Unless it’s elite talent paired with elite usage, I don’t like to pay up for defensive players in IDP leagues. Fantasy IDPs are a lot like real-life RBs in that they’re cheap, replaceable, and don’t really matter. Generally speaking, we want to be buying cheap snaps and waiting for that sweet variance to kick in. In this series, we’ll look at some cheap/free dynasty IDP targets who could pay off in 2019.
This cheapskate strategy that would’ve helped you land Corey Littleton (top-three LB) last year off of the free agent heap, and Demarcus Lawrence (top-three LB in 2017) as a cheap post-hype sleeper the year before that.
I’m not promising that we’ll uncover more such gems that in this IDP series, but in the leagues I play in, depth is critical, and these are guys who are free in deep leagues and can help plug a hole, and with a little luck, maybe even break out.
How deep? All these players are still available in my main 12-team dynasty league which starts 11 IDP positions in what is essentially a Superflex format.
You can also find 3 IDPs I’m targetting in rookie dynasty drafts here.
Let’s begin with the defensive line.
Henry Anderson, New York Jets DE
Anderson looked to be one-and-done in Big Apple after coming over from the Colts last year, but the Jets surprised by re-signing him to a three-year, $25m contract instead.
Anderson was a back-end DE2 in balanced-scoring IDP leagues last year (your scoring mileage may vary). It took him a while to find a groove with his new team, but by season’s end, he was scoring like a DE1, tallying 64% of his total sacks on the season in the last four weeks.
That lends some hope, as does the arrival of one of the league’s most aggressive defensive coordinators in Greg Williams.
“It’s a lot different than what we were doing last year,” told reporters in during the Jets recent minicamp. “It’s just a lot more aggressive, attacking front.”
The Jets consistently ranked in the bottom third of the league in sacks under Todd Bowles. Williams should change that and Anderson stands to be one of the biggest beneficiaries.
Poona Ford, Seattle Seahawks DT
A quick note on DTs — while many leagues lump them both together as a DL position, I’m drawing a distinction between DE & DT. My leagues require you to start at least one DT, making the position important, especially as it usually gets extra points for tackles. If you don’t play in such leagues, you can leave these guys on the wire.
Ford was a 2018 undrafted free agent who not only somehow made the Seahawks 53-man roster but flashed enough to win a starting job this year. At 5-11, 310 lbs, he’s doesn’t have the build of a typical NFL linebacker, but as a converted FB, he can move.
Check out the big guy chasing down RBs like Ezekiel Elliott and Marshawn Lynch.
Poona Ford chasing down Marshawn with the ankle tackle pic.twitter.com/1rphIzWFOb— hawkschronicle (@HawksChronicle) October 15, 2018
He’s also got freakishly long arms for a man his size.
“He has really long arms and he understands how to use his length to keep him clear of blockers and keep his feet clear so he can pursue,” Carroll told Seahawks.com late last year.
He put them to good use in his first career start against the 49ers in Week 14.
I've watched it probably 20 times and I still can't get over how quickly Poona Ford shoots into the backfield on this play… mercy! pic.twitter.com/6lNnJuLDxy— Corbin Smith (@CorbinSmithNFL) December 18, 2018
Ford was dominant in that first start, racking up three tackles and three assists, including three TFLs, from the DT position. In a limited role, Pro Football Focus gave Ford an overall grade of 88.2 on his rookie season, the 10th-best score among all interior linemen, while noting that he has the “potential to be a true game wrecker.”
Deatrich Wise, Patriots DE
Last year, Wise played behind Trey Flowers at the LDE position. Flowers was a force, leading the team in sacks, tackles for loss, QB hits, and forced fumbles. But the Lions lured the 25-year-old stud away with a rich contract, leaving Wise first in line to fill his shoes.
The Patriots traded for DE Michael Bennett in March, but he’s 34 and coming off his lowest tackles per game mark since. And besides, he’s there mostly to offset the offseason loss of another DE, Adrian Clayborn.
Bennett is listed as the starter at RDE with Wise starting on the opposite side. Third-round selection Chase Winovich could also challenge for snaps, but it’s Wise’s job to lose.
Playing in a part-time role, Wise has 9.5 sacks and 35 QB hits through his first two seasons.
As a fourth-round pick in 2017, Wise’s ability is questionable, but he’ll see the field much more in 2019, while playing a position that has been productive for the Patriots in the past.
Carl Nassib, Tampa Bay Buccaneers DE
After being a surprise cut in Cleveland camp last summer, Nassib found a new home and new life in Tampa Bay, where he more than doubled his sack total from his first two seasons combined.
Much like Anderson, Nassib took a while to get acclimated to his new surroundings but got stronger in the second half.
Nassib’s numbers weren’t enough to make much of a fantasy impact, but Tampa suddenly finds itself down its leading sack man from 2018. Jason Pierre-Paul fractured his neck this offseason, leaving a mountain of opportunity for Nassib.
The former 65th overall pick is still just 26 and has improved every season, and with a sudden shortage of pass rushers, he’ll almost certainly be more than just a rotational player this year.
He’s not a priority stash like Poona, but back-end DE2 numbers are a possibility if things break right.
Image Credit: Steven King/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Poona Ford.
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