The IDP Breakdown – Week 2 Edition
Jeff Ratcliffe breaks down every team and every game, giving you the IDPs to start and to avoid in Week 2.
The IDP Breakdown – Week 2 Edition
It wasn’t pretty, but the Jets got the job done in Week 1 and escaped with a win over the Bucs. There wasn’t much to get excited about from an IDP standpoint, but we did get a glimpse of some possibilities. Starting strong safety Antonio Allen put up six total tackles against a lackluster Tampa offense. However, against the pass happy Patriots, he’s an ultra sneaky DB3. Likewise, FS Dawan Landry makes for a low-end DB2 play. Demario Davis may or may not be a viable IDP option this season, but I’m willing to take a shot on him this week as an LB3 with LB2 upside against a Patriots team that yielded the fifth most fantasy points per game to opposing linebackers last season.
While it appeared as though Brandon Spikes would finally have strong IDP value this season, he left the game after only a few snaps due to dehydration. Spikes managed to play just 16 snaps, with Dont’a Hightower replacing him in the nickel packages. If I’m a Spikes owner, I want no part of this. It’s a good idea to cut bait for a more reliable option. Rob Ninkovich showed why he’s one of IDP’s best-kept secrets with eight total tackles in Week 1. He won’t get you double-digit sacks, but his high tackle floor makes Ninkovich a rock solid DL2 play every week.
St. Louis @ Atlanta
Robert Quinn went out and had himself a day against the Cards in Week 1 with a mammoth three sacks. His performance comes as no surprise, but don’t expect this out of Quinn every week. There’s a lot of volatility at the defensive end position from week-to-week in terms of fantasy scoring. While you will have to endure some bad weeks, Quinn’s ceiling is too high to ever consider benching. Rookie Alec Ogletree came off the field in the dime packages, but he still managed 65 snaps in Week 1. He also put up eight total tackles. He’s now squarely on the fantasy radar, and deserves weekly consideration as an LB4.
As I suspected, Akeem Dent played an every-down role for the Falcons with Stephen Nicholas banged up. Dent struggled in coverage, but he did enough to likely keep the subpackages duties even after Nicholas returns. Nicholas no longer has fantasy value and should be dropped in all formats. Likewise, Dent is a priority add as roster depth. I’m not going as far as recommending you start him just yet, but he’ll be an asset when the bye weeks roll around. Kroy Biermann also played an every-down role at strong side linebacker. There’s still a chance that he keeps the job over Nicholas. Biermann is still classified as a defensive lineman on fantasy commissioner sites, and gives fantasy owners more bang for their buck, especially in tackle heavy scoring systems.
San Diego @ Philadelphia
In a strong matchup against the Texans, both Donald Butler and Bront Bird posted double-digit tackles on Monday night. Butler’s performance wasn’t shocking, but Bird’s certain raised more than a few eyebrows. If you’re looking for the 2013 breakout linebacker, don’t get too carried away here. Remember that Bird is only filling in for the injured Manti Te’o. While Te’o isn’t due back any time soon, I’d avoid Bird as a long-term solution. His 14 tackles came against a run-heavy Texans offense that was one of the best fantasy matchups for linebackers last season, so he’s an ideal streaming candidate. More importantly, Bird came off the field in passing situations. Against more balanced or pass-heavy offenses, Bird’s fantasy value will be limited. Still, you can expect Chargers IDPs to play a ton of snaps in this one. Philadelphia ran 83 plays last week, and head coach Chip Kelly said he’d like the team to execute even faster. If you’re hurting at LB3, Bird should again post strong numbers this week.
The Eagles defense was by no means as bad as I had anticipated, showing aggressive blitzes and only missing three tackles against Washington on Monday night. While Mychal Kendricks struggled in coverage, he managed a solid 10 total tackles (six solo) in the season opener. The pace of the Philadelphia offense certainly helps opposing IDPs, but it should also benefit the Eagles defenders as well. Kendricks will continue to get plenty of opportunities to make plays and remains an LB2. DeMeco Ryans also posted a strong stat line of eight total tackles and a sack. Of the two players, Kendricks is much more likely to consistently produce. I’m leaving Ryans in free agency. Bradley Fletcher and Cary Williams also showed their IDP relevance in Week 1. Fletcher posted seven total tackles, and Williams recorded a sack and an impressive diving interception. Fletcher is dealing with a concussion and may not play this weekend, but Williams deserves low-end CB2 consideration in CB-required leagues against the shaky Phillip Rivers..
