Special talents are extremely difficult to find and even harder to be put in the right situations to succeed. It’s rare to find a player who can do multiple tasks at a high level. Some would suggest teams in the NFL need some luck to hit on an elite playmaker. To their credit, the Cincinnati Bengal’s hit on such a player in the 2010 NFL draft in Mr. Geno Atkins by making him the 120th player drafted that year. Home run pick!
Most people tend to think of a defensive tackle as a guy who simply takes on offensive lineman in an effort free up the linebackers to make the plays. I would even venture to guess, when watching the game at home, most people have no idea what even really going on in the trenches. At the end of the day, QB’s always have eye balls on them. The defensive players are constantly watching the QB attempt to read their defensive coverage, then they watch him take the snap and drop back to pass. Sometimes the QB will have some pressure and have to step up in the pocket to make a play down the field. Geno Atkins and his seemingly sixth sense possesses the skill set knows when to strike and take that ability away.
The Atkins Diet
What “The Atkins” brings to the table is a combination of quickness and strength, able to shove a guard into the backfield and have that burst to close in on the QB. Make no mistake, he is not a one skill guy. Atkins dominates the trenches. Shooting his gap, he will put a hurt on the running back as well. If you watch him play you will see the cat like quickness, with his use of his hands, to separate/shed from a block and then the foot speed as he accelerates to make plays. Ultimately, when you have quickness with power you can handle double team better than the average player. Simply stated, he is always around the play.
Attending the University of Georgia, Atkins quickly began his reign of terror on opposing teams. He played four years of college ball, racking up 34 tackles for a loss, during that time and producing 11 sacks. Hi tackle totals were also very good with 120 of them. When his SEC playing days ended he finished 16th in history in tackles for a loss. That’s a big stat for us fantasy players and one we need to always keep an eye on when scouting our future IDP prospects.
The Big Entrance, A Big Injury and the Comeback
This kid came out firing when he entered the NFL with 26 sacks from 2011-2013. During a Cleveland browns game, he recorded 11 QB hurries in ONE GAME! He explodes off the ball every snap. Imagine yourself as the guard trying to block this guy. A blur comes at you, then a shove gets you off balance and before you can try and get in front of him he is making the play. Watch as he jumps off the ball and uses his arms to move the guard and then find the QB. It’s not just his quickness that’s impressive, it’s his technique. That speed burst can get him to split a double team and shut a QB down.
In 2013, he was rewarded for his game day heroics with a 5 year, 53 million contract. This was not the type of player who would take the money and not give 100 percent. After a rigorous off-season and training camp, he was going to show the league why he was paid so well. However, greatness is not without adversity and with all great players there is always something to overcome. Just as his playing career had taken off it abruptly came to a crashing halt. Suffering an ACL tear Atkins would be tested. As you all know this is not an easy injury to come back from. Some thought it would end his career or at the very least he would never be the same type of player before the injury. In fact, upon returning to the gridiron, for the 2014 season, it looked like those who said his days of greatness were long gone were correct. His defensive coordinator, Guenther, even called him out as “just another player”. With a lack of burst in his famed quickness and a loss of strength, he was face to face with his kryptonite. The off-season was not shining brightly. Hopefully, better days awaited him.
Heading into the 2015 season he was written off, but Geno would not allow anything to stop him. Returning to glory with 44 hurries [that’s around the QB A LOT] and 11 sacks, the football community had once again been put on notice. He was back. One of my favorite stats is the tackle for a loss category and Atkins garnered 42 last season. My friends, he is a game changer, even in fantasy football, if you’re in a league that scores them. If you look at tackle for a loss percent [40.5%], Atkins is the king of this stat. Tops in the DT position and DE position.
With Carlos Dunlap [LDE], a top tier talent rushing the passer, as well as our guy, fortunately, Atkins will not be the only player opposing offenses are looking to game plan against. I am very high on their rookie Andrew Billings [DT] who I can see being a big help on that line. Michael Johnson [RDE] is also someone who can get after the QB. This defensive line will only make Geno Atkins reach the fantasy numbers we crave as IDP dynasty owners.
In start-up leagues, owners are taking him as the DT5 in/around the 22nd round. In DT premium leagues, he needs to be going higher than some DE’s. In the premium leagues, I would be aiming late teens for him. In more traditional scoring formats, I would be watching the DTs coming off the board and aim for him around the 21st round. It is much easier to trade for IDP’s then it is offensive skill players. I believe he will continue his terror and get the hurries close to last season’s number  and with some luck turn more into sacks. Additionally, I would not be shocked to see him get 15 sacks and certainly no less than 10. Get into a league where you need to start two DT’s and you will LOVE it!
Always looking to talk IDP any time anywhere. You can find me at @DFF_JohnIDP.