2014 In-Season Accuracy: 60.8% (7th out of 23 Experts, 64.5% Highest, 42.8% Lowest)
Week 3 Results: 61.4% (6th out of 24 Experts, 65.0% Highest, 44.5% Lowest)
After a week off with post-wedding festivities, I’m snapping back to reality this week with a look at the contenders and pretenders so far in 2014. We’ve seen breakouts from no-names, bounce-backs from fallen stars and a flurry of injuries ranging from torn Achilles to disastrous Discount Double Checks. So what’s real and what’s not? Let’s take a closer look and see.
Jason Pierre-Paul – Three years removed from his world-beating breakout, JPP is back in the top 5 DLs so far. What’s better than his stats is the way he’s played. Similar to 2011, JPP is influencing every play and causing havoc in the backfield. Over his next 5 games, he gets to face a series of pass-happy offenses that should bolster his sack total, so I would not consider selling high. It’s probably too late to buy low on his lackluster 2012 and 2013, but if you got JPP at a discount this year, sit back and enjoy the ride.
DeMarcus Ware – He has 2.5 sacks in 3 games, so that’s nice. But outside of that, he only has 3 other tackles. So unless you’re in a big-play league with a 5:1 sack to tackle ratio or more, Ware has not been startable. The good news is that Denver figures to be leading for the majority of their defensive snaps, so Ware will get plenty more sack chances. The bad news is that in standard IDP leagues, sacks rarely win championships. If you’re in a big-play league, hold on to Ware for now, but if you’re not, I would sell after a multi-sack game against Arizona or the Jets.
Jelani Jenkins – What the what? In less than three full games, Jenkins has racked up 35 tackles and 1.5 sacks. The Miami LB situation figured to be a mess this year, so even if/when Koa Misi comes back, Joe Philbin would be crazy to bench Jenkins. That would be like benching Ryan Tannehill for Matt Moore. That doesn’t sound like Philbin at all. I like Jenkins, but I wouldn’t blow his start out of proportion. If you get a nice offer for him, by all means take it. But I wouldn’t be shocked if he finished the year in the top 20 LBs.
Vontaze Burfict – My love affair with Burfict has been obvious over the last 2 years, but I’m not liking what I see so far. One subpar game, one mediocre game leading to a concussion, and then a missed game is not the way to start the year. What’s worse for Bengals owners, his replacements have done a prettay, prettay good job. Emmanuel Lamur has come out of nowhere to put up big numbers, and Vincent Rey has a history of big games when he’s been called on. Don’t give up on my boy Vontaze just yet, but I would have a contingency plan in place if he misses more time.
Reggie Nelson – Sticking with the stripes, Nelson has had a typically solid yet underrated year. He’s never rated in the top 20 DBs by the “experts” (yours truly included), but he continues to produce at a consistent level. Arguably the most dominant unit in the league so far has been Cincy’s defense, and with the aforementioned Burfict struggling, Nelson has been the biggest reason why. If he’s given more freedom to roam the field, look for Nelson to have his first truly elite season at age 31.
Barry Church – Last year’s DB1 overall has been a whole lot of “meh” this year. Some of that has to do with limited chances. Dallas has let up a lot of quick TDs this year, along with more three-and-outs than expected, so Church is simply not on the field as much as he was last year. But this start does reinforce the thought that Church’s 2013 was more fluky than it was skill. If I own Church I’m not bailing just yet, but I’m by no means buying low on him, as we might not see the type of resurgence that you would expect from a top DB.
Time will tell how this season turns out for these six IDPs, but three weeks can sometimes be enough to tell whether a player will be a stud or a dud.
Week 4 Rankings: