ADP Check: Five IDP Fantasy Fades
Mock draft season is well underway, and that is no different in IDP circles either. Over at PunchdrunkWonderland.com (PDW) they’ve been running a series of IDP-only mock drafts to gauge the preseason IDP fantasy landscape in isolation from their offensive counterparts.
This series of mocks mixes known IDP analysts from the community, including myself, with fantasy gamers from the Twitterverse, in order to monitor the changing ADP values of defensive players as the offseason progresses.
I’ll be using the data from the first 10 completed mocks by PDW as the basis for this article, as well as the ADP data collected by MyFantasyLeague (MFL). The data I’m using from MyFantasyLeague focuses on redraft-only leagues since May 15, 2015, to make the data as relevant as possible. Since May 15, there have been 382 redraft drafts on MFL, of which 61 featured an IDP selection.
This article will take the ADP data from PDW and MFL, and will contrast it alongside our 2015 IDP Projections and 2015 IDP Rankings, to suggest players worth avoiding on draft day this season. Identifying which players are being over-drafted is just as important as finding sleepers, so here my five players to be wary of on their current ADPs.
PunchDrunkWonderland – DL No. 11, DT No. 1,
MyFantasyLeague – DL No. 11, DT No. 2
Despite not winning a starting role until Week 6, Donald recorded a sensational rookie season that featured 47 total tackles, nine sacks and two forced fumbles. His performances earned him Defensive Rookie of the Year honors, as well as a place in the 2014 Pro Bowl. The speedy interior pass rusher impressed the PFF analysts too, grading out at +34.4, ending the season as our top-rated defensive tackle.
It is also not lost on fantasy owners that Donald plays on a line that features four other first round selections in Robert Quinn (14th overall, 2011), Chris Long (2nd overall, 2008), Michael Brockers (14th overall, 2012) and Nick Fairley (13th overall, 2011). As one of the best front-fours in the league, it’s difficult for teams to key on and double team specific players, allowing Donald more advantageous matchups than he would otherwise see.
Having been a constant danger when on the field, finishing the season in the top-10 defensive tackles for quarterback sacks, hits, hurries and also defensive stops (solo tackles/sacks that result in an offensive failure), Donald has garnered plenty of interest in the drafts that have been completed so far, ranking as a low-end DL1 above the likes of Rob Ninkovich and Cameron Wake. He’s also one of the first two defensive tackles off the board. That conflicts with our current projections for Donald, who currently sits as our No. 23 defensive lineman (and No. 4 defensive tackle).
Our fantasy rankings concur, with myself ranking Donald 21st among his peers, while Jeff Ratcliffe puts him 26th. Donald does sit second in both our defensive tackle rankings, behind Gerald McCoy, and marginally above Ndamukong Suh, Geno Atkins and Marcel Dareus.
Recommendation – In leagues that require defensive tackles, Donald is a top asset, but he is in a tightly bunched group of five, so reaching for him seems frivolous. In leagues that use a defensive lineman designation, Donald profiles as a mid-to-low DL2 and there are several much safer picks that could push DL1 value in the same ADP range.
Alternative Picks – Rob Ninkovich, Olivier Vernon, Gerald McCoy (DT-required leagues)
PDW – LB No. 10
MFL – LB No. 6
Kiko Alonso was another player who exploded onto the fantasy scene thanks to a dominant rookie year. He then missed the whole of his second season due to an ACL tear, but now finds himself in Philadelphia under Chip Kelly’s tutelage again (having played for him at Oregon in college), where many expect him to resume his standout play.
In his first season as a professional, Alonso recorded 159 total tackles, two sacks, four interceptions, one forced fumble and two recovered, which helped him rank as the sixth-best fantasy linebacker. However, a closer look at his 2013 statistics suggests a repeat of his LB1 numbers is by no means a given. Of his 159 total tackles, nearly half (72) were assisted tackles, which he led the league in. All four of his interceptions came in the first four games of the season, as did his forced fumble and one of his two sacks, meaning his only splash play after Week 5 in 2013 was a single sack.
