20 days. Just 20 more days until the Super Bowl champion Eagles host the Atlanta Falcons to kick off the year. Alas, the regular season is finally just around the corner.
The grueling wait is almost over, preseason football has begun, and meaningful football is just a stone’s throw away. As teams progress throughout the next few weeks of practices and exhibition games, we’ll get a much clearer view of who potential standout players could be this season. Over the next two days, I’ll spotlight twenty IDP sleepers that I believe are currently being drastically undervalued. These are players you should be looking to acquire in trades or off waivers that could change the trajectory of your season.
I hope you enjoy my debut piece here at Dynasty Football Factory. I’ll be producing content for both the IDP and Devy departments here at DFF. To find more of my work and to connect with me online, find me on Twitter @BrumleyNFL.
First up, T.J. McDonald is a player that is currently being overlooked in part because of the Dolphins selecting Alabama product Minkah Fitzpatrick in the first round of this year’s NFL Draft. McDonald shouldn’t see any decline in fantasy value though as Fitzpatrick will primarily be playing slot cornerback possibly even free safety. This would give Dolphins defensive coordinator Matt Burke flexibility with his top three safeties, (McDonald, Fitzpatrick, and Reshad Jones). Don’t be surprised to see McDonald outscore Jones in a fair amount of games this season.
Jets’ third-round rookie lineman Nathan Shepherd has already found his way onto the team’s first-team depth chart, and the former Fort Hays State defender will have his presence felt on the defensive line from week one. Shepherd was one of the most impressive players in the first week of the preseason, especially when you consider it was his first time donning an NFL jersey and he played predominantly against the Falcons first-team offense.
While McDougald isn’t under the radar as much as he was half a year ago, I still believe he’s being undervalued in IDP circles at his current ADP. After Kam Chancellor was sidelined for the season in week 10 of last year, McDougald scored the seventh-most points among all safeties between weeks 11 and 16. Expect similar production this year from McDougald and raised IDP values for all Seahawks defensive players.
Where’d the love go for Tony Jefferson? Just one year removed from being the #2 overall scoring defensive back when he was with the Arizona Cardinals in 2016, Jefferson put up respectable numbers in 2017 with 79 tackles and 2.5 sacks in his first season wearing purple and black. I expect him to perform to his 2016 stat line this coming season, where he can once again produce DB1 numbers.
On pace to finish as a DL2 last season before fracturing his foot in week 11, Browns defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah has looked to be in great form so far throughout the beginning of training camp and preseason, showing no ill signs of his season-ending injury from last fall. Ogbah was able to retain his fantasy value this season after the Browns bypassed selecting prospect Bradley Chubb in April, siding with cornerback Denzel Ward instead with the fourth overall pick in the draft. Ogbah will see the field for the majority of Cleveland’s defensive snaps while lining up opposite from last year’s first overall pick Myles Garrett, who will be sure to draw attention away from Ogbah.
As each week goes by leading up to the start of the season, the Buccaneers look like they will be more and more of a mess this season. While that doesn’t benefit many associated with the team, it’s exactly the kind of situation that could make safety Justin Evans a top producing IDP talent. Evans primary competition for playing time this season will be Chris Conte and Jordan Whitehead, but I expect Evans and the rookie from Pittsburgh to see the most snaps. Keep an eye on who lines up closer to the line of scrimmage the next few weeks before week 1 begins so that you can be a leg up on your league mates.
New year, new team, new position designation for Robert Quinn, who returns to defensive end in Miami after being relegated to a rushing 3-4 linebacker in Los Angeles last season. Quinn is still looking to get back to the production he amassed while on his rookie contract in St. Louis when he finished second in the league in sacks with a staggering 19. Perhaps a change of scenery and return to familiarity at defensive end is precisely what Quinn needs to get the job done.
While almost missing the cut for this list because of an injury scare that occurred on Wednesday, it appears Okafor will be fit and ready to start the season week one for New Orleans. I’m not buying the hype on incoming rookie Marcus Davenport being a playmaker from day one, and I think Okafor presents much more value than where he’s being drafted in leagues at the moment.
Seemingly battling injury year-after-year in Green Bay, Nick Perry is a hard player to take a gamble on when looking for blitzing outside linebackers. If healthy, he’ll produce numbers similar to those he had in 2016, when he amassed eleven sacks over fourteen games for the Packers. He’s too talented to be drafted where he’s currently being selected in leagues, and the low risk of taking him is worth the high reward of a possible double-digit sack season.
Did you enjoy the production of Demario Davis last year in New York? Of course, you did, he only managed to record 135 total tackles for the Jets in 2017. Now, it’s Avery Williamson’s turn to lead the Jets linebacking corps after four productive years in Tennessee. Williamson has LB1 upside this year, with a floor of an LB2 as he should see close to 100% of snaps for a defense expected to be on the field for the majority of their games. Williamson is a great snag if you decide to wait at the linebacker position and need someone with top-tier upside.
Stay tuned tomorrow for ten more IDP sleepers for the 2018 season as I break down whom I have listed #10-1.
Lots of preseason action tonight as we seek more clarity among each team’s depth chart. Let’s hope for everyone to stay healthy and make it to the beginning of the regular season intact!