Let's get this boat off the dock and begin to break down the fantasy potential of the fine young men who heard their names called in the 2013 NFL draft from an Individual Defensive Player (IDP) perspective.
We'll kick it off with the ‘Belle of the Ball' position of linebacker, as it is dollar to doughnuts that these players will bring the most fantasy value during their rookie campaigns. As we ease our way into the hardcore preparation for our 2013 IDP fantasy drafts I'll keep things short and sweet for a change (you are welcome, I tend to prattle on) and look at only my Top 5 prospects to bring immediate fantasy value at each of the IDP positions.
There will be plenty of time for my prattling about sleepers and such as August approaches, and you can bet (if that is your thing) that prattle on I will! Without further ado ...
1. Arthur Brown, ILB, Baltimore: After losing both of last year's starting inside linebacker options to retirement (Ray Lewis) and free agency (Dannell Ellerbe), the Ravens selected Brown in the second round to fill the need. Baltimore will look to move Brown into a three down inside linebacker position where he will find himself in a very fantasy-friendly position.
Brown is an instinctive player that gets to the ball carrier in a hurry and has excellent sideline-to-sideline range. His experience at outside linebacker will serve him well in coverage at the next level and he's shown the ability to get off blocks while snaking his way through traffic. He's the top rookie defender overall for 2013 and a solid LB4 with substantial upside in redraft formats.
2. Alec Ogletree, OLB, St. Louis: Ogletree's much chronicled off-the-field issues contributed to the once Top 15 draft prospect free fall to the 30th overall pick. The Rams snatched him up to fill an immediate need at the WLB position and will use the converted safety in a three down role.
He has the size, speed and range to cover running backs in the flat as well as today's big tight ends over the middle. Ogletree lacks an elite level physicality to his game but has flashed playmaking skills and racked up 20 tackles for loss, six sacks and four forced fumbles during his time at Georgia.
I like him as another LB4 to begin the season with the upside to reach low-end LB2 production before all is said and done.
3. Kiko Alonso, ILB, Buffalo: The Bills traded away Kelvin Sheppard, who had been the man we thought could be the incumbent inside linebacker of fantasy note in Buffalo....
23 Days Indianapolis Colts
Colts acquired LB Kelvin Sheppard from the Bills in exchange for LB Jerry Hughes.
The 2011 third-round pick started 24 games the past two seasons, including 15 at MIKE linebacker in 2012. Sheppard may compete with Kavell Conner at left inside linebacker in Indianapolis, but played just 521 snaps despite "starting" last season, and fared poorly against the run. He won't be a factor in IDP leagues.
Training camps are well underway, and we've gotten our first taste of preseason action by watching the fifth-stringers from the Arizona Cardinals and New Orleans Saints do battle in the Hall of Fame game. Which means that before you know it, Opening Night will have arrived and with it another exciting and maddening season of fantasy football.
One of the annual rituals of the preseason for Individual Defensive Player (IDP) enthusiasts is getting our first look at teams that have undergone defensive scheme changes. These changing formations can have a huge impact on IDP values, boosting the stock of some players while killing the value of others, especially on the front seven of the teams in question.
In recent seasons, the majority of scheme changes have been 4-3 teams switching to the 3-4, but this year the reverse is the case, as two of the biggest schematic shakeups on the defensive side of the ball involve AFC East teams making the change to a 4-3 front.
Let's take a look at how these changes could affect the fantasy values of the players who will be making these switches, from one of the NFL's coldest cities to one of the warmest, with the league's biggest rebuilding project thrown in for good measure.
We'll start our tour of defensive shakeups in frosty Buffalo, where new defensive coordinator Dave Wannstedt will be implementing a 4-3 scheme with the Bills. Not only are the Bills making a change in defensive fronts, but the team was also incredibly active in free agency in bringing players on-board to help ease the transition.
