What did we learn for IDP in 2016?
Another fantasy season is in the books, with several new names putting themselves firmly in the shop window for next year, including several notable rookie performances for the latest IDP class. Throw in injuries to some of the biggest IDP names across all three position classes, and you needed to draft deeper with success in 2016, or be astute on the waiver wire, to run deep into your fantasy playoffs. Let’s take a look back and delve into what we learned from last season.
One of the game’s most dominant players, J.J. Watt, only lasted three games of 2016 before needing back surgery that sidelined him for the rest of the year. The 2015 Defensive Player of the Year — he’s won the award three times in five seasons career to-date — didn’t miss a single game the year before last, despite breaking his hand and straining five core muscles, but needed numerous offseason surgeries to get right for 2016, including additional offseason back surgery. Although he was able to rehab enough to suit up for Week 1, Watt re-injured his back in Week 3, forcing him to elect for further surgery and a spot on injured reserve, costing him the entire season. Jadeveon Clowney (six sacks, 52 total tackles) and Whitney Mercilus (7.5 sacks, 53 total tackles) were solid but not spectacular in his absence, and offer middling fantasy value next season with Watt back in the mix. While Watt’s additional presence of the field results in better matchups, he also is a wrecking machine who will be posting sacks of his own.
With Watt not on the field, two of the league’s premier pass-rushers from a fantasy perspective were Khalil Mack (11 sacks, 73 total tackles, five forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries) and Aaron Donald (eight sacks, 47 total tackles, two forced fumbles), and bearing in mind Watt’s recent struggles with injuries, it will make their ADPs a lot closer to his heading into the 2017 season. One thing to note though is that Wade Phillips is the new defensive coordinator for Donald’s Rams, and typically runs a 3-4 scheme, whereas the Rams have utilized Donald as a 4-3 interior lineman, so his on-field usage is expected to change. A hybrid scheme is the likely outcome, and it won’t be until the preseason when we get a first look at the impact it will have on Donald.