Off-Season Tracker: EDGE

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Off-Season Tracker: EDGE

Welcome to the 2020 Free Agency Review: IDP-style. We break down the major moves this offseason by position. The articles are ordered by players changing teams ("New Homes") and by players sticking with their 2019 teams ("Staying Put"), and players are ordered by their potential fantasy impact in each section. Don’t see your favorite DE or OLB? Be sure to check out the EDGE article for free agent pass-rushers.

New Homes

Dante Fowler (Atl) — Fowler moves to this third team in three years, as Atlanta signs the resurrected former first-rounder to a three-year deal worth $48 million.

Fantasy Points: Fowler couldn’t earn enough snaps in Jacksonville to produce much for fantasy. As merely a situational pass-rusher, Fowler was a 4-5 sack, 20-30 tackle player who rarely moved the needle for fantasy and was eventually traded mid-season in 2018 to the Rams. But in 2019, Rams DC Wade Phillips handed him a full-time job, and Fowler exploded for 11.5 Sacks, 58 tackles, and 6 PD.

Fowler parlayed that season into a multi-year deal in Atlanta, where he will replace fellow 2015 1st-rounder Vic Beasley and reunite with his old DC at the University of Florida, Dan Quinn. Just 26 and with one year less tread on his tires (Fowler missed his entire rookie season due to injury), the Falcons are banking on his time with Phillips and his handling of a starting job to produce double-digit sacks and 50+ tackles.

The question will be whether Fowler will have DL eligibility in fantasy leagues. As an LB, Fowler’s 2019 year made him an LB4, but a DL1.

Kyle Van Noy (Mia) — The former Patriot reunites with Brian Flores on a four-year, $51 million deal.

Fantasy Points: Van Noy was a part-time player during his time with the Detroit Lions. It was his move to New England where his playing time and role increased. In 2019, KVN had a solid season of 6.5 sacks, 56 tackles, and 3 forced fumbles. But his best season was in 2018, where he played 91% of the defensive snaps and had 92 tackles. Just give me one second to Google who his DC was that year…oh hey!…it’s his new HC Brian Flores!

Given that we’re confident that Flores knows how to use Van Noy, what we don’t know at this stage is whether he will line up more as their OLB, or if he will qualify for DL-eligibility. While currently qualifying as an EDGE, Van Noy’s responsibilities are more tackle-based (he normally posts 5-6 sacks), so he’s likely to be most useful where he doesn’t need the big play firepower to be productive in fantasy leagues.

Robert Quinn (Chi) — Quinn inked a five-year, $51 million deal with Chicago.

Fantasy Points: In a Python-esque cry of “I’m not dead yet!” Quinn rebounded from a few declining seasons to post 11.5 sacks and 34 tackles with the Dallas Cowboys. The Bears must have liked what they saw because they offered the soon-to-be-30-year-old veteran a five-year deal to replace the underperforming Leonard Floyd. Being the bookend across from Khalil Mack should make things a little easier (just as playing across from DeMarcus Lawrence did last season), so Quinn has a decent chance of posting another double-digit sack season with the Bears.

It’s hard to imagine him doing it for five more years, but that’s Chicago’s problem, not ours. For now, we’re more worried about him going from a DL to an LB in Chicago’s 3-4 base defense. But as more fantasy leagues move to the EDGE designation, hopefully this won’t be a headache in the fifth year of that contract…oh great, now we ARE worried about that contract.

Vic Beasley (Ten) — Beasley heads to a talented Tennessee defense on a one-year, $9.5 million deal.

Fantasy Points: 2016 seems like a lifetime ago for Beasley. That season, he led the league in sacks (15.5) and forced fumbles (6) on his way to a Pro Bowl nod and a Super Bowl appearance. But over the next three seasons, he TOTALED 18 sacks and 3 forced fumbles. The good news? Last season was a solid bounceback year for him. Beasley posted 8 sacks and 42 tackles on a 71% snap share.

