4 IDP Fantasy Football Targets for Week 7
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 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 (15% or less rostership on Yahoo!) who 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 7 IDP waiver wire. Here are your four targets:
Jeffery Simmons, DL, Tennessee Titans
vs. Indianapolis Colts
Roster Percentage: 8%
It’s never entirely comfortable recommending a defensive tackle for streaming, but Jeffery Simmons is no ordinary defensive tackle. Traditionally, this position has been used as a battering ram to break down the doors for the other players to rack up fantasy points. However, the Tennessee Titans’ former 19th overall selection isn’t just a massive space-eater in the middle of the defensive line absorbing blockers to set his teammates up.
Among the 105 interior defensive linemen to rush the passer 50 or more times this year, Simmons ranks 10th in pressure rate and 6th in blocker win rate on true pass sets (non-gimmick and non-garbage time passing plays). Simmons is a pass-rushing and run-stopping threat in his own right. He applies a ton of pressure right in the middle of the offensive line, disrupting passing timing and blowing up well-schemed runs.
When paired up with the Indianapolis Colts’ leaky offensive line, Simmons’ fantasy outlook is particularly vibrant. The Colts have struggled with some injury issues on the left side of the line, with stars Ryan Kelly and Quenton Nelson banged up leading into Week 6 but ultimately playing.
However, the weak link in their protection has been on the right side – the side where Simmons plays most of his snaps. There, tackle Braden Smith has held down the fort well enough, but guard/tackle Matt Pryor has allowed 21 pressures on 135 true pass sets, including 5 sacks. Expect Simmons’ outside-in power rush to obliterate Pryor (and if there are more injury woes, center/guard Danny Pinter) this week.
Our model projects Simmons for 3.6 tackles and a 49% chance for a sack for 5.2 fantasy points. He’s a low-end DL2 in fantasy this week, but the poor blocking of the Colts’ offensive line gives some unexpressed upside to his projection.
Divine Deablo, LB, Las Vegas Raiders
vs. Houston Texans
Roster Percentage: 6%
The hyper-specialization of roles has led to the heavier rotation of linebackers between early down run stuffers and later down pass defenders. It’s become quite rare to find a versatile “unicorn” who has both skill sets and stays on the field in any situation.
As IDP managers, how then do we solve this problem? Find a talented enough linebacker on a team with such mediocre other options that they almost have to play him on every defensive snap. That’s what we get with Las Vegas Raiders safety/linebacker Divine Deablo.
I realize that “good enough” isn’t exactly the hardest of sells on Deablo. I’m simply acknowledging that on a team with better options than the corpses of washed tackle-rackers Denzel Perryman and Blake Martinez, he might be less a three-down guy and more a “2.5-down guy.” Deablo is a great run defender with enough athleticism to make up for some of his coverage skill deficiency, though.
Why is that? Houston quarterback Davis Mills currently has an average depth of target (aDOT) of 7.5 yards -- the 12th-lowest mark among 38 passers to drop back at least 50 times this year. That short passing tendency, coupled with running back Dameon Pierce's emergence as the offensive engine of this team, means that linebackers like Deablo should see opportunities piled into their zone this week.
Our model projects Deablo for 8.9 tackles and a 32% chance for a pass defended, totaling 9.6 fantasy points. He comes in as our LB14 in fantasy this week.
David Long, LB, Tennessee Titans
vs. Indianapolis Colts
Roster Percentage: 6%
The Colts remain a punching bag at linebacker. In Week 5, we recommended Josey Jewell against Indy, and he responded with seven tackles (all assists, unfortunately) and a half-sack. Last week, off-ball ‘backers Foyesade Oluokun and Devin Lloyd combined for 19 total tackles against the “Fightin’ Horseshoes.”
The Colts still allow the second-most fantasy points to the linebacker spot through a month and a half, partly due to the fact that they run plays at the sixth-fastest rate (seconds per play) and that quarterback Matt Ryan's aDOT is a measly 6.7 yards -- fourth-lowest in the league.
The widely available beneficiary of this in Week 7 is Tennessee linebacker David Long. Long has already gotten to play this team once this season; he posted seven total tackles, one tackle for a loss, and one pass defended for 9.5 fantasy points in Week 4.
Coming off a Week 6 bye and having posted a season-high 12 total tackles just before then, Long seems primed to exploit the dump-off passing game that Ryan is marshaling now and rack up tackle volume due to the impending possible return of running back Jonathan Taylor.
Our model projects Long for 8.2 tackles and a 38% chance for a pass defended, included in his total of 9.1 fantasy points this week. Indianapolis is a great fantasy matchup for linebackers, so his current ranking of LB21 for the week has some understated upside, as well.
Brandon Jones, DB, Miami Dolphins
vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Roster Percentage: 9%
Jones is the primary box safety for Miami, a role that widely available waiver options tend not to have.
Remember, the closer a player lines up to the line of scrimmage, the quicker they can respond to a play and flow to where the ball is going. That means, therefore, that they have a better chance to make a tackle, stuff, or even to just scoop the ball when a fumble is forced. We want to target box and slot defenders at defensive back whenever possible because they just end up more involved.
In 2022, 76.7% of Jones’s snaps have come with him aligned on the defensive line, in a linebacker spot, or as the slot cornerback. That’s a unicorn, considering his league availability of over 90%. It shouldn’t surprise you, either, that Jones is averaging 7.0 total tackles per game, with just two games on his ledger with under six total tackles.
With the shift from rookie Kenny Pickett to Mitchell Trubisky at quarterback, the Pittsburgh Steelers do slightly dampen Jones’ turnover upside for this week, but a commitment to running the ball here will likely occur and provide plenty of tackle chances for our box maven in Jones.
Our model projects Jones for 5.9 tackles, a 17% chance for a sack, and a 33% chance for a pass defended, totaling 7.1 fantasy points. He’s our DB18 overall in this matchup, but his percentage of snaps in close, and Pittsburgh’s commitment to the run, makes him a borderline starter.