2017 NFL Free Agency IDP – New Phone, Who Dis?

Troy Taormina - USA TODAY Sports

*Will update as more signings become official*

I can’t remember a year where it’s been this crazy on the opening day of Free Agency; there has been a ton of movement already and it’ll definitely change some draft plans for teams (maybe).  For now lets take a look at some new landing spots for some serviceable IDP plays and some not so serviceable but I’ll take notice.

  • Antoine Bethea (ARI):  after being released by the 49ers; Bethea signed a contract with another NFC West team after they lost their starting SS.  Bethea racked up 110 tackles last season and pretty much his entire career he’s been a consistent DB asset; that doesn’t change in ARI as Jefferson left behind 96 tackles.
  • Karlos Dansby (ARI): Dansby will be making his third stint with the Cardinals and has been very productive.  He’s getting up there in age yet still can be relied on for a full season, he played in Cincy last year and racked up a quiet 114 tackles.  Set to play alongside Bucannon, his presence should help the young fella.  He’ll be replacing Minter (upgrade) who racked up 82 tackles last season; Dansby will easily top that.  He’s a strong LB2 target for contenders in IDP leagues and should be a cheap buy.
  • Tony Jefferson (BAL):  Jefferson has left the desert and made his way to the east coast; Baltimore.  He has improved; what seems like every year and is still getting better.  He racked up 96 tackles last year and will be replacing ex-Ravens SS Webb.  Ravens have a scary safety tandem now with Weddle & Jefferson, can he mirror the 96 tackles he had last season? it’s possible, Webb put up 73 tackles last season but isn’t the safety Jefferson is as I can see him come close to 90 in 2017.  For me his value stays a DB1 but the bottom half of the top 12 DB’s; if Ravens can’t find a replacement for Orr – Jefferson could play up more often.
  • Micah Hyde (BUF):  the swiss knife has left Green Bay for Buffalo and the Bills will enjoy his versatility as Hyde can cover the slot or play safety.  From the get I’m expecting Hyde to get first shot at FS as Aaron Williams has been released, no depth or competition there as well – Blanton; really? ok – Hyde is a target in IDP leagues now, his role is going to be increased and the opportunities will arise, he posted 58 tackles and 9 PD’s last year.  I believe you will find Hyde near the top of the DB2 value range (Top 25).
  • Paul Worrilow (DET):  there was a time when Worrilow was sorta relevant in IDP land because he piled on tackles by the bunches although his play on the field was poor.  Worrilow’s sign in DET is a bad sign for Tahir (even with Levy being released) – as Worrilow could possibly take Tahir’s job at MLB (how bad do you have to be to have let this happen?).  Now, IF indeed Worrilow earns another starting job he gets back on the IDP radar and this is where I swallow my pride and say Worrilow would have some Top 30 appeal.
  • A.J. Klein (NOS):  Panthers lost is Saints gain, as the Saints continue to revamp their LB unit.  Klein has been a known producer when he filled in for Luke averaging nearly 10 tackles per in those starts. He’s definitely an upgrade over Laurinaitis; potentially hurting Stephone’s value even more (but this is another topic another discussion another time) and can be a solid fit next to Ellerbe.  Right now Klein jumps out at me in the top 35 range (if he’s going to be the starting MLB of course) and would be a solid LB2 option.
  • Malcolm Smith (SF):  another below average LB on the field but decent producer in IDP land but at the same time Smith upgrades whatever they had at WLB.  He racked up 94 tackles last season in OAK and 122 tackles in his first season in OAK; so you know the numbers will be there.  Playing alongside Bowman; his numbers may take a slight hit because Bowman is elite (minus those injuries).  I still view Malcolm as a lower tier LB2 for squads, long as he can keep the job (not much depth behind him to worry at the moment) and should flirt with 90+ tackles again.
Calais Campbell

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  • Calais Campbell (JAC):  the big splash (sorta) in free agency as the Jaguars land a solid DL in Calais.  Potentially will play DE in Jacksonville but if they move him inside and he gets the DT tag for IDP; game changer.  He remains a solid DL1 option still, his sacks could get a decent uptick (which should help) so if you’re an owner there’s no worries here whether you play in a DT league or not.
  • Barry Church (JAC):  another splash by the Jaguars as they lured Church away from Dallas.  He’s an upgrade over Cyprien and has been a solid contributor for IDP owners since he was best waiver pickup in 2013.  Church has averaged 108 tackles in his last four years and takes over Cyprien who left behind a whooping 128 tackles.  No value lost here for me in Church as he remains a solid DB1 option.
  • A.J. Bouye (JAC):  Jaguars weren’t done as they lured Bouye away from the Texans and bolsters their secondary.  Bouye is coming off a great season as he continues to hit his potential and becoming one of the better CB’s in the game.  He recorded 63 tackles 16 PD’s and 1 INT in 2016; expect more of the same in JAC.  Bouye is a CB1/DB2 option for me and I expect his INT’s to get a nice increase and he could bat more balls in 2017.
  • Jonathan Cyprien (TEN):  although his play is suspect on the field, he’s a producer in IDP land and sometimes – that’s ok.  He brings his 113 per season tackle average to Tennessee, potentially putting a damper on any bounce back by Searcy.  Who knows though, Titans may roll out 3 safeties (Byard included) as Cyprien would be able to stay in the box instead of dropping into coverage.  Do I expect Cyprien to mirror that 113 average, no but he should flirt with 90+ because as a unit the Titans safeties recorded a total of 189 tackles (between 4 guys) and Byard was the highest with 59; not even the starter.  Cyp still holding DB1 value but don’t get mad if he doesn’t rack up 128 tackles again; but will return some.
  • Chris Baker (TBB): Baker has been a decent IDP DL asset last couple of season, he has recorded 48 tackles and 4.5 sacks with the Redskins last season.  He takes his run stuffing, interior presence to Tampa to join forces alongside Gerald McCoy; Robert Ayers; Noah Spence and William Gholston.  He’d be a strong consideration in DT leagues, and the DT next to McCoy last year put up 37 tackles/3.5 sacks – with Baker being a slight upgrade, he should easily mirror these stats.  McDonald finished as DT23 last season; Baker can finish in the top 15 DT’s which will make him valuable and regardless should be a target in DT leagues.
  • D.J. Swearinger (WAS):  newly acquired Swearinger brings some hard hitting to the Redskins secondary; he’d fit right in as he should be playing up more in the box.  Wouldn’t have to worry much about competition (at the moment) with only Whitner/Ihenacho to worry about.  DJ recorded 66 tackles, 3 INT and 2 sacks with the Cardinals last season – if/when he gets the starting nod in WAS those numbers will see an increase and put DJ back in the DB2 mix as Redskins continue to search for a decent safety (seems like it’s been years; it probably has been) since #21 passed.  I’d make sure DJ is on your radar, should be a cheap buy; low risk reward right now.