From Week 5 onward in his rookie campaign, Alonso was only the 14th best scoring linebacker despite playing the fifth most snaps. His tackles per opportunity (tPOP) score of 13.3 was also not indicative of a truly elite player, and more comparable to Sean Weatherspoon, whose career tPOP is 13.9, rather than a player of Luke Kuechly’s caliber, who has averaged a tPOP of 19.1 in his three years in the league.
Further compounding the over-valuation of Alonso is his move to Philadelphia from Buffalo. The Bills home stat crew is one of the most fantasy-friendly when it comes to awarding tackles, awarding 1.41 per opportunity compared to the Eagles crew, which awarded just 1.07. Alonso now also finds himself alongside Mychal Kendricks, a player with LB1 aspirations of his own, with veteran Demeco Ryans waiting in the wings as well. Expect Alonso and Kendricks to hurt each other’s value somewhat and form a fantasy tandem more of the ilk of LB2s D’Qwell Jackson and Jerrell Freeman in Indianapolis, rather than the dynamic LB1 duo of Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman for the 49ers.
Recommendation – Our projections place Alonso as the 27th best linebacker in the LB2/3 range, while our consensus rankings are not quite as damning, slotting him 19th. His ADP as a LB1 seems too aggressive, especially considering his lowest draft position in the PDW mocks has been 2.09 when the likes of Karlos Dansby (projected No. 10 LB) and Jelani Jenkins (projected No. 18 LB) have not been selected before pick 3.05.
Alternative Picks – Paul Posluszny, Paul Worrilow, Sean Lee, D’Qwell Jackson
PDW – LB No.12
MFL – LB No.20
Marshall was a player who helped and hurt owners last season. He began the season as a starter, quickly becoming a waiver wire must-add, before the projected return of Danny Trevathan in Week 5 prompted owners to ditch him. Trevathan then succumbed to an injury the following week, which opened the door for Marshall’s own return. Trevathan only managed to suit up for a further 42 snaps all season allowing owners of Marshall to reap the rewards. Those who dropped him, expecting his benching, would live to rue that decision if they didn’t re-secure his services a few weeks later.
Marshall seized his opportunity and held the starting WLB job all season, earning himself a three-down role and posting 113 total tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles and one interception. He ended the year as the fourth highest scoring linebacker and his +18.9 grade ranked him as the fourth best 4-3 OLB last year, emphasizing his impressive on-field performances. On a fantasy points per game basis, he outperformed C.J. Mosley, Bobby Wagner and Jamie Collins, hence the optimism for 2015.
His role in the Broncos defense heading into the new season is the issue here. The Broncos have appointed Wade Phillips as their new defensive coordinator, and Phillips runs a 3-4 defense. Although Marshall is in line to play one of the ILB spots, Trevathan is currently seen as the No.1 inside ‘backer on the roster. Marshall’s three-down role is also strongly in jeopardy. Edge rushers Von Miller, DeMarcus Ware and Shane Ray will all command snaps in rotation on third down, while Marshall will have a straight battle with Trevathan for what looks like one spot in the packages. If he cannot win that camp battle, he’ll struggle to play more than 700 snaps, which will severely cap his upside.
Recommendation – Currently Marshall is being projected as our No. 55 linebacker because we don’t see him playing enough snaps to be an every-week fantasy starter. Trevathan, who we have penciled in as the starter and three-down player for Denver, projects as the No. 23 ‘backer. On that basis, even if Marshall can outplay Trevathan and win their camp battle, his current ADP as the 12th linebacker selected by the PDW mock drafters seems high. Our expectation is that the top Broncos inside linebacker is a mid-to-low LB2, with the potential to score like a low-end LB1 if an every-down starter. Even at his lower ADP over at MFL, I’m not keen on plugging in Marshall as a starting second linebacker for my 2015 teams, as more patient IDP owners would likely have to. I’d be much happier slotting him in as my third choice, or primary bench ‘backer.
Alternative Picks – Sean Lee, Karlos Dansby, D’Qwell Jackson, Jelani Jenkins
PDW – DB No. 17, S No .14
MFL – DB No. 10, S No .9
Arguably the best safety in the league, on the league’s best defense, it’s no surprise that Earl Thomas is a player who is often overdrafted. However, his on-field impact is not always realized as elite fantasy value.
