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 – De’Vondre Campbell finished his sophomore campaign in Atlanta with 92 total tackles and two sacks. Coming into 2018, I expect the Falcons to continue to add more to the former Golden Gopher’s snap counts, which inevitably should lead to IDP scoring. If you have a chance to snag the 25-year-old linebacker, go for it, as you’ll be obtaining LB2/LB3 value.
LOW – Vic Beasley is a freak athlete, with top-end skills out of Clemson. The former eighth pick in the 2015 draft looked to be on the rise, racking up 39 tackles and 15.5 sacks in 2016. Unfortunately, 2017 was not kind to Beasley, as his tackle and sack numbers both dropped (29 and five respectively) and at 26, I think we know what we have with the 4th year pro. He could completely dominate this season, but until I see him bounce back to 2016 form, I can’t rely on a guy who has had ONE sack in his last eight regular season games.
HIGH – Donte Jackson put together a show in training camp this year, surprising many around the league about how quickly he’s made the transition to the NFL. The LSU star was thrust into the spotlight following Ross Cockrell’s season-ending injury and has owned the CB2 position so far. I see plenty of upside in Jackson’s 2018 opposite James Bradberry in Carolina. Look for 50+ tackles and 10+ passes defensed out of the 22-year-old stud.
LOW – Kawann Short has never missed a game in his five full seasons in the NFL. Over the last three seasons, he’s averaged 53 total tackles and over eight sacks per year. The 29-year-old out of Memphis should provide very little downside to his game. However, the monster defensive tackle now has to share the middle with Dontari Poe, another very capable defensive tackle, who may steal some tackles from Short. The addition may not totally destroy Short’s value, but it does hurt it some.
New Orleans Saints
HIGH – Demario Davis always seems to be underrated by the fantasy community. The 2012 third-round pick has been a solid contributor in every situation he’s been in. As a Jet last year, he made an enormous impact, racking up 135 total tackles and five sacks. Now with New Orleans, and with a hefty $24 million contract, I only see similar production out of Davis as a three-down linebacker for the Saints. Expect LB1 numbers each and every week.
LOW – Alex Okafor – After a less than stellar four seasons with Arizona, Okafor came to the Saints with an opportunity to shine. Unfortunately, after a solid start, the ex-Texas Longhorn suffered a season-ending injury in week 11. Since then, and unfortunately for Okafor, New Orleans traded up in the first round to select Marcus Davenport to line up opposite Cameron Jordan. This move forces Okafor to play as a backup and makes his production reliant on substation packages or an injury. I don’t expect Okafor to be fantasy relevant anytime soon.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
HIGH – Jason Pierre-Paul was amazing for his first five years in the NFL. Since then, JPP has had his ups and downs in New York, including injuring his hand in a fireworks incident. Now, with a change of scenery to the Buccaneers, and coming off a solid 16 game season, it looks like the South Florida product is ready to return to dominance in Tampa. If you can, find the upset owner of Pierre-Paul and pick his pocket, as I anticipate plenty of tackles and 10+ sacks for the 6’5” freak defensive end in 2018.
LOW – Gerald McCoy turned 30 years old this year, and although he’s never shown signs of slowing down, there must be a reason Tampa Bay took Vita Vea in the first round of the 2018 NFL draft. I see McCoy continuing to play well and create IDP value, but with Vea in the mix, and age a factor, I would consider selling McCoy a year early as the way to go before McCoy is forced to deal with Father Time.
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