*update 23MAR2017*

  • Jabaal Sheard (IND):  As free agency continues the Colts are finally figuring it out on defense; or at least go after guys that are good.  Unfortunately for the IDP crowd, Sheard will lose DE eligibility as he’s more than likely going to play OLB with the Colts.  He’s a safe drop and it’ll allow you to look elsewhere to fill your roster.  
  • John Simon (IND):  a decent add by the Colts as they continue to retool that awful LB unit from a year ago or what seemed like forever.  Simon will join Sheard on the edge, he’s gotten better each season and roughly playing 48 snaps per game from weeks 1-10 last year with the Texans, Simon put together 50 tackles and 3.5 sacks.  With starter and/or snap increase for Simon, he could be a decent look in deep leagues & big play leagues as your LB4/depth.  
  • Sean Spence (IND):  Colts continue to make moves and good ones at that; with the release of veteran D’Qwell Jackson the Colts needed some young veteran legs at the ILB position to pair with second year LB’s (Morrison and Jackson).  Spence is only 26 years old; has battled knee injuries his first couple seasons with the Steelers and when his time finally came he took advantage of his opportunities.  Has played in the last 46 of 48 games while making 19 starts with both the Steelers and Titans.  Spence played in just about half of the defensive snaps for the Titans last year rotating with Woodyard and Williamson; putting together 50 tackles & 3 sacks and don’t let his size fool you, he will come after you and hit you hard! Spence is definitely on the radar as an add, will battle for starting position & could vault into LB2 territory (Top 30).  
  • Bradley McDougald (SEA):  you hear that? that’s the sound of McDougald’s relevancy in IDP crashing down *sigh* I don’t blame him in joining the Seahawks though; he’s an upgrade over whatever depth they had last year as Earl & Kam have been battling injuries now.  He’s versatile and solid box safety; will fit just fine in Seattle.  Quick take is he’s droppable, but if you’re in a big roster league and your DB field or Safety field is slim then I’d hang onto him because he could see the field with both Earl and Kam on the field too.  Those in shallow leagues, yeah – drop him. 
  • Kevin Minter (CIN):  Minter isn’t flashy but he’ll get the job done, he’s held his own in Arizona averaging 88 tackles the last 2 seasons.  He’s definitely an upgrade over Maualuga; who is 30 years old.  Minter is just 26 and will bring some stability at MLB for the Bengals, he should mesh well with tackle hog Burfict and I’d give Minter a look in leagues where you start 3 or more LB’s; will definitely hit at least 90 tackles again.  So if you’re looking for a non-sexy, stable LB3/4 then Minter is your guy – he’d be good if your LB1’s and 2’s are high upside/big scoring guys because with Minter you’ll know what you’ll be getting.  
  • Jelani Jenkins (OAK):  ahh the move I’ve been wanting, Jelani Jenkins is an Oakland Raider.  Not saying he’s an All-Pro or what not but he’s an upgrade over Malcolm Smith.  Jenkins best year so far was 2014 when he broke out; putting together 110 tackles and 3.5 sacks with the Dolphins.  Since then he’s battled injuries, still only 25 and shouldn’t have a problem bouncing back in a much more talented defense.  Malcolm has left behind an average of 113 tackles per season (2) and no doubt Jelani can mirror that and get back into our good IDP graces.  I’d be targeting Jelani where i could for the cheap with LB2 (Top 25) upside.  
  • Alex Okafor (NOS):  The Saints have lured Okafor away from the desert as they continue to upgrade their pass rush.  Cam Jordan is probably pumped as he finally gets help on the line, the rise of Rankins, exceptional play by Fairley and having Kikaha back is a start.  So, it gets interesting now for Okafor in IDP, there’s a chance he gets moved to DE in NOS and that’ll boost his IDP relevancy IMO as he’ll become in play more.  He’s had a career high of 8 sacks in his second season then saw his snaps decrease with injuries, rise of Markus Golden and acquisition of Chandler Jones.  He gets a fresh start in New Orleans and is on a prove it deal; so – put 2 and 2 together and you’ll probably be getting a helluva season coming from Okafor in 2017.  If you got the space I’d go add him now with the potential of getting the DE tag (if not then well he’s a safe drop). 

Honorable Mentions but not worth our time in IDP: Connor Barwin (LAR) Dontari Poe (ATL) Bennie Logan (KCC) Manti Te’o (NOS) Tyson Alualu (PIT) Nolan Carroll (DAL)

-although Poe makes an intriguing add in DT required leagues as depth piece BUT I’d rather have Grady Jarrett on my roster #JustSaying

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