As Beasley moves to Tennessee on a one-year deal, he’ll have plenty to prove. Tennessee’s defense is loaded with talent, and Beasley’s pass rush chops could fill a void for them off the edge. As an OLB he’ll lose a lot of his value in EDGE-less leagues, but he should get plenty of chances to play, so if he can build off of last season’s numbers, Beasley could earn himself a lucrative long-term deal. And that tends to motivate players to ball out on one-year deals.

Mario Addison (Buf) — It’s a three-year, $30.4 million deal for Addison and the Bills.

Fantasy Points: After playing for four teams in his first two seasons (yes, you read that right), Addison finally settled down with the Panthers, and that marriage produced a four-year stretch of at least 9 sacks per season. Where his fantasy value took a hit was in his tackles. Addison topped 20 solos just twice in his eight seasons as a Panther, but that was largely due to the brutal stat crew in Charlotte. Buffalo boasts a much friendlier stat crew, as they historically award some of the highest solo tackle numbers of any stadium. If the 32-year-old Addison can keep his sack streak going, but turn in a 30 solo/20 assist season (with a little help from his friends in the booth), he could be a DL1/DL2 playing opposite Jerry Hughes.

Bruce Irvin (Sea) — The veteran pass rusher reunites with the Seahawks on a one-year deal.

Fantasy Points: Irvin had a resurgent year in Carolina last season, with 8.5 sacks and 36 tackles in 13 games. He’s been a reliable edge rusher for much of his career, posting at least 6.5 sacks in six of his eight seasons. A move back to his original team could prove fruitful, as Seattle is currently bereft of bodies on their D-line (outside of re-signing DT Jarran Reed). Unless Seattle greatly bolsters their edge rushers in the draft, Irvin could be ticketed for a prominent role. The question then becomes how many more productive snaps do his 32-year-old legs have left? Judging by last season, there’s plenty left to get another solid season of big-play production from Irvin. And as of now, it looks like the Seahawks are planning to ride him til the wheels fall off.

Carl Nassib (LV) — Las Vegas takes a three-year, $25 million gamble on the former Brown and Buccaneer.

Fantasy Points: Nassib has been a part-time player for his young career, and with Maxx Crosby and Clelin Ferrell in front of him in Las Vegas, he looks ticketed to continue that role. Last season as a Buc, Nassib posted 6 sacks and 34 tackles on a crowded and talented D-line. There’s a chance that Ferrell doesn’t take a much-needed sophomore leap and Nassib sees more snaps than expected. Keep an eye out for how this plays out in Training Camp and Pre-season (errr whenever those eventually happen…) but if I were a betting man (and it just so happens I am), I wouldn’t put much on Nassib earning enough snaps to become a dependable DL2. The upside is he’s just 26, so he’s got time on his side.

Shaq Lawson (Mia) — Miami scooped up the rotational pass rusher to the tune of three years and $30 million.

Fantasy Points: Lawson never cracked 50% usage during his time in Buffalo, and that’s not likely to change in Miami. The Dolphins picked up free agents Kyle Van Noy and Emmanuel Ogbah to go along with their young incumbents that include Vince Biegel, Taco Charlton, and Christian Wilkins. That’s an awful lot of competition for playing time and with only one QB to chase per game, it’s hard to imagine Lawson wresting away a full-time role. In his part-time role last season, Lawson posted a respectable 6.5 sacks and 32 tackles, but he’ll have to improve on those numbers to become a fantasy asset and there are a lot of bodies to climb over to get enough opportunity to do so.

Emmanuel Ogbah (Mia) — The Fins add a complementary piece to their pass rush, inking Ogbah to a two-year, $15 million contract.

Fantasy Points: Miami clearly felt they can’t have too many pass rushers, as they added Ogbah to a cavalcade of players off the edge. Last season with Kansas City, Ogbah recorded 5.5 sacks and 32 tackles in just 10 games before he tore his pectoral. Ogbah should be ready for the regular season and will get a chance to compete for snaps on a crowded D-line.

