|Week 1||62.7%||8 out of 20||72.6%||42.7%||Top 40%|
|2014||57.0%||3 out of 20||58.4%||48.1%||Top 15%|
After a weird and injury-filled Week 1, there are arguably more questions than answers. Will Kam Chancellor keep holding out? Will Luke Kuechly play this week? Will J.J. Watt kill Kevin for ranking him as the #7 overall IDP heading into Week 1? Sorry J.J.! The most difficult balance to strike after just one game per team is reacting to what we saw last week, without overreacting. The worst way to do this is to look at stats. I may have gotten a C- in statistics in college, but even I can tell you that one game is not a large enough sample size to make any assumptions moving forward. Luckily, we have snap counts. These are by no means a perfect measure either, but they at least can help answer some of the questions we had going into 2015. I’ll lean heavily on this information as we move into Week 2.
Leonard Williams – The Jets rookie admitted to being a little bit gassed after his first game as a pro, and who could blame him? He not only played nearly 70% of his team’s snaps, but he also had to unexpectedly chase around Johnny Football for most of the afternoon. Williams racked up 5 total tackles, and even though 4 were of the assisted variety, I like him as a low-DL2/high-DL3 against Indy this week.
Henry Anderson – The rookie on the other side of the ball this weekend will be Anderson, who had an ever better debut against Buffalo. It’s not often that an interior defensive lineman leads his team in tackles or plays 85% of the snaps, let alone in his professional debut, but that’s exactly what Anderson did last week. I don’t expect him to keep up that type of pace, but another matchup against an AFC East team who would much rather pound the ball with their backs than rely on their shaky QB at least looks good on paper. If you’re weak at DL (JPP owners, I’m talking to you!), I’d take a flier on Anderson.
Aaron Donald – Snap counts aside (and he played 72% of them, most among STL’s front four), this guy is going to take the league by storm this year. He’s got a ton of protection from the best D-Line in football, but his talent is impossible to ignore. Last week he lit up the stat sheet for 9 total tackles and 2 sacks, which are Watt-like numbers, and I expect him to continue his domination against the Skins this week. Buy him if you can, but it may already be too late.
Big Name LBs Coming Off 2014 Injuries – There are a few of them, so I’m grouping them together and sorting by snap percentage: Sean Lee (100%), Derrick Johnson (100%), Navorro Bowman (98%), Stephen Tulloch (97%), Kiko Alonso (66%), Jerod Mayo (15%). For the first four, we’re already at all systems go (and the rankings are reflected accordingly). For Alonso and Mayo? I’d definitely hold them, but I wouldn’t be comfortable starting them until I see snap counts in the 80% range.
Anthony Barr – Minnesota has a stacked LB group right now, but Barr clearly led the way in Week 1. With 12 total tackles and 100% of the snaps, he’s the only guy I’m starting for the time being. Chad Greenway is aging quickly, and Gerald Hodges is a placeholder until Erick Kendricks is ready to lead the way, but none of them is likely to be consistent enough at this point.
Clay Matthews – An offseason of practice has Mr. Matthews looking much more comfortable at MLB than he was last year, when he was thrown into the role halfway through the season. I still think it’s a misappropriation of talent (and money) to use Clay this way, but his 6 tackles and a pick were good enough for top 15 numbers at LB. Opposite Matthews, Sam Barrington was just lost for the season, so it looks like Nate Palmer is in line for a huge number of snaps. The Barrington/Palmer duo played 100% of the snaps against Chicago, and unless Green Bay makes a move quickly (Desmond Bishop?), Palmer is a nice speculative pickup moving forward.
Tyvon Branch – All preseason, people have wondered how the Kansas City safety situation would shake out. There is a lot of talent there, some comeback great stories, but only 2-3 positions on the field for each play. After one week, it looks like Branch is the odd man out. Ron Parker (90%), Hussain Abdullah (86%) and Eric Berry (62%) all saw significantly more snaps than Branch (7%), who was primarily relegated to Special Teams. I don’t think the book is closed on Branch, but I’d be fine dropping him until he earns a bigger role.
Calvin Pryor – Now that’s what I’m talking about! Everyone and their mother was high on Pryor last year as a rookie in Rex Ryan’s defense, and everyone was disappointed (including their mothers). By the end of the year, he was barely seeing the field. Fast forward to Sunday, and Pryor looks like the player everyone hoped he would be. With 10 total tackles and a forced fumble, not to mention 90% of the snaps, Pryor is rocketing up my rankings based on raw potential.