I've listed some bold predictions below that I think will happen during the 2014 NFL season. Some are more out there than others. I will try and update/add to this list over the next two weeks as more developments on happen on the IDP side of things.
I look forward to your comments.
Gerald McCoy will finish at the #1 fantasy DT - Although Cover 2 schemes have largely fallen out of favor as a core package in recent years, Lovie Smith still incorporates a good amount of those principles in his defense. That said, look for McCoy to be called upon to play the majority of his downs as a 1-gap, pentrating force on the inside whose main job will be to get after the QB. Additionally, the addition of Michael Johnson, who will now form a strong bookend combination with Adrian Clayborn, will keep the double teams away from McCoy like never before hin his career. 50-55 total tackles and 10-12 sacks is within reach.
Jerry Hughes will outscore Mario Williams in balanced leagues - Hughes sneakily put up 9.5 sacks last year, but wasn't of much value to fantasy owners as he was stuck with a OLB classification. With the arrival of Jim Schwartz, Hughes moves to end and gets re-classified accordingly. According to reports, he's looked "unblockable" in practice and will be looking to show last year wasn't a fluke, especially since he's in a contract year. Schwartz' system allows for ends to focus on getting to the passer and I believe Hughes can surpass last year's sack totals even splitting time with Manny Lawson.
D'Qwell Jackson will finish outside the top 40 linebackers - Jackson's play last year took a considerable dip as he struggled to shed blockers and looked slow to the ball. Not only will he face increased tackle competition in Indy, but his solo tackles numbers will be dramatically affected by the Indy stat keeper who favors the less beneficial assisted tackles over solo tackles. His current Expert Consensus ranking of LB20 is way too high in my opinion. I have somewhat hard time buying that Jerrell Freeman will finish in that range, let alone the downward trending Jackson. I don't suspect he will be on any of my rosters this year.
Barkevious Mingo will be this year's Justin Houston - Despite posting a fairly pedestrian 5 sacks (even for a rookie), Mingo showed flashes of franchise pass-rusher potential. New Head Coach Mike Pettine has been very pleased with his progress so far this off-season. He's being virtually ignored in most fantasy drafts, which may be a mistake in deeper leagues, and especially in sack heavy leagues.
Brandon Spikes finally becomes an every-down LB and puts up LB2 numbers - Owners have been patiently waiting for Spikes to assume every-down status. He's been one of the most effective tacklers in the league over the last several years, but has been limited to a two-down thumper role which has severly dampened his fantasy value. With Kiko Alonso out for the year, the Bills seem to have turned to Spikes to be the leader of the defense. He's been on the field for all Nickel packages so far this preseason. If this trend continues, look for Spikes to post career numbers.
Deone Bucannon will be the Cardinals' top scoring IDP - With Daryl Washington suspended for the year and Tyrann Mathieu likely to miss the first handful of regular season games, the rookie Bucannon will have a very good opportunity to be the key IDP on this team. His only real tackle competition within the back 7 comes from 34 year old journeyman Larry Foote. Kevin Minter is young and talented, but he's seen very little regulation playing time and is likely only slated for a two-down role. The Cardinals have been using Bucannon has a hybrid linebacker in subpackages during practice and if this carries over to actual games, his value will be further inflated. 80+ solo tackles and a handful of big plays is not an unrealistic projection.
Kenny Vacarro finishes in the top 5 fantasy DBs - Vacarro was nothing more than a DB4 last year, but showed flashes of elite potential as a rookie. Look for him to quickly become the centerpiece of the New Orleans defense and with a fairly weak set of linebackers in front of him, tackle opportunity should be abound. That, along with his playmaking knack, are a good mix of ingredients for a top 5 season.
Mark Barron fails to register 70+ solo tackles for the first time in his career and finished outside the top 25 - I wasn't initially that worried that the arrival of Lovie Smith and his Tampa-2 principles would have a detrimental affect on Mark Barron's fantasy value. However, I'm beginning to change my mind after what I've seen so far this preseason. Barron has conistently been playing a deep cover safety role 15+ yards downfield which has made it very difficult for him to get to the ballcarrier on a regular basis. If this continues, it's going to be hard for him to put up 90+ total tackles like he has during his first two seasons in the NFL. It's a situation to closely monitor, but I'm bumping him down my draft boards a bit for the time being.
Do you have any bold predictions for this season? If so, state them in the comments section of this article. I'd really like to get the opinions of some of my readers and get a good conversation going concerning this subject.
Thanks for reading!
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Last Updated: August 17, 2014 Related Posts: