Every year there are new faces in new places – not just players, but coaches too. With those changes come scheme changes, and value changes with regard to fantasy football. Which is why drafting off stats from the previous year isn’t a wise thing to do. However, reading each divisional preseason update would be a wise thing to do. If you have any additional questions please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on twitter @SteveGalloNFL.
HC: Jason Garrett
DC: Monte Kiffin
Base Defensive Scheme: 4-3(Tampa-2)
Scheme Change: Yes
There are two big pieces of news regarding the Cowboys defense this year. One piece is that Monte Kiffin – the father of the Tampa-2 – was hired as the Cowboys defensive coordinator, and the other is that DeMarcus Ware will be playing defensive end this year. Chalk one up for the good guys (IDP players), because of losing a viable fantasy player to the dark side (3-4 defense) we are gaining a viable fantasy producer. Some have concerns with Ware transitioning to the position, I don’t. I see him finishing as a DL1 and won’t be surprised in the least if he finishes as DL1. The move to the 4-3 (Tampa-2) also means that Anthony Spencer gets reclassified as a DE too. Spencer has an ADP of DL20, making him a low level DL2. That might be a bit rich but with the type of DLs you get in that range Spencer offers enough upside to warrant his selection. And with Ware running opposite of him on the DL you know he won’t be seeing any double teams.
Sean Lee is a very talented LB and has superb value both NFL wise and fantasy wise. On the fantasy side of things he has an ADP of LB8. He clearly has the ability to finish as a LB1, but from where I sit, I’d much rather target Bruce Carter and his ADP of LB23. Carter’s game translates wonderfully to Kiffin’s Tampa-2, and I think top-12 is a distinct possibility for him. The Bears have offered up two productive LBs (Urlacher & Briggs) in their Tampa-2 in years past, and I fully expect we see the same from the Cowboys this year.
The Cowboys secondary is far from having a top producing fantasy DB, and at this point I’d recommend that you just move along. If you are looking for a lottery ticket then watch second year safety, Matt Johnson.
New York Giants
HC: Tom Coughlin
DC: Perry Fewell
Base Defensive Scheme: 4-3
Scheme Change: No
Jason Pierre-Paul didn’t live up to expectations last year, but he still finished as DL4. JPP had just 6 ½ sacks in 2012, and attributes that to the back pain he was dealing with. Back pain that resulted in him having back surgery on June 4th. As it stands his availability for week 1 is up in the air, but that hasn’t affected his ADP (DL2) much, if at all. A back injury isn’t anything to take for granted, but there is no denying that JPP presents plenty of upside, especially when he is playing on a defensive line that includes Justin Tuck, Mathias Kiwanuka, and rookie Damontre Moore. Tuck and Kiwanuka both hold more value in deeper leagues. The rookie’s value is in dynasty leagues as he could be the bookend for JPP in years to come.
If you are looking to find fantasy value at LB, I wouldn’t suggest looking at the Giants trio of Mark Herzlich (MLB), Spencer Paysinger (WLB), or Keith Rivers (SLB). There just isn’t enough upside to even worry about carrying any of that trio as a LB6.
Antrel Rolle has led the Giants secondary in fantasy scoring each of the past two year – ranking 23rd among DBs each year. This year an ankle injury makes him a risky draft selection – hence him not showing up on the ADP report. Instead of Rolle, fantasy drafters are showing Stevie Brown plenty of love – pushing his ADP up to DB22. Brown played well enough last year in place of an injured Kenny Phillips. Phillips tested the free agent waters and signed with division rival Philadelphia. Brown offers the type of upside I like to target in a draft. Currently you get him as DB22, but from week 5 thru week 15 he ranked as DB8. That’s exactly the type of upside/value I am looking for in a draft, and if Rolle misses any extended time it just adds to Brown’s upside.
HC: Chip Kelly
DC: Bill Davis
Base Defensive Scheme: 3-4
Scheme Change: Yes
The Eagles cleaned house after a disappointing 2012. Gone is Andy Reid. Gone is the 4-3 defense the Eagles used to employ. Gone is the value that Trent Cole, Jason Babin (cut last year) and company used to have. There’s no telling what to expect from the Eagles new 3-4 under Bill Davis, but I feel safe in saying I don’t expect any fantasy relevance from the DL. I really liked the promise that DT Fletcher Cox held, but now he’s been re-designated as a DE, and with that my hopes have been dashed.
I don’t know exactly what to expect from the Eagles in 2013, but I feel safe saying that both DeMeco Ryans (ADP LB43) and Mychal Kendricks (ADP LB36) present upside this year. In big play leagues, Connor Barwin may present some value but I’d be shocked to see him eclipse 8 sacks. As for Trent Cole, all the value he used to have as a DE is all but dissipated as a rush OLB. The dark-side got another one.
Gone. Yep, that’s the best way to sum up the Eagles secondary for 2013 versus 2012. All four starters from 2012 are gone from the starting lineup, and Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie are no longer with the team. Newly acquired Patrick Chung (FS) and Kenny Phillips (SS) will be the best bet for fantasy purposes. Phillips – as long as he can stay healthy – has the most upside. Cary Williams is worth targeting in CB mandatory leagues.
HC: Mike Shanahan
DC: Jim Haslett
Base Defensive Scheme: 3-4
Scheme Change: No
The Redskins 3-4 scheme renders their defensive line irrelevant for fantasy purposes.
With an ADP of LB30 it sure looks like many IDP drafters are putting London Fletcher out to pasture a bit early. In 2012 he finished tied for LB12. That was his worst finish since ranking 12th all the way back in 2003. Yes, for the past decade Fletcher has been a LB1 each and every year, ranking no worse than LB12. During that span of time he ranked as a top-5 LB five times. I attended training camp for the Redskins this year and I can safely say that he looks to be in great shape and doesn’t look like he is ready to slow down yet. As LB30, sign me up! Fellow inside LB Perry Riley (ADP, LB34) had a nice year in 2012 where he finished as LB20. I’m not sure why either player’s ADP is so low, I think they’re both a value. In the dynasty realm everyone has been trying to figure out who Fletcher’s replacement will be…I talked to Fred Davis at camp and he said he feels like the team is grooming Riley as London’s eventual replacement. Head Coach, Mike Shanahan also had some glowing words about Riley. In big play leagues Brian Orakpo looks like he could be in for a big year. He looks to be fully recovered from his injury and two words I used to describe him while I was at camp was powerful and explosive.
I biggest question marks on the Redskins defense will be in their secondary. Rookie Phillip Thomas has been put on season ending injured reserve (Lisfranc injury). That leave’s rookie Baccari Rambo as the odds on favorite to win the FS job. In talking with new secondary coach, Raheem Morris, he had some very good things to say about the rookie, but said that they need to see what he does in game action. Hopefully, that Chris Johnson TD isn’t the norm. At the SS spot it looks like Brandon Meriweather is going to be the man. The coaching staff is working him back slowly and cautiously but if he does end up as the starter for week 1 he’ll have top-15 to top-20 upside. DeAngelo Hall was slowed by an ankle injury early in camp, but since returning to practice he has looked good and in CB mandatory leagues is worth rostering as a CB1. Another player that could be in the mix at safety is Tanard Jackson. Jackson was suspended for one year last season due to violation of the league’s substance abuse policy.
Scoring system used for this article: solo tackle (2), assisted tackle (1), sack (3), forced or recovered fumble (3), interception (3) and pass defended (1).