along with 3 solo stops while playing 70% of the defensive snaps.

Downgrades

None.

MINNESOTA @ TENNESSEE

Upgrades

DE Danielle Hunter, MIN (3 solos, 1 sack, 1 FR, 1 TD)
Hunter was a popular sleeper candidate this year, as he figures to get more playing time as a pass rush specialist opposite Everson Griffen. In week 1, he wound up seeing just over half of the defensive snaps and showed off his explosiveness with a sack as well as a 25-yard fumble recovery touchdown that helped put the game away.

S Da’Norris Searcy, TEN (8 solos, 2 TFL, 1 PD)
Maybe it took him a year to get comfortable? Searcy was a bust during his first year with the Titans, but the potential is still there for him to post big numbers like this regularly. The players around him, particularly the linebackers, are nothing special so he should see plenty of time helping out in the box like he did this week against Adrian Peterson and the Vikings.

Downgrades

None.

MIAMI @ SEATTLE

Upgrades

CB Xavien Howard, MIA (6 solos, 5 asst)
The rookie corner got the start and played all but 1 defensive snap. The Dolphins defense played well, but they were on the field for an incredible 82 snaps so there were plenty of playmaking opportunities. Howard held up pretty well, as the Seahawks needed a late drive and several 4th down conversions to pull out the win.

Downgrades

None.

NY GIANTS @ DALLAS

Upgrades

DE Jason Pierre-Paul, NYG (4 solos, 2 asst, 2 QBH)
While Pierre-Paul wasn’t quite himself a year ago after returning from the fireworks injury, he has now had a full year to recover and re-learn how to use his hand (without a cast). All reports during camp were pretty positive, and it looks like he’s going to be able to make a significant contribution. Amazingly, he played 76 defensive snaps in the game, which was more than everybody but the starting two cornerbacks. Any DE who plays that much is going to be a must start.

Downgrades

None.

DETROIT @ INDIANAPOLIS

Upgrades

LB Tahir Woodhead, DET (6 solos, 4 asst, 2 PD)
The Lions new MLB was a popular sleeper option this year, as he showed flashes of being a solid all-around player in the past. He played all 70 defensive snaps in a pass-heavy game, which is a great sign of his everydown role. WLB DeAndre Levy is back and his range and ability in coverage should help free up Whitehead to focus primarily on the run.

Downgrades

LB D’Qwell Jackson, IND (0 solos, 2 asst)
Jackson remained in his familiar ILB role this week, but the tackles he normally piles up were nowhere to be found. He led all Colts linebackers with 51 snaps (78%), but for some reason just wasn’t very involved in the game. Meanwhile, fellow LB Sio Moore was extremely productive and finished with 13 combined tackles on just 47 snaps.

NEW ENGLAND @ ARIZONA

Upgrades

S Devin McCourty, NE (8 solos, 1 asst)
McCourty typically patrols the deep secondary for the Patriots, but he was much more active this week against the Cardinals and their pass-heavy offense. We probably shouldn’t expect 10 tackle games (he added 1 on special teams) from him regularly, but he can be a fantasy factor if given a chance.

Downgrades

LB Dont'a Hightower, NE (1 solo, 1 QBH)
Not completely sure why, but Hightower was nearly invisible for most of this game despite playing a healthy 95% of the defensive snaps. The Cardinals did only have 19 rush attempts, and their quick passes made it tough for Hightower to get home on any blitzes. He’ll bounce back, but don’t be surprised if he has more than his share of games like this as he was pretty frustrating a year ago too.


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