By: Gary VanDyke (Twitter: @HBogart27)
FFD260 IDPs: Primed 2.0
“The Position Battle”
There can’t be anything better than a position battle to keep an eye on when heading into this part of the offseason. We have ran through free agency, the draft, the OTA’s, minicamp and we all have more than likely located that “flier” or two. You know who I’m talking about, those players we have some hope of them busting out and lighting up the fantasy world. A player that at the least they become relevant enough to add some type of value to our rosters for next to nothing compared to what it took to acquire them. I’m not talking a “sleeper”, as a “sleeper” to me is a player expected for whatever reason to make that jump. We are talking under the radar and “where did this guy come from” type players.
While we are on the subject let’s sum up a few “fliers” we could have or did latched onto last year at this time or earlier last year that actually worked out during camp and didn’t become relevant due to injury of another player. Meaning they won “The Position Battle” in camp.
1. Baltimore LB Zachary Orr: Overlooked by many he ended up winning his ILB position and produced like a champ for those you had rostered him early.
2. Denver QB Trevor Siemian: Not a fan favorite for many but in larger leagues a starting QB is a starting QB.
3. Tampa Bay TE Cameron Brate: Fooled his critics with 57 catches for 660 yards and 8 TDs.
4. Cleveland (then) Terrelle Pryor: Ended up as the Browns #1 WR.
5. Detroit SS Tavon Wilson: After the Lion’s figured out how to use him he went on from week 8 to be a nice weekly play for fantasy owners.
6. Denver LB Todd Davis: Went into camp with expectations of manning the MLB spot and managed to hold onto the position for a nice productive season.
7. Indianapolis TE Jack Doyle: There were plenty of “hunchies” he’d end up the main TE target for Luck and he delivered.
8. Washington RB Rob Kelly: Now here is a long shot “flier” for us to appreciate, RB has to be one of the hardest to hit on. Too bad Washington only runs the ball 30% of the time.
9. Minnesota DE Danielle Hunter: Another guy who was set up right by his team to succeed and took every advantage to show he could.
10. Carolina CB Daryl Worley: He was thrown into the fire in camp and came out as the starter. As an undrafted CB in his first year I would think this counts.
So this maybe a give and take list of ten players I’d consider true “fliers”, but I believe it’s sold. Hopefully I didn’t cross up any “sleeper’s” with “flier’s” as I compiled the list. After all timing of their news and reports is everything when there is such a fine line between what we all might think.
All of these player to my knowledge won “The Position Battle” in camp and went on to have a productive season. And in turn any of us who took a chance and gave them a place on our roster this time last year was awarded to some degree with fantasy production worth using. As we all know “hitting” on a player like this in the off season is fairly difficult, but that feeling when it happens is complete bliss. Whether you picked him up off the waiver wire, drafted him late or paid next to nothing in a trade there is nothing like adding talent and gaining value to work with that no one else in your league has.
With this all being said I’d like to talk about a fairly known player that received some notice last season but is currently not being coveted as a starter at this point by many, if any at all. He is a player that became somewhat relevant due to injuries last season but not to a point everyone is on his bandwagon going into camp this year. We will go into depth on why we should consider giving this player a roster spot or at least keep tabs on him as camp plays out. It can come down to the wire to pick him up or not. We see it all the time, it takes one report during camp or one outstanding preseason game to turn the tide to whether or not he is still a “flier” anymore.
L.A. Chargers Korey Toomer
H/W: 6’2” 235lbs
Pro: 6 yr
Drafted: 2012 / Seattle / Rd 5, pick 19
2016 Snap count: 543 / 50.7% / Ranked 3rd
To anyone who has followed me and knows my number #1 LB pick up for 2017 is the Saints LB Klein, I want to say here it has been so hard not to bring up Toomer before now. I like this player a lot. His situation is prime, his play last year on the field was prime, and I believe he is primed one way or another for a large workload for the Chargers in 2017. It really boils down to one major reason that Toomer isn’t my #1 overall pickup at LB. And that is the talent around him versus Klein’s situation and the talent around him. It is my opinion that Klein has less talented players to beat out as Toomer has the likes of:
Jatavis Brown: For a smaller LB he excelled across the board. After Manti Te’o went down he took over as the captain of the defence and never looked back. If not for his own injury problems later in the year he would be considered a top tiered LB heading into 2017. As he sits now he still has that potential heading into his second year.
Denzel Perryman: A complete beast of a football player who has been on the verge. He has had two impressive seasons but has had trouble staying healthy and staying consistent. After being drafted in the second round and with his dominant play at times has also teased us with top tier potential. Heading into his third year in the league he is due to put it all together.
Kyle Emanuel: Another third year player who had a solid 2016 season has a good chance at the SLB position. With more of an OLB profile it remains to be seen how he fits in with the new 4-3 scheme over the old 3-4. Last year he was ranked as the #1 edge defender in tackle efficiency toting a rating of 42.0 by PFF. He had 1 missed tackle credited to him in 2016.
