Following the second set of preseason games, who is looking up and who is looking down for IDP FFL?
Notes on this weekly report
I’m leaving this same disclaimer here regarding reading into the preseason games and performances too far. We’re in the preseason right now. This information is nice, but do not over commit either way based on preseason games. Every year we see preseason studs fizzle out when the regular season rolls around and vice-versa. It can give you an edge to see who teams are rolling out with the starters, who is winning position battles, and who seems to be progressing. But again, don’t sell the farm or go crazy over the information.
The preseason reports will be going a little deeper down on the rosters than what we can expect to see in the regular season. This is mostly due to the fact that the young guys and the guys fighting for jobs and roster spots are getting the most run. Most of the stud players are playing limited series or staying on the sideline preserving their health. We are seeing more snaps from some of the more notable players in weeks 2 and 3 though.
Week 1: 6 tackles (5 solos)
Week 2: 6 tackles (6 solos), 1 TFL
Burks is a repeat addition to this list. He still struggles to fight through blockers and traffic, this may be something he can improve but might just be part of his game. With Kenny Clark and Blake Martinez excelling at taking on blocks Burks’ speed is a perfect fit in this defense to shoot gaps and fly outside to the ball. His athleticism continues to shine on these types of plays and in coverage.
Burks has almost assuredly locked down the second inside linebacker position at this point and is showing more upside than I expected. If he continues to shine like he has in the first two preseason games he could end up as high as an LB2 in tackle heavy IDP leagues this year.
Week 1: 7 tackles (3 solo), 1.5 sacks, 1 TFL, 3 QB hits
Week 2: 6 tackles (3 solo), 1.5 sacks, 2 TFL, 4 QB hits
Green put up an excellent stat line for the second week in a row and makes my list again. The good news for the athletically gifted rookie is that he has been able to win with technique, especially with his hands. Additionally, Green has held up really well against the run for a Seahawks team that desperately needs help at the defensive end position. There does still remain one warning flag to watch for, Green has played a lot against backups. Hopefully next week we get to see him with the starters against better competition.
Week 1: 6 tackles (4 solo)
Week 2: 5 tackles (4 solo), 1 sack, 1 TFL, 1 QB hit
Lee is another repeat listing from last week’s list, the consistency for these guys is encouraging. Lee has been rotating with Derrick Johnson at the middle linebacker spot and has severely outplayed Johnson at this point. Lee should win the starting job. The next question should be if he can continue to hold up in coverage and win a three-down role.
Week 1: 6 tackles (5 solo), 2 TFL, 1 QB hit
Week 2: 5 tackles (1 solo), 1 PD, 1 fumble recovery, 1 TD
It may seem like you’re reading the same article with yet another repeat here in Bentley. He is seeing a lot of early action with the starters and definitely proving his worth. As you can imagine the 260-pound linebacker has continued to impress as a run defender and has shown the ability to pressure the quarterback.
The more impressive part of Bentley’s game has been his coverage ability. This included the challenge of a running back flexing out wide on the first play this week to try to exploit Bentley. He was up for the challenge and stuck with the back beautifully.
Darius Leonard (and Skai Moore)
Week 1: 4 tackles (1 solo)
Week 2: 7 tackles (6 solo)
Both rookies have been extremely impressive so far. Both have plus athleticism and shine in coverage and running to the ball in the open field. We saw more of Leonard this week after he missed a lot of time early in camp. The rookie has the weakside linebacker position locked down despite the missed time. Moore has gotten a chance to run with the starters due to Anthony Walker‘s injury and he continues to be impressive. Unlike Leonard, Skai Moore is still battling for a role on the defense so we’ll continue to watch Moore’s role and performance.
Week 1: 6 tackles (3 solos), 1 PD, 1 INT
Week 2: 7 tackles (5 solos), 1 sack, 1 TFL, 1 QB hit, 1 PD
Last week I recognized Brown’s stellar performance but speculated he might be relegated to passing down work. If Brown continues to shine it’s going to be hard to keep him off the field. His biggest competition was probably going to be from first-round rookie Rashaan Evans.
However, Evans continues to miss time and Brown continues to shine. His coverage skills are invaluable in today’s NFL but he’s also showing the ability to use his athleticism to disrupt the passing game as a rusher. It wasn’t just his sack either, he was able to apply pressure on multiple occasions in this game.
Week 2: 5 tackles (4 solos), 1 FF
Harrison filled in for Gipson at free safety in this game. This is a promising sign that the Jaguars trust Harrison in coverage as well as the enforcer, box safety role. He played well in this game and may be playing his way into an early role in nickel packages.
Week 2: 19 snaps, 1 sack, 3 QB hits, 3 hurries (7 total pressures), one run stop
He’s 23 years old, he’s a physically gifted pass rusher, and he’s still developing as a football player. He’s starting to put it all together and quarterbacks should scared. Hunter’s sack in this game was ripping down 230 pounds Blake Bortles with three fingers.
Week 2: 4 tackles (3 solos), 1 sack, 1 TFL, 2 PD
Brown is running with the starters and looked like the promising 2016 player in this contest. There’s heavy competition for linebacker snaps on this Charger team and he’s far from secure in the productive three-down role we’re looking for. It is nice to see him off to an excellent start early.
Week 2: 3 tackles (3 solos), 1 forced fumble
The news here is deeper than the stat line. Geathers is being handed the starting strong safety job in Indy. This projects to be a hyper-productive role that could even produce DB1 stats in fantasy. Geathers has performed near these levels at times in the past and he made it out of his first action healthy.
These guys didn’t have big stat lines to support their performance, but all three lived in the opponents’ backfield. This is sometimes a better indicator of future success than just pure sack numbers. I expect a monster season out of Garrett. It’s nice to see Dupree healthy and living up to his potential. Clayborn has been a pleasant surprise in New England.
To put it bluntly, McMillan looks like he hasn’t played football in a year. He struggled to make tackles in space and is still questionable in coverage. McMillan is still a young, athletic player in a great situation so a couple poor showings are not a huge concern. He is still working in a three-down role with the starters so keep him on your radar for now.
See Jayon Brown above.
It may be unfair to put Evans on this list while he’s not actually playing but he is losing ground. He continues to miss out on valuable reps while Brown continues to earn more playing time.
Along the same lines as Evans, Bynes is a player with a lot to prove and is missing valuable time. New acquisition Gerald Hodges didn’t look bad for a free agent that has been with the team less than a week. Bynes is far from secure in his role at this point.
I love Darron Lee’s speed and potential, but the Jets can only give him so many chances. He continues to struggle with missed tackles and over pursuing plays. Despite his athleticism, he’s also been poor in coverage. Again don’t take him off your radar, but he should be sliding down your list.
Jones had a promising rookie campaign but so far this season he’s worked almost exclusively with the second team. He’s missed time with injuries and hasn’t looked good in training camp or so far in preseason action. Oren Burks impressive preseason is starting to reduce the need for the three safety sets the Packers showed frequently last season. Again, this is a small sample size so no need to completely panic but he is tumbling down my draft board. The good news for IDP owners is Jones saw reps at inside linebacker with the backups, definitely a big boost in IDP value for a safety if it continues.
New “Helmet Rule”
It’s a dangerous play and I like the concept to improve the safety and the future of the game. However, execution here has to get better from the players and especially from the officials.