IDP Dynasty Buys & Sells: AFC South and AFC West
Jon Macri and Jase Abbey sort through these two divisions to find some IDPs worth buying and ones you should look to sell in dynasty leagues.
In this article, we continue with part 2 of our series: IDP dynasty buys and sells for the AFC. In this edition, Jon Macri and Jase Abbey take a look at the AFC South and the AFC West. Which IDPs are they looking to offload and who are they looking to acquire? Read on to get their takes, or you can listen to the full episode here. Part 1 of the series, focusing on the AFC North and AFC East, can be found here.
Buy: Jonathan Greenard, EDGE
Jon’s thoughts: I like Greenard, just maybe not as much as some, but I do think he’s the best IDP option on the Texans, which may not be saying much. Currently, he comes in as an EDGE3 type for me, mostly because I want to see more and I’m trying not to overreact to his smaller sample size compared to his peers.
He had just 215 pass-rush snaps (82nd among EDs) but earned an 89.2 pass-rush grade (7th among EDGEs). He also had an overly efficient sack rate at 3.7%, which was the 94th percentile for his position (with the average being 1.7%).
I know this makes it sound like I don’t believe in him, but really I do (I promise).
I think he can be one of the better starting EDGEs in IDP, so long as your expectations are that he’s an EDGE2 at best. Most weeks he’ll probably be more of that EDGE3, but I think the talent and potential are there that he can provide a decent return if he continues to play like he did in 2021.
Sell: Kamu Grugier-Hill, LB
Jon’s thoughts: I’m using KGH’s name here but really this could be any and all Texans linebackers from this past year. None of them, including KGH, showed that they could/should be long-term options at the linebacker position, but the team itself is so devoid of talent that they might seem like enticing options.
The Texans brought back KGH along with Christian Kirksey, who signed a 2-year deal. Even Zach Cunningham, who they cut and has had notoriously poor PFF grades, graded better than KGH during his time there. Kirksey did too. KGH had just a 44.4 overall grade, 45.9 coverage grade, and 45 run defense grade—just not a lot to love.
Before the Kirksey signing, there were only two linebackers under contract for the Texans heading into the offseason: Kevin Pierre-Louis, who didn’t start a single game last year, and Garret Wallow, who started 1. They chose to get a deal done with Kirksey first over KGH, too, so that should give some insight into the Texans’ thinking on how they value these guys. At best, KGH gets to start another year in Houston, but his value isn’t likely to continue past that. For that reason, I’m out.
Buy: Kwity Paye, EDGE
Jon’s thoughts: Paye is one hell of an athlete, even breaking the record for the 3-cone drill for a player his size and topping Bruce Feldman’s freaks list in 2020. He is similar to fellow Michigan alumnus, Rashan Gary, who already broke out. With Paye, we can get in now and acquire him before his potential breakout of the same nature.
He only posted a few truly great games where his pass-rush grades or pressure numbers were elite, but he’s definitely capable. The Colts have typically been a team that rotates their EDGEs, but Paye played a lot more than I expected last year (638 snaps) and I think there’s room for them to lean on him even more as he improves as a run defender—something he was excellent at in college.
Maybe it’s not 2022 exactly that we get the breakout, especially if he’s on a similar path to Rashan Gary. But the opportunity will be there in Year 2 more so than it was for Gary and it’s definitely possible that he hits sooner rather than later.
I’m all for betting on the boom with Paye this offseason.
Sell: Kenny Moore II, CB
Jon’s thoughts: I love Kenny as much as the next guy, but at the same time, if someone loves him so much that they’re willing to send you a decent player or pick(s) for a CB, then he’s gone. And there’s really no reason that you shouldn’t be shopping him as an add-on in trades if you use him just to entice fantasy managers to get bigger deals done with them. Moore has been a truly elite tackler for his position but if you can move him and downgrade at CB—a very deep position—just to upgrade at a more valuable or shallower position, then it’s a no-brainer to me.
Moore had 102 total tackles last season, which is insane considering that even his 80 tackles from a season ago seemed high. If you’re looking to sell a player as close to their ceiling as possible, then that is Kenny for me right now.
Buy: Rayshawn Jenkins, Safety
Jon’s thoughts: So, I’m not in love with this one, but it’s the Jags and there is really nobody else that I actually want to go out and pay for, so I’m going with Jenkins for these reasons. First, he’s essentially a lock to be on the roster in 2022 because of how much it would cost the team to cut him (he’s under contract until 2025). While safeties are playing more and more of a hybrid role than anything else, Jenkins is the one on the team more likely to see more of his snaps down closer to the line of scrimmage just because this is the nature of what teams have asked of him in the past.
We don’t know exactly what the new Jags coaching staff will ask of him, but with Andre Cisco being more of your typical deep safety, we’re betting on which one will play more of those coveted box snaps for IDP purposes.
My money is on Jenkins, who played the 8th most box snaps among safeties last year. This led to him averaging around 5 tackles per game, which is still above average for his position: 4.5 tackles per game (minimum 20% of snaps).
