The Seattle Seahawks advanced to the Super Bowl for the second straight season in 2014, thanks in no small part to their vaunted “Legion of Boom” defense. That defense has no shortage of big names (especially in the secondary), but much to the chagrin of IDP owners it’s also a defense where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
The 38 tackles and seven sacks posted by defensive end Michael Bennett may not appear the gaudiest of numbers to most, but the 29-year-old told Steve Wyche of the NFL Network that he thinks the versatility he demonstrates between the lines merits a pay raise – one he’s willing to hold out of training camp to get.
“I know a lot of people disagree because I don’t put up all the numbers, but if you watch the games, I’m doing good things,” he said. “They want me to play five positions but pay me for one.”
Both Bennett and batterymate Cliff Avril (23 tackles, five sacks in 2014) have double-digit sack seasons on their NFL resumes, and Bennett truly is one of the league’s more versatile talents up front, capable of collapsing the pocket from just about any spot on the line.
But, neither player finished among the top 40 defensive linemen in fantasy scoring last year, and the Seattle pass rush finished outside the top 20 in the NFL in sacks. Bennett might be worth a late add as depth – but that’s about it.
The secondary may garner most of the headlines, but in the opinion of Bucky Brooks of NFL.com, the heart and soul of the Seattle defense is middle linebacker Bobby Wagner. “It’s no coincidence that the Seahawks’ defense took a step back when Wagner — who missed five games last season with a toe injury — was off the field,” Brooks said. “He is unquestionably the heart and soul of his unit, bringing a fierce presence and contributing rugged play within the box. The energetic playmaker has superb instincts, awareness and diagnostic skills, but his physicality, toughness and tenacity are what set him apart from most others at the position.”
That missed time hurt Wagner’s IDP value a year ago, as does Seattle’s assist-heavy home stat crew. But make no mistake – when healthy Wagner is a solid IDP LB1.
Wagner’s absence last year opened the door for K.J. Wright to post career numbers, topping 100 total tackles and finishing among the top 25 fantasy linebackers. However, with Wagner on the field Wright’s likely to slide back into LB4 territory – don’t get caught chasing last year’s production.
In Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, the Seahawks have the NFL’s most feared duo of safeties. However, when Seattle’s training camp opened, only Thomas was in attendance. And as Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk reports, that was as a spectator only.
Chancellor wants more money and has told the Seahawks he is strongly considering a holdout,” Smith wrote. He’s an important part of the league’s best defense, and he becomes even more important with the Seahawks’ secondary depleted by the shoulder injury suffered by Earl Thomas in the Super Bowl, an injury that may keep Thomas out at the start of the regular season.”
Don’t get me wrong. Chancellor and Thomas are both great players. But both are better NFL options than fantasy ones, their big names lead to their often being overdrafted and each faces a somewhat uncertain future. Even if both safeties are on the field in Week 1, there are better values to be had in the defensive backfield in IDP drafts.