Offseason catchup for IDP fantasy leaguers
It’s here! The NFL season is back, and it’s time for us to get sucked in deep to our fantasy football leagues. The problem often is that as a regular human being, you haven’t been reading news from beat writers across the nation all offseason, and you’ve probably only taken a cursory glance at NFL websites over the last few months, outside of the draft. Getting up to speed in preparation for your league draft is often one of the most daunting aspects of the pre-season, but don’t worry! I’m here to recap all the major goings-on for the defensive side of the ball and those of you who play in IDP leagues.
Free agency saw a handful of bigger-name defenders switch teams, and they will be plying their trade in a different city this coming season. The biggest move was DE Calais Campbell switching from the Arizona Cardinals to the Jacksonville Jaguars, where the nine-year veteran and omnipresent DL1 will be expected to continue to post a similar stat line. Over the last eight seasons, Campbell has ranked as a top-20 defensive lineman each season, and has also cracked the top-10 for five of those years, and it should be much of the same in 2017. If anything, the switch to playing in a 4-3 scheme, as opposed to the 3-4 run in Arizona, should give Campbell additional sack upside. The former Florida Gator has never had a double-digit sack season in the NFL (though he did come very close in 2013 with 9.5), but the additional freedom to hunt the opposing quarterback in the Jags defensive scheme could well mean Campbell reaches that mark in his 10th season as a pro. The switch to playing in Jacksonville certainly hasn’t dented Campbell’s value, and if anything it’s given him a higher ceiling, so he remains an ultra-dependable DL1.
Staying in Jacksonville, they made further moves in free agency by picking up former Cowboy SS Barry Church on a four-year, $21.6 million deal. Church will slide straight into a starting role for the Jags, replacing the departed Johnathan Cyprien (more on him below). Church is very much a like-for-like replacement for Cyprien, offering a very similar skillset, being a player who likes to get up into the box and attack the line of scrimmage as more of a run defender than a last line of defense. Averaging 108.5 total tackles a year over the last four seasons, despite missing five games, Church is a fixture in the DB1 landscape, even if not a lock for 16 games. Add in that he is stepping into a role where Cyprien himself averaged 113 total tackles a year over the last four seasons (despite missing four games), and it’s easy to connect the dots and see Church as a top-half DB1 again in 2017.