Continuing the IDP Guys way of transparency, @FFStompy goes over his Unsung Heroes of IDP series to look at how each player did in the 2018 season
The IDP Guys writers have made a commitment to transparency so you, as the reader, can hold us accountable for the information we espouse. We all want to own our bad takes as well as our good and want you to understand our process so you can trust us moving forward. The “IDP Tipster” (@Hbogart27) has already written two transparency articles (1) (2).
With that in mind, the purpose of this article is to go over my Unsung Heroes of IDP series. Before the 2018 season, I took a look at players who were going under the radar despite solid production. While these were not takes, I felt that you could grab those guys late and have success. Here is how the linebackers and safeties did. Let’s look at the defensive ends.
Carlos Dunlap – Cincinnati Bengals
Dunlap has been a menacing force for the Bengals for nearly a decade now. He has been such a consistent producer, in fact, that the Bengals rewarded him with a three-year, $40M extension after I wrote the original article. Dunlap deserved the extensions. In all but one season, he has produced six or more sacks and over 40 tackles. In the other season, he had 4.5 sacks. Dunlap has accounted for 7.5 or more sacks in every season since 2013. While he has only reached double-digit sacks once, his numbers firmly set him in the second tier of IDP defensive ends.
Guess what? The streak of 7.5 or more sacks continued into 2018. Playing in 16 games for the sixth straight season, Dunlap finished the year with eight sacks, 47 tackles, two forced fumbles, and eight passes defended. Dunlap’s passes defended numbers over the last three seasons have been staggering, combining for 30! While his sack numbers are not elite, they are solid, and his passes defended numbers make him a great defensive end in IDP. For where people were drafting him, Dunlap was absolutely fantastic value this season.
Robert Quinn – Miami Dolphins
Quinn has had multiple things working against him the three seasons prior to 2018. First, he suffered through injuries in 2015 and 2016, including his back, that limited him to 15 games. Second, new defensive coordinator Wade Phillips joined the Rams in 2017 and Quinn was asked to play a 3-4 outside linebacker. Quinn had played a 4-3 defensive end his entire career, producing 40 sacks from 2012-2014. Dealing with injuries and playing out of position, Quinn only accounted for 17.5 sacks and 63 tackles from 2015-2017.
Then the Los Angeles Rams traded Quinn the Miami Dolphins. I liked Quinn’s prospects with the Dolphins because he was coming off of his most healthy and productive season in his last three and was back in a 4-3 defensive scheme as a defensive end. While his sack numbers were not great, overall Quinn did have his best season in a long time. He accounted for 6.5 sacks, 38 tackles, and two forced fumbles in his first completely healthy season since 2014. According to PFF, Quinn’s grade jumped from a 58.4 in 2017 to a 74 in 2018. Quinn’s numbers were not near his peak, but he still had a productive season, especially considering where he was being drafted. I’ll chalk this up as a win.
Two first-year #Dolphins who have seen a big jump in production from 2017 to 2018🔽
RB, Frank Gore:
2017 overall grade (70.4) and 2018 overall grade (83.3) = +12.9
ED, Robert Quinn:
2017 overall grade (58.4) and 2018 overall grade (74.0) = +15.6#FinsUp
— PFF MIA Dolphins (@PFF_Dolphins) December 14, 2018
Akiem Hicks – Chicago Bears
Hicks may have been one of the more under the radar defensive ends because he plays in a 3-4 instead of a 4-3. Most of the big-name defensive ends many of us have come to know usually star in a 4-3 scheme. This is where IDP needs to change. We need to start defining positions to accommodate different defensive schemes. We need to start lumping players in as defensive interior and edge rushers. But that is a rant for another time. Hicks, since moving on from New Orleans, has been one of the most consistent defensive linemen in the game. Under defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, Hicks excelled, producing 15.5 sacks and 108 tackles combined in 2016 and 2017.
The Bears hired on a new coaching staff before the 2018 season. Luckily for Hicks, Fangio was retained as the defensive coordinator. And Hicks continued his string of dominant seasons. He accounted for 7.5 sacks, 55 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, three forced fumbles, and five passes defended. Since 2016, Hicks has between 7-8.5 sacks, 54-55 tackles, and 11-15 tackles for loss. Consistent. Once again, another fantastic performance for a later round defensive end
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) January 5, 2019
All three of my unsung defensive ends before the season ended up having very productive seasons. A couple of them had relatively dominant performances. Going through the linebackers, safeties, and defensive ends, 7 of 8 (not including an injury) have turned out to be productive. Will the hits keep coming?