IDP Dynasty Stock Watch - February
Now that the season has officially ended, there will be hundreds of roster moves between now and training camp. Some will be age-driven, while others will be cap-driven. This time of year is especially conducive to finding potential fantasy diamonds in the rough. These guys may not be talked about (yet), but they could reap you big rewards during dynasty playoff time.
Robert Mathis – LB – Indianapolis Colts – After moving to weak-side linebacker before the 2013 season, Mathis set a career-high in sacks with a league-high 19.5. He also tied a career high in forced fumbles with eight while being named an All-Pro and the AFC Defensive Player of the Year. In short, Mathis was awesome. And this kind of play didn’t exactly come out of nowhere, as Mathis has recorded 10-plus sacks four times in his career.
But while Mathis could be a very serviceable dynasty linebacker for the next year or two, the goal is to determine if his current value will hold or if you’re better off selling him now? I say the latter in Mathis’ case. History and time are just not on Mathis’ side, and you’d be better off cashing in on his 2013 season.
For starters, Mathis will turn 33 during the course of the 2014 season and is coming off a career high in snaps. Only nine players have tallied higher sack numbers in a single season. Of these players, only three (Michael Strahan, DeMarcus Ware, and Reggie White) ever came close to duplicating those numbers. Also, all nine were younger at the time of their career seasons than Mathis, with seven being 28 or younger. This means we’re almost guaranteed to never see Mathis repeat his massive 2013 production.
DeMarcus Ware – DL – Dallas Cowboys – Just like Mathis, time is just not on Ware’s side. When he made the switch to defensive line from linebacker last year, there was some optimism that his superior pass-rushing ability would translate. After all, with the exception of his rookie year, Ware’s lowest sack total was 11 in seven seasons.
But injuries and age have caught up with Ware. After never missing a game since entering the league in 2005, he missed three games in 2013 due to a quad injury in the middle of the season. He’s scheduled for another surgery this offseason, this time for his elbow. He should be ready to go for the 2014 season, but the fact remains that Ware has been injured more over the last 12 months than he has his entire career. Ware is still a “name” that you could parlay into something of value, but if you’re looking for contributions from Ware for your dynasty team, be sure to limit your expectations.
Kevin Reddick – LB – New Orleans – An undrafted rookie out of North Carolina, Reddick showed promise in his first training camp in 2013. Flashing some great tackling ability, the 6’1”, 243-pounder still started the season fairly low on the depth chart thanks to a logjam at the middle linebacker position. While starters Curtis Lofton and David Hawthorne are both under 28 and carry reasonable cap numbers in 2014, there’s about to be a purge of older linebackers from the Saints that will open up some opportunities for Reddick. Parys Haralson, Jonathan Vilma and Will Herring are all 30 (or older) and all are unrestricted free agents. The Saints wouldn’t possibly bring back two, let alone all three, which means Reddick will move up the depth chart in some capacity. The Saints are also cap-strapped, so don’t expect them to make a big splash in free agency when they can’t afford it.
Down the road, Reddick could be in an even better position. Take the case of David Hawthorne, who will be 29 next year and carries a cap number of $6 million. He was ranked as our No. 34 inside linebacker, and the team could save $3 million by cutting him before the 2015 season. Unless Hawthorne’s ability and ranking does an about-face, look for him as a probable cap casualty with Reddick in a position to claim the starter’s spot.
Henoc Muamba – LB – Indianapolis Colts – Who? All you need to remember is the name Jerrell Freeman to know where I’m coming from. Like Freeman, Muamba was a Canadian Football League standout signed by Colts GM Ryan Grigson. The 6′, 260-pound linebacker played three years in the CFL (like Freeman) after being drafted first overall in the CFL draft in 2011. That same year, 6′, 260-pound Jerrell Freeman broke out in the CFL with 105 tackles for the Saskatchewan Rough Riders. Both Freeman and Muamba played college ball in relative obscurity with Freeman playing at D-III Mary Hardin-Baylor while Muamba played his college ball in Canada at St. Francis Xavier. The similarities and circumstances of both ending up on the Colts are striking.
As for Muamba’s future prospects, there’s going to be little competition for the inside linebacker position opposite Freeman. Last year, between veterans Pat Angerer and Kelvin Sheppard, neither ranked higher than our No. 36 inside linebacker. Angerer is now a free agent and Sheppard has shown no signs of being anything other than a career backup. As further proof of the Colts’ commitment, they signed Muamba to a guaranteed $107,000, a high amount for a free agent with no service time. Be on the lookout for Muamba before he starts tearing it up in training camp.