Welcome back loyal readers to the ONLY weekly running IDP fantasy football article on 5thdownfantasy.com! We had a great turnout for the inaugural edition last week and I thank all of you for giving it a look. IDP fantasy football is admittedly still a niche style of play, but through this article I genuinely hope to bridge the gap between hardcore fans of the format and newcomers that may be intimidated to give it a try. I’ve got a whole new batch of IDP standouts and rising stars for you this week so let’s dive into some of the names.
Von Miller (Denver Broncos)
Von Miller had some choice words for reporters regarding how the Broncos defense was going to treat the Cardinals on Thursday night, and he lived up to those words in full. The perennial all-pro linebacker is the farthest thing from what someone would call a “rising star” but given how dominant he was this past Thursday night he deserves to be mentioned.
Miller ravaged the damaged Arizona offensive line and came away with a pair of sacks and 2 forced fumbles to his credit in a trademark performance worthy of No. 58’s Canton-level legacy in orange and blue. Due to multiple factors (including the terrible play-calling of former Arizona OC Mike McCoy) the Broncos ran away with this one early amd never looked back. Miller was a major reason for that as he was a force to be reckoned with the entire night.
From a year-long perspective Von’s 66 overall points put him roughly on track to match his 116-point total from 2017 and his sack total of 7.5 puts him on pace to shatter his mark of 10 from last year’s campaign. You’re already starting Miller if you have him, but it’s worth reminding people that he’s a man of his word. When he says his team’s gonna kick your ***, he means it, and he’ll make sure he delivers on his word personally.
Lavonte David (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
Allow me start this by first saying that I’m well aware that this Tampa Bay defense isn’t a unit you would call “impressive”. On the season they’ve given up point totals of (40/21/23/48/34) and rival just about any unit in the league in terms of lack of overall defensive talent (primarily in their secondary).
However, that is exactly why I want to point out the greatness of outside linebacker Lavonte David. He isn’t a household name, he’s arguably not even the most well-known LB on his team (Kwon Alexander takes that nod), but he’s quietly become one of the very best linebackers in IDP fantasy this season. His point totals since Week 1 indicate a level of consistency usually reserved for the top tier starts at the position (7/9/13/8/7).
David’s compiled an impressive resume for himself through his sheer natural ability to read offenses and be around the ball at the end of plays. He has 33 tackles and a fumble recovery so far this year, which is way more than most other players on the Bucs can say. His 45 points on the year are roughly a quarter of the 122 he scored last year, but his tendency to be around the ball and force turnovers (5 fumble recoveries in 2017) makes David a valuable week to week commodity for IDP owners. Start him up if you have him this week against a Cleveland Browns team that lacks reliable offensive weapons. David will be more than happy to relieve them of their ball carrying duties.
Demario Davis (New Orleans Saints)
While we’re on the subject of uncharacteristically great players on bad units, lets head on down to the Big Easy and check in on OLB Demario Davis of the Saints, whose defense struggled mightily out of the gates this year and have fluctuated from competent to bad since. Davis, though, has been one of their lone bright spots.
Through 5 weeks Davis has put up fantasy totals of 8/9/7/19/5, including a monstrous 9 tackle/2 sack performance in Week 4 against the Giants. His 28 tackles/2 sacks/forced fumble don’t fill up the stat sheet just yet in terms of big splash plays, but for a defense that’s needed a spark, Davis has been a major boon. He’s a versatile linebacker that performs well on the road and at home, and his 35% ownership rate in Yahoo leagues means he could very well be available to you right now on waivers. Now more than ever, with the bye weeks in full swing, I recommend all owners check the transactions tab in their league and monitor who your league mates are dropping. If Davis is available (by free agency or waivers) I highly recommend putting in a claim for him.
