Every year at training camp we get barraged by tweets and articles telling us how great everyone looks. Guys are “flying around,” people feel “one-hundred times better” than last year, so on and so forth. This article is an attempt to cut through the mud and give readers one defensive player I am HIGH on coming into 2018, as well as one I am LOW on regardless of the hype. Enjoy!
HIGH – Micah Hyde is in the prime of his career, entering his 6th season in the NFL. He’s the unquestioned starter at strong safety, has played in 79 of 80 games, and will be asked to contribute another 1,000 snap season for the Buffalo Bills. Coming off a 2017 season that included 65 solo tackles and 5 interceptions, I only see Hyde’s production growing in 2018.
LOW – Shaq Lawson, the 2016 1st round pick has not lived up to expectations thus far in his career. Tallying only six sacks in his first 21 games, Lawson’s lack of production is easy to see. Also, Trent Murphy signed with the team this offseason and is back from injury. This leaves fewer snaps for Lawson in 2018. I don’t see much improvement for Lawson unless he ends up with a fresh start on a new roster.
HIGH – Robert Quinn is back in a 4-3 defensive front, where he thrived to the tune of 40 sacks in three seasons from 2012-2014. The talented pass rusher should avoid double teams with Cameron Wake manning the opposite side of the D-line, leaving plenty of opportunities for Quinn to get to the quarterback. Expect solid tackle numbers and a return to double-digit sacks for the former L.A. Rams linebacker/defensive end.
LOW – Stephone Anthony had such a promising start to his IDP fantasy career, racking up 111 total tackles in 16 games with New Orleans in 2015. Since then, things have fallen apart for Anthony, who was ineffective for most of 2016, traded in 2017, and now his 2019 option was declined by the Dolphins. I expect Anthony to play limited snaps at strongside linebacker while providing little to no value in fantasy football.
New England Patriots
HIGH – Jason McCourty has been a beast in IDP fantasy football for a decade. While in Tennessee, the former Titan completed three seasons with over 85 total tackles and had averaged 5.1 tackles and nearly a full pass defensed per game. Now in New England, McCourty’s floor is very high as a starting cornerback opposite of Stephon Gilmore, with his ceiling being a 100 total tackle season.
LOW – Dont’a Hightower is a talented, productive player when he’s on the field. Unfortunately, health seems to be a rarity for the Alabama alum. Over the previous four seasons in New England, Hightower has missed 22 regular season games. Until I see him play 16 games, I cannot get excited about Hightower’s prospects of contributing to an IDP title run.
New York Jets
HIGH – Avery Williamson is in the perfect position to take over for Demario Davis’ 1,118 snaps at inside linebacker for the New York Jets. The 26-year-old graded out as the number three inside linebacker in 2017 (Pro Football Focus) while making 92 tackles for Tennessee. We expect monster numbers similar to the 135 tackles Davis had last year.
LOW – Steve McLendon played in all 16 games in 2017, racking up 46 total tackles in New York. However, at age 32, McLendon is not exactly a spring chicken. I like his game, and I think he’ll have a solid year; however, I don’t think McLendon will be able to sustain the production he had a year ago.
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