We recommend taking Miami’s approach for your fantasy squad: stash him and hope he builds on his solid 2019 but don’t bank on him being a major piece of your lineup in case he’s outplayed by the talent around him.

Devon Kennard (Ari) — Kennard leaves the Lions to sign a three-year, $20 million deal with the Cardinals.

Fantasy Points: An underrated OLB for both the Giants and Lions, Kennard has back-to-back seasons of 7 sacks, and has at least 40 tackles in each of his six seasons (including 58 in 2019). It’s a shrewd pickup for Arizona, who will pair Kennard with elite EDGE Chandler Jones to bolster their pass rush.

Kennard is more than just a pass rusher though. In fact, it’s his run defense that is his calling card (hence the consistently strong tackle production). That should keep him on the field more the majority of the defensive snaps. An above-average balanced player, he’s a solid ED2 but sadly an LB5 in standard IDP leagues.

Leonard Floyd (LAR) — Coming off a dismal season, Floyd moves to Los Angeles on a one-year, $10 million contract.

Fantasy Points: Floyd boasted a promising 7-sack rookie season, but has disappointed ever since. Last season was a low point, as he registered just 3 sacks, 3 TFL, and his only other big play was 1 PD. He did post 40 tackles, but as an OLB, that’s just not gonna get it done for fantasy. Come to think of it, it’s not gonna get it done for real football either, hence the new team and a “prove it” contract.

Floyd does have a talented D-line in Los Angeles, and his new DC was his old DC in Chicago (Brandon Staley). But if playing across from Khalil Mack couldn’t produce enough opportunity to post even solid numbers, it’s doubtful his new scenery will either. If you want some upside, Leonard is 27, playing on a one-year deal, and playing next to the usually-triple-teamed Aaron Donald.

Derek Wolfe (Bal) — Wolfe signed a one-year contract worth up to $6 million after Baltimore couldn’t come to an agreement with Michael Brockers.

Fantasy Points: Last year Wolfe put his best season together in Denver, posting 7 sacks in just 12 games. Generally a 40-50 tackle, 4-5 sack guy, Wolfe was on his way to the highest snap total of his career before an elbow injury sidelined him. And it’s the injury bug that keeps biting Wolfe. The Ravens wisely made $3 million of that $6 million contract incentive-based, so they’re not ones getting bit in the…err, back pocket. It’s unlikely Baltimore will rely on Wolfe as an OLB, which means he may still maintain DL eligibility. If Wolfe remains healthy, he could quietly put DL2 numbers. Just imagine the word “if” was typed in a much bigger font, though.

Staying Put

Shaq Barrett (TB) — Tampa Bay wisely used their franchise tag on the breakout pass rusher.

Fantasy Points: Barrett was a role player in Denver, partly due to the amount of talent on the Denver D-line (Barrett began his career behind DeMarcus Ware and Von Miller). In Tampa Bay, it was expected that Barrett would again be a role player, but he blossomed in South Florida, and they couldn’t keep him off the field. Barrett led the league with 19.5 sacks while also posting 58 tackles, 2 PD, 6 FF on his way to being an elite DL1.

Having only broken 50% usage once in Denver, Tampa Bay played him 79% of the snaps and he was highly effective in his prominent role. Barrett now has the right amount of talent on the D-line: playing next to Ndamukong Suh and across from Jason Pierre-Paul, but playing behind no one. Look for Barrett to continue his dominant ways (although getting 19.5 sacks is not easy to duplicate), and again push for DL1 production.

Arik Armstead (SF) — Armstead stays in San Fran on a shiny new five-year, $85 million deal.

