In dynasty leagues or in redrafts that were conducted earlier in the summer, a lot can change in a hurry. Position reclassifications and season-ending injuries seem to have hit IDP hard this year. While I can’t offer surefire studs at this time, I can give you some players that at worst are duct tape that will hold you over until other options emerge. Two of the opportunities that exist just happen to be in Arizona.
The attention here has been going to Tyrann Mathieu. However, I’ve noticed in a lot of leagues that owners have avoided the strong safety position for the Cardinals probably due to the uncertainty there with Tony Jefferson leading first-round pick Deone Bucannon on the depth chart. While the position hasn’t been particularly productive in the last few years, there is some reason for optimism. Darryl Washington is suspended for the entire season and MLB savior Kevin Minter is dealing with a pectoral injury that has him on the shelf. This is playing out similar to the situation in Dallas where the safeties there will carry an elevated role for IDP due to the lackluster group of linebackers in front of them. If you read that the NFC West has the third-best schedule for IDP tackle opportunities according to the trends, this is a good case of getting ahead of your competition to get those targets. Mathieu has quite a nose for the ball and will eat away at some tackle opportunities for Bucannon but consider that Bucannon has been auditioning as the nickel linebacker even when Minter was healthy. We could see Bucannon with an incredible tackling role regardless of defensive formation. This is all speculation at this point but since Bucannon is essentially free in redraft, why not buy a cheap option? D.J. Swearinger is a popular player in IDP drafts and auctions that I’ve participated in this year. His price is quite high if you were trying to acquire him. Perhaps Jefferson or Buccanon could act as your proper arbitrage play.
How to play it
If you are still drafting, select Mathieu with confidence as he has been cleared to play following his rehab. He’s the sure thing to collect tackles behind those invisible LBs. Then use a late pick on Bucannon. If you are in dynasty leagues, Bucannon and Mathieu carry ridiculous price tags so I wouldn’t bother to attempt to trade but do look to see if Tony Jefferson is available as he is currently top of the depth chart. Should Jefferson get the start in Week 1 and perform well, he’s not a fluke and could stick. I’m not saying that Jefferson is an 80 solo tackle guy, but he could provide some duct tape for a lineup hit with demotions, injuries, and suspensions. Jefferson’s profile for your viewing pleasure.
Larry Foote is a sure thing to start and could play all three downs. While most are aware of that, Kevin Minter’s status is uncertain due to his injured pectoral muscle. Kenny Demens has been seeing first team snaps since Minter was shut down. Demens was undrafted but displayed a great motor while at Michigan as he set their record for tackles in a career and has received praise for his hard work on the Arizona scout team last season. He made another start at LB in the Cardinals’ third preseason game and recorded four tackles.
How to Play It
Much of IDP is about opportunity and the Cardinals appear very excited about Demens and are set to give him that opportunity. Yesterday Minter returned to practice to test the recovery from his injury. He’s set to play Thursday night so keep an eye on his progress. I really think Demens is a speculative add right now but don’t pay anything for him. If you are unlucky enough to be in a league with me he’s on my roster and available for trade.