The Bills made the biggest splash of free agency on defense by signing Mario Williams to a six-year, $100 million contract, the richest deal in NFL history for a defensive player. Now that Williams, who played in only five games a year ago before a torn pectoral muscle ended his season in Houston, is out of the 3-4 and back at defensive end, his fantasy value has reverted to its previously lofty status, and the seventh-year pro is once again one of the Top 5 IDPs available at his position.
The Bills weren't finished there, though, as the team also lured defensive end Mark Anderson away from their division rivals in New England. The 29-year-old tallied 10 sacks in a rotational role with the Patriots last season. While Anderson's historically low tackle numbers make him more appealing in sack-heavy IDP formats, his relatively low average draft position of DL33 in IDP drafts at MyFantasyLeague.com, and the...
The term "sleeper" has been flogged to within an inch of its life in fantasy football, as the phrase has been used to describe everything from players who come from nowhere to have big years to any player whose performance exceeds their draft position.
However, there's about as much chance of the term going away as there is of Tim Tebow becoming an accurate quarterback, so in the truest spirit of "if you can't beat them, join them," here's a look at a handful of defensive players who have a solid shot at providing their Individual Defensive Player (IDP) league owners with the sort of value that can lead teams all the way to a championship.
Trevor Scott, DE, New England
After spending his first four seasons with the Oakland Raiders, the 27-year-old Scott came to the New England Patriots in free agency, and if recent reports are any indication, Scott is fitting right in in his new home.
Scott has been running with the first team in the "elephant" position that produced a double-digit sack season for Andre Carter last year. Scott has apparently taken to the role, although that's not overly surprising given that he has experience playing both end and outside linebacker from his time with the Raiders.
The presence of first-round pick Chandler Jones is certainly a concern, as the youngster could eat into Scott's snaps. However Scott's price tag is so low right now that he's essentially a risk-free investment that could pay off big if he can hold off the rookie.
Matt Shaughnessy, DE, Oakland
From a former Raider to a current one, we now turn our attention to the Silver and Black and Shaughnessy, who was a trendy pick for a breakout IDP season last year before a shoulder injury ended the fourth-year pro's defensive end's season after only three games.
Shaughnessy has returned to the practice field, which was a welcome sign to the Raiders according to defensive tackle Richard Seymour, who told The Sacramento Bee that Shaughnessy is "the best defensive end in the NFL for sure in terms of stopping the run."
It's that two-way ability, and the tackles that come with it, that made Shaughnessy a Top 20 performer in Default IDP Manor scoring in 2010 even though he only started eight games, and if Shaughnessy's 100 percent he represents the potential for Top 25 IDP production at a discount price.
Perry Riley, ILB, Washington
Riley already gave fantasy owners a glimpse of what he was capable of after taking over at SILB for Rocky McIntosh last year,...
12 Months Indianapolis Colts
Bills MLB Kelvin Sheppard is down to 240 pounds after playing in the 250-255 range as a rookie.
Sheppard's rookie season got off to a slow start in no small part because he pulled his hamstring in training camp after arriving roughly 20 pounds overweight. "He showed up in great shape [for OTAs]," said new DC Dave Wannstedt, "and his attitude is good and I think he's excited about this scheme."
12 Months Indianapolis Colts
Kelvin Sheppard is practicing as the Bills' starting middle linebacker at OTAs.
The Bills have identified last year's third-rounder as a "nucleus" player on defense, after Sheppard racked up 61 tackles in the final nine games. He's quite likely to be an every-down player and impact IDP contributor. The Bills' starting weak-side backer is Nick Barnett, with Kirk Morrison currently at SAM.
2/16/2012 Indianapolis Colts
New DC Dave Wannstedt has singled out MLB Kelvin Sheppard as a nucleus player on the Bills defense.
"I've got all the confidence in the world with Shep," said Wannstedt. "To me he's about what you're looking for in a 4-3 middle linebacker. ... I think it's going to fit his skills to a 'T'. I think he's going to be a very, very productive player for us." Sheppard is going to be a player to target in IDP formats in 2012.