Relevant IDP information has been hard to come by as we make our way through this strange leadup to week one. In a normal season, we would have two rounds of preseason games to provide a ton of revelations by now. This year we will not get those sneak-previews, so the aftermath of week one is going to be crazy. Meanwhile, here are some things IDP managers need to know.
Isaiah Simmons continues to concentrate on the inside linebacker position. What that means in terms of playing time between him and De’Vondre Campbell remains a mystery at this time. Both players have plenty of potential providing they are not handicapped by scheme or snap count. If you draft either of these guys, it might be a good idea to sit them for week one and see what this situation looks like.
The Cardinals lost nickel back Robert Alford to a torn pectoral. They are looking at some free agents and had B.W. Webb in for a workout, but there is a chance the coaching staff will use free safety Jalen Thompson in that role.
The Falcons signed former Bengals starter Darqueze Dennard on August ninth. He is expected to compete with rookie A.J. Terrell for the starting spot opposite Isaiah Oliver. Dennard started on the outside at times while with Cincinnati, but most of his playing time came as the third corner in sub-packages. Dennard has put up decent numbers at times and is worth keeping an eye on in corner required formats.
The Bills will be without defensive tackle Star Lotulelei who elected to take the opt-out path. It had been a while since he was relevant in IDP terms, but the next man up will be Vernon Butler who was 21-10-6 with 3 forced fumbles with Carolina after Kawann Short was injured early last season. Butler is a watch list guy for managers that must start interior linemen.
Early on there was some question about where Shaq Thompson would line up. That was answered when defensive coordinator Phil Snow said Tahir Whitehead would play in the middle, which means Thompson will line up on the weak-side. Thompson worked at inside linebacker in the Panthers 3-4 last year and put up strong numbers, despite working alongside Luke Kuechly. This situation should not change Thompson’s production all that much, but it does mean that Whitehead will be a factor since he will not be stuck in linebacker purgatory on the strong side. He is not much of a big-play threat but Whitehead should make a lot of tackles.
The Bears lost nose tackle Eddie Goldman to the opt-out movement then potential starting corner Artie Burns tore his ACL during the first week of practice. Neither of these guys is a serious IDP contributor, but Goldman had a little value in leagues requiring interior linemen. Bilal Nichols will move inside and likely start, but will probably share time with John Jankins.
The injury to Burns leaves veteran Buster Skrine and second-round pick Jaylon Johnson to compete for the starting job opposite Kyle Fuller. Skrine has worked as a slot corner for most of his career and I expect he will remain in that role unless the rookie struggles. Chicago likes cover-2 which is a plus, and playing opposite Fuller is another bonus to go along with the rookie corner rule should Johnson emerge with the job.
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