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In fantasy football, there are some new trends that I enjoy writing about: dynasty leagues, and individual defensive player leagues.  This weekly column will combine two of those by discussing two hitchyoung IDPs.  I will give my scouting thoughts on how they played a particular week.  Today I will be discussing Dallas rookie linebacker Anthony Hitchens and St Louis rookie corner back EJ Gaines.

LB-Anthony Hitchens, DAL- The rookie inside linebacker moves quickly around the gridiron.  He has good vision and anticipation, but has a bad tendency to over pursue at times forcing himself out of the play. Hitchens rushed the passer through the middle, but did not get much penetration past the line of scrimmage.   On running plays, he seemed to be happiest trailing the play instead of breaking on the ball.  Hitchens needs to do a better good of stepping into blockers and shedding them, instead of trying to run around them. The backer is a solid tackler though, trying to make the play by controlling the ball carrier’s hips or diving and wrapping up their ankles.

On passing plays, Hichens drove me crazy when he would turn his back to the quarterback while dropping into coverage.  This opens up the middle of the field for a few seconds as the linebacker has no idea of where the pigskin is going.  The backer got a little handsy with Martellus Bennett a couple of times, but wasn’t all that effective against defending him.  It wasn’t just Hitchens that gave up twelve catches to the tight end, but the linebacker lost Bennett in the end zone for a touchdown.  The young linebacker is very athletic and more disciplined than most of the Dallas defense, but I don’t consider him more than a LB4 right now.  Perhaps with a healthy Sean Lee beside him, Hitchens can become a more reliable IDP starter for your dynasty team.

CB-EJ Gaines, STL- The rookie cornerback certainly came back down to earth in the game against Washington.  There were not as many tackle opportunities for the young defensive back. He played a lot of off man coverage, giving the receiver five or six yards of cushion, without regard to their speed or quickness. There were a few times he dropped back into deep over the top coverage. The defensive back is a risk taker and has a short memory.

Gaines struggled to get off blocks in the run game and seemed to be out of position trying to make the tackle.  He drove a few times at ball carrier’s ankles, but most just assisted other defenders to get into the position to make the play.  The biggest impact Gaines made in the game was as a pass rusher.  The cornerback walked up a few times to the line of scrimmage and took good angles attempting to get to the passer.  He got good penetration and disrupted the passing lane.  I was more excited by him before I watched his play.  For now, I am filing him under the rookie cornerback rule aka great when he gets the targets, but might be more of a product of the system that his play.

Do you like what you are reading?  Do you want extra insight at the Senior Bowl?  Please donate using my PayPal button to make sure I attend this year’s Senior Bowl Game and the week of practice before the game.  You can follow me on Twitter @AndrewMiley or the site @Dynasty_Blitz.

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