The IDP Tipster: The “Unheralded” 2018 Linebacker Dynasty & Redraft Tier Changes Heading Into 2019/Part #2

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The IDP Tipster Spins Out “Takes” On Tier Changes On Those Linebacker Warranting A Tier Change In 2019 After Showing IDP Owners We Have A Good Reason To Adjust For 2019 Dynasty & Redraft Leagues.


The purpose of this ongoing mini-series article is to recognize the unheralded IDP players postseason that wasn’t exactly known before the 2018 season and where to tier them in dynasty leagues. And of course this will translate over into redrafts as well, but most of these players won’t likely be going anywhere anytime soon so from a dynasty point of view we will cover everything we need to know.

Unheralded Defined:

un·her·ald·ed
/ˌənˈherəldəd/
adjective
1. unknown, not previously announced, expected, or recognized.

There were quite a few IDP’s that before the 2018 season had their names thrown out as potential players that Fantasy football owners would want to keep in mind. As well as some that emerged as viable pieces we found useful as the season unfolded. From a personal perspective, I believe in the offseason we have four categories.

The “Known”

The “Hyped”

The “Potential

”The “Unknown”

But after the season we have more clarity on each in most cases and if they still hold those titles or if changes are in order. We’ll be dealing with the Hyped, Potential, and the Unknown players that succeeded in catching our attention in one form or another in 2018. And then set them into the appropriate tier heading into 2019 for trade value and drafting for dynasty leagues and redrafts. Taking into account age, role, situation, and of course performance leading us towards that tier to target them in for the future. This will help allow us to gauge a “reach”, a “value”, or a “bargain” as we maintain a dynasty or prepare to build one.

Also, keep in mind as we go, you may know some or even all of these players now after this past season. But I assure you they were unheralded by almost everyone last offseason given what they accomplished, even to the “gurus” in most cases. There is a difference between “the hyped” before we know, and the “known” that we come to expect. These are players that are new to seeing the type of IDP production they produced in 2018. Before this, they have not made an impact as they have this season for whatever reason or situation. But now they have earned the right to be re-tiered because of what they accomplished for our IDP rosters purposes going forward.

If you would like to refer to the guidelines and such in more details please feel free to visit the first of the series HERE and scroll down to the lower section of the article. One thing to note, I have decided to move forward with all 17 weeks instead of just weeks 1-16. This did not affect the outcome of the players mentioned in the original article. The P.A.P.S. was still in-line as well as the final tier selected for 2019.


2018 IDP Mock Drafts Via http://www.punchdrunkwonderland.com/idp-mock-drafts/

The ILB, or inside linebacker color and numerical grading scorecard covers the weakside (WLB) and middle linebackers (MILB) in the 4 -3 defensive scheme. As well as the two inside linebackers in the 3 – 4 scheme known as the Mike inside linebacker (MILB) and the Will inside linebacker (WILB). Both the MLB and the MILB are known as the run-stopping positions and the WLB and WILB are known as coverage players. In today’s NFL they can interact with each other’s roles but for the most part, when a defensive package is called depending on the offensive alignment, it is catered towards their main responsibilities as indicated by position name.


2018 Player P.A.P.S Scorecard


 

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The Redskins MILB Mason Foster isn’t exactly new to most fans, but because of the change that occurred this season, he will be covered. The now nine-year veteran made an impact this past season that most wouldn’t have assumed would happen considering the situation going into 2018.  The Redskins decided to feature Foster as the true every-down linebacker over Zach Brown. To be honest it was an assumption among most people who Brown would be the main linebacker and that Foster’s role would be a secondary one. In defense of those like myself making this assumption, it was completely out of the blue by all indications of prior seasons as well as contract situations. We won’t bother to recap those now, we will just go with the fact that the Redskins had their own ideas for 2018.

Over Foster’s career, he has ranged from an upper tier player at his position to completely falling off the map due to injuries. Coming out of 2017 he wasn’t on the radar overall for the type of production he rewarded his fantasy football owners with ending the season as the 7th overall linebacker via NFL.com. His recorded 133 combined tackles are his best effort since joining the pro level and warrant a tier change for 2019 with yet again the assumed situation heading into next season. Foster had only peaked 100 combined tackles in his nine-year career twice, once in 2012 as a Buccaneer with 105, and again in 2016 before Zach Brown joined the Redskins with 124.

