IDP Projections: AFC North
This year I’m publishing all my IDP projections here at Rotoviz. In this edition I’m highlighting some of the scheme, personnel and coaching adjustments or other useful information I used when projecting the AFC South. I’ll share any actionable information, such as buy-low players, fades, targets and generally anything which could create informational advantages for our subscribers during drafts in dynasty and redraft leagues.
At Rotoviz we proudly host the one and only Projection Machine, and it’s one of my favorite tools on the site. For the past two seasons I’ve been actively projecting all 32 teams offenses, and during the season I project two NFL divisions for all 16 games. Through that work I’ve developed a process that I use to evaluate players and project their statistics. I thought I would take that work to IDP last season and projected each team.
This season I’m going to share some of my thoughts that can help IDP players in their off-season preparations for redraft, or can help them in dynasty drafts and orphan team overhauls. Maybe some readers will use these projections as a baseline to form their own.
My first step was to review some publicly accessible defensive position depth charts and compare to my own. I like using Ourlads and Rotoworld. In addition, it’s important to review the coaching and defensive scheme changes. I used a balanced scoring system that awards 1.5 points per solo tackle, 0.75 for each assist, 1 point for passes defended, 3 points per sack, 3 points for forced fumbles, 4 points for an interception. I’ve included the pressure rate metric from Football Outsiders, as it helps to track defensive pass rush progress and incorporates hurries in addition to sacks. Also included is QB sacks allowed, which was helpful for projecting sacks and I thought these would be useful to include for IDP and non-IDP folks for tracking defensive progress.
A couple of things stand out from this division for IDP purposes. Most notably Cleveland shifts to a 4-3 defense under Gregg Williams.
|TM||2016||16 HC||16 DC||2015 QB Sacks Allowed||2015 Pressure Rate||2017||17 HC||17 DC||2016 QB Sacks Allowed||2016 Pressure Rate|
|CIN||4-3||Marvin Lewis||Paul Guenther||32||26.6%||4-3||Marvin Lewis||Paul Guenther||41||30.8%|
|CLE||3-4||Hue Jackson||Ray Horton||53||23.6%||4-3||Hue Jackson||Gregg Williams||66||23.7%|
|BAL||3-4||John Harbaugh||Dean Pees||24||23.9%||3-4||John Harbaugh||Dean Pees||33||26.1%|
|PIT||3-4||Mike Tomlin||Keith Butler||33||24.2%||3-4||Mike Tomlin||Keith Butler||21||24.7%|
Danny Shelton and Desmond Bryant should be key beneficiaries of the scheme change in Cleveland. Shelton is a good breakout candidate at defensive tackle as he had a promising rookie season. Many will forget about Desmond Bryant, as he missed all of last season with a torn pectoral muscle. Last year in Los Angeles, both of Gregg Williams’ defensive tackles performed well for IDP purposes, and the Browns look like a good spot for affordable production from the defensive tackle position.
BUY EMMANUEL OGBAH
Emmanuel Ogbah had a promising rookie season at defensive end for the Browns. When you consider his 53 total tackles and 5.5 sacks were all achieved in a 3-4 defense, you have to be excited for his upside as Gregg Williams installs his 4-3 scheme in Cleveland. Ogbah was an outside LB for half the season and an end for the other half. His numbers are as impressive, and positive reports from OTAs indicate that he’s got a command of his role as a defensive end in the new defense. In my review of pre-season drafts and rankings, Ogbah has stood out in terms of my projection versus the industry. MFL had him listed as an LB last season, and that might have him being looked over this season. Myles Garrett will have an opportunity to be a major force along the line, and whether he has early success or not doesn’t affect my projection of Ogbah. Ogbah represents some great value this year.
There are a few newcomers atop the depth chart which we should be aware of in this division. Those are Ravens inside LB Kamalei Correa, Steelers inside LB Vince Williams and Bengals LB Kevin Minter. This division also features many elite LB. Christian Kirksey stood out to me when I compared my projections to the field. Kirksey’s range of outcomes look promising to finish as a top-five IDP scorer at the LB position, but you can draft him most places as roughly the 10th LB off the board.
TARGET KAMALEI CORREA
The Ravens inside LB positions have been gold mines for IDP scoring, which makes for a great opportunity. At the moment, Kamalei Correa is set to take over Zach Orr’s vacant role. It was once thought that Patrick Onwuasur might compete for that spot, but there’s been little said about him by beat writers during OTA’s. Onwuasur did start in place of Orr during Week 17 when Orr was out with an injury. Much of the pre-draft analysis on Correa referred to his positional versatility, and it appears that the Ravens settled on him as an inside LB. From mockdraftable.com:
|Measurable||Zach Cunningham||Kamalei Correa|
|Height||6′ 3″||6′ 3″|
|Weight||234 lbs||243 lbs|
|40 Yard Dash||4.67s||4.69s|
|20 Yard Shuttle||4.29s||4.15s*|
|Bench Press||15 reps||21 reps|
Correa was an impressive prospect but was projected as an outside LB or edge rusher due to his athleticism. His athletic measurables profile compares most favorably to Zach Cunningham.
Let’s not forget about the pending announcement of Zach Orr’s 2017 destination as he’s suddenly announced he’s coming out of retirement. I have to believe that the Ravens are in the mix for his services, and that would obviously have a massive impact on these projections. For now I feel comfortable that Correa will hang on to the job and do a respectable impression of Zach Orr in the stat column.
FADE ERIC WEDDLE
As I was making my projections for Eric Weddle, I considered he might be a good candidate for positive regression this season after a weak performance in the tackle category. Weddle was actually quite a good real football player last season as evidenced by being identified by PFF as the NFL’s 10th-best player during the 2017 season. Once I looked deeper, I found that his tackles were likely a product of the scheme he’s now playing with in Baltimore. Below are the statistics for each defensive back that was the leading tackler for each one of defensive coordinator Dean Pees’ defenses. Statistics were provided by Pro Football Reference.
Weddle’s production last season was nearly at the peak for a strong safety in a Dean Pees defense. Counting on additional production from Weddle is possible, but you’ll likely not pay adequate draft value for that production. I’m fading Weddle this season. The scheme history also likely caps Tony Jefferson at strong safety.