The 2016 RotoViz Scouting IDP Diary

We have an excellent offensive rookie draft prospect tracking system here at RotoViz. I hope to give those that wish to follow IDP something similar, but in a different format.

Much love to Charles Kleinheksel for pumping out five scouting indexes prior to February. I will try a different approach to keep our IDP readers up to date. The six sites we are using at RotoViz (DraftTek, NFL Draft Geek, Walter Football, Ourlads, CBS Sports, and Rotoworld) have differing methods of tracking their rankings, so I’ve got this ridiculous spreadsheet to track all of them that I wouldn’t dare confuse you with. Because position designations are more fluid on defense and schemes matter, I can’t just offer a table of composite rankings. 

Scheme is so important in IDP, and I’ll track potential scheme fits in order to identify safe IDP performers with upside. Opportunity plays a big role as well. As a fantasy player, I’m a value shopper. I’ll be looking to find guys that, when given the right role, have a chance to hit. As I drill down I’ll be looking for those later round gems so that I can spend my early rookie picks on offensive players.

Inconsistent Information can be Actionable

We can use the differences in the positional evaluations of these sites to tease out IDP relevant information. For example, when Walter Football analyzes the best 34DT, that could give us hints about fits within the scheme for all of the DTs. It would be important to know which DT is a better fit for a 3-4 or a 4-3 as that greatly affects their production in the NFL. Likewise, confusion about which LB spot or how many downs a player can play also gives us actionable information.

I’ll next check in as we approach the combine and then follow up post-combine and pre-draft. My analysis will focus on the differences in rankings across our six sites. As a reader the way I would use this data would be to identify the value of IDP players likely to be available at different points in your dynasty rookie draft.

The Importance of Inside Linebackers

If your scoring system leans tackle heavy, then inside linebacker (ILB) is the position where you have the highest likelihood of finding immediate help. CBS, Ourlads, and Drafttek are all separately ranking ILBs so I use them when discussing this position.

 Player CBS 1/28 Rk Ourlads 1/30 Rk Drafttek 1/19 Rk Total Avg Ranking
Reggie Ragland, Ala 10 1 10 1 9 2 29 1.3
Kentrell Brothers, Missouri 9 2 8 3 17 2.5
Dominique Alexander, Okl 7 4 7 4 14 4.0
Tyler Matakevich, Temple 8 3 5 6 13 4.5
Blake Martinez, Stanford ILB 4 7 6 5 2 9 12 7.0
Jaylon Smith, ND 10 1 10 1.0
Myles Jack, UCLA 9 2 9 2.0
Josh Perry, Ohio St 8 3 8 3.0
Kendell Beckwith, LSU 7 4 7 4.0
Scooby Wright, Arizona 6 5 6 5.0
Kyler Fackrell, Utah St 6 5 6 5.0
Antonio Morrison, Florida ILB 2 9 4 7 6 8.0
Reggie Northrup, FSU ILB 5 6 5 6.0
Nick Vigil, Utah St 5 6 5 6.0
Jared Norris, Utah 3 8 2 9 5 8.5
Josh Forrest, Kentucky 1 10 3 8 4 9.0
Cassanova McKinzy, Aub 4 7 4 7.0
BJ Goodson, Clemson 3 8 3 8.0
Luke Rhodes, William & Mary 1 10 1 10 2 10.0

Reggie Ragland of Alabama is the only consistently highly ranked ILB with 29 points.1 With only 3.5 sacks in his entire career he appears limited as a pass rusher. That’s a good thing though when it comes to dynasty IDP as there’s a low chance of him being drafted for the wrong scheme. If you have him in Devy, congratulations.

Blake Martinez of Stanford is the only other linebacker who is rated in the top 10 by all three sites which separately evaluate ILBs. Of the six sites, five evaluate him as either a LB or ILB. Drafttek which lists him as their 13th ranked 4-3 OLB. Martinez is worth monitoring going forward considering he piled up 138 total tackles in 2015. 

CBS has Scooby Wright III ranked as the 10th-best edge rusher in this class which threw a bucket of ice on what I was thinking of his future in IDP. The 15 sacks Wright had in 2014 let you know he could be a pass rush specialist and thus he’s in consideration for 3-4 defenses. Of the three sites that evaluate the ILB as its own position, only CBS ranks Wright as an ILB. Walter Football and Drafttek both have him as a top 5 OLB in a 3-4. I love his talent and his amazing college production has me eager to see him as an ILB. As I’m heavily invested in devy leagues, I would destroy my wife’s favorite coffee table if he’s drafted by a 3-4 team that wishes to use him as a rush LB.

At the moment I’m starting to like Deion Jones of LSU as a sneaky late round IDP linebacker. He’s not being noticed much due to his size – he’s in that smallish Telvin Smith range – but he has demonstrated three down ability and is coming off a decent Senior Bowl. He recently bubbled up to the top 50 overall at Rotoworld, and he cracks the top 10 OLB on the three sites which rank that position.

Two-Down Caution Flags

In IDP if you’ve got a two down LB you’ve got nothing. They’re typically not on the field enough to accumulate worthwhile point totals. I blew it last year on Benardrick McKinney and just wasn’t looking enough at his downside. That won’t happen this year. In fact, I’m going to run a watch list on these situations.

The first one out of the gate is Kentrell Brothers. Brothers is going to be an interesting one to watch during the combine. As noted by Walter Football: “He has real speed to defend the perimeter and could have three-down ability for the NFL. If Brothers’ listed numbers are exaggerated, he may have to move to outside linebacker in a 4-3 defense.” The word “could” bothers me. He hasn’t demonstrated three down ability, so it’s just a gamble to think he could demonstrate it later. 

