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IDP Dynasty Watch - Week 6
Steve Gallo
October 9, 2008
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IDP Dynasty Watch is a weekly article that looks at players values for the future (2-4 years).  Also, a player doesn’t have to be a rookie or second year guy to be included but as often as possible I will be focusing on younger players.  However, with that said there are plenty of 30+ year old players that are productive into mid thirties and would be viable dynasty watch candidates under the correct circumstances.

This week we are going to take a look at the Pittsburgh Steelers three young linebackers.

Lawrence Timmons - Pittsburgh Steelers
Position: ILB                                                                                                 
Drafted: 2007 1st round (15th overall)                                                                          
Lawrence Timmons played his college ball at Florida State albeit starting only in his final season (junior year).  Going into the 2007 draft Timmons was considered one of the top OLBs in the draft and he was the 2nd overall LB drafted (Patrick Willis was drafted 1.11)  Due to his high NFL draft position Timmons was also selected as one of the top LBs in many IDP rookie drafts in 2007.  To date those owners have been pretty disappointed.  If those owners are frustrated and willing to sell then by all means if you can stash Timmons on a rookie taxi squad you should do so.  Conversely, if you are one of those Timmons owners that are frustrated I suggest you do your best to stay patient.  One scouting source called Timmons the “most athletically gifted athlete at the linebacker position in the 2007 NFL Draft Class.”  I am sure that Patrick Willis might have a thing to two to say about that but still it goes to show just how highly regarded Timmons was.  The thing that many owners expecting an immediate impact were overlooking was that Timmons was still raw.  Couple that with the fact that he landed in Pittsburgh’s 3-4 defense when he was projected to be a WLB then it is easy to see why he has yet to make an.  Timmons is probably still a year or two away from being an every week fantasy starter but his time will come.  He will most likely replace Larry Foote as a starter as his next step but his real value lies in when he eventually should take over for James Farrior.  So in the next couple of years Timmons looks to be a top 15-20 linebacker (Farrior ranked in the top 17 three times in the past five years).    

LaMarr Woodley - Pittsburgh Steelers                                                                          
Position:  OLB                                                                                                                       
Drafted: 2007 2nd round (46th overall)
LaMarr Woodley was a very productive DE for Michigan but was looked at as a “tweener” in the NFL.  Scouting reports said he would be a best fit as an OLB in a 3-4 scheme and it seems that those scouts were right about Woodley.  They also said he has a good motor and had excellent technique.  Woodley has had a much bigger impact then his 1st round draft mate Lawrence Timmons but that can very possibly be attributed to Woodley coming out of Michigan after his senior year.  As far as value goes Woodley is going to be a very good fantasy value for big play/sack heavy scoring leagues but in tackle heavy leagues he will be an inconsistent scorer due to the 3-4 scheme.  In limited action in 2007 Woodley still managed to log 4 sacks but only recorded 14 solo tackles.  He has started all 5 games this year and has already surpassed his sack total from last year, posting 5.5 sacks.  Woodley has an IDP TOP measurement of .103 (see below for a full description of the IDP TOP metric).

James Harrison - Pittsburgh Steelers
Position: WLB
Drafted:  2002 Free Agent Signee
Free Agent signee?  Are you kidding me, James Harrison was a free agent signee. Yes, Harrison was a free agent signee and on top of that he was actually released by the Steelers THREE times.  He was actually signed at one point by the Baltimore Ravens and played in NFL Europe but in 2004 was finally signed to a contract with the Steelers.  Harrison has one full year of starting under his belt and in a short time is showing he can be a game changer from the defensive side of the ball.  Just like his teammate LaMarr Woodley his value is geared more towards big play/sack scoring leagues but does have much more value then Woodley in tackle heavy leagues.  In 2007, he did post 98 combined tackles while adding 8.5 sacks which netted him a 22nd ranking among linebackers.  The trouble comes in finding his peaks and valleys and that is why he should be looked at as a LB3 in larger leagues.  An argument can be made for LB2 value but I would rather pair Harrison with a couple of solid steadier LB1/2 tackle guys.  Harrison has an IDP TOP measurement of .139 (see below for a full description of the IDP TOP metric).
For comparisons sake, Patrick Willis who is the #1 ranked LB has a TOP of .174.

The basic definition of IDP TOP (Tackle Opportunity Production) is that it measures the performance of a player based on the number of tackle opportunities that they have.  The higher the IDP TOP the better.  Tackle opportunity is currently being defined as the number of rushing attempts plus the number of completions that a defense faces in a game.  Below is an example to help better understand IDP TOP.

NY Giants Offense has: 26 rushes and 19 completions for a total of 45 tackle opportunities (TOs).
New England Patriots LB Tedy Bruschi recorded 5 solo tackles and 3 assists. 
                TOP for Bruschi on solo tackles is .111 (5 divided by 45)
                TOP for Bruschi on assists is .067 (3 divided by 45)
                TOP for Bruschi on combined tackles is .178 (8 divided by 45)

Green Bay Packers Offense has: 14 rushes and 19 completions for a total of 33 TOs.
New York Giants DB Gibril Wilson recorded 5 solo tackles and 3 assists.
                TOP for Wilson on solo tackles is .152 (5 divided by 33)
                TOP for Wilson on assists is .091 (3 divided by 33)
                TOP for Wilson on combined tackles is .242 (8 divided by 33)

In the above example what TOP helps to illustrate is that just looking at the recorded tackles doesn’t tell the entire story.  Both players recorded 5 solo tackles and 3 assists yet Gibril Wilson was 36% to 37% more productive then Bruschi was.  If Bruschi had achieved the same TOP as Wilson he would have recorded 7 solo tackles and 4 assists.  It might not seem like much but it surely can make a difference.

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