IDP Dynasty Stock Watch
With free agency in the rear view mirror, teams have done all they could do to (hopefully) add immediate impact. Let’s take a look at those players you should now target in dynasty leagues and those you should try to move.
Demarcus Lawrence – DL – Dallas Cowboys – One of my biggest dynasty buys wasn’t even one of the many free agents signed this offseason but the signing of Greg Hardy by the Cowboys will only enhance Lawrence’s prospects for this season and beyond.
Drafted with the second pick of the second round, Lawrence was only the third defensive end drafted in 2014 after Jadeveon Clowney went first overall to Houston and Dee Ford went 23rd to Kansas City. The Cowboys, lacking an end rusher due to the departure of cap casualty Demarcus Ware, surrendered their second and third-round picks to get him, and were expected to name him the starter to open the season. But a broken foot in late July derailed that plan and Lawrence didn’t start his career until week nine.
In 223 snaps during the regular season, Lawrence wasn’t necessarily good, but also wasn’t necessarily bad with a 1.7 PFF rating and zero sacks. However, during the playoffs Lawrence showed why he was one of the top ends taken off the board, recording a sack in each of the Cowboys playoff games plus one forced fumble.
Barring another training camp injury, Lawrence should start the season on the field to build on his impressive playoff performance. Additionally, the signing of Hardy should take the pressure off Lawrence’s side and free him up to get to the quarterback even if Hardy ultimately ends up serving all of his recently handed down 10-game suspension.
Pernell McPhee – LB – Chicago Bears – After giving up the third-most yards and second-most points in the league last season, the Bears signed McPhee to a five-year, $39 million dollar deal, $16 million of which is guaranteed. In McPhee, the Bears get PFF’s second-best outside linebacker despite playing only 540 snaps. For McPhee, he gets the chance to potentially double the number of snaps he played.
McPhee started in the league as a defensive end and had a solid rookie campaign with just six sacks in just 389 snaps. But McPhee’s next two seasons were only nominally good with only 3.5 sacks total. After failing to match his rookie season success, McPhee was converted to a linebacker and returned to form. He tallied 7.5 sacks and led all 3-4 linebackers with 21 quarterbacks hits despite being the third edge linebacker on the depth chart.
Limited cap space forced Baltimore to let McPhee walk where he could be the top edge rusher on a team, something he couldn’t do in Baltimore even if he stayed. Expect McPhee to have a lot more opportunities to fill the stat sheet now.
Antrel Rolle – DB – Chicago Bears – While the signing of McPhee is a step in the right direction for the Bears, Rolle’s signing is the opposite. Rolle signed a three-year, $11.25 million contract this off-season and will immediately step into the starting lineup in the hopes of improving a weak secondary.
Antrel Rolle has been the model of consistency, not having missed a game in the last five years while averaging 93 tackles a season in that span. He peaked in 2013 with career-highs in tackles (98), interceptions (6), passes defended (12), sacks (2) and finished the season as Pro Football Focus’ 9th rated safety. However, he declined sharply last year with his lowest tackle total in four years (87) while dropping all the way to 81st in Pro Football Focus’ rankings.
The severe drop in PFF rating coupled with the fact that he’ll be 32 years old are bad signs for his future production. There are many other options for you to consider when putting together your dynasty team.
Curtis Lofton – LB – Oakland Raiders – There’s always been a lot to like about Lofton. He’s manned the middle for the Saints and Falcons and is expected to do so in Oakland this year after signing a three-year, $18-million deal. He’s never missed a game in his seven-year career and has been a tackle machine, averaging 126 tackles a season. However, there may never be a better time to sell high than this off-season.
Lofton has always seesawed between positive and negative Pro Football Focus grades, but last season’s was by far his worst with a -21.5 rating, good for 57th among 60 linebackers. It also doesn’t help that he’ll be 29 when the season starts and has logged over 1,000 snaps for six years running. Teams noticed as the cap-strapped Saints couldn’t find a taker for Lofton’s services and, instead, chose to cut him to save a modest $4.5 million.
He’ll be given another opportunity in Oakland to keep racking up the tackles, but if he continues to turn in negative performances, those snaps, and stats, will dry up.