4 IDP Fantasy Football Targets for Week 5
Individual Defensive Players (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 have been in the fantasy game since the original fantasy league was formed back in Oakland in 1962, with two defensive back/linebacker slots and two slots for defensive linemen. IDP are an institution in fantasy football, and we aim to treat them as such in this column.
Each week this season, in honor of the four-IDP requirement in the OG fantasy league, I will identify four targets widely available on waiver wires (less than 15% rostered on Yahoo!) that you should be aiming for in your IDP leagues. These recommendations are based on a balanced 3:1 big play-to-tackle scoring ratio. We’ll examine their matchups and their snap count trends while helping you figure out the best fit for your IDP rosters.
It’s the Week 5 IDP waiver wire. Here are your four targets:
Rashan Gary, DL, Green Bay Packers
vs. New York Giants
Roster Percentage: 4%
A key factor in identifying streamable defensive linemen is nailing down the value of their offensive line and quarterback matchup. Green Bay Packers edge rusher Rashan Gary elevates from a very good option in any given week to a borderline elite play in Week 5 thanks to a chance to tee off on the susceptible New York Giants.
Through the first month of the season, the G-Men and quarterback Daniel Jones have allowed pressure on 38.7% of his drop backs (and 40% of backup Tyrod Taylor's, should Jones not be healthy enough to play).
This is the second-highest pressure rate allowed among quarterbacks to drop back 100 times or more in the 2022 season. Some quarterbacks who absorb pressure are good at slipping their would-be tacklers, also, but Jones has a roughly league-average sack conversion rate allowed.
When it all comes back to fantasy points (what we really care about), New York allows the second-most to defensive linemen. Specifically, Carolina and Dallas edge rushers racked up six sacks between Weeks 2 and 3.
Gary also makes for a strong play for forward-thinking managers, too. Through four games this year, Green Bay’s budding sack artist has five sacks in four games. This is reflected in his pass-rushing productivity (per PFF) in true pass sets. Gary is tops in the NFL among players who have rushed the passer 75 times or more this year on non-gimmick, traditional passing plays, and he wins versus his blockers on 34.2% of his reps (second-most).
Our model projects Gary for 4.7 tackles and an 83% chance for a sack, for 7.5 fantasy points. He’s our DL2 in fantasy this week if eligible at DE in your IDP leagues, and he brings a surprisingly high tackle floor as well. In a game where his Packers are eight-point favorites, Gary should get plenty of chances to terrorize whichever passer the Giants throw out there.
Note: If Gary is eligible at only LB in your league, consider New England Patriots defensive lineman Deatrich Wise. Wise is facing a Detroit Lions offense that runs a lot of plays, including frequent between-the-tackles rushing attempts. Our model projects him as the DL10 this week with 4.4 tackles and a 49% chance for a sack.
Zaire Franklin, LB, Indianapolis Colts
at Denver Broncos
Roster Percentage: 10%
I had hoped that Indianapolis Colts linebacker Zaire Franklin wouldn’t be a startable option in IDP leagues by this point in the season, but veteran stalwart Shaquille Leonard remains out heading into Week 5’s action.
Leonard returned for the start of Week 4, but a collision with his teammate led to an early exit and potential ensuing IR stint due to a broken nose and head injury.
That means it will be Franklin manning the middle linebacker spot for the Colts for the foreseeable future, and he is safe to pick up and start as an every-week option for a flailing team that finds itself in frequent negative game script. Franklin has played every defensive snap for Indy to this point in the season, and he has racked up 10 or more total tackles in each of the last three games (17.4% tackle rate for the year).
In an every-down role on a bad defense that faces a lot of clock-killing rushing attempts, Franklin is a fantasy staple that is still somehow widely available.
Our model projects Franklin for 9.8 tackles and a 35% chance for a pass defended, totaling in 10.5 fantasy points. Despite a middling matchup in Week 5, we expect Franklin to post top-10 fantasy linebacker numbers here and going forward.
Josey Jewell, LB, Denver Broncos
vs. Indianapolis Colts
Roster Percentage: 3%
Since he returned to the field in Week 3, Jewell has played 98% of the Broncos’ defensive snaps on a per-game basis, mustering 23 total tackles, three tackles for a loss, and three pressures (one sack). His 31 fantasy points put him just outside the top-40 scorers at his position for the season, and he’s only had two games to collect them.
Week 5 will see Denver play host to the Indianapolis Colts, who currently allow the fourth-most fantasy points to linebackers – including an average of 1.5 tackles for a loss per week. The Colts’ once-stalwart offensive line has begun to show some holes, and defenses are taking advantage of them. In addition, Indy is one of the top-10 fastest teams in seconds per play but also is average-to-run-heavy in their play calling.
That could change if star running back Jonathan Taylor can’t go here, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the Colts continue to try to establish the heck out of the run to take pressure off aging veteran passer Matt Ryan. Cue the Denver linebackers licking their lips.
Our model projects Jewell for 8.6 tackles, an 18% chance for a sack, and a 23% chance for a pass defended, included in his total of 9.6 fantasy points this week. Indianapolis is a great fantasy matchup for linebackers, so his current ranking of LB18 for the week has some implied upside as well.
DeShon Elliott, DB, Detroit Lions
at New England Patriots
Roster Percentage: 1%
Safeties around the league have been dropping like flies lately, leaving the back ends of both NFL and IDP rosters scrambling to find warm bodies.
Fortunately for our purposes, we have a week’s worth of data on one intriguing replacement safety to help us patch this gaping hole in our Week 5 target article. This week, we’re relying on Detroit Lions defensive back DeShon Elliott.
When we look for a fantasy-relevant safety, the ideal is one playing a high percentage of box or slot corner snaps; that keeps them close to the line of scrimmage and able to rally to quick passes and run plays faster.
Elliott is currently playing the highest total snap rate among all Detroit defenders (98.6%). Even better, he also played his highest box snap rate of the season-to-date (44.8%) in Week 4 with teammate Tracy Walker, their typical box safety, out due to injury. His 11 total tackles last week are proof of concept here.
Our model projects Elliott for 6.5 tackles and a 39% chance for a pass defended, totaling 6.6 fantasy points. He’s our DB31 overall in this matchup but could be an intriguing option at a barren position.