Fantasy Points: After two injury-shortened seasons in a row, Armstead put together a solid 2018 with 48 tackles, but just 3 sacks on 57% usage. 2019 was his coming out party, though. Elevated to a 76% snap share, Armstead posted 10 sacks, 54 tackles, 11 TFL, and 18 QB hits. DC Robert Saleh’s plan was to create a heavy rotation on his D-line, but Armstead’s play kept him on the field more than was originally planned. Saleh and Co. obviously liked what they saw, as they locked in Armstead on a multi-year deal.

The former first-rounder has now been placed firmly in the driver’s seat, as San Francisco elected to trade their other first-round DL DeForest Buckner to Indy. With loads of talent and loads of playing time in front of him, Armstead has all the makings of a DL1.

Yannick Ngakoue (Jax) — The disgruntled pass-rusher was franchise-tagged by the Jags, despite his public desire to move on from Jacksonville.

Fantasy Points: This entry could change any minute, but for now Ngakoue is a Jaguar. He’s made it clear multiple times on social media that he doesn’t want to wear the black and teal anymore, and several teams are reportedly interested in trading for the talented playmaker. And while we can’t predict the future, we can analyze the past. Ngakoue was a force to be reckoned with last season, racking up 8 sacks, 41 tackles, 6 PD, and 4 FF. In fact, he’s had at least 8 sacks in all four seasons in the league.

He just turned 25, is consistently productive, and has missed just one game in his career. Ngakoue is trying to get a long-term deal with another team, but the Jags are holding onto him for now. This could be a perfect storm where Ngakoue plays hard this season so he can cash in on free agency, and Jacksonville rides him for every snap they can get, knowing he’s got one foot out the door. That makes for a great recipe for fantasy. But, again, this entry could change any minute.

Jason Pierre-Paul (TB) — JPP revived his career with the Bucs and re-signed with Tampa Bay on a two-year, $25M deal.

Fantasy Points: After some truly dominant seasons with the Giants, JPP had some nightmarish off-season injuries that put his career in jeopardy. But Tampa Bay stuck with him and after a strong 2018 when he posted 12.5 sacks, JPP recovered from a career-threatening neck injury in 2019 to rack up 8.5 sacks and 27 tackles in 10 games (only 8 of which he was at full-speed for).

If the 31-year-old can keep up his pace, he should push for double-digit sacks playing with Ndamukong Suh and Shaq Barrett.

Bud Dupree (Pit) — Pittsburgh used the franchise tag to keep one half of their dominant pass rush in town for another season.

Fantasy Points: Back in 2018, the Steelers moved Dupree from LOLB to ROLB because they felt his pass rush skill set was better suited from that side. Paired with moving T.J. Watt from the right side to the left, Dupree’s stat lines didn’t budge from his previous seasons: 5.5 sacks and 42 tackles. But Pittsburgh had faith that Year Two of swapping the Watt/Dupree tandem would produce better results. And produce the tandem did. Dupree’s 11.5 sacks and 68 tackles were easily his career-best and heading into his age-27 season, there’s no reason to think Dupree can’t push for double-digit sacks and post over 50 tackles yet again.

Matt Judon (Bal) — Baltimore placed the franchise tag on Judon after his first full season as a starter.

Fantasy Points: With veterans Terrell Suggs and Za’Darius Smith moving on in 2019, Judon saw his role increase to a full-time starter, where he posted career highs in sacks (9.5) and forced fumbles (4) playing 81% of the team’s defensive snaps. Those big-play numbers combined with his 54 tackles earned the 27-year-old his first Pro Bowl nod. While the Ravens are likely to add some more firepower to their pass rush after missing out on Michael Brockers and settling on Derek Wolfe, Judon’s starting job is safe for now.

For fantasy purposes, here’s hoping you can use him in EDGE leagues or in big play leagues because as an LB, he’ll have a tough time keeping up with the big dogs unless his big-play numbers spike.

Justin has been holding down the IDP fort for John Hansen and the crew since 2015. In addition to projections and articles, he also hosts an all-IDP podcast called “The IDP Corner,” where he is joined by his fellow FantasyPoints IDP contributor Thomas Simons, along with other special guests.

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