Heading into training camp, it’s worth taking a look at a few IDP position battles that have yet to be resolved. There is potential production available on the waiver wire depending on who wins each role. And knowing who’s competing in each battle will give you a leg-up when injuries inevitably occur.
Carolina Panthers DE
Julius Peppers is 38-years old. He played 500 snaps last season for the Panthers and hit double-digit sacks. Thirty-three total tackles paired with 11.0 sacks and 2 FFs. Mario Addison and Charles Johnson were the nominal starters at DE last season for Carolina. Addison produced 44 total tackles, 2 FFs and matched Peppers’ sack total while lining up for 654 defensive snaps. Johnson played 389 snaps over 12 games last season. At this pace, he would’ve topped 515 on the season if he had stayed healthy.
Considering Peppers a pass-rush specialist, Wes Horton was the DE3 last season. He played 360 snaps and totaled 17 tackles, 5.5 sacks, and 3 FFs. Finally, 3rd Round rookie Daeshon Hall played nine snaps before going on IR. Football is game of small sample sizes, but nine snaps is a minuscule sample size…
With the calendar showing 2018, how will Carolina line up their edges? Carolina released Johnson who seems likely to retire. Addison will be one starter and will lead the depth chart in snaps and production. His snaps and production should be similar to last season. Peppers will remain in his limited role. Carolina would be smart to limit his snaps even further to keep him fresh.
Horton will likely be the other starter and be on the field for 500-600 snaps if he holds onto the job for the entire season. His production will see an increase, but whether it is enough to make him useful for fantasy remains to be seen. If we project his numbers from last season for an increase to 500 snaps, he ends with 24 tackles and 7.5 sacks. Not exactly DE1 numbers… Even in my deepest league, Horton is still available on the waiver wire. If you’ve got a roster spot, he may be worth a stash to see if he can be more efficient with his snaps. If you do stash him, you’ll likely know after a game or two whether he’s droppable.
The wildcard in all this is Hall. Hall should be ticketed for Horton’s role from last year. If Hall shows out in camp and a full NFL offseason sets him up in a position to succeed, it’s not out of the realm of possibilities for Hall to earn the starting spot. Hall has more upside than 28-year-old, former UDFA, Horton if Hall can win the starting job. If Hall isn’t ready to start in 2018, he may still be a starter in 2019. He’ll need to show improvement over the course of the season for that to become a realistic option though. An NFL team isn’t overly committed to a 3rd Year, 3rd Round pick. If Hall doesn’t show progress over the season, look for Carolina to spend a high pick on DE at the end of April 2019.
Carolina also drafted Marquis Haynes in the 4th Round as an undersized edge. At 6’2”, 235 lbs, Haynes seems ticketed for a role at the SAM rather than DE.