Sometimes it takes players a few years to find their footing in the NFL. Whether it’s experience, a new coach, or a change of scenery, some guys just need a little extra something to jumpstart their careers. In the case of Mark Barron, he checked pretty much all of those boxes. He played a lot as a rookie, got traded to the Rams in his third year, and had two very different coaching situations in Greg Schiano and Jeff Fisher. Oddly enough, it took a drastic position change to give him his biggest game from an IDP perspective. With Alec Ogletree out for the foreseeable future (and finally officially on IR!), the Rams moved Barron to the WLB slot full time last week, and he responded with a whopping 16 tackles. The fact that he’s still listed as a Safety on all sites means that Barron immediately becomes a must own top 10 DB. My biggest concern is consistency, as he’s never shown it in the past, but his two biggest issues – allowing big plays and missing tackles – become less of a concern at WLB, where he’ll have plenty of help, as opposed to being the last line of defense. This could definitely go poorly, but the upside is impossible to ignore.
As far as the rest of the IDP news heading into Week 8, we start in a familiar spot…
Jason Pierre-Paul – The single weirdest IDP story I can remember took another turn this past week, this time for the better as JPP and the Giants agreed to terms. Most reports still have him out a couple more weeks, but given the DL landscape, he’s worth a flier at this point if you’re hurting at the position. I would temper expectations though, as he’s not only likely going to be rusty, but he’s obviously missing more than one finger, which will take some time to get used to. The bigger story to me is what effect JPP’s return will have on the Giants’ DL rotation. They’ve gotten solid, if not consistent, contributions across the board, but this probably makes all of them unstartable until we see how things shake out.
Jared Allen/Kawann Short – Things have certainly broken right for these two. With Charles Johnson already out, Mario Addison went down last week as well, leaving the front four in Carolina desperate for healthy players. There is still some talent here, with Kony Ealy and Ryan Delaire competing for snaps, but Allen is the DE to own, and Short is the top DT option for leagues that require them. Allen had a nice return to action in Week 7, putting up 5 tackles and the first sack of his injury-riddled season. If he’s healthy, I’d consider him a top 20 option moving forward. I’ve always been a fan of Short, however the usual caveats about DTs always applies. He’s had an insane past two weeks with 5 combined sacks, and despite 3 of them coming against the Seahawks’ pitiful excuse for an offensive line, 2 came against the solid line of the Eagles. He gets to feast on a terrible Indy O-Line this week, so I’ve ranked him accordingly.
Jon Beason – It’s been another frustrating year for Beason owners. When he’s been active, he’s either barely played or left early with injury, and he’s seeing Uani Unga thrive in his absence. I’ve been on record as saying that Unga is fool’s gold, a well below average Linebacker who gets stats because other teams target him constantly, and a healthy Beason is a huge upgrade for both the Giants and IDP owners. He showed that with 11 tackles against Dallas, and with Unga now banged up, Beason is worth a flier if you need LB help. There are always going to be injury concerns with him, but he’s always contributed when he’s on the field.
Ryan Shazier – Another one of the walking wounded, Shazier made his long-awaited return as well, after missing four games. His stat line wasn’t as impressive as Beason’s, with only 4 tackles and a half-sack, but his ceiling is considerably higher. If for some reason an impatient owner dropped him, Shazier should be the top LB added this week. Despite his terrible matchup with Cincy this week, he gets a top 5 matchup with Oakland next week before the bye, which should then provide some additional rest for the stretch run.
Jaquiski Tartt – It’s never good to see a player like Antoine Bethea go down for the year with an injury, but given the way San Francisco’s season has been going, he might be the lucky one. Now we’re all lucky because we get to see a guy with an all-time great name. The IDP world has been lacking for great names this year without Vontaze Burfict, and despite a one-week fling with Thurston Armbrister while Posluszny was hurt, I’m all aboard the Tartt train. From and IDP perspective, he’s completely unproven, but he did have a nice stat line (9 tackles) after Bethea left, and he’s shown some ability to rush the passer as well. I’m mostly hoping that he does well so I can lead off next week’s rankings with a Tartt attack.