Welcome back loyal readers to the ONLY weekly running IDP fantasy football article on 5thdownfantasy.com! After a busy week away, I’m BACK and bringing you the top IDP names to watch and roster wherever available. As usual I’ll be breaking down 3 names to know at each major position in IDP format (LB/DL/DB) and shouting out a “Trench Warrior to Watch”. Let’s break it down:
JARRAD DAVIS (Detroit Lions): (Yahoo Owned: 25%)
With their recent struggles I imagine it would be hard for me to sell you on any part of the 2018 Detroit Lions, but what if I told you there was a hidden gem in their front 7?
That hidden gem is 2nd year LB Jarrad Davis, and he’s quickly becoming one of Detroit’s cornerstone players on defense. Davis’ primary skill is run stopping, but his ability to read the quarterback in coverage as well as bring pressure for sacks is something that should be commended. He’s far from a name value player, but his numbers from this year and his rookie campaign paint him in the same light as some of the best young players at the LB position.
His 61 overall points this year put him right about on pace to match his impressive 101-point total from his 2017 rookie season, and when you dig deeper he’s actually performing even better this year at multiple key statistics. Davis’ season long line (37 tackles/3 sacks/1 forced fumble) ties his forced fumble mark from 2017 and exceeds his sacks total. On the year his weekly fantasy output shows a stable floor with the ability to have match-up winning performances (3/15/5/12/7/11/6/1). Those three double digit totals came in Weeks 2/4/7 and showcased everything that Davis brings to the game. His speed, his mind and his physicality all make him an ideal fit for any IDP lineup.
KYLE VAN NOY (New England Patriots): (Yahoo Owned: 15%)
Pick a stat, any stat. Really, choose any defensive metric you’d like, because Kyle Van Noy’s filled the box on everything a defensive player can do in IDP fantasy. On the year (so far) Van Noy has (33 tackles/2 sacks/1 INT/1 forced fumble/1 TD). He’s the Swiss army knife of New England’s front 7 on a weekly basis, and he’s a name that somehow still falls on deaf ears despite his performance.
Van Noy is similar to Jarrad Davis in that he’s a guy that offers a stable floor (even more-so than Davis in actuality), and a very real ability to blow up for match-up shifting point totals. Van Noy’s 66 total points put him on pace to top his 93-point total from 2017 and he’s set to surpass his overall tackle total as well (58). He’s already surpassed his total fumbles/INT’s/TD’s from last season and his near constant presence on the field ensures that production will continue to tick upward.
I mentioned his floor/ceiling ratio being impressive, so let’s take a look at what he’s done so far since Week 1: (3/9/5/4/7/1/13/17/6). Van Noy offers limited “bottoming out” performances (1-3 points), and instead presents a trustworthy median of 5 points per match-up with the obvious potential for much more (13/17 points). You could do a lot worse than having Van Noy as a valuable bench piece, and at his current ownership in Yahoo leagues, he can most likely be yours right now.
LEIGHTON VANDER ESCH (Dallas Cowboys): (Yahoo Owned: 19%)
Leighton Vander Esch sounds more like a baroque era composer than a starting linebacker in the NFL, and yet he’s quietly been one of the more impressive first round picks from this past year’s draft. The reasoning behind choosing Vander Esch was simple, Sean Lee can’t stay healthy, and Dallas wins football games when they have a commanding MLB presence on the field.
As if right on cue, last week saw the predictable loss of Sean Lee, and Vander Esch officially has his shot to slot into Lee’s spot for Big D. Playing behind Lee for most of the season likely gave the rookie a greater understanding of how to perform at an all-pro level, and to his credit, LVE has shown flashes of that potential in the future. The kid is an absolute tackling machine for starters, and it flashes on tape when you watch him. His 48 solo tackles trail only Jaylon Smith for the lead on the Dallas defense and his near constant presence at the end of plays shows his natural ability to know where the ball is going.
For fantasy purposes, LVE has been even more impressive in his first year. His 58 total points include weekly totals of (2/7/10/5/12/8/3/8); totals that show an angled growth in his play-making ability throughout the year. Vander Esch’s statement game to look at so far this year is his week 5 performance against the Houston Texans. LVE registered 11 solo tackles in the game and was an absolute menace over the middle of the field for Deshaun Watson to tangle with. Don’t sleep on the rookie in Dallas, he’s got his shot now and all indications point towards him making the best of it.
MATT IOANNIDIS (Washington Redskins): (Yahoo Owned: 7%)
As an Eagles fan, it’s tough to admit when I love a player from another franchise (let alone one within the same division), but I seriously love watching Matt Ioannidis play football. To put it simply, he’s a brute. Powerful, dangerous and underrated, Ioannidis is exactly the kind of player I started this article to write about. If you need a perfect example of how much this guy can change a game, I suggest looking back at the way he rag-dolled Ezekiel Elliot back in Week 7. He threw one of the best RB’s in the league a solid 10 yards like he was a little kid at recess.