Thomas has played at a high level for each of his five seasons in the NFL, yet it is only his eight-interception season in 2013 that resulted in an elite fantasy return, when he finished as the fifth highest scoring defensive back. On three occasions Thomas has ranked outside the top 36 defensive backs.
Thomas saw his draft value soar last season following his career-best fantasy year, but he was unable to repeat that level of production and slumped to a single interception (a career low) and ranked just 47th.
Having averaged 101 total tackles over the past two seasons, and recorded 98 back in 2011, Thomas has established his fantasy floor and a solid benchmark for his future performance. He has also been ultra-consistent with splash plays – total number of sacks, interceptions, forced fumbles and fumbles recovered – season to season, notching up 6, 5, 5, 7, 5, further establishing his fantasy floor, but his peak fantasy value has remained volatile.
Currently we have Thomas projected as a low-end DB2, and I have him ranked 18th. He’s an awkward fantasy player as his talent is undeniable, but his true fantasy value puts him in the same draft region as Charles Woodson, Michael Griffin and Da’Norris Searcy. The result is fantasy gamers often opt for Thomas on name value, seduced by his highlight-reel interceptions.
Recommendation – For Thomas to push into the midst of the DB2 rankings he needs to post 100-plus total tackles, and record four or more interceptions. While I think that is certainly within the range of Thomas’ abilities, his value is capped by the production of Kam Chancellor beside him, and Bobby Wagner in front. I believe in Thomas’ ability to get toward the upper range of his potential statistical production, but you’re paying a premium for it and owners who have drafted Thomas high in previous seasons have been burned. If you’re a huge fan of Thomas I can understand why you’d still see value in him as a low-end DB2, but based on his previous season’s production only one of his five seasons has he generously repaid you, and three times he’d have hurt you.
Alternative Picks – Landon Collins, James Ihedigbo, Antrel Rolle, Michael Griffin
PDW – LB No. 16
MFL – LB No. 15
The furor that surrounded Shazier’s entry into the league was deafening. His 42-inch vertical at the 2013 Combine was the highest recorded of any player, and he proceeded to run a sub 4.4 40-yard dash at his Pro Day, having weighed in at 237 pounds. Superlatives rolled off scouting reports – explosive, dynamic, freakish speed. His quickness was clearly evident on his college tape, and preseason scouting reports were raving about his abilities too.
Excited by his sideline-to-sideline potential and skills in space, Shazier was selected 15th overall by the Pittsburgh Steelers, creating even further hype heading into his rookie season. He was quickly running with the ones in the preseason and was a starter in the first three games before suffering a knee injury that sidelined him until Week 8. Shazier never fully recovered, and subsequently suffered an ankle injury that restricted his playing time to just 71 further snaps before suiting up for 38 in Week 17.
Shazier did have a fantasy impact in his first two games of the season when healthy, scoring 11.8 (LB34) and 12.8 (LB32), to rank as the 27th best linebacker in those opening game weeks. However, he was not impressive when on the field, grading -2.0 and -0.6. His return at the end of the season was on a limited snap count, and he failed to score over five fantasy points in any of his appearances.
Heading into 2015, Shazier is reported to have bulked up and will return to playing one of the inside linebacker spots for the Steelers 3-4 defense. His athleticism and early season usage before the injuries suggests he can and will be used in a three-down role, but he has yet to prove he can be a top fantasy performer.
Shazier’s current ADP in both PDW and MFL mock drafts puts him right at the top of the LB2 tier, which is above his projected position (22nd) and my current ranking of 39th. Shazier’s value is all based on hype. If I’m investing in “hype” I’d rather pay for one of the top two rookie linebackers Stephone Anthony or Eric Kendricks, who have clear pathways to productive every-down roles.
Recommendation – Shazier never reached Round 4 in any of the 10 mocks completed by the PDW mockers, but wasn’t selected in Round 1 either. The earliest he went was 2.02. I’d much rather grab a mid-tier DE1 like Everson Griffen or Calais Campbell in that spot, or perhaps Telvin Smith as a linebacker you can wait on a bit longer with upside.
Alternative Picks – Everson Griffen, Calais Campbell, Stephone Anthony, Eric Kendricks, Telvin Smith.
Ross Miles is a Lead Writer for Pro Football Focus Fantasy. Follow him on Twitter – @RossMilesNFL
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