Joshua Perry: A fourth round pick who mainly played special teams in 2016 can’t be forgotten about. He had a solid college career and has a skill set that can be useful if fine tuned. His chances will seem to hinge on if he has made any large strides over the off season and exactly how the other main “known” players adjust to the new 4-3 scheme.
There is nothing here to shake a stick at as far as who Toomer is having “The Position Battle” against to win a starting position in camp. The only player that could have even made this a tougher battle would have been Mark Ingram. But as I predicted back in the early spring in a separate article Ingram has been switched to defensive end to maximize the Chargers pass rush with Joey Bosa on the other side.
When trying to break down exactly why I believe Toomer will have a great 2017 season by researching it was not any clearer than saying I have a “hunch” based off of some side information. When they had a 2016 season playing out as it did with injuries and such it is impossible for me to lay out statics that point to any given fact.
Let’s take a look at the basics.
2016 Snap Counts: * Minus Ingram.
An interesting fact is that Emanuel actually had the most “starts” of the group. He basically started every game in one form or another. His skill set had him coming off the field in rotation a lot. It would seem his coverage skills and rushing the passer were not up to par as his tackling or setting the “edge”. He only recorded a ½ of a sack and 1 pass defended. He is coming across as more of a role player the more I dig. This is why going forward I do not think he will be in “The Position Battle” that matters. He is looking more and more like a SLB candidate, if anything. The main reason to add him into this conversation is to point out there are three linebackers that can potentially start in the new 4-3 scheme and if Emanuel occupies the SLB we are down to two.
Those two should be every down players at the WLB and MLB positions which are the prime players to own in 95% of all 4-3 base defenses. So for all general purposes of this article I will element Emanuel from “The Position Battle” I believe Toomer will be competing in.
Pro Football Focus’s overall grades for the remaining players for 2016:
J. Brown: 80.8
D. Perryman: 70.7
K. Toomer: 81.2
Granted Perryman was playing with some injury issues. The overall grades are still significant enough to take note of and when we are splitting hairs at this point we should also note that whenever either Brown or Toomer were in the lineup they were the captain of the defense and in charge of relaying the plays and making on field adjustments as needed. I personally find it odd that a player in his second season was unable to be handed a defense he had been involved in for a year prior with Perryman. Brown was a late 5th round rookie from a small college (Akron of Ohio) and Korey Toomer was signed in late September off of Oakland’s practice squad. As much as a beast as Perryman is, we can now element him as one of the possible top two. I believe in the end he will be competing with Emanuel for the SLB position.
So now that we have covered how we can look at Brown and Toomer as the main two starting backs I’ll now talk up Toomer as I see him. But first another piece of information to consider per PFF:
As big as Brown Played he isn’t the run stopper Toomer is. I believe this can point to Toomer having the best chance to win “The Position Battle” to man the MLB spot in Gus Bradley’s new 4-3 scheme. I believe at the worse we will see him as the WLB as he has great speed as well to cover and have the sideline to sideline range. Did I mention that Toomer was drafted by Seattle when Bradley was their defensive coordinator? Is this another advantage? Maybe, maybe not, but it sure doesn’t hurt to already know the base defense that your boss wants to run.
Toomer has bounced from team to team over his few years and the first few were filled with injuries that kept him from pulling away from the pack. It had been reported also that as a younger player he would over think his situation on the field and not just naturally react, as I quote:
*Third-year LB Korey Toomer the “hottest guy in camp,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll stated Monday that Toomer is “the brightest guy in the whole camp.”
Another bonus that Toomer brings to the table is the fact he is a turnover machine versus his time on the field. He recorded 3 forced fumbles with 1 fumble recovery while adding 1 sack and 2 pass defended. Play making is almost more important than being a solid defender. And the only other LB to have that success on the roster was Brown with 2 force fumbles, 1 fumble recovery and 3.5 sacks with 6 passes defended. Brown did it with 57 more snaps as a matter of fact. We can also assume Brown could be more fitting to play the WLB position who is more “in play” in coverage than the run stopping MLB with those passes defended.
*Perryman had 0 FF, 0 FR, 1 INT, 2 sack, 2 pass defended
(Toomer making that play to stop a TD)
In Summary: While Toomer is the older “vet” of the group at 28 years old and in his prime, there is no good reason I can come up with not to believe that Toomer can’t possibly come out on top of “The Position Battle” and be the guy in the middle or at worse will be the WLB. He is smart and athletic and has the upper hand in a few areas while heading into camp. If there isn’t room on the roster for a “flier” like him then be sure to stay tuned into the Chargers camp reports and be that owner that grabs him before he becomes a “known” player.
2017 possible production level: Solid LB1 as a ceiling to a solid LB2 as injuries mount.