Along with being a certified powerhouse, Ioannidis is also a certified rising star in IDP formats. His 50 total points have already surpassed his 2017 total of (40), and his weekly floor has held at a steady (6 points per match-up). The biggest reason that Ioannidis is on this run-down this week is because he meets my two favorite criteria (strength of schedule/momentum). Over the past two weeks the mammoth DE has posted season highs in points (15/11) and a glance at his schedule for the rest of the season shows nothing but yellow and green. Any fantasy owner knows exactly what that means; the big man’s set to have himself a feast. He takes on a leaky Tampa Bay O line this week and moves on to face a Houston offense that’s allowed Deshaun Watson to be the most sacked QB in the league this year. Go grab Ioannidis while you can, he’ll be a difference maker for plenty of owners down the stretch.
DEMARCUS LAWRENCE (Dallas Cowboys): (Yahoo Owned: 34%)
I’ve written about plenty of underrated, rising star types so far in this week’s report, so let’s throw a bonified superstar in there to shake things up. I shouldn’t need to tell anyone how impressive DeMarcus Lawrence is/has been as a member of the Dallas Cowboys. In the absence of DeMarcus Ware (after leaving for Denver), Dallas needed an edge rusher to provide a spark, and Lawrence has proven himself more than worthy of inheriting the “DeMarcus of Dallas” mantle. The former 2nd round pick out of Boise State is a relentless pass rusher with an eye for the ball and the moves to shake even the league’s best offensive tackles. His 67 total points so far this year put him roughly half way towards his 121-point total from his break-out 2017 season, but Lawrence is still a top DL play in any/all leagues. Lawrence’s main attribute that makes him so valuable in IDP is his MAJOR blow-up potential is just about every match-up. One only needs to look at his weekly totals to see what I mean (15/8/4/20/0/0/10/8). Lawrence has three separate performances on the season in double digits, and his two zero-point performances can be explained. Particularly, his Week 6 performance against Jacksonville was cut short due to the fact that Dallas was steamrolling the Jaguars, Lawrence simply wasn’t needed to be his usual game breaking self on that day.
In summation, DeMarcus Lawrence is an incredible football player and someone that should be on every IDP owners’ roster if/when available. He’s also one of the most owned players I’ve featured in this article, so if you have him you probably drafted him. Either way, his greatness this year deserves to be recognized and if he’s somehow available in your league you should be rostering him immediately.
KENNY CLARK (Green Bay Packers): (Yahoo Owned: 15%)
Annnnnnnnd we’re back to the underrated/rising star portion of this week’s article with Packers DT; Kenny Clark. By making this run-down Clark has become just the second Defensive Tackle I’ve featured (behind Jurell Casey), and that’s because he deserves it. Clark has quietly been one of the best players on an already impressive young Packers defense this season. His 53 total points place him on pace to top his total of 73 from last season and his weekly totals are among the best at the DT position in IDP.
His weekly performance since Week 1 look like this (3/8/8/4/3/11/13/1). These numbers give Clark a similar stable floor/high ceiling to most of the other players I’ve picked out this week, and that’s exactly the kind of player that every IDP owner should be looking for. You want someone that will produce SOMETHING every week, because any bonus above the floor from a member of your defense can give you a major edge in IDP match-ups. The former UCLA Bruin was an All-American in college and that pedigree has shown up this season, as Clark is on pace to set new personal bests in Sacks/tackles and fumble recoveries. With a trench partner like perennial all-pro candidate Mike Daniels and a dangerous young secondary behind him, Clark is a definite player to watch and roster as the season rolls into its second half.
JORDAN POYER (Buffalo Bills): (Yahoo Owned: 21%)
Jordan Poyer is a journeyman in the truest, most literal sense of the word. Since his initial entry into the league via the 2013 NFL Draft, he’s been a talented player without a stable home. Stints with the Eagles and Browns didn’t end up working out long-term, but he seems to have found himself a home with the Buffalo Bills, and he’s shining. Most IDP fantasy owners know Poyer well from his monstrous 2017 campaign (122 total points), and those same owners likely selected him in your draft this year for exactly that reason. As I explained before, the DB position is the toughest spot in IDP to find consistency, and when you find someone who can produce week after week, you don’t let them go.