Sell: K’Lavon Chaisson, EDGE
Jon’s thoughts: Rationale: He’s not good. I had at least some optimism heading into last season that Chaisson could be something starting last year, but I can comfortably say that that optimism has been flushed down the toilet because he was absolutely terrible again in 2021. I can’t even say that he really flashed last season.
In the very few positively graded plays he had, there were 6 plays where he earned a +1 grade. Just 2 of the 6 were against offensive tackles, and in both cases, were in the run game where he missed the tackle in the backfield so ends up getting a -1 to go right along with his +1 netting out to a big fat 0. The other 4 wins he had were all against either a FB or a TE. That is literally it, he has shown so little as a 1st rounder that if you can get anything for him based on his draft capital then you have to do it. He couldn’t even beat out Dawuane Smoot for a starting job last year.
THESE ARE MASSIVE RED FLAGS.
Buy: David Long, LB
Jon’s thoughts: The Titans LB situation was a hot mess last year, but if not for injury, I think it would have been less so. Long started 8 straight games before he got hurt and was showing signs that he can be a viable starting linebacker in the NFL.
He posted grades above 60 in overall, run defense, pass-rush, and coverage. And while he still has some work to do cleaning up the missed tackles, he looked pretty good overall considering he was a 6th round pick in 2019. That low draft capital was probably dictated by him being incredibly undersized for the position, which could also be part of the problem with his missed tackles too.
Either way, with Rashaan Evans and Jayon Brown expected to land elsewhere, Zach Cunningham a prime cut candidate, and Monty Rice being the only other LB on the roster after that, Long should see a significant role in 2022 (and potentially beyond).
Sell: Jayon Brown, LB
Jon’s thoughts: The Titans were obviously not comfortable starting Brown when given the option. They kept his snaps pretty limited in games where they didn’t have everyone else sidelined with injury. He didn’t grade out all that well either, just a 51.2 overall and a 42.1 run defense grade. He tested the free agency waters last year, which didn’t seem to yield the results he was looking for, as he went back to Tennessee on a 1-year deal and even they didn’t really find that much use for him. So, you have to assume he’ll hit the market again as another relatively undesirable linebacker.
Brown still has his fair bit of clout in the IDP world because of his past production so it shouldn't be impossible to trade away just yet, especially if he signs somewhere that creates any kind of optimism around him.
Buy: Baron Browning, LB
Jase’s thoughts: I have reservations about Browning, as he was mediocre in run defense and coverage. But he did at least improve in coverage towards the end of the season. What he does have is the opportunity: Alexander Johnson, Kenny Young, and Micah Kiser are free agents. The team re-signed Josey Jewell.
The only off-ball linebackers currently under contract are Jewell, Justin Strnad (who was terrible), and Jonas Griffith. Someone has to play, and it's most likely to be Browning. The biggest threat is whoever the Broncos bring in (and I think will bring someone in). Hopefully, for Browning's fantasy managers, it's a depth piece.
Monitor the situation, given that Denver started to feature more single linebacker looks last season. For this reason, I'm suggesting we wait until after the draft to decide whether to buy Browning.
Sell: Bradley Chubb, EDGE or Kareem Jackson, Safety
Jase’s thoughts: Chubb was highly ineffective in every way last year. If you can find a manager who still believes in Chubb, I'd consider selling him.
But his value is at an all-time low after last season, so you might be better holding onto him and hoping he looks better in 2022. Kareem Jackson is the more obvious choice. He also regressed in almost every area last year. He's now a 33-year-old free agent, and he's about to turn 34 in a couple of weeks.
Los Angeles Chargers
Buy: Kyzir White, LB
Jase’s thoughts: Some believed White was gifted the job because Murray got injured. Not true. White maintained a steady 65-70% of snap share through the first three weeks of the season. Drue Tranquill's role increased over that period at the expense of Murray, whose snap share dropped from 100% in Week 1 to 79% in Week 2 and 51% in Week 3. Now, White wasn't perfect. Two of his worst games came in week two against the Cowboys and week three against the Chiefs.
But he was much better once he was given the role full-time. The Chargers have made splashes in free agency, so it’s possible White walks. There's uncertainty in buying a player moving teams, but he should be a starter whether he stays or goes.
Sell: Jerry Tillery, DT or Kenneth Murray, LB
Jase’s thoughts: Tillery has been crap in each of the last three years. He’s terrible in run defense and not much better as a pass rusher. He ranked 8th at his position in total snaps in 2021 and didn't do anything with the opportunity. The signings this offseason of Sebastian Joseph-Day and Austin Johnson have sealed Tillery’s fate. He's one of the biggest disappointments for me personally, as I loved his outlook entering the league. If you can get any value on name recognition, do so.
