This edition includes IDP projections for Haasan Reddick, DeForest Buckner, Kam Chancellor and many others at the positions of defensive tackle, defensive end, linebacker, cornerback, and safety.
I’m highlighting some of the scheme, personnel and coaching adjustments or other useful information I used when projecting the NFC West. I’ll share actionable information such as buy-low players, fades, targets and anything which could create an advantage for our subscribers during their drafts.
My first step was to review some publicly available defensive position depth charts and compare to my own. I like using Ourlads and Rotoworld. Also, it’s important to evaluate 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, and 4 points for an interception. I’ve included the pressure rate metric from Football Outsiders as it helps track defensive pass rush progress and incorporates hurries in addition to sacks. Also included is QB sacks allowed which was helpful for projecting sacks. 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 valuations of players as they develop their draft strategies.
The Rams and 49ers are both going through a scheme change which must be analyzed. We have a good idea what we’ll get from a Wade Phillips defense, but Robert Saleh is not as well known.
|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|
|ARZ||3-4||Bruce Arians||James Bettcher||27||29.3%||3-4||Bruce Arians||James Bettcher||41||32.1%|
|LAR||4-3||Jeff Fisher||Gregg Williams||18||28.3%||3-4||Sean McVay||Wade Phillips||49||28.4%|
|SEA||4-3||Pete Carroll||Kris Richard||46||29.3%||4-3||Pete Carroll||Kris Richard||42||28.6%|
|SF||3-4||Chip Kelly||Jim O’Neil||53||25.7%||4-3||Kyle Shanahan||Robert Saleh||47||22.6%|
Frank Clark broke out last season with 10 sacks at the defensive end position but given that both Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril are still there I have a hard time projecting much statistical growth for him.
Since the other three teams run a 3-4 now, the best defensive line IDP opportunities in this division are in San Francisco. Aaron Donald will lose almost all his value as he was a force at defensive tackle. He should be a serviceable defensive end in larger leagues but as you can see his projection is pedestrian now.
The new Aaron Donald in the NFC West could be Solomon Thomas. He has the potential to be special, and we’ll get to see if that can come about as he’s projected to start right away at defensive tackle. It’s not hard to be bullish about the 49ers defensive line. If Arik Armstead is healthy, they could score respectable IDP numbers and be fun to watch.
After logging more than 1000 snaps at defensive end last season DeForest Buckner recorded a monstrous 73 total tackles while playing end in a 3-4 defense. This season his team shifts him to a potentially higher scoring position as a DE in the 4-3 scheme. Buckner should see increased opportunities to get to the QB, but it will be hard to improve on last year’s tackle numbers.
We witnessed Bobby Wagner’s peak season last year, and it was beautiful. I’m projecting a little regression but not much. He’s my second highest projected LB next to Luke Kuechly.
It’s going to be odd having Navarro Bowman as depth behind Malcolm Smith, but that’s what’s set to happen. As reported during and following OTAs Bowman was at risk of being cut. I’m going to follow the Malcolm Smith money and then first round draft pick Reuben Foster to make my projections, and for now, I’ll delete Navarro Bowman.
I realize Pro Football Focus hates Malcolm Smith, but I like linebackers that have delivered back to back 100 plus tackle seasons and recently signed a big contract. Smith is one I don’t mind taking as my LB2 in redrafts, but I avoid him in dynasty.
Markus Golden delivered some incredible numbers last season in Arizona and should maintain that progress with more snaps coming his way. He was second in the league in QB Hits with 24 and led the league in tackles for loss with 17 so if your league has those categories be sure to plug those numbers in your projections.
FADE HAASAN REDDICK and TARGET DEONE BUCANNON
The Arizona Cardinals are quite a challenge to project because we don’t know if Haasan Reddick or Deone Bucannon will start at ILB opposite of Karlos Dansby in the opener and beyond. To me, the play here is fade Reddick and go with Bucannon for value. Bucannon is going nowhere. He’s a favorite player of the staff and team because of his one of a kind size at the LB position. He’s going to get his job back over a rookie who’s completely new to that position. And he should come with an injury discount.
Of the safeties in this division, none have the ceiling of Kam Chancellor. He’s not had good health for the last two seasons, and his value has been depressed, but consider his numbers from right before that. At 29 years of age Chancellor is worth targeting. Consider what a healthy Kam Chancellor season looks like.
Budda Baker is backing up the often injured Tyrann Mathieu and 32-year old Antoine Bethea. Given Arizona’s proclivity to find ways to get third safeties on the field, Baker should have an impact and have opportunities in either safety role at times during his rookie year.