Second-year players often take giant leaps in real-life football and in fantasy production from their rookie seasons. Below are three players I expect to do so in your IDP leagues. Now is the time to buy on these players, don’t wait until the regular season kicks off and their prices soar.
Harold Landry OLB Tennessee Titans:
The Titans drafted Landry out of Boston College, where he tallied 25 career sacks in 38 games. He had a career-best of 16.5 as a junior in 2016. Injuries held him back during his senior season, but he still managed five sacks in eight games. When healthy you can see just what his potential could be. If you look below at his junior year, you can see how disruptive he can be. That season he averaged almost two plays for loss and one and a half sacks per game. Not only was he disruptive, but he was also a turnover making machine with seven forced fumbles and one interception.
Landry has been handed the keys as the outside pass rusher in Tennessee after aging veterans Brian Orakpo retired and Derrick Morgan moved on in free agency. Landry now gets the full-time job, and he should easily double his numbers from last season. He recorded 44 tackles and four and a half sacks as a rookie, playing in a limited role. While the sack numbers aren’t eye-popping when you consider he had 14 quarterback hits, you can see the opportunities are there.
As the starter, he will now have to perform to an expected higher standard. The Titans are going to rely on him to provide a much-needed pass rush. Tennessee also added Cameron Wake, as the other starter and to provide veteran leadership, but it’s clear they wanted to get younger defensively, and Landry is a big piece they need to build around.
In fantasy, this could be the biggest scoring jump opportunity for any second-year IDP. He’s going to valued most in leagues that score sacks heavily. In those type of leagues, he can be a star piece for your fantasy team and in deep roster dynasty leagues, he will have a high value as well and is a must own. In your standard or general leagues is value isn’t that high yet. He’s worth keeping an eye on, so don’t completely ignore him.
Daron Payne DT Washington Redskins
One of the Redskins biggest weaknesses over the last few years was their defensive line. They tried to fill it with veterans, but they finally realized that they would have to address it with youth and quality. Meaning they would need to spend earlier draft picks on this side of the ball. After drafting Jonathan Allen in 2017, they followed that up by selecting Daron Payne, from the University of Alabama, with the 13th overall pick. When looking at his college numbers, they don’t tell just how good of a player he is, which is the case for a lot of defensive players. This is where watching the games and film can tie it all together. Below are his career college stats and as you can see, they are not eyepopping.
If you watched his games, you could see what the stats don’t show. During Alabama’s playoff run during the 2017-18 Colege Football Playoffs, Payne would put on a show for all the world to see. From casual fans to NFL scouts, everyone could see just what his potential was. During that two-game stretch versus first the Clemson Tigers and then the Georgia Bulldogs for the Championship, he was as disruptive as any player had been in some time. He recorded eight tackles, one interception that he returned 21 yards for a touchdown and even had a receiving touchdown. What the stats don’t reflect is the constant pressure he put on the quarterbacks and running backs. He parlayed that two-game performance into a top 15 selection.
During his rookie year for the Redskins, he would not disappoint and show that he was indeed a threat as an interior defensive lineman. After producing only three career sacks on thirty-five career college games, he would prove that wasn’t the weak part of his game. He played all sixteen games as a rookie and produced five sacks. For an interior pass rusher, that is excellent numbers, when you consider their role.
Most of the time they are required to eat up blockers, so their teammates can make the play or clog up running lanes. You also have to consider that they are frequently doubled, tripled teamed, and chipped by running backs. You also have to consider that defensive tackles, rarely play a major role or even start as a rookie. As you can see with his six tackles for a loss, five sacks, and eight quarterback hits, that he is a disruptive force.
In the world of fantasy, defensive tackles don’t carry a lot of value in standard leagues, but in your more complex, position-specific dynasty leagues or deep roster leagues, they can carry an extremely high value. Especially in leagues where DTs have scoring premiums. In those type leagues, I would pace a DT1 grade on him and he is also one of my must own players for 2019.
Oren Burks LB Green Bay Packers
The Packers already have their star middle linebacker in place with Blake Martinez, but they needed someone they could rely on, to pair with him. They drafted him from Vanderbilt, in the 3rd round, with the 88th overall pick of the 2017 draft. He came in as a rookie and excelled on special teams and filled superbly when injuries and insufficient play, by others opened the door for him. Burks is the perfect compliment player to Martinez giving them a super talented linebacking duo. He played with Houston standout linebacker Zach Cunningham at Vanderbilt, After he left for the NFL, Burks assumed the lead role. In this role, he would step up his game and produce, by setting a career high in tackles and tackles for a loss. All the while continuing to be a complete player.
After moving on from Antonio Morrison, Jake Ryan, and Nick Perry, it is now time for Burks to get his turn to shine. He will plug in next to Martinez and flanked by a combination of the trio of Kyler Fackrell, Zadrius Smith & Preston Smith. This is a talented veteran group that will allow Burks to step in and not feel pressured to carry the group. He’ll get valuable on the job training, and with his athletic abilities, he will provide someone they can rely on. He can cover sideline to sideline and isn’t a liability in coverage. While he not only gives them some much-needed youth, he gives them another complete player at linebacker.
He can be acquired at a cheap price right now and the return you’ll receive will be exponential. He must be owned in all leagues, except for your basic IDP leagues with little roster space. I would currently give him a grade of an LB2/LB3. If you are making any trades and need a little more on your end in return, see if they have Burks and ask for him to be thrown in. I’m willing to bet they will, and you’ll come out with a steal.
Thanks for reading my article and if you enjoyed it, you can read more of my articles at dynastyfootballfactory.com. You can also follow me on social media, on Twitter at Hollywood@DFF_DWin, on Facebook on my IDPNation page, on Reddit in the fantasy football IDP sub I’m user KingTitan1, and you can tune in each week and listen to the IDP EdgeCrushers podcast that I co-host, on a number of different platforms. Feel free to hit me up with any questions that you have, as I’m always glad to help fellow IDPers. #IDPNation