We’re two weeks into free agency, and things have pretty much been decided on the offensive side of the ball. Mike Wallace is in Miami, Reggie Bush is in Detroit, and Terrell Owens is shockingly still out there. On defense, things are still in a bit of flux. Elvis Dumervil’s contract situation has been well-documented, and Baltimore lucked into signing him last night, but you can assemble a solid 2008 Pro Bowl roster from the rest of the guys who have yet to be signed.
Here are my thoughts on the moves made so far and how they will affect IDP leagues in 2013:
Cliff Avril – Becomes the “Leo” for Seattle which should suit him well as he’s been a Lion for the last 5 years. The Seahawks have come out looking prettaaay, prettay good so far this offseason, and the Avril signing only furthers that point. By lining up opposite Michael Bennett and Bruce Irvin (and eventually Chris Clemons), Avril will easily match his 2012 production and is a good bet to improve on it.
Michael Bennett – Goes to Seattle as well because that’s what all the cool kids are doing. The DE-rotation will be interesting from an IDP perspective as Bennett, Avril and Irvin could all be starters for most teams. I put Bennett a shade below Avril for now, but depending on how the rotation shakes out that could change.
Desmond Bryant – Joins the Browns and could become the rare fantasy relevant 3-4 DE. I knew he would be punished by Goodell after taking the most amazing mug shot ever, but banishment to Cleveland? That’s extreme even for this commissioner. Then again he’s coming from Oakland, so is that an upgrade or a downgrade? I need to check my Worst NFL City Power Rankings.
Still Out There – John Abraham, Osi Umenyiora (likely to sign with Atlanta on Monday), Dwight Freeney
Elvis Dumervil – Upgrades to a DSL connection and will lineup opposite Terrell Suggs in Baltimore. The position change will hurt his value a bit, but with teams unable to double-team both Dumervil and Suggs, an increase in sacks is possible. This kills the sleeper value for Courtney Upshaw, who was slated to start at OLB before the signing. I like Dumervil in big play leagues, but in standard leagues I would not rely on him as a starter.
Dannell Ellerbe – Takes his talents from the Super Bowl champs to South Beach, where he will take over for Karlos Dansby in the middle. Miami has cranked out startable LBs in IDP leagues since the days of Zach Thomas, so Ellerbe should be high in the rankings for 2013. This also opens up a Ray Lewis-sized hole in the middle of Baltimore’s defense, so consider Josh Bynes an IDP sleeper unless the Ravens bring in one of the remaining free agents or a high draft pick.
Philip Wheeler – Will be joining Ellerbe in the city where the heat is on, replacing the departed Kevin Burnett. Wheeler was a fringe IDP starter in Oakland last year, but the move to Miami figures to hurt his value a bit. I wouldn’t take him as anything higher than my LB3.
Kevin Burnett – Heard me talking about him, and wants you to know that he’ll be replacing Wheeler as well. Burnett has been extremely consistent over the years and the change of scenery shouldn’t affect his production too much. We may see an increase in his numbers without Dansby around to hoard all the tackles, but I’m hesitant to be too high on anyone in Oakland until we see how the snaps play out. Kevin is not a stud, but not bad to have around, which is incidentally how my fiancée feels about me.
Paul Kruger – Rides a hot stretch to end 2012 into a huge deal with the Browns. The only way he could become fantasy-relevant is if he gains DE-eligibility, which does not figure to happen in Cleveland. The presence of Kruger does give a boost to Jabaal Sheard’s value, but otherwise the Kruger contract appears to be a Nightmare on 105th Street for Cleveland.
Jasper Brinkley – Moves from the Vikings to Arizona, where he will get a shot at starting opposite Daryl Washington. Right now it appears that he will compete with Lorenzo Alexander for the starting job, so this is definitely a battle to monitor during training camp. It should also be noted that Brinkley has one of my favorite names in the league.
Connor Barwin – Jumps from Houston to the Chip Kelly Experience in Philly. His value should remain similar to 2012, which is not saying a whole lot, but this move looks to have a larger effect on the value of Trent Cole. Cole has little experience as a 3-4 OLB, so he appears to be an obvious trade candidate to a 4-3 scheme where he would retain his value.
Bernard Pollard – Moves to Nashville where his role will not change much. He should still be drafted as a DB1 and will likely rack up more tackles thanks to a downgrade in the front seven he’ll be playing behind. Pollard staying in the AFC has other fantasy implications as well, as no Patriot skill player can feel truly safe when he’s around. Age and injury concerns are the only worries for an otherwise solid IDP contributor.
LaRon Landry – Goes to the Colts, where he will likely be a DB1 if he can stay healthy. The defense in Indy is largely young and inexperienced, which will give Landry even more tackle opportunities than he had for the Jets. There are safer options to take as your first DB given his injury history, but I can see Landry being the top DB in 2013 if he plays all 16.
George Wilson – Looked like he would be the new SS for the Titans after being cut by the Bills, but the Pollard signing moves him to FS. I’m a little confused by Buffalo’s strategy, as they just gave Leodis McKelvin a nice new contract, yet couldn’t afford to keep Wilson. But with their GM’s other recent activities I guess we shouldn’t put anything past them, including taking Manti Te’o at #8 out of solidarity. Regardless, Wilson has a DB2 ceiling, but may lose a lot of opportunities thanks to Pollard’s presence.
Yeremiah Bell – Will replace Adrian Wilson as the starting SS in Arizona. Bell and Wilson have each been IDP stalwarts at their positions over the last decade, but Bell’s health has been better as of late. I can easily see myself drafting a high-risk/high-reward DB2 like Janoris Jenkins and backing him up with Bell. He is the model of consistency when it comes to tackles, and allows me to use the requisite “Yeremiah was a Bullfrog” team name, so it’s a win-win.
Glover Quin – Joins in on the safety-roulette, moving from Houston to Detroit. Quin doesn’t wow me, but he stays healthy and makes tackles, so he is rosterable in standard leagues. In big-play leagues I would steer clear, as despite his first name, Quin doesn’t make many catches (5 interceptions in 63 career games).
Jerraud Powers – Has been an afterthought in IDP leagues, but after an injury-shortened 2012 season, he moves to Arizona where he will be lined up across from Patrick Peterson. Opposing QBs tend to avoid Peterson at all costs, so that should give Powers increased opportunities for tackles, deflections and picks.
Dashon Goldson – Moves to New Orleans and teams with Mark Barron to form quite the safety tandem in the Crescent City. In San Fran, Goldson often lost out on tackles due to the beasts in that front-seven, so it will be interesting to see how he does when he’s forced to make a play. His production should increase but if you’re drafting him as a starting DB, you’re getting Fool’s Gold, son.
Ed Reed – Does the unthinkable and chooses a uniform other than Baltimore’s. Maybe he’s sick of wearing purple, though I would think Reed is comfortable enough with himself that something like that wouldn’t bother him. Reed is largely a non-factor in IDP leagues, outside of big-play leagues and leagues that include interception return yards. If the Texans let him freelance like he could with the Ravens, then he’ll have a couple of big games, but I’m not comfortable having him on my roster.