Dynasty rookie drafts are in full swing this spring, and if you’re like me, it’s not enough to just play in an IDP league — it’s got to be a deep IDP league, requiring you to unearth rookie gems on a regular basis.
In the midst of a dynasty rookie draft that requires 11 IDP starters, I’ve been digging in to find the mid-to-late-round values who could pay dividends in Year 1.
Here’s my criteria for this list:
- Cost. I love IDP leagues, but I hate paying up for defensive players. I just want cheap snaps.
- A chance at making a fantasy impact within his first two seasons.
Here are three guys I love that fit the bill.
Seahawks MLB Cody Barton
Seattle traded up to take Cody Barton out of Utah with the 88th pick of the NFL draft. I love him as a cheap target who could see action right away and eventually take over as the starter in the middle.
He slides in behind Bobby Wagner on the depth chart at middle linebacker (MLB). Technically, he’s also behind Austin Calitro right now, but Calitro is a former UDFA who is on his fifth team (his second stint with Seattle) and Barton should have no problem overtaking him in camp.
Barton is not outstanding in any one area but brings a well-rounded skill set; most notably, he’s a converted safety who excels in pass coverage.
Cody Barton's coverage ability is rare for the linebacker position. This suits the modern demands of the position.— Matty F. Brown (@mattyfbrown) May 17, 2019
This video shows his prowess in avoiding trash to get out to the flat and cover RBs. The Seahawks will man their 'backer up on backs…pic.twitter.com/EaY7BMX4EP
Barton can get into the backfield too, posting 10.5 tackles for loss (TFL) in his final season. And according to Pro Football Focus, he was the best-tackling linebacker in the Pac 12.
Seahawks LB Cody Barton had the Pac-12's lowest percentage of missed tackles last yea pic.twitter.com/15O8TPcULI— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) May 13, 2019
Barton looks like a player, and despite being stuck behind Wagner at MLB right now, it sounds like he may see action right away. The Seahawks love his versatility and could give him a shot at the other LB positions early on.
“He’s gonna be able to play all of the spots eventually,” said Pete Carroll. “We’ll start him off inside, at the Mike and the Will spots, and just let him learn the system and see where he takes it. He’s fitted size-wise, and speed-wise, and makeup-wise, and background-wise, to be able to do it all.”
The Seahawks have Wagner, but other than that are lacking depth at LB. K.J. Wright is coming off a knee injury and Michael Kendricks could be facing jail time after pleading guilty to insider trading this spring.
That could give Barton a chance to line up at OLB early on in his career, and with Wagner looking for a huge free-agent payday when his contract expires after this season, the MLB job could be Barton’s by this time next year.
He’s basically free in rookie drafts and needs to be rostered.
Panthers EDGE Brian Burns
Despite the fact that he was the 16th overall selection and is likely to slot in as a starter from Day 1, EDGE rusher Brian Burns is still often available in the third and fourth rounds of dynasty rookie drafts.
It’s possible that drafters are being scared off by rumors that the Panthers are transitioning to a 3-4 defense this year, which would mean Burns gets an OLB designation instead of DE. But nothing is official, and it’s more likely that Ron Rivera starts sprinkling in some 3-4 concepts, rather than make a full-blown switch, allowing Burns to retain that valuable DE tag which he currently carries.
He ostensibly replaces Julius Peppers at the EDGE position after the pass-rushing legend retired this offseason. And it’s easy to see what Carolina likes so much after he proved to be one of the best in college football at getting to the QB.
While he may not have recorded many pressures by means of the bullrush – Brian Burns led all FBS edge defenders in total QB pressures during last year's college regular season pic.twitter.com/zLMuU2n70s— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) May 14, 2019
Burns is a speed rusher in the mold of Josh Allen, who went seventh overall and carries a much higher price tag than Burns in rookie drafts. He tallied 23 sacks an 40 TFLs in his three years at Florida State, and as a guy who relies on speed and won’t be asked to diagnose defenses, he’ll have a chance to make an immediate impact as a starter.
Chiefs Safety Juan Thornhill
Virginia’s Juan Thornhill could be one of the best real-life values in the draft, as well as one of the best in rookie drafts.
Many expected him to go in the back end of the Round 1, but instead, he fell to the Chiefs at 63rd overall, a team which happens to be desperate for help in the secondary. Despite the fact that he could start in Week 1, Thompson is currently available in the fourth and fifth rounds of IDP league rookie drafts.
Behind free-agent addition Tyrann Mathieu, the Chiefs are as thin as anybody at safety. Eric Berry and Eric Murray have left town, leaving guys like Jordan Lucas, Daniel Sorensen, and Armani Watts atop the depth chart. None of those players have Thornhill’s draft pedigree.
When drafting safeties, I want the safe floor that comes with a good tackler — basically, I want a linebacker that plays safety. That’s Thornhill, who tallied 98 tackles in 13 games in his final season.
But he can cover, too.
Chiefs S Juan Thornhill allowed the lowest passer rating when targeted among ACC safeties in the 2019 class pic.twitter.com/7ZRTgtvnSu— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) May 17, 2019
I love this pick for the both the Chiefs and your IDP dynasty squad, especially at price.
Thornhill has a real chance at starting alongside Mathieu in the Chiefs opener and could immediately start paying fantasy dividends and a position where points are a direct product of opportunity.
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