Myles Garrett (Cleveland Browns)
Myles Garrett: 2016 No. 1 overall pick; All-pro level defensive end; Certified bad man. Garrett’s name value naturally contributes to a high-ownership rate in IDP leagues, and he’s made his fantasy owners smile from ear to ear so far in 2018. His weekly totals since Week 1 are 17/1/12/11/3/1, and speak to his dominance in just about every match-up he’s in. I understand that the single digit totals may give owners reason to worry, but I want to calm those fears. In the games in which Garrett didn’t produce a double-digit fantasy finish, he was still in the backfield consistently and contributed with half a sack, a pass deflection and a pair of tackles for losses. Unfortunately for Garrett, IDP fantasy football doesn’t give points for QB pressures, because if it did he’d have double-digit totals every week. Fire up this beast of the beltway every week that he’s healthy and expect to see him throwing the quarterback to the ground on multiple occasions.
Jurrell Casey (Tennessee Titans)
In IDP fantasy there are undoubtedly select “vanity” positions that take precedent over others when you’re drafting. Premier edge rushers/ball hawking safeties and linebackers all generally go off the board first, but there’s something to be said about having a steady/consistent defensive tackle.
Jurrell Casey of the Tennessee Titans fits that mold perfectly, and at just 15% ownership in Yahoo leagues he’s by far one of the most available fantasy studs in the format. Through 6 weeks Casey’s posted totals of 7/14/8/5/7/6 and piled up 21 tackles/3 sacks/2 forced fumbles so far. His 3 sacks are already halfway to his 2017 total of 6 and he’s already doubled his forced fumble total from last year.
The standout game to look at to see just how dominant Casey can be is his Week 2 performance against the Houston Texans. Casey tallied 4 tackles/2 sacks and a forced fumble, and the Titans needed every bit of that performance as they edged out Houston 20-17. It’s not often that I’ll recommend the DT position as a must add, but if Casey is available in your league I suggest making room for the big man moving forward.
Akiem Hicks (Chicago Bears)
The 2018 Chicago Bears defense isn’t taking anyone by surprise this year. Their dominance is well documented, and largely credited to the early season pickup of Khalil Mack. Give the devil his due, Mack’s been a force of nature since joining the Bears, but he’s not the only edge rushing monster in the Windy City.
Akiem Hicks has performed at a high level all year, but he’s not getting the credit because of his surrounding cast. That stops now, because he’s balling out and IDP owners should be aware of this. Through 6 weeks, Hicks has posted totals of 9/4/8/5/8 with a Week 5 bye week thrown into the mix. His 3 sacks are nearly halfway to his 8.5 mark from 2017 and his 3 forced fumbles are a 300% increase from his mark of (0) from last year.
Hicks is a monstrous presence to contend with off the edge on his own and when he’s paired with Mack they put offensive lines in an unsolvable conundrum. You can’t double both, and most teams choose to double Mack, which leads to more single match ups for Hicks on the other side. With an ownership rate of 11% in Yahoo leagues, Hicks can be yours in almost all IDP formats in free agency. Don’t allow this stud player to sit on the sidelines, get him in your lineup if you need some DL help.
Landon Collins (New York Giants)
Collins is the best player on a talented Giants defense that’s grossly under-performed in 2018. His credentials speak for themselves: 2x Pro Bowler, 1x All-Pro, 2nd round pick and standout star at Alabama.
Collins isn’t going to sneak up on anyone, but his performance so far this season (in a contract year) should be highlighted. Through the first six weeks of the season Collins has put up point totals of 5/5/4/12/6/10 and his 44 overall points place him nearly half way to his 2017 overall total (110).
The Giants season may have gone belly up early, but Collins remains the crown jewel at the center of the defense. He’s still plenty young at just 24 years old and it’s possible he’ll get a chance to enter free agency heading into 2019 where his value is only going to keep rising.
John Johnson III (Los Angeles Rams)
John Johnson III is a perfect example of a player I wanted to write this article to highlight. While Lemarcus Joyner/Marcus Peters/Aqib Talib have the big name-value acclaim in the LA secondary, it’s been the 2nd year safety Johnson that’s impressed me the most.
