2011 IDP Sleepers
DT Gerald McCoy, CAR - Sleeper (undervalued)
McCoy was selected just one pick later than last year's AP Defensive Rookie of the Year, Ndamukong Suh, and was expected to put up similar numbers to his first-round running mate. Instead, his statistically quiet rookie season was shortened by injury, making him still largely unknown outside of Tampa Bay.
(Of course, Sooners fans likely haven't forgotten the two-time First-Team All Big 12, two-time First-Team All American who was a nightmare for college QBs).
McCoy was forced to play out of position much of the time in 2010. At nose tackle he often faced double (and even triple) teams, limiting his effectiveness. Better suited to shooting gaps and getting at the quarterback, McCoy should thrive this year playing exclusively at Warren Sapp's old under tackle position. Though it didn't always show on the stat sheet last season, McCoy was a disruptive force. This year the stats will show it loud and clear.
DE Jeremy Mincey, --- - Super Sleeper (high risk/potential)
Mincey progressed quickly last season, helped in part by Aaron Kampman's knee injury and a general lack of (chose one) pop, gumption, effort, talent, drive, ability from the other Jaguar defensive ends. Playing limited snaps, Mincey outperformed Aaron Kampman, Derrick Harvey and Austen Lane with five sacks and nine hurries last season. Harvey is beginning to look like a draft bust, Lane is still very green and didn't bring down a single QB last year, and the aging Kampman is recovering from a second ACL tear. By comparison, Mincey's future looks bright. With his relentless motor and his 2010 success, he seems primed for an increase in playing time. He's made a great case for himself as an opening day starter, especially given the limited competition from his teammates.
DE Matt Shaughnessy, --- - Sleeper (undervalued)
For a sleeper, we sure have him ranked highly...
And, why not? Shaughnessy was a fill-in player last year whose star shone brighter as the season wore on. He stepped up his play to replace the injured Trevor Scott and showed that he was more than a one-dimensional run-stuffing specialist. Shaugnessy's strong finish to 2010 could be enough to vault him to every-down status on a defense that Football Outsiders ranked first in pass rush and fourth in run stopping.
LB Jamar Chaney, --- - Sleeper (undervalued)
The tragically overlooked 2010 7th rounder shattered some misguided expectations his rookie year by posting 40 tackles in four games after a mid-December injury to then starting linebacker Stewart Bradley. Bradley is now a free agent and, though he's likely to re-sign with Philadelphia, Chaney looks to have claimed the middle linebacker job.
Chaney missed most of his 2008 season in college because of a broken ankle and torn ligaments, and it was likely the perception of him as an "injury risk" that led to his free fall in the 2010 draft. The "injury risk" logic was never really sound. Chaney was healthy enough in 2009 to rack up 89 tackles as a college senior, and we have to wonder how a 240lb beast of a linebacker who ran a 4.5-second 40 at the 2010 NFL combine was still around in the last round of the draft. Kudos to the Eagles for some great scouting and shame on the other teams for missing out.
LB Thomas Davis, LAC - Gamble (high risk)
There was a time not long ago when a torn ACL spelled the end of one's football career. Now, it just means a seven-month hiatus and then back to the grindstone. Look no further than Tom Brady and Wes Welker for recent examples -- both able to come back as good as new following reconstructive knee surgery. Still, consecutive ACL tears present something of a concern. And there's no reason to sugar-coat the risks for Thomas Davis, who has wrecked his right knee twice in the last two years. The comeback won't be easy and there's no guarantee of a full recovery, but he'll be given every chance to make it work. Through 2008 and into 2009 Davis was one of the most productive linebackers in the league. He could be a bargain on fantasy draft day if he makes a solid recovery and regains the burst that set him apart from other LBs.