Every year there are new faces in new places – not just players, but coaches too. With those changes come scheme changes, and value changes with regard to fantasy football. Which is why drafting off stats from the previous year isn’t a wise thing to do. However, reading each divisional IDP preview update would be a wise thing to do. If you have any additional questions please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on twitter @SteveGalloNFL.
HC: Mike Smith
DC: Mike Nolan
Base Defensive Scheme: 4-3
Scheme Change: No
The Falcons run a 4-3 defense but for fantasy purposes they may as well run a 3-4 because there is next to no value to be had for IDP owners.
Sean Weatherspoon, injured again. This time it’s a ruptured Achilles. Paul Worrilow may not be a great NFL talent but he’s in a situation where he’s going to see a ton of opportunities and opportunities are an IDPs best friend. With an ADP of LB15 you get a guy that I see with top-5 to 10 upside this year. In deeper leagues, Joplo Bartu should be a LB3/4 bye week filler type play.
All the talk seems to be how bad the Cowboys defense is going to be but I’m not expecting much from the Falcons defense either. William Moore doesn’t ever seem to put up studly type numbers but he is a guy you can plug and play and expect DB1 & DB2 numbers on a week-to-week basis.
HC: Ron Rivera
DC: Sean McDermott
Base Defensive Scheme: 4-3
Scheme Change: No
The Panthers have two very formidable pass rushers in Greg Hardy and Charles Johnson. Hardy disappointed some last year as he finished as DL17, while Johnson really disappointed IDP owners with his final ranking of DL57. From an ADP standpoint (Hardy DL4 & Johnson DL22) people seem to be putting last year in their rearview mirrors. I like Hardy, but he’s not a plug and play DL – most aren’t and never will be – so as long as you know you’ll have to pick your spots with him you’ll be OK. If you are worried about Hardy’s conviction for assault turning into a suspension that makes sense but as it stands now it seems like a suspension won’t stake place in 2014. Consistency wise, Hardy scored in double digits 5 times and Johnson accomplished the feat four times. The biggest difference was that Johnson scored five or fewer points in 50% of the games he played in, and Hardy rate was slightly better at 40%.
Luke Kuechly is all the rage among IDP drafters, sporting an ADP of LB1. I get it, Luke has been extremely productive in his first two years in the league. But did you know that last year he didn’t finish as the top scoring LB? Nope, and he didn’t even finish 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th. He finished 6th among LBs in fantasy scoring. I do expect him to have a fantastic year, but he’s not my LB1. That designation goes to Lavonte David. Kuechly won’t be the only Panthers LB to have fantasy value this year. Look for Thomas Davis to continue to defy logic – He’s like the defensive equivalent of Adrian Peterson, in that neither seems to be human – and have yet another productive IDP season. In 2013, Davis finished as LB15, and while I can see a drop-off for him, I still think he’s a safe LB2/3 that you can get a LB4 in your draft.
Roman Harper may not present the upside, or speed for that matter, that he once had but as the Panthers starting SS he’ll have decent enough fantasy value. Guys like Harper are why you can wait on DBs. He’s someone you don’t have to marry but you can get after 30 or so DBs are off the board and he’s someone that can be a valuable part of a DB platoon. But it is true that his upside is limited because of Kuechly and Davis playing at the level in front of him.
New Orleans Saints
HC: Sean Payton
DC: Rob Ryan
Base Defensive Scheme: 3-4
Scheme Change: No
The Saints run a 3-4 which normally is bad news for DE value, but Cameron Jordan bucks that trend and presents as a nice mid-level DL2 that will give you something point wise on a week-to-week basis. If you are looking for upside at DL, then Jordan isn’t your guy (4 double digit games in 2013).
Curtis Lofton is only sporting an ADP of LB33 and in my eyes that makes him a nice IDP value pick. He finished as LB23 last season, but the thing I like best is that he only had three non-double digit scoring weeks, and in those three weeks he scored 8, 8 and 9 fantasy points.
Kenny Vaccaro had a solid rookie campaign in 2013 and I fully expect him to not only build on it but to take a big step towards weekly IDP stud status. With an ADP of DB12 he comes at a much better value than Eric Berry (DB4), Eric Weddle (DB5) and TJ Ward (DB6) to name a few and has as much if not more upside than all of them. While Vaccaro has the SS spot locked down, newly acquired Jairus Byrd will man the Saints FS spot. Byrd has nose for the big-play (INT) so if you’re in a big-play league then you can give Byrd a look but if not I’d take a pass on him.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
HC: Lovie Smith
DC: Leslie Frazier
Base Defensive Scheme: 4-3 (Tampa-2)
Scheme Change: Yes (4-3 to Tampa-2)
The Buccaneers have made some great additions this year. First and foremost I love the addition of Lovie Smith as HC and Leslie Frazier as his DC. With Gerald McCoy as his Warren Sapp like DT for the Tampa-2 and the addition of Michael Bennett at DE the Buccaneers defense looks to be in good shape. Fantasy wise, I’m love Gerald McCoy and have him as my DT1 this year. At DE, Adrian Clayborn had a so-so season last year for fantasy purposes, finishing as DE22. I think he can build on his five double digit games from a season ago, but what you’re not going to get is a guy you can plug and play every week. Michael Johnson finished as DE26 playing for the Bengals last season and this year I see him having more NFL value than fantasy value. Like Clayborn, I see him as a platoon type DE.
Tampa-2 defense, meet Lavonte David, Lavonte David, meet Tampa-2 defense. David is a PERFECT LB for the Tampa-2 defense that Lovie Smith and Leslie Frazier are going to run this year. He’s sporting an ADP of LB2 but he’s my LB1 this season. Mason Foster finished as LB3 last year and this year I see more of the same with a small bit of upside that could push him into the LB2 tier.
In the Tampa-2 defense you need to be strong up the middle and with McCoy, Foster/David and Mark Barron the Buccaneers are strong up the middle. Look for Barron to be one of the leading tacklers at safety this year. Another thing you need in a Tampa-2 is a CB like Alterraun Verner who is a perfect fit for the scheme. Look for Verner to have top-3 value in CB mandatory leagues and DB1 value in combined leagues.
Scoring system used for this article: solo tackle (2), assisted tackle (1), sack (3), forced or recovered fumble (3), interception (3) and pass defended (1).