His 45.50 overall points easily eclipse Joyner’s 28.50 and when you look at Johnson’s week to week production that’s not a surprise. His point totals since Week 1 are 11/8/5/9/4/6 and he’s compiled those numbers by filling up the stat sheet with every major defensive metric. Johnson’s 42 combined tackles/6 passes defended/2 INTs and a forced fumble pace the LA secondary and make throwing on this Rams team a dangerous proposition (especially over the middle).
His ownership rate of just 29% means he’s available in almost three quarters of IDP leagues, and that means you’ve got good odds of grabbing him for your squad. Do yourself a favor and snatch this young safety up before your league mates get wise. You won’t regret it.
Antoine Bethea (Arizona Cardinals)
Our final standout of the DB’s this week sees us go from the 22-year-old in LA to the seasoned veteran balling out in the Bay Area. At 34-years-old, Antoine Bethea is playing in his 13th season in the NFL after being drafted by the Colts in the 6th round of the 2006 draft. His hallmark through his career has been consistency, and because of that he’s been widely sought after as not just a veteran locker room presence, but as a force to reckoned with and respected over the middle of the field. He’s lived up to his reputation and then some so far in 2018, posting an overall fantasy total of 57 points and putting him on pace to shatter his mark of 80 points from his 2017 campaign.
Bethea is performing at a high level on a team that’s struggling at almost every other level of the game. The Cardinals can’t put up points, they can’t run the ball and they have a rookie QB that’s understandably struggling to perform in a poor system. Despite all of this, Bethea is leaving everything he has on the field, averaging 8 tackles per game and had his standout performance in Week 5 against his former team, the San Francisco 49ers. Bethea led the Cardinals with a combined 13 tackles that day and played a major role setting the tone for one of the few impressive wins Arizona’s had this season. Given his age, some fantasy owners will shy away from the 34-year-old, and you can use that to your benefit. As I covered last week, the defensive back position is one of the more difficult spots to fill with reliable talent, and if you can grab Bethea right now I’m saying you’d be getting a diamond in the rough.
TRENCH WARRIOR TO WATCH:
Jason Pierre-Paul (Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
JPP’s had a wild run in the NFL. From an All-pro level edge rusher in the Big Apple, to an unfortunate, grisly injury that threatened to end his career, he’s played the roles of hunter and survivor. When the Giants shipped their former 2010 first-round pick to Tampa Bay this past March it came as a shock, given his name value, but for JPP it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
He’s been reborn in a Bucs defense that’s struggled mightily around him, and his dominance is showing up on tape and in the stat sheets on a weekly basis. Since returning to the field in Week 2, JPP has posted weekly fantasy totals of 9/16/12/6. Those numbers represent a player that’s far from done in this league, and they’re a testament to the kind of fight that Pierre-Paul has both within himself and on the field every down.
His 5 sacks on the season are just 3 shy of his high of 8 from 2017 and he’s already half way to his forced fumble mark of 2 from last year’s campaign. JPP’s pairing with perennial All-pro DT Gerald McCoy and fellow end Vinny Curry has also paid dividends as opposing offensive lines have to choose who they need to double up on. In that way, the Bucs front is similar to the Hicks/Mack situation that the Chicago Bears enjoy, and in some ways it’s actually more intimidating on paper.
The Bucs front four of Curry/Allen/McCoy/JPP is made up of 2 world champions from last year’s Eagles team and 2 All-pro’s in McCoy/JPP. When healthy, this line is one of the more underrated talent groupings in the NFL and Pierre-Paul has proven to be the motor that gets things started for them. At just 25% ownership rate in Yahoo leagues, it’s possible that JPP is out there for you, and if he is I highly recommend snatching him up and starting him this week against the Browns. He’s had his fair share of setbacks in his career, but he’s playing at a near elite level right now and you should be taking advantage of that in your lineups.
Thanks for checking out the second edition of 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 week to start your weekend in the trenches with me, I look forward to it.
Until then, best of luck in Week 7, everyone!