4 IDP Fantasy Football Targets for Week 1
Individual Defensive Player (IDP) has to be my favorite format in fantasy football. If you’ve felt satisfaction at a job well done with just offensive players, there’s truly nothing else like getting to field a full team – offense and defense – on the virtual gridiron and watching them grind your best friends into dust.
You may not realize, but IDP has been in the fantasy game since the original, legendary Greater Oakland Professional Pigskin Prognosticators League (GOPPPL) was formed back in 1962. GOPPPL’s rosters had two defensive back/linebacker slots and two slots for defensive linemen out of 20 roster spots. While that’s a far cry from the IDP equality in many leagues today, it was the ‘60s after all; it was a different time. Whether you’ve arrived at this format by sheer luck, by your leaguemates coercing you into it, or because you’re honoring the most often forgotten component of the original fantasy format, I say to you heartily: welcome to the IDP club.
Each week this season, I will identify four targets widely available on waiver wires (20% or less rostership on Yahoo!) that you should be aiming for in your IDP leagues, based on a balanced 3:1 big play-to-tackle scoring ratio.
It’s the Week 1 IDP waiver wire. Here are your four targets:
Gregory Rousseau, DL, Buffalo Bills
at Los Angeles Rams
Roster Percentage: 16%
Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Buffalo Bills
at Los Angeles Rams
Roster Percentage: 19%
Not only should Thursday Night Football’s season kickoff be a delight as a fan of the NFL, but the contest featuring the Buffalo Bills and Los Angeles Rams also looks like it will be a juicy matchup for IDP options. Our first two recommendations for the week both come from the Bills -- edge rusher Greg Rousseau and linebacker Tremaine Edmunds.
The total in this game (per FanDuel Sportsbook) is a lofty 52.5, tied for the third-highest mark this week. That implies a high pace of play, which in turn means there should be a ton of snaps for our defenders to rack up points. That’s backed up by the fact that the Rams and Bills were fourth- and sixth-fastest, respectively, in seconds per play last season in neutral game script.
In fact, the Rams ran the ninth-highest percentage of pass plays in the NFL last season, which is what makes an edge rusher like Rousseau so interesting here. Edge rushers really make their IDP hay by turning in sack numbers, and Rousseau should get a bundle of chances in this game with both teams needing to throw to keep up with each other.
In addition, the Rams’ offensive line ranks a mediocre 20th in the league, per PFF, with offensive tackle Joseph Noteboom grading out at 58.9 (out of 100) for his performance last year. Rousseau spent all of his time rushing against the right side of the line, so it remains to be seen how many reps on which he'll get to take advantage of Noteboom, but with a burgeoning star like Rousseau bearing down on them, the Rams will certainly feel the losses of veteran linemen Andrew Whitworth and Austin Corbett.
One might expect Thursday to be a long day for IDP managers rolling out Edmunds based on what I’ve said so far: if we expect this game to be a fast-paced shootout with a lot of passing, why would a run-thumping linebacker be a priority play?
First of all, volume of snaps helps any IDP rack up points, and former first-rounder Edmunds will be an every-down player for Buffalo in this barnburner. Secondly, Los Angeles quarterback Matthew Stafford is a fiend for throwing in the middle of the field to receiver Cooper Kupp; 37.7% of Stafford’s attempts last year went between the hash marks at 0 to 19 yards from the line of scrimmage, and that’s where Edmunds thrives. He should also get a chance at the occasional A-gap blitz if head coach Sean McDermott keeps things exotic, as Edmunds rushes the passer on about seven percent of his snaps on average. Should L.A. get ahead on the scoreboard and kill clock, Edmunds will be in the mix to bring down the running backs on most plays.
Our model projects Rousseau for 2.9 tackles and 0.3 sacks, though he has a ceiling closer to fellow pass-rusher Von Miller's projection of 3.3 tackles and 0.6 sacks. We also project Edmunds as our LB21, with 7.9 tackles and 0.3 passes defended.
T.J. Edwards, LB, Philadelphia Eagles
at Detroit Lions
Roster Percentage: 7%
Whenever you’re invested in a former undrafted free agent, their IDP future is always murky. All offseason, the threat of high-priced free agents (Kyzir White) and fairly early draft picks (Nakobe Dean) challenged the fantasy upside of Philadelphia Eagles linebacker T.J. Edwards. In spite of this, the former Wisconsin ‘backer remains entrenched as the three-down defensive signal-caller for the Birds heading into the 2022 season and a Week 1 matchup with the Detroit Lions.
Detroit has certainly made moves to upgrade its passing game after a dismal showing last year, but – at least until injured first-round rookie deep threat Jameson Williams makes his debut – the buck still stops with middle-of-the-field slot receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown. His 119 targets from last year nearly all put him in the zone of the hard-hitting Edwards, who should be expected to patrol the short middle area of the defense.
In addition, a significant number of targets will go to tight end T.J. Hockenson (also a middle-area receiver) and running back D'Andre Swift (checkdown option in the, you guessed it, short middle). Add in the fact that Detroit called the fourth-highest percentage of run plays in neutral game script last year, and you have a recipe for linebacker fantasy feasting here.
Our model projects Edwards as fantasy’s LB1 this week, with 10.6 tackles and 0.4 passes defended. He’s just one of six linebackers projected for more than 10 fantasy points in Week 1.
Jayron Kearse, DB, Dallas Cowboys
vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Roster Percentage: 6%
When looking for a fantasy defensive back to stream, I like ballhawks (preferably a safety over a cornerback) playing a turnover-prone quarterback, but I will always prefer a safety who gets to line up close to the ball. Box safeties (also known as strong safeties) and those who get to play slot corner are far closer to the line of scrimmage. That means they will inevitably have a better chance to react to a ballcarrier on a run play and be more in the mix on any play in the middle of the field.
Kearse lined up in the box or slot on 77.6% of his snaps in 2021 and excelled. He forced Dallas to keep fellow hard-hitter Donovan Wilson deep in a free safety role and then was locked into the strong role even further when the ‘Boys signed exclusive centerfielder Malik Hooker to play the deep spot this offseason.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' offense likes to stay horizontal and quick with their passing game and actually passed on a whopping 69% of their plays in neutral game script last year. They kept the ball short on 63.6% of their pass attempts last year, aiming to the middle of the field on 41.1% of their passes.
I believe that Kearse's role should keep him highly involved in this defensive showing, and our model agrees. We project him for 6.3 tackles and 0.3 passes defended as our DB14 in Week 1.