IDP Dynasty Stock Watch - May
Some veterans have more competition while others got a reprieve from their teams by not having a rookie brought in. Every season, NFL and dynasty teams must look at their rosters and hit the reset button to determine who is the best player for them this year and beyond. Now is a good time to think about who to keep and who to cut loose as teams focus on their 2014 rosters.
Justin Houston – LB – Kansas City Chiefs – Houston could stake a claim as one of the best pass rushers in the league. He’s had back-to-back double-digit sack seasons and was rated the top outside linebacker by Pro Football Focus in 2013. Don’t forget his four-sack game against Philadelphia early in the 2013 season which led to 11 sacks in his first 11 games.
Then Houston dislocated his elbow and missed the last quarter of the regular season. He made it back in time for the Wild Card game against the Colts but was injured again, this time with a PCL strain. Both injuries have fully healed in the off-season, making Houston “all systems go” heading in to 2014.
That was until Houston didn’t report to OTA’s in what’s expected to be a contract dispute. It’s too early to tell what the outcome will be but when you combine that with the drafting of pass rusher Dee Ford in the first round, it’s entirely possible the Chiefs are preparing for the worst. Houston has all the talent in the world and is still just 25 but if his situation remains this fluid, it might be time to unload.
Lawrence Timmons – LB – Pittsburgh Steelers – Timmons has long been a tackle machine in IDP leagues while manning the ‘Mack’ position in Pittsburgh. Timmons averaged 115 tackles for each of the last four seasons, played in the middle of a vaunted Pittsburgh defense, and graded out as a top-10 inside linebacker in three of his last five seasons.
But thanks to sub-par seasons, the Steelers have systematically weeded out veterans and created a younger team, especially on defense. That strategy resulted in drafting linebacker Ryan Shazier in the first round where he was immediately installed as the new ‘Mack’ linebacker. In theory, this will allow Timmons to move around more but will, most likely, cut his ability to rack up so many tackles. He may pick up the slack with more sacks but the days of 100 tackles are likely over.
Arthur Brown – LB – Baltimore Ravens – I know what you’re thinking – why would Arthur Brown be here? The Ravens drafted the best middle linebacker in this year’s rookie class in C.J. Mosley. They re-signed Daryl Smith to a four-year deal (which actually is bearable for at least two years). Why would Arthur Brown be on the buy list? Because now is precisely the time to get him at great value.
Brown was the first linebacker off the board last year in many rookie IDP drafts. And why not? He was slated to take over inside linebacker duties for the defending champions after being drafted in the second round of the 2013 draft and, seemingly, had little competition. Everything was looking up going in to the season.
Then an injury put Brown behind the eight-ball and the Ravens plugged in the veteran Smith. Smith proceeded to lead the team in tackles with 123 and set a franchise record with 19 pass deflections while Brown played sparingly throughout the season. When you add Mosley to the mix, the situation looks dire for Brown.
But the talent that made Brown a second round pick is still there. There’s no guarantee Smith can match his 2013 production, especially when you consider he’ll be playing his age-32 season. Your fellow dynasty leaguers may not be as pumped on Brown as they should be. Now would be a good time to offer a low draft pick or role player for him.
Anthony Hitchens – LB – Dallas Cowboys – The news of Sean Lee’s injury costing him most, if not all, of the 2014 season means there will be plenty of competition to fill the huge void left in the middle. With a sub-par cast of characters on the Dallas defense, the position is wide open. Enter the rookie Hitchens, who figures to get first crack at manning the middle and ended the first practice after the Lee injury with the starters.
Hitchens was a fourth-round pick in May’s draft and was viewed by many as a reach. His size doesn’t stand out at 6’0” and 240 pounds and his pass defense is nowhere near Sean Lee’s. But he did show a nose for the ball at Iowa and the porous Dallas defense could see a lot of time on the field. The bottom line is that the Cowboys may not have much choice with the lack of depth behind Lee and Hitchens. And if Hitchens shows the slightest bit of promise, he could be in for a lot of work.