With Murray, everyone talked about how Brandon Staley would unlock the young LB’s potential. Nonsense. People got excited about the talk that he would be used more as a blitzer, which should have been a red flag for his fantasy value given that we want off-ball linebackers to play more in a traditional role to maximize their fantasy production. For Murray to increase in value, he'd need:
White to leave
To beat out Tranquill and anyone else the Chargers bring in
To show a considerable improvement in multiple areas of his game
He has always struggled in coverage but regressed in every other department last season. I've watched every snap he's taken as a Charger, and I really don't fancy all three of those things to happen. The fact that he regressed in coverage, in run defense, and missed 20% of his tackles doesn't provide much hope.
Kansas City Chiefs
Buy: Chris Jones, DT
Jase’s thoughts: Jones was elite when he moved back to the defensive interior, boasting the highest pressure rate of any interior defensive lineman. From Week 9 onwards, across ALL positions, only four players in the entire league generated more pressure than Jones. In fact, he had five more pressures over that same period than Defensive MVP T.J. Watt. It's even more impressive when you consider that the Chiefs had their bye in Week 10, and Jones missed the game against the Chargers in Week 15 due to being in the COVID protocol.
There are younger players at the position like Jeffrey Simmons and Quinnen Williams who’ve arguably become flashier names on the defensive interior. However, Jones is still only 27. For the defensive interior, you can hardly consider that old.
If you can find a manager who got caught up in the failed experiment earlier in the season when the Chiefs tried playing Jones as a defensive end, pull the trigger, especially in DT-required leagues.
Sell: Nick Bolton, LB
Jase’s thoughts: People won't like this, especially Chiefs fans. I'm a fan of what he did. He was a revelation, and I understand why people like him. He led all rookies in tackles despite playing approximately 60% of available snaps.
However, his 18.6% tackle efficiency is unsustainable. History shows us that players are extremely unlikely to retain such efficiency levels from year to year. Tom Kislingbury produced excellent research that showed the league average is between 11-14%, and that players rarely exceed those values consistently from year to year.
Assumptions are being made that he plays more in 2022. That's just not how Andy Reid and Spags like to do things. Injuries aside, the Chiefs played a four-man rotation all year comprising Willie Gay, Anthony Hitchens, Ben Niemann, and Bolton.
Opportunity (rather than tackle efficiency) is arguably the most important factor in fantasy. We like to look for off-ball linebackers who play above or near 1,000 snaps. In 2021, 15 guys met or exceeded that number. No Chiefs linebacker has played 1,000 snaps since 2015. Bolton had 632 in a season when Willie Gay missed five games.
From Week 13 onwards, including the playoffs, there were seven games when all four linebackers were healthy. Bolton’s snap share in those games in percentages: 29%, 44%, 39%, 44%, 58%, 58%, and 48%. Bolton's fantasy value is red hot. It may never be higher than it is right now. If that's a gamble you're willing to take, go for it.
Las Vegas Raiders
Buy: Maxx Crosby, EDGE
Jase’s thoughts: Last month, I wrote a piece on Crosby as part of an “IDP Surprises” article for DLF. I know not everyone feels similarly about him, but I'm a big fan.
Crosby led the league in pressure with 101, which was 15 more than Aaron Donald and 20 ahead of the next nearest edge rusher, Rashan Gary. That's the largest margin between the #1 and #2 edge rusher in over 15 years. That stat has some significance when valuing Crosby relative to other edge rushers.
Crosby did go long spells without earning sacks. He had some massive games, including a 5-sack performance, but his inability to generate sacks consistently hurt fantasy managers. I get that that left a sour taste in the mouths of many. I'm suggesting managers use this to their advantage and buy him. His finishing rate of 9.9% was abysmal. In the last ten years, none of the league leaders in pressures converted a lower percentage of their pressures into sacks.
Crosby himself had a 14.5% finishing rate in 2020 and a 24.4% rate in 2019. It's a strong possibility this will improve in 2022, and with that, so will his sack numbers and his value. Crosby's is an inspirational story. I was pleased to see him rewarded with a big, fat contract this offseason on the 2-year anniversary of his sobriety.
Sell: Cory Littleton, LB or Denzel Perryman, LB
Jase’s thoughts: Littleton lost his job toward the end of the season because he's rubbish! He's had one, maybe, 1.5 good seasons out of 5, and he hasn't played well since 2019. He was heading for a productive year in 2021, but anyone in that role would be productive. Guys like Tae Crowder, Alex Singleton, and CJ Mosley are other examples of how off-ball linebackers don't need to play well to be productive in fantasy. The problem for those players comes when their NFL teams have had enough, as the Raiders did with Littleton. They cut him this offseason and he signed with the Panthers, but even with that squad, my expectations are very low.
With Perryman, fantasy managers might hate this one! He was incredibly productive in 2021, and he will probably play a lot in 2022. I don't think he can maintain the same level of tackle efficiency. He had a 17.8% tackle efficiency rate, and again, research and history show that any player is unlikely to maintain that going forward.
This time next year, he'll be 31. He'll have the same limited skillset, and he'll probably be a free agent. Fantasy managers might want to get out while they can unless you're a contender in 2022 and would find yourself seriously short-handed without him.
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