This year I’m publishing all my IDP projections here at Rotoviz. In this edition I’m highlighting some of the scheme, personnel and coaching adjustments or other useful information I used when projecting the NFC North. I’ll share any actionable information such as buy-low players, fades, targets and generally anything which could create informational advantages for our subscribers during drafts in dynasty and redraft leagues.
My first step was to review some publicly accessible defensive position depth charts and compare to my own. I like using Ourlads and Rotoworld. In addition it’s important to review the coaching and defensive scheme changes. I used a balanced scoring system that awards 1.5 points per solo tackle, 0.75 for each assist, 1 point for passes defended, 3 points per sack, 3 points for forced fumbles, 4 points for an interception. I’ve included the pressure rate metric from Football Outsiders as it helps to track defensive pass rush progress and incorporates hurries in addition to sacks. Also included is QB sacks allowed which was helpful for projecting sacks and I thought these would be useful to include for IDP and non-IDP folks for tracking defensive progress. There are many other variables that I review and I’ll note those throughout each projection notebook. I hope these projections help readers to determine their own valuations of players as they develop their draft strategies.
|TM||2016||16 HC||16 DC||2015 QB Sacks Allowed||2015 Pressure Rate||2017||17 HC||17 DC||2016 QB Sacks Allowed||2016 Pressure Rate|
|CHI||3-4||John Fox||Vic Fangio||34||24.7%||3-4||John Fox||Vic Fangio||28||28.1%|
|DET||4-3||Jim Caldwell||Teryl Austin||44||24.9%||4-3||Jim Caldwell||Teryl Austin||37||23.1%|
|GB||3-4||Mike McCarthy||Dom Capers||47||26.5%||3-4||Mike McCarthy||Dom Capers||35||27.0%|
|MIN||4-3||Mike Zimmer||George Edwards||45||28.0%||4-3||Mike Zimmer||George Edwards||38||31.2%|
Nothing changed at coach or scheme, but I think its worth noting the positive movement for pressure rate for the Bears and Vikings.
Danielle Hunter is the one to own in this division and will sport an expensive price tag in most drafts as he’s moved into the elite category with room to grow. I can’t help but to think a bounce-back season could be in order for Ezekiel Ansah. He was banged up last season and his tackle numbers were cut in half while only registering two sacks. Ansah should come at an attractive price this year and is one who could significantly outperform his draft position.
TARGET KERRY HYDER
Devin Taylor’s departure from Detroit through free agency has left an opportunity on the defensive line opposite from Ezekial Ansah. Kerry Hyder has a lock on the spot thanks to the Lions not pursuing any edge rushers during the draft and allowing Taylor to walk. There are many who see the eight sacks Hyder had last year as a fluke as three came in one game and this is likely why he’s receiving very little hype.
Hyder needed an Ezekial Ansah injury to get him enough opportunity to show what he could do last season. Now with the Lions showing faith in Hyder, he will have a full season to improve upon last year’s numbers. At the moment he appears in very few rankings and represents a buy-low opportunity despite the increase in role and snaps coming into the season. My projection has him holding last year’s form with some increase in tackles.
Jerrell Freeman can be had for a fair price in most drafts, and he has top-10 upside at the linebacker position. He put up 85 solo tackles in only 12 games last season, as he missed the first four due to a suspension. Freeman was last season’s highest-graded LB by Pro Football Focus. Danny Trevethan is rehabbing a torn patellar, and I’m projecting Nick Kwiatkoski to continue to start next to Freeman for the majority of the season.
With so many rookies in the mix in Detroit, they’re a challenge to project at LB. I’m not writing off Tahir Whitehead just yet, and I’m not yet taking a leap of faith on Reeves-Maybin. Paul Worrilow makes for a sneaky hedge on the situation in Detroit if you’re desperate anywhere.
GET EXCITED ABOUT EDMOND ROBINSON
Chad Greenway has retired and his weakside LB position will be open competition among the numerous inexperienced LBs on the Vikings roster. According to off-season news and reports from OTA’s, Edmond Robinson and Emmanuel Lamur are in the lead, with observers pointing out that Robinson has taken the majority of snaps. For this reason, it’s worth taking a closer look at 25-year-old Edmond Robinson.
Robinson sported a solid resume of college production during his days at Newberry College. It’s worth noting that he caught enough scount’s eyes that he was invited to the NFL Combine as an outside LB. Robinson delivered a top-25-percentile 40 time and flashed in other measurables which compare favorably to several successful every-down LBs. Overall, Robinson was a great LB prospect coming out of college, and from an athletic standpoint, we should be excited to see what he can do in a full-time role.
On the other hand, there’s Emmanuel Lamur, who started a LB at times for the Bengals. His most notable accomplishment was 53 solo tackles out of 13 starts in 2014. Most of his starts were in relief of Vontaze Burfict, who missed a number of starts in the past three seasons. In my IDP drafts this summer, fantasy GM’s have had an affinity for Lamur over Robinson likely due to Lamur being a former starter.
Edmond Robinson is entering his third season in the Vikings organization, as opposed to Lamur entering his second season. So far both have seen very little time on the field during games as a LB for the Vikings, and one will win the job. As you can see I’m projecting Robinson to win the job, and he is much cheaper to acquire at the moment. In deep dynasty leagues, he’s worth a review of your free agent pool to see if he can be had.
MORGAN BURNETT IS A VALUE AGAIN
Last year I pointed out that the wrong safety in Green Bay was being drafted early. Somehow that’s happening again, as Morgan Burnett presently sits behind Ha Ha Clinton-Dix in MyFantasyLeague ADP and in the Fantasy Pros rankings. Morgan Burnett has all the upside opportunity due to him producing a 105-solo-tackle season a few years ago, and he expects to be in the thick of the tackle opportunity again. That will be especially true if the Packers continue to use him as a LB on some passing downs.
I can see the argument of Clinton-Dix being ranked higher in dynasty, as Burnett’s contract us set to expire next season, and the Packers just invested a second-round pick in North Carolina State safety Josh Jones. For redraft you can’t beat the value that Burnett represents, and I think those drafting Clinton-Dix ahead of him win the IDP cognitive dissonance award for the year.
MILES KILLEBREW A HOLD FOR 2018
As you can see I’m projecting Tavon Wilson to hold the starting job over Miles Killebrew. Killebrew played in 149 snaps last season in roles as a hybrid safety and LB. Killebrew excites fans based on his big hits during his time in college.
Coverage is a concern and potentially a reason why Killebrew isn’t a starter yet. PFF noted recently that while Killebrew expects and increased role this season, “…he allowed a passer rating of 95.4 on throws into his primary coverage, the highest mark among all Lions safeties and the ninth highest of 15 rookie safeties with at least 100 coverage snaps. He finished the 2016 with an overall grade of 54.8.”
Killebrew would need a Tavon Wilson or Glover Quinn injury right now to grab the starting strong safety role, but I think he still makes for an interesting acquisition target if the price is reasonable due to Wilson’s contract expiring following this season.
FADE HARRISON SMITH
Harrison Smith is being valued as a top pick at defensive back in redrafts this off-season, and my projections do not reflect that for him. The reason is that his peak seasons were 2012 and 2014, and he played nearly every snap in both those seasons with a high-water mark of solo tackles at 71. I don’t see any favorable trends for Smith that could lead to more than 71 solo tackles or other statistics that would add value. To me he’s as an easy fade at his current prices.