CBS rates Tyler Matakevich as its third best ILB. However, Walter Football isn’t sure that he has the size and speed to be a three down player in the NFL. I’m sure we will be adding to this list as more details emerge during draft season. CBS’ draft analyst Dane Brugler notes that Matakevich’s “lack of ideal size, strength and athleticism are question marks that make his next level evaluation tough to project.” I’d put Matakevich in the friend zone unless some signs emerge that he’s viewed as a three-down player.

One more to note for now is Joshua Perry. CBS Sports believes he’s an every down linebacker but Walter Football says “he was a tough run defender that could be a two down contributor in the NFL.” Walter really likes the word “could” but again I’m cautious for the time being.

Defensive Backs

The consensus top strong safety of the three sites which rank that position is Duke’s Jeremy Cash. According to Rotoworld, “Duke safety Jeremy Cash earned Pro Football Focus’ No. 1 grade among safeties against both the run and as a pass-rusher.”

Cash is a classic defensive back who could truly fit in just about any scheme available. He’s not going to be a bust if he doesn’t pan out as an NFL strong safety since he could transition to free safety. And since he played LB in college, he could find his way to that position in the NFL. Cash’s downside is price. He could be one of the first safeties picked and will likely be a top five dynasty IDP rookie draft pick. I’ll be keeping an eye on the defensive back class looking for cheaper safeties.

Three of the sites rank the strong safeties individually which I find helpful for IDP purposes.

Ourlads 1/30 Rk Draftek 1/29 Rk CBS 1/28 Rk Total
Jeremy Cash, Duke SS 8 3 10 1 10 1 28
Von Bell, Ohio St SS 9 2 8 3 9 2 26
Karl Joseph, WV INJ 7 4 7 4 8 3 22
Miles Killebrew, Sou Utah 6 5 6 5 7 4 19
Kevin Byard, Mid Tn St 5 6 5 6 5 6 15
Jayron Kearse, Clemson SS 9 2 6 5 15
Elijah Shumate, ND 4 7 4 7 4 7 12
Su’a Cravens, USC SS 10 1 10
Jordan Lucas, Penn St INJ 3 8 3 8 6
Tevin Carter, Utah 3 8 3
Michael Caputo, Wis 2 9 2
RJ Williamson, Mich St 2 9 2
Trae Elston, Ole Miss 2 9 2
Tony Conner, Ole Miss 1 10 1
Jordan Simone, Arizona St 1 10 1
KJ Dillon, WV 1 10 1

These are my current top 10 guys right now, and the order I’d consider them in. It is very likely that this list will change, however, so stay tuned for updates.

Reggie Ragland ILB

Jaylon Smith ILB/OLB

Scooby Wright III OLB/ILB

Leonard Floyd DE/OLB

Myles Jack OLB/ILB

Kentrell Brothers ILB

Emmanuel Ogbah DE

Jeremy Cash FS/SS

Joey Bosa DL/OLB

Robert Nkemdiche DE/DT

Hope you enjoyed reading!

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  1. Ten points for the highest ranking, one for the lowest ranking, then add up the scores for all sites.  (back)
By Eric Braun | @FFPlanetX | Archive

Comments   Add comment

  1. McG says:

    Great article.

    If you're taking suggestions, I'd love an article outlining draft strategies for DL in IDP.

    I've been in a league for 4 years and still am lost at sea on DL drafting.

  2. This isn't really about DL drafting, but I often do 2-for-1 trades where I take the weaker (but hopefully upside) offensive player in return for my trade partner including an elite IDP. (This probably actually works better on 4-for-4 trades and that kind of thing where you can obscure the IDP trade target a little.)

    IDPs tend to be a little less reliable than offensive players, but that can get you an ever bigger discount sometimes. I added JPP and S. Richardson to Watt and Campbell on my Iron Throne team last year and then those goofballs proceeded to make themselves far less valuable, but depth is always hugely helpful. You never know who's going to get hurt or be involved in some random weirdness. (If it had been the other way around and Watt had had something happen, I would have been very glad to have them.)

    Of course, it depends on your IDP settings. In some leagues tackle-heavy LBs are really the only players worth obsessing over.

    (Also, I think Eric will have more content on the draft subject as the offseason progresses.)

  3. Eric says:

    McG, I'd like to give some strategy suggestions in the future. Are you more interested in rookie DL for a dynasty or is your league redraft?

    My redraft strategy last season was either Watt early or Quinn/Dunlap a few rounds later. I ended up with Quinn/Dunlap quite a bit and it worked well until Quinn was injured. Like Shawn said its important to get good depth behind them. I don't like going late DL in redraft. They should be the first guys you select among IDP. When to pull the trigger vs drafting offense is the trick though and that's where I'll focus for a strategy article. I think I wrote a little on this last season and I'll give you a link if I did.

  4. McG says:

    @PlanetX , and I'd love to take that advice!

    Dynasty - so rookie only draft.

    We do a 12 team 6 round rookie draft. While I'd welcome thoughts on DL for this year, I'd also appreciate more general advice. For example, if an IDP rookie draft, when do you usually think the DL should start falling off the board?

    I'm willing to miss the first guy off if someone drafts a stud DL high, but I'd hate to draft the 12th WR off the board only to watch the #2-6 DL fall between my picks. Hopefully that made sense. ....

    Anyway, look forward to any advice here or any future article. Thanks.

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