According to the P.D.W IDP “ALL MOCKS SUMMARY” in 2018 he was on average the:

137th overall IDP off the board.

55th linebacker off the board

This is huge for any Fantasy Football owner who likely grabbed him super late as a LB4 in the average 4th Tier. This is equivalent to catching the Hail Mary pass to win the game. The situation we mentioned above reflects strongly as to why he was such a bargain at that level. His predicted role for 2018 was not in-line to reach for him in higher rounds. If we make the long story short to why we should think that Zach Brown might not be a Redskin next season, all indications at this time are that we need to re-tier Foster heading into 2019 in the final year of his current contract. Which we will add is a steal at a base salary of $1.25 million. Don’t be surprised if the Redskins have given him a new contract by the start of 2019, again pending the situation that likely unfolds.

Before we do re-tier Foster, I’d like to note that not only does his P.A.P.S lack of playmaking numbers show some concern in all those snaps, another grading system has him as an “average” player in real life. Our P.A.P.S. grading is strictly fantasy football orientated but shows in-line with “the other” and should be kept in mind as we do re-tier him.

2018 Tier: 3 to 4

2019 Re -Tier: Upper Tier Two

We have to expect that the scenario in Washington doesn’t change for Foster. The Redskins could be considered a dysfunctional franchise when it comes to how they’ve handled the personal over the last 10 years. This also does present itself as a risk. And in a dynasty format at his age of going on 30, letting Foster slide lower in the second tier should be considered “safe” as well. But if we forecast next season for the Redskins we could say they will likely struggle again on offense to the point that if Foster is the main linebacker he should see that range of high snap counts again. In turn, this will set us up nicely to gather the IDP production that the opportunities will allow. The lack of playmaking stats in the P.A.P.S. could be seen as a concern as well, but his overall outlook has him re-tiered to help win leagues next season.

UPDATE: Reuben Foster has had his domestic chargers dropped since retiring Mason Foster. We will not change Mason Foster’s tier, but I will say that until further notice the entire Redskin inside LB group should be avoided. 

 

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The Rams MILB Cory Littleton may have been the real steal of last years IDP leagues when we split the hairs of who accomplished what among those “un-hyped” and late depth pickups in IDP leagues. From a dynasty perspective, any owner that snagged him up was not only rewarded with great IDP production this past season but just may have won the lottery with a player on the verge of being elite for many years down the road. Yes, we know that this year’s linebacker field had a lot to offer in turnover of linebackers falling or jumping tiers. But Littleton and his complete package coupled with his situation with the Rams currently looks like the “Hail Mary” of all “Hail Marys”.

According to the P.D.W 2018 IDP “ALL MOCKS SUMMARY” he was on average the:

178th overall IDP off the board.

64th linebacker off the board

Examining the linebackers right below or even above Littleton in the mock confirms the “Hail Mary” of all “Hail Marys”. I mentioned that I didn’t partake in any of these mocks last summer, and I can’t say if I’d kept him from slipping as far as he did on average as those numbers show or not. But I can say that in that deep Tier 4 area where the “depth fliers”normal range, it would have been really hard not to of flown with him over a few of the other taken before him just based off his pre-season information. But hindsight isn’t a substantial claim, so we move on.

We will start with the basics, and not take away from what players like Darius Leonard did with the Colts, but Littleton did what he did while being surrounded by a defensive unit that arguably fielded the most talented group of players combined. This young man did more than just “manage” his opportunity alongside players named Suh, Donald, Barron, Joyner, Brockers, and at the least John Johnson, he took control and simple said took it to the next level.

To best explain this we will look at Littleton compared to Leonard and the situation this past season. Both players stepped into a starting role for the first time at the pro level, this we know. Both are excellent in run-stopping as well as excelling in coverage. But overall, the Colts defense cannot hold a candle to the Rams unit. Just how can we claim this when The Colts (11th) ended up ranked above the Rams in total defense via NFL.com. Simple, the 2018 schedule.

The fact that we had been heading towards the later half how the Colts defensive unit was making a splash was a bit suspicious. But it wasn’t until we got into this article and the overall end of season rankings was examined and seeing that the Colts came in eleventh and the Rams at nineteenth thru up some red flags. Hence the above chart. See all that green in the Opponent Rank section for the Colts? Notice the lack of green in the Rams Opponent Ranks? Who teams play always affects how good or bad a team can do in a season. Something overlooked often when statements are made on what teams are managing to pull off or not as the season unfolds. Let’s break that down next.

The Colts faced opponents in the bottom third (green) by the season ends power rankings nine out of the sixteen games this season. And then the remaining seven contests the had four in the middle of the pack (orange) and only three top-tier (Red).

The Rams were just the opposite, maybe even to a larger degree. They ended up facing opponents in the bottom third (green) by the season ends power rankings six out of the sixteen games this season. And then the remaining seven contests the had four in the middle of the pack (orange) and six in the top-tier (Red).

Advantage: Colts

Now that’s “telling” to look at the level of the two team’s competition and the “talent” on those squads in general. But it is the Opponents fantasy facts based on what they ended the season in allowing points to linebackers that tips the scale.

Leonard only played 15 games, missing Week 5 versus the Patriots. So we will note that and only look at the contests he did play in. Out of the 15 games he played, eleven (green) were favorable for allowing points to the linebacker position, one (orange) middle of the pack, and only three (red)”tuff” matchups.

Littleton, well again we can see that from a fantasy perspective he had it a bit rougher, actually a lot rougher via matchups. He went with only five (green) favorable, three (orange) middle of the pack, and eight contest of the sixteen with the odds stacked against him producing well.

Again, we are not going to take anything from Leonard and his 2018 season, But now we are going to use what we called in this comparison between the two players to re-tier Littleton and make a couple of observations as we do. Before we do, if we clicked the link above on Leonard, you’ll see we re-tiered him as a Low Tier One, very respectable. Now we’ll get it done for Littleton.

2018 Tier: 4 or “flier” depth

2019 Re -Tier: Upper – Mid Tier One

So how exactly could we re-tier Littleton a half tier higher than Leonard when we look at the production between the two from 2018. It really isn’t all that far-fetched when we examine the facts. Not only did Littleton manage to produce at the high-end level and verging on elite, but he did it with a lot lower odds that he could have pulled it off. I’ve been doing this for a long time, I know how history repeats and understand the trends to IDP. And Littleton has impressed me more overall more than what Leonard accomplished.

Littleton did the hard way and by doing so is likely set up better to repeat at the same level he did in 2018 over Leonard pending next years schedule. Add in the fact that the Littleton situation in L.A., in general, will not change and that the likelihood that Leonard’s will change with the surrounding talent on each defensive unit, I suggest that while most if not all fantasy IDP owners target Leonard over Littleton, either go Littleton first, or simply let him slide to you in the next round. Just like both of these players did, we should play up or down to our fantasy football owner competitors.


We’ve done it again, or should I say I have. We have reached a point that I’ve gone off-rail a bit because we needed to look into Littleton deeper than just a normal “Tier Take”. So from here we will recap the tier changes we have so far and save Warner, Smith, and Edmunds for next time.

Colts WLB Darius Leonard2019 Re -Tier: Low Tier One / Solid upper Tier Two

Cowboys MLB Leighton Vander Esch2019 Re -Tier: Mid Tier One / Low Tier One

Chiefs WILB Anthony Hitchens2019 Re -Tier: Low Tier Two / Tier Three

Redskins MILB Mason Foster: 2019 R e-Tier: Upper Tier Two, with “avoid” warning

Rams MILB Cory Littleton: 2019 Re -Tier: Upper – Mid Tier One

 

Thank you as always for reading and feel free to find me on Twitter @HBogart27 for any follow-up questions or anything IDP. Or reach out at gmtvandyke@gmail.com.

 

 


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It is all about the IDP and to bring those interested the tools and content to win now. If you ever need a "follow-up" on anything I've written or would like to ask a general question feel free to contact me on Twitter @HBogart27. I'll also reply by email at gmtvandyke@gmail.com if in the title the words "IDP Tipster" are included. As always thank you for supporting my IDP fetish by reading my articles. Additional: News Desk Correspondent for FantasyPros @nfl_alerts Experience: give or take 20 yrs Proudest Accomplishment As IDP Guy: Developing "one of a kind and original" in-season "Easy Charts" for IDP start/sit advice by using multiple resources and trade secrets to win now. Go Buckeyes!

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