Jerry Jones is doing everything he can to improve the Cowboys. The signing of Everson Griffen is another step in the right direction. Griffen and Jadeveon Clowney were the best two remaining edge rushers in free agency and Jones saved money by grabbing Griffen. How does the signing with Dallas affect his fantasy value in IDP leagues?
Griffen, playing opposite of Danielle Hunter last year in Minnesota, had 8 sacks and 24 QB hits while playing in 78% of the defensive snaps. At 31 he remained productive, but his age, and having Ifeadi Odenigbo waiting in the wings, led to his free agency.
Dallas has DeMarcus Lawrence and was looking to replace the retired Michael Bennett’s snaps. Bennett played in 55% of the defensive snaps last season and Griffen could fill a similar role. This will be a major reduction in snaps for Griffen if he just fills Bennett’s cleats.
The Cowboys are expecting Tryone Crawford to return after being limited to 4 games last year and off season hip surgery to both hips. Crawford has been a consistent contributor to the defense but never has been a star. Also on the roster is Aldon Smith, who is returning after a lengthy suspension. His contribution will be an unknown without the benefit of preseason games to gauge how he looks.
With Griffen’s addition, Dallas’ use of these multiple parts becomes muddled, but they wouldn’t be signing him if they weren’t going to use him. I’d project his use to be similar to that of Bennett’s last season, although Bennett did not have Crawford to compete with for snaps. Rudy Gamble is expecting around 1000 snaps for Dallas’ defense so that would be 550 for Griffen. Accounting for a healthy Crawford, I would put Griffen in the 450-500 range so we’ll settle in at 475.
Playing opposite Lawrence puts him a similar position as playing opposite Hunter last year. This will allow him to produce at similar rates as he shouldn’t see many double teams. With that in mind I would project him for 5 sacks and 15 QB hits. Sounds a little light for someone of his reputation, but it’s what comes with his age and his most likely reduction in his snap count.
Now this was all based on what the Cowboys did last season. The problem with it is that Mike Nolan is now the defensive coordinator under new head coach Mike McCarthy. Nolan has run the 3-4, 4-3 and a hybrid scheme in his previous four stints as coordinator. When his hiring was announced, Nolan stressed the need to improve the pass rush as the Cowboys managed only 39 sacks in 2019. This may have been a factor in the signing of Griffen during the early stages of camp. Nolan may not have been happy with the current personnel and pushed for the upgrade. What the final version of the Dallas D will look like remains to be seen.
Is Griffen someone I would target? No. He is definitely not a starter for your IDP team, but could be a useful piece on your bench. I’d take more of a chance in best ball leagues as he could have a big game here or there.