The bevy of offensive moves that head coach Chip Kelly made with the Philadelphia Eagles may have hogged most of the headlines, but there were changes on defense too. After all, the team’s haul for sending running back LeSean McCoy packing was a defender, linebacker Kiko Alonso.
Many three-man defensive fronts don’t offer a ton to entice IDP owners, but in the City of Brotherly Love there is one significant exception. Fourth-year pro Fletcher Cox has quietly emerged as a very good young defensive end, good enough that Pete Prisco of CBS Sports ranked Cox 55th overall among NFL players.
It’s a shame he didn’t go to the Pro Bowl last season,” Prisco said. “He was hurt by his lack of sacks with just four, but he is much more of a presence each week than that number. He dominated games at times.”
Cox was the 12th ranked defensive lineman in Draft Buddy IDP fantasy scoring in 2014, and there’s little reason to believe another top-20 season isn’t in the offing. He’s a solid choice as a second defensive lineman.
With Alonso’s arrival, there’s a logjam at inside linebacker for the Eagles. The Eagles didn’t bring Alonso in to sit him however, and defensive coordinator Billy Davis told Corey Seidman of CBS Philadelphia that Alonso has it all. “Kiko has got a really well-rounded skill set,” Davis said. “He’s got length. When you’re playing the bigger tight ends, you’ve got a linebacker that matches up length-wise.” Assuming the third-year pro’s ACL is fully healed, Alonso is a top-10 fantasy linebacker.
Davis also told Seidman that Alonso, youngster Mychal Kendricks and veteran DeMeco Ryans could rotate in 2015. “They can all play,” Davis said. “Which two play nickel, which two play base could be rotated by series, by packages. We can work through that. The first, the main goal, is to get everybody to understand the defense, healthy and playing at a high level. And then we’ll just go and rotate.”
There have been some trade rumors swirling around Kendricks – and frankly that could be for the best. Otherwise we could be looking at a rotation that will siphon snaps (and as such IDP value) from two or even all three of these players. Stay tuned.
Free safety Malcolm Jenkins had one of the better statistical seasons in his sixth season in the NFL last year, logging 80 total tackles and pitching in a career-high three interceptions en route to a top-20 IDP finish. However, according to Ian McCue of 247 Sports those numbers could be as much about environment as talent.
“It’s possible Jenkins looked better last year because of the players around him,” McCue said. “Maybe he’s a decent player who looks like a standout safety with middling defensive backs on either side of him. If that is the case, his lapses should become more apparent next season thanks to the addition of Byron Maxwell and Eric Rowe at cornerback. He’s also never earned a Pro Bowl invite over six seasons.”
Consider that before investing too heavily in Jenkins in IDP drafts in 2015.