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IDP Interactive - Week 1
Steve Gallo
September 6, 2008
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Welcome to our very first edition of IDP INTERACTIVE.  This weekly column will be published every Saturday and is our way of involving our IDP Forum community in our weekly IDP content.  IDP Interactive will provide very detailed and in depth answer to specially selected question from forum members.  Everyone involved will be able to benefit because the answers will provide you with alternative ways to look at and analyze your own teams.  In our IDP Forum you will find a thread entitled IDP INTERACTIVE where you can submit your questions for consideration.  If you question is not chosen to be answered in this column every effort will still be made to answer your question in the IDP Forum. 

Now let’s take a look at our first question of the year.

Bring Back Pat!!! wrote,
I have lost Crowell for the year off my already bad LB corps. 16 team league and I have to start 4 LBs. My starters right now are Greenway, Wilkinson and G.Hayes  so the loss of Crowell really hurt. (Luckily my Offense has Romo, LT, and Westbrook) My depth is just as bad, so the question is, do I run right out and get Ellison or some other LB that's available?”

Unfortunately, Crowell will not be as easy for you to replace in a league the size of yours.  However, after looking at the available free agents from the link supplied by Bring Back Pat!!! and being able to analyze his team and league I am going to be able to recommend a course of action that should be able to help.  To answer the last part of your question now, I do not think that Ellison is the answer.  Crowell plays a position (SLB) that isn’t normally productive fantasy wise but Crowell is special enough to make it productive.  Ellison, in my opinion is not special like Crowell.  Now before we get to the course of action I am going to recommend we need to take a look at your roster.

Current Active LB’s:

Angelo Crowell –Since your league rules allow for it you should put Crowell on your injured reserve.  Crowell is in a contract year this year and should have plenty of time to heal up and be a productive LB for you next year.

Chad Greenway - In the preseason Greenway was seen to be lining up as the SLB and if it is a fact a position switch for him from WLB his value will take a hit.  However, he has enough talent that he should still be able to start for you.

Gerris Wilkinson – Versus the Redskins Wilkinson to the chagrin of his owners split time at WLB with rookie Brian Kehl (free agent in your league).  It is only week one so there is no need to panic yet but it is another situation to keep a close eye on.
Gerald Hayes - Hayes will have a solid year playing ILB in Arizona’s 3-4 defense but he is your LB1 when he really should be more of a LB2 or LB3 in your league.

Andra Davis -  Not so long ago Davis had a fantastic year at LB for the Cleveland Browns but last year he lost snaps to Leon Williams and will most likely continue to lose snaps this year too.  The good news is that Davis is wearing the defensive communication headset so he shouldn’t be shown the bench and will give you a starter, one with limited upside, but a starter nonetheless.

Ryan Fowler –In years past in Tennessee it’s been all about WLB Keith Bulluck (shockingly poor 2007) and SLB David Thornton with MLB production being limited more than one would normally expect.    Unfortunately, Fowler doesn’t offer you much upside.

Bradie James – Ranked 49th in your league last year when he posted 101 combined tackles.  I think James is flying a bit under the radar this but he will also be fighting with Zach Thomas for tackles in Wade Phillips 3-4 defense that made Donnie Edwards a perennial top LB during his years in San Diego.

Calvin Pace & Matt Roth - Both Pace and Roth play OLB in 3-4 schemes that will severely limit their statistical performance. 

Takeo Spikes – Spikes signed on earlier this year with San Francisco but at best he is going to be splitting time with Jeff Ulbrich to start the season.  Then there is also the newly acquired Ahmad Brooks who once he learns the defense will most likely cut into both Spike’s and Ulbrich’s snaps.

Taxi Squad – Your Taxi Squad isn’t going to offer any immediate help because Jordan Dizon has yet to wrestle the starting MLB job away from Paris Lenon.  At some point Dizon will take the MLB job and hopefully run with it but it’s not going to be for a few weeks at the very least.  Carpenter’s value lies in if either Zach Thomas or Bradie James gets hurt and Keglar is purely a stash and hold at this point in time.

Let’s go shopping!

Available free agents that I would look at acquiring would be:

Ben Leber – This is sort of a hedge call but one that could pay off for you.  If Chad Greenway is indeed moved to SLB it is Leber that will be the one that benefits from a move to WLB.

Daryl Smith - Smith isn’t an exciting LB to have on your roster but he will be much more consistent and productive then both Calvin Pace and Matt Roth.

Brian Kehl – The rookie shared time with Gerris Wilkinson but outperformed him by posting 5 solo tackles to Wilkinson’s 1 solo tackle.

The next question is who to drop for these guys.  You should cut Calvin Pace, Matt Roth & Philip Merlling.  Merlling’s value as a 3-4 DE is severely limited from a fantasy standpoint and by cutting him you can put Brian Kehl on your Taxi Squad.

When you are looking at available free agents or even during a draft here is a general guide that can help you differentiate which linebacker position should be more productive based on the scheme that they play in.

4-3:  MLB>WLB>SLB
Tampa 2/Cover 2:  WLB>=MLB>SLB
3-4:  RILB>=LILB>OLB’s

There will always be those that debate is it the player or the scheme and the truth is, it is a bit of both.  Your fantasy teams will start to benefit once you understand how a defensive scheme affects a players production.  “Defensive Scheme Matters” is an article that provides help in understanding defensive schemes and will allow you to better evaluate IDP players.

The Final Answer!

In my opinion, you are unfortunately going to struggle with your LB’s even if you were to acquire the three LB’s that I recommended.  If you really want to help your team I think you are going to have to look at trading LaDanian Tomlinson.  LT’s value is still at or near as high as it has ever been but the carries are adding up and he is the type of stud that you can use to get enough pieces to help you build to stay competitive this year and also position yourself better for the future too.  Just don’t go an deal LT to deal him.  He is worth his weight in gold to a top team and you will need to make them pay for his services. 

Bring Back Pat!!! thanks for taking the time to share your question with us and good luck in your league.

I hope that everyone has enjoyed our first installment with IDP Interactive and I look forward to seeing more questions in the coming weeks.  If you have any comments or recommendations on what you would like to see in IDP Interactive you can email me at idpsteve@gmail.com

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