Poyer has defined himself with his consistency on both the real life and virtual football fields, and owners have rightfully taken notice. On the year he’s regressed slightly from last year’s otherworldly effort, but his 56 total points still make him one of the better DB’s in the format. His weekly totals are as stable as you’ll find anywhere (6/11/2/9/5/9/4/5/3), and his placement beside Micah Hyde in the Buffalo secondary gives him a constant presence around the ball. Poyer is just one year removed from a 5 INT season, and he has all of the tools to replicate that production in the second half of this year. The truth is, the Bills aren’t a great football team (especially on offense), so loading up on good defensive players from buffalo usually pays dividends because they’re almost always on the field. Roster Poyer where you can find him, you’ll be glad you did.
DESMOND KING II (Los Angeles Chargers): (Yahoo Owned: 17%)
If you take a look back at most articles/hype surrounding the beginning to the 2018 NFL season you’ll see that the Los Angeles Chargers defense was a darling of NFL pundits everywhere. The names of Bosa/Ingram/Heyward were thrown around as IDP league winners/DPOY favorites/etc., but that’s a stark contrast to the current reality in LA. The Chargers stumbled out of the blocks and have gradually been regaining their defensive identity week by week while waiting for Joey Bosa to return. Casey Heyward has been a lesser version of his 2017 self, but another CB in their secondary has stepped up in a major way; and that’s Desmond King.
On top of being the current AFC Defensive Player of the Week, King has been the most consistent member of a Chargers secondary that’s needed that consistency. King is a momentum shifter, a genuine game breaking corner with the ability to cover most targets and take a forced turnover to the house wherever he happens to be on the field. His 62 total points on the year put his half way to his 121 points from his phenomenal rookie campaign, and his 3 INT’s have already tripled his total from 2017. King is a very real player on the rise in a defensive scheme that’s getting better (and healthier) by the week. He’s also a rare exception to my usual (no CB’s) rule when it comes to IDP format. Buy up as many shares of King as you can while his ownership is still low.
JUSTIN SIMMONS (Denver Broncos): (Yahoo Owned: 9%)
My final selection worth mentioning this week fits the same underrated tag as most of the other names on this list, but he’s also a great example of a bench ad that can bolster a line-up. Justin Simmons isn’t a game-breaker, he isn’t a monstrous presence in your IDP line-up, what he is, is an above average DB with a very stable floor. Simmons 55 total points on the year include weekly totals of (7/8/8/7/5/3/6/8/1).
With the exception of this past weeks 1-point performance, Simmons has been the model of consistency in terms of week to week production, and I’m pointing him out because it’s important for owners to know that you need to have a few guys like this in your line-up. Even if they’re just bench stashes, players like Simmons give your IDP line balance and stability for if a major superstar goes down or have a bye week. If you know you can plug someone in and get 6-8 points in most match-ups you’re going to feel much more calm/confident in your ability to rebound from losing a treasured star on defense. Simmons is currently on pace to surpass his over tackle total from last season and has already tied his overall INT’s from 2017. He’s a player that can offer a lot for a playoff team that needs depth. His ownership rate is low, and his ability to help your squad is immediate; give him a shot.
TRENCH WARRIOR TO WATCH:
VINCE WILLIAMS (LB; Pittsburgh Steelers): (Yahoo Owned: 17%)
Now here’s a trendy pick. Vince Williams is (you guessed it) not a name brand player currently in the league, but that’s all going to change very soon. Williams makes my TRENCH WARRIOR TO WATCH portion of this week’s write-up because of the absolute domination he displayed on Thursday night against the Carolina Panthers. Williams was everywhere on the field, he had 3 solo tackles, 1 Sack and a pick 6 early in the game that completely swung the pendulum in Pittsburgh’s favor. He took advantage of the Steelers front line pressuring Cam Newton, and he picked the Panthers QB apart in the secondary. The former 6th round pick out of Florida State is shining a propensity for game changing plays that far exceeds the draft stock that Pittsburgh spent on him, and Steelers fans have got to be excited about that.
Williams statistical totals on the year (29 tackles/3 Sacks/1 INT/1 TD) account for a total of 62 points at the half way mark, good enough to put him on pace to match his impressive 123-point total from last season. Steeler’s fans are watching their defense start to resemble the kind of unit their franchise has historically been known for. The Steelers depth chart is starting looks downright menacing to opposing offenses with T.J Watt/Williams at LB, Joe Haden having a career resurgence at CB and Cam Heyward menacing the QB off the edge. They’re hitting hard, taking the ball from their opponents and they’re doing it all with a sneer and a smile on their faces. This is Pittsburgh Steeler football, and Vince Williams is playing it at a high level.
That’s all for this week! Thanks again to everyone for checking out the TRENCH REPORT. For those who play in IDP leagues I’d love to hear your feedback on these highlighted players, and for those that have never played IDP format, I hope this article sparks your interest! Make sure to check back here every Friday/Saturday to start your weekend in the trenches with me, I look forward to it.
Until then, best of luck in Week 10 everyone!