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 – Patrick Onwuasor has been an excellent undrafted free agent surprise for the Ravens stingy defense. The former Portland State stud took over as the starter for injured sensation Zach Orr in 2017 and did not disappoint IDP fans with his 90 combined tackles. This offseason, many Onwausor owners were worried Baltimore would draft his replacement, but Ozzie Newsome chose to go other ways in 2018, leaving Onwuasor in an excellent position to meet or exceed his previous output.
LOW – Eric Weddle is a straight up NFL football stud, don’t get me wrong, but the combination of Baltimore’s use of his talents and his age cannot be overlooked. The Utah alum is 33 years old, beginning his 12th season as a pro, and as a Raven, the past two years, Weddle’s average tackles have dropped to nearly half of what they were in his prime in San Diego. It may be time to move on from the bearded safety.
HIGH – Jordan Willis is considered by the Bengals brass, to be an every-down player in Cincinnati. The 23-year-old 3rd round pick last year had solid grades as a run stopper in his 360 snaps last season, and with aging star Michael Johnson hitting his twilight, Willis is in an excellent position to take over. A word of caution, the Bengals used a 2018 3rd round pick on Sam Hubbard, so there is some uncertainty with Willis, but if he starts, he has the skills to produce.
LOW – Vontaze Burfict is such a tough player to analyze. When he’s on the field, he’s an IDP goldmine. Unfortunately, the rags-to-riches beast has had to miss 26 games over the last four seasons. 2018 will be no different, as Burfict is suspended four games for PEDs. In my opinion, It looks like Cincinnati management is looking for a way to replace Burfict by drafting Jordan Evans and Malik Jefferson over the last two drafts, which makes me think Burfict’s value will diminish
HIGH – Myles Garrett has only one knock against him, which is injuries. If he can avoid missing games, the 2017 first overall draft pick has the talent, size, speed, and production (seven sacks in 11 games last year) to be the top defensive end in IDP. If you can snag Garrett from his current owner for a bargain, you’ll be happy you did come December.
LOW – Jamie Collins – Man, do I wish Collins could stay on the field. The guy is an explosive player who always seems to be in the right place to make plays. As a starter in his career, he’s been no lower than a linebacker two, but since his move to Cleveland, Collins owners cannot trust him to be available to play. At 28, with lingering concussion issues, I’m more interested in cutting bait than riding it out with Collins.
HIGH – Jon Bostic/Tyler Matakevich whoever gets to fill in for Ryan Shazier in the Steelers defense will have every opportunity to succeed in IDP. Bostic is no slouch, picked in the 2nd round out of Florida in 2013; the former Gator has two 80+ tackle seasons under his belt. However, Matakevich, a 2016 7th rounder out of Temple, is currently the favorite to win the job next to Vince Williams. Whoever ends up starting, has upside potential of 100 tackles as opposing teams will likely target the position in 2018.
LOW – Bud Dupree seemed to have everything one would want out of an edge rusher coming out of Kentucky. He’s 6’4”, 270 lbs. of chiseled athletic talent. As a pro, it just hasn’t clicked for Dupree, and after three years, there isn’t much we haven’t seen of the former 1st round pick. I expect Dupree to continue to produce average numbers, which don’t help win IDP championships.
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