With Free Agency slowed to a crawl now is an excellent time to review all the IDP free agent signings and the impact that it will have on the player, their new team, and most importantly fantasy. It could be good, or it could be bad, but either way, it will make an impact. This will be a five-part installment, and in part one, we will look at the defensive tackle position. While in a lot of IDP leagues, they use general positions (DL, LB, DB), there are a growing number of leagues that are position specific and require owners to start DTs.
#1 Ndamukong Suh (31) – LA Rams – 1 year $14 million
There was no doubt who the top IDP prize was, once the Miami Dolphins released star DT Ndamukong Suh. Teams (New Orleans, Tennessee, LA Rams, NY Jets among others) immediately began lining up for a shot at the monster. After seeing what the teams had to offer both monetarily and personnel-wise, he decided to sign with the Rams. While he was offered more money and more years, it was the opportunity to play on a team, where he would have help and not be the main focus of the offense that played the largest role in Suh’s decision to sign with the Rams.
Suh will be surrounded by Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers and will have one of the top secondaries (Talib, Peters to name a couple) backing him up. With all this talent around him, Suh is surely poised for a big season. Who do you block? Opponents can’t double everyone! This was a huge draw for Suh and why he chose the Rams. But why a one year deal you ask? Well, he’s banking on having one hell of a year and cashing in for one last big payday in 2019. A huge year for him and teams will line up with checkbooks in hand once again.
Suh set a career high in sacks (10) as a rookie and recorded eight or more sacks on two other occasions. I can easily see him approaching double digit sacks again. As he always does, he’s going to give you the 50+ tackles to boot. He’s a DT1 & DL2 option for fantasy leagues.
#2 Sheldon Richardson (27) – Minnesota Vikings – 1 year $8 million
After spending his first four years with the NY Jets, Richardson went to Seattle and had an outstanding season. While his sack totals don’t show it, he had a huge impact as a pass rusher and graded out as one the league’s best at the position. The Vikings had an opening after parting ways with incumbent Tom Johnson. With the position now open, the Vikings quickly grabbed up Richardson. He gives them a much younger (6 years) and way more talented option than Johnson.
Like Suh, he will also be surrounded by a very talented supporting cast, which consists of DEs Danielle Hunter and Everson Griffen and DT Linval Joseph. Minnesota had a championship caliber defense before and only gets stronger with the signing of Richardson. He has recorded 60+ tackles in three of his five seasons and five or more sacks in two. I can see him hitting both of those marks again this upcoming season. He’s a DT2 & DL3 option for fantasy leagues.
#3 Dontari Poe (27) – Carolina Panthers – 3 years $27 million
The Panthers had a position opening, next to star DT Kawann Short, after Star Lotulelei left for free agency, who never really lived up to expectations. They also have Vernon Butler, but he hasn’t taken the steps necessary to become a starter. So the chance to get an upgrade and steal away a player from a division rival Poe was a no-brainer signing.
Poe has been one of the most dependable and disruptive DTs throughout his career. In five seasons at Kansas City and last year in Atlanta, he has only missed two out of a possible ninety-six games. The Panthers HC Ron Rivera runs a 4-3 scheme, which requires two quality DTs to be effective. Poe was routine disrupter last season and should be a great fit in Carolina. On his career, he’s averaged nearly forty tackles and three sacks per season, and I believe he will hit those marks again. He’s a DT3 & DL4 option for fantasy leagues.
#4 Star Lotulelei (28) – Buffalo Bills – 5 years $50 million
The Bills desperately needed defensive tackle help, after trading away Marcell Dareus and having aging veteran Kyle Williams (34) as their only other option. HC Sean McDermott was the former DC at Carolina, so he knew what (all) Star Lotulelei would bring to the team. With the ties and experience in McDermott’s defense, it only made sense to sign him. While he doesn’t offer much as a pass rusher, he is a good run stopper and will be counted on to eat up a lot of blocks so the solid linebacking group can make plays. His averages per season are twenty-eight tackles and three sacks, and I would expect similar numbers from him again. He’s a DT4 & DL6 option for fantasy leagues.
#5 Tom Johnson (33) – Seattle Seahawks – 1 year $2.7 million
Basically, Seattle swapped Sheldon Richardson for Tom Johnson, but for less money. The Seahawks wanted to sign someone as cheap as they could and may have come out a winner with this signing. Johnson who will be entering his eighth season and is still able to produce at a very high level. He will line up next to young guy Jarren Reed and provide some veteran leadership along the d-line. He’s not going to provide a lot in the pass rush department, but he will be a solid run stopper. Over his career, he’s averaged twenty tackles and three sacks per season. I wouldn’t expect him to produce much more than that. For fantasy purposes, he’s a streaming option in deep leagues at best.
Other Notable Unsigned Free Agents as of 4/1
Johnathan Hankins (26)
The top remaining free agent DT still available and should find a new home soon. Over the past four seasons, he has averaged forty-two tackles and four sacks, so he should be in high demand. He’s had visits with Redskins and is reported to be on Lions radar. Will be a great pick up for any team. For fantasy purposes, he’s a DT2 & DL3.
Bennie Logan (28)
Logan has been a solid player throughout his career and should have another good season for whoever signs him. He probably won’t get signed until after the draft and teams see what they still need. Over the past four seasons, he has averaged forty-two tackles and one and a half sacks per. He has had a visit with Seattle and drawn interest from Washington. For fantasy purposes, he’s a DT3 & DL 4.
Thanks for reading. If you ever want to talk IDP, you can find me on Twitter @DFF_DWIN.