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, safeties, and defensive ends. Let’s look at the defensive tackles.
Jurrell Casey – Tennessee Titans
Casey has been among the top interior defenders in the league over the past several seasons. Unfortunately, much like offensive linemen, defensive tackles tend to go largely unnoticed unless they are playing poorly. However, defensive tackles have a large impact on the defense. Not only are defensive tackles vitally important to stopping the run, but they are also important in creating pressure up the middle against the pass. This is where Casey has excelled in his career. From 2013-2017, Casey has five or more sacks as well as 44 or more tackles. He also has eight or more tackles for loss in the same time span.
Casey continued the trend in 2018. In fact, 2018 was one of Casey’s better statistical seasons of his career. He produced seven sacks, 62 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, and two forced fumbles. Dependent on scoring, Casey was a top-20 defensive lineman this season in fantasy football and a top-five defensive tackle. He also graded out as top-15 on the defensive interior by PFF. Casey continued his impressive dominance on the defensive interior in 2018.
Malik Jackson – Jacksonville Jaguars
Speaking of quarterback pressure up the middle, Jackson has been one of the best at it for the past few seasons. A key cog in the Denver Broncos Super Bowl victory in 2015, the Broncos have dearly missed Jackson and his interior pressure since letting him go to the Jaguars. From 2015 through 2017, Jackson had 5.5 or more sacks and eight or more tackles for loss. He also added 14 combined passes defended. Jackson was a key member to the dominant Jaguars defense from 2017 with eight sacks, 40 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, four forced fumbles, and three passes defended. Jackson looked to continue being productive in 2018.
However, it just was not meant to be. The Jaguars as a whole took a step backward from their 2017 improbably near run to the Super Bowl. While the defense was still solid, they were not as dominant as they were. This applied to Jackson as well. He was only able to produce 3.5 sacks, the second lowest of his career, to go along with 37 tackles, seven tackles for loss, and only one pass defended. It was a disappointing season for Jackson and for those who drafted him.
Davon Godchaux – Miami Dolphins
Godchaux does not have near the history of production as Casey or Jackson. He was chosen for the article because of his productive rookie season in 2017. In that season, Godchaux accounted for 40 tackles, one forced fumble, and one pass defended. While this may not seem like much, he did all of this while only playing 48% of the Dolphins defensive snaps. A better indicator of his performance is playmaking ability per snap (PAPS) developed by the “IDP Tipster” (@Hbogart27). Using this metric, Godchaux was better than some of the top defensive tackles in the NFL in 2017, including his then-teammate Ndamukong Suh. Godchaux was one of my as well as one of the “IDP Tipster’s” favorite breakout candidates for 2018.
Our prediction did not come to fruition in 2018. While Godchaux was not disappointing per se, he definitely did not have the season I expected. Starting all 16 games, Godchaux produced 48 tackles, sick tackles for loss, and finally tallied his first sack. Still only playing in 62% of the Dolphins defensive snaps, Godchaux had a relatively productive season. Again, not as productive as I thought he would be, and thus he is part of my defensive tackle stashes for next season, predicting once again that he should break out.
Only one of my unsung defensive tackles before the season ended up meeting expectations. Godchaux had a productive season but did not do as well as I thought. Perhaps next season? Going through the linebackers, safeties, defensive ends, and defensive tackles, 8 of 11 (not including an injury) have turned out to be productive. Will the hits keep coming?