2012 IDP Bets for Breakout Review
Before I look ahead to 2013, I like to reflect on the previous year. Last season, I introduced my Bets for Breakout series, in which I highlighted several potential IDPs primed for big seasons that could’ve helped your fantasy squad. So, without further ado, let’s review and make fun of these picks as I dust myself off and get ready for 2013.
Colin McCarthy, LB, TEN (Incomplete): I’m going to give myself an incomplete on this one. Yes, I know it’s a cop out, and I’ll understand if you consider a miss. McCarthy suffered a high ankle sprain in the first week of the season and was never really the same. He came back too early and just couldn’t get comfortable enough to play at the high level that he displayed in 2011. McCarthy appeared in just 388 defensive snaps before his season ended after Week 12, producing 38 tackles and a 9.8 percent tackle frequency in seven starts.
As of now, there’s no reason to think he won’t be back manning the middle, so he makes a nice candidate for rebound in a solid LB group consisting of Akeem Ayers and Zach Brown. McCarthy’s current ADP has him being drafted outside the top 15 (152.67) making him a solid LB2 heading into the 2013 campaign.
Bruce Carter, LB, DAL (Hit): I’m going to go out on a limb and say I hit here, but I’d be open to hear a counter-point. Sure, he finished with just 70 tackles, but he did it in only 11 games and didn’t appear as an every-down linebacker until Week 6. If you extrapolate the numbers over a full season, he was averaging around 6 tackles/gm and would’ve finished with just over 100 at the clip of one tackle on 11.2 percent of his snaps. My projections had him had 88 tackles in 854 snaps. Heading into 2013, he’s been notched in as the WLB in their 4-3 scheme and will play nicely in Monte Kiffin’s Tampa-2 defense, which could allow him to flirt with LB2 numbers.
Alterraun Verner, CB, TEN (Hit): I’m going to claim another hit on this one. I projected 88 tackles/3 INT/9 PD and he finished 7 tackles short and a pick shy. Verner appeared in 1,063 defensive snaps and was a solid run defender for the Titans, grading at a +2.5. From an IDP standpoint, his 81 tackles put him just outside of the top 10 among CB scoring. If he sees another 80+ targets, there’s no reason he can’t produce similar numbers in 2013 and is looking like a solid CB2 target this season.
KJ Wright, LB, SEA (Hit): Heading into 2013, it looked like Wright would be penciled in as MIKE. But the Seahawks drafted Bobby Wagner and placed him in the middle with Wright back to the outside as SAM. It didn’t hurt his IDP value all that much, as he was still productive at a notoriously unfriendly IDP spot. I was off on the sack projection, but Wright exceeded my tackle projections by four (I projected 94 and he racked up 98, which included a game where he only appeared in 4 snaps). He didn’t rush the passer as much with just 108 snaps and 13 total QB Pressures, only one of which he converted for a sack. Wright was strong in pass coverage grading out at +4.5, which is going to keep him on the field in 2013. Wright, paired with Wagner, will continue to be a solid LB duo heading into 2013.
Kelvin Sheppard, LB, BUF (Miss): Looks like I might’ve been a year too early on Sheppard. He began the year as a starter on the inside next to Nick Barnett, but he failed to lock down the nickel role and found himself coming off the field more times than not. The result was appearing in just 521 defensive snaps and was, at best, a risky match-up play on a weekly basis in IDP leagues. He was productive when he was on the field, however, finishing with 80 tackles (15.4 percent tackle frequency), two sacks and nine games with six-plus tackles. Sheppard is on track to man the inside in Buffalo’s new 3-4 and if he nails down the nickel role, this could be the break-out year.
Malcolm Jenkins, S, NOS (Hit): Jenkins graded out as the worst safety at a -19.3, but that doesn’t matter for IDP purposes. Jenkins finished with 94 tackles (92 was my projection), an INT and seven defended passes. He finished with a solid 10.5 percent tackle frequency, but he missed 20 tackles, which was one in every 5 attempts. Jenkins is a big hitter, but he tends to favor the hit over the fundamental tackle. Jenkins is a strong option in the tackle-heavy format, as the big plays aren’t there, but is a solid DB2 target in most IDP formats.
Prince Amukamara, CB, NYG (Miss): Definitely a miss with this one. Terrell Thomas was injured once again, but at the same time, Amukamara couldn’t avoid injury himself. Amukamara missed the first three games of the year and finished with 741 defensive snaps and finished with just 53 tackles and a pick, just slightly below my 83 tackle/4 INT/7 PD projection. At this point, Amukamara is an injury risk, playing in just 20 of a possible 32 games and should be considered waiver wire material in deeper leagues this year.
Taylor Mays, S, CIN (Miss): Heading into the year, he was anointed the starting strong safety and played some free safety, but Mays quickly lost his starting job at the outset, as he made just two other starts. Mays appeared in just 248 snaps and 22 tackles. At this stage of the offseason, I would consider him undraftable in most IDP formats, but with this being a “what have you done for me lately” type game, he could have appeal if he looks good in training camp and the preseason.
Mike Woellert is a Senior Writer for Pro Football Focus Fantasy. Follow Mike on Twitter @PFF_MWoellert