Dallas @ Kansas City
Okay, so it wasn’t a massive Week 1 for Sean Lee, but don’t jump to conclusions. The Giants run game didn’t do Lee any favors. This week he faces a Chiefs team that will give Lee a lot of opportunities to do what he does best. He’s still an elite fantasy option. DeMarcus Ware also struggled in what was a tough matchup against the Giants. A closer look shows that he actually was very effective despite not showing up in the stats sheet. Ware posted an impressive six QB pressures on the day. Be patient. The sacks will come. You might also be taking a long look at Barry Church after he posted eight Week 1 tackles. Keep in mind that this production was heavily matchup dependent, and Church is much less likely to see that kind of action against a Chiefs team that is much more reliant on short passes. Church will have fantasy value at various points this season, but this is not one of those points.
After posting just seven interceptions last season, Kansas City picked off two passes in the season opener. While that certainly bodes positively for this unit, I’m more interested with the pressure the Chiefs were able to generate. Justin Houston is a budding IDP rock star. He put up three sacks on six QB pressures in Week 1. Of course, this was against the Jags, but Houston is now clearly among the league’s elite rush outside linebackers. He should be owned in all balanced and big-play scoring formats. Dontari Poe also turned heads with his performance in the opener with six total tackles and 1.5 sacks. Be forewarned that he faced a poor Jags offensive line, and similar numbers are extremely unlikely in future weeks. Don’t rush out to pick up Poe.
Miami @ Indianapolis
I didn’t think it was possible, but Cameron Wake actually looks better this season. The beastly pass rusher posted 10 QB pressures against the Browns in Week 1 and converted three for sacks. If you own him, you have yourself and IDP stud. You may not be thinking the same thing of Dannell Ellerbe, who posted an uninspiring six total tackles on Sunday. I’m not willing to give up on Ellerbe just yet, though it could be another rough week. The Colts yielded the least fantasy points per game to opposing linebackers last season. Keep that in mind, and don’t overreact if Ellerbe posts another mediocre fantasy performance. Reshad Jones also had a modest opener with six tackles. If you’re considering dropping him, just remember that he actually led the team in solo tackles. Better days are ahead for Jones, and he gets back on track this week against the much more fantasy friendly Colts.
LaRon Landry and Antoine Bethea recorded a combined 26 total tackles on Sunday. There’s no doubt that this is an impressive stat line, but it’s not wise to read too much into the numbers. Kelvin Sheppard started in place of Pat Angerer, who was sidelined with a concussion. Sheppard was arguably the worst linebacker on the field in Week 1, leaving Landry and Bethea to man cleanup duty. Angerer has been cleared to play, so Landry and Bethea will have fewer chances to rack up tackles in this one. Still, both proved they’re still viable DB2 options. Start them as such. As for Angerer, I’m not ready to get him in my starting lineup just yet. There’s still a chance he could rotate with Kavell Conner, who was also sidelined in the opener. Angerer is nothing more than a roster stash until we get more clarity on this situation.
Tennessee @ Houston
The Titans faced a bad Pittsburgh team (sorry Steelers fans) in Week 1, which usually doesn’t result in massive fantasy numbers. Still, we did get an indication of what we’re working with in Tennessee. Zach Brown posted eight solo tackles, two sacks, and a pass defensed. He’s the Titans linebacker to own, and will flirt with LB1 numbers in a very favorable matchup against the Texans this week. I’m not crazy about Moise Fokou going forward just based on a talent standpoint, but he does make for a sneaky LB3 play in this one. Derrick Morgan’s week wasn’t massive, but he did convert one of his three QB pressures for a sack. I still like him to reach double-digits this season, and have him locked in my DL2 tier. Bernard Pollard managed six total tackles (five solo), but that was good enough for second on the team for the week. He’ll have a lot more opportunities against Houston and is my No. 1 defensive back for Week 2.
It’s never a good idea to panic in fantasy football, but I can understand why J.J. Watt owners might be following his three total tackles and no sacks in Week 1. Trust me when I say that you have nothing to worry about. Watt was actually very impressive in this game. While it’s unfortunate that his play didn’t translate to the stats sheet, I have no concerns about Watt. In fact, I think it’s the perfect time to buy low on him. Brian Cushing managed just five Week 1 tackles, but salvaged a strong fantasy week with a fourth quarter pick-six. There weren’t a lot of tackles to go around for the Texans on Monday night, so like Watt, there’s no need to worry about Cushing. He’s still a solid high-end LB2 option.
Jeff Ratcliffe | Director of Fantasy
Jeff Ratcliffe is the Director of Fantasy at Pro Football Focus. He produces all of our projections and is 2016's second-most-accurate ranker in the fantasy industry. Jeff also is the host of our show on SiriusXM fantasy sports radio and is one of the main hosts of our Fantasy Slant podcast.