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2019 IDP Draft Sleepers

I've been playing in IDP leagues for the last couple of years, but I've never ventured into the world of writing about IDP leagues. But one goal I have as a fantasy analyst is to expand my horizon a little each year, and this year that goal is to write some about IDP leagues.

To start, let's look at everyone's favorite fantasy football subject: sleepers.

Below, you'll find my IDP draft sleepers for this year, separated by position. These are all players who are outside the top-35 in the Fantrax IDP positional rankings. Also, no rookies are listed, because they'll be in a later piece.

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Defensive Line Sleepers

Yannick Ngakoue - DE, Jacksonville Jaguars

Ngakoue was holding out at the start of camp, but he's reported to the Jaguars now and will be on the field this season.

It's hard to get a great read on what to expect from him this year, because his past two seasons have been wildly different. In 2017, Ngakoue was a machine. He led the NFL with six forced fumbles and he collected 12 sacks on his way to his first Pro Bowl appearance. The second-year defensive end was looking like a future star in this league.

Then last season, Ngakoue took a little step back. He didn't force any fumbles last year and had 9.5 sacks. That loss of production coupled with the fact that he isn't a high-volume tackler made for a season that wasn't super rewarding to IDP owners. But in a contract year, I'm betting on Ngakoue at his current price to play a lot more like he did in 2017. You don't have 10 forced fumbles in your first two years and then just stop collecting them. Those 2017 FF numbers were an aberration, and we'll see positive regression closer to his previous numbers.

Linval Joseph - DT, Minnesota Vikings

Linval Joseph has somehow been around a lot longer than I remember him being around. He'll turn 31 in October, but he's still just as much of a consistent defender as he has been.

Like with Ngakoue, Joseph had decreased sack numbers last year. Unlike with Ngakoue, there's not a huge amount of evidence to suggest that someone at Joseph's age is going to be able to bounce back.

One issue with Joseph's production last year was a reduction in snaps as the season went along. In three of Minnesota's first four games, Joseph was on the field for 80 percent of defensive snaps. He never reached the 80 percent mark again, and fell as low 40 percent in Week 16.

But the two defensive tackles who were playing late in the year -- Sheldon Richardson and Tom Johnson -- aren't on this roster this season. The team brought back Shamar Stephen, but he had a similar trend of decreased snaps last year with Seattle. Joseph is the best option to be the main defensive tackle for the Vikings.

Vita Vea - DT, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

This one is geared a little more towards dynasty players.

Vea's rookie campaign just wasn't it. He had three sacks and 28 tackles in 13 games, and while three sacks from a nose tackle is fine, you want the actual tackle number to be higher. Now, a knee injury is going to cause him to potentially miss the beginning of this season. Vea's value is probably as low as it'll ever be right now, but we're just a year removed from him being billed as the exact kind of nose tackle an NFL team would want and getting picked in the first round. Bet on his talent, especially if you can do so for very, very cheap.


Linebacker Sleepers

T.J. Watt - OLB, Pittsburgh Steelers

Watt was overhyped early in his career because of his last name being Watt, but his fantasy value has corrected itself over time to the point where Fantrax has him ranked 38th at the position. I don't have too much of an argument with that ranking, even if he finished as a top-20 linebacker in the scoring settings we use in our staff IDP league.

Watt's value is down in large part because of some numbers from last year that don't feel sustainable. Six forced fumbles? 13 sacks? Both of those numbers will likely come down a little. But I don't think they come down so far that he finishes closer to 40th at linebacker than he does 20th, so I'm definitely targeting him before where he's ranked. (I mean, I would be if all my IDP leagues weren't dynasty leagues, get the point.)

Benardrick McKinney - ILB, Houston Texans

Three straight seasons of at least 95 combined tackles. Over that span, he's ranked 20th, 49th, and 61st in the NFL in solo tackles. That's...not all that great, obviously, but he's the main middle linebacker for a defense that has secondary issues, so he'll be on the field a lot this year and will have plenty of chances to build on his tackle numbers. McKinney's ranking as the 43rd linebacker just feels a little low, especially with teammate Zach Cunningham projected in the top-20. Both will benefit from some lackluster depth the team has at the position and will see a bunch of snaps.

Chandler Jones - OLB, Arizona Cardinals

Jones led the NFL in sacks and tackles for a loss in 2017. Last year, he didn't quite reach those heights, dropping from 17 to 13 sacks and from 28 to 13 tackles for a loss.

Still, in the five years where he's played 16 games, Jones has always gotten double-digit sacks. He's never really been a guy who piles up the tackles, though, so you need him to play at his current level or better to get the kind of production you need from him. I'm willing to bet Jones still has a few years of strong pass-rushing production left in him.


Defensive Back Sleepers

D.J. Swearinger - S, Arizona Cardinals

Sticking with Arizona, Swearinger comes over to try filling one of Arizona's safety roles.

Look, the NFL history of D.J. Swearinger is complicated. He's had trouble sticking at every stop and has garnered a pretty bad reputation. I get that. But Swearinger is still a very talented player. He had four interceptions and three forced fumbles last season, and he's shown that he's capable of collecting 70-plus tackles in a season. Barring some meltdown with Arizona, Swearinger will be on the field a lot, and I can see him outperforming his current ranking.

Jabrill Peppers - S ,New York Giants

I'm embarrassed to admit how high I drafted Peppers in a dynasty start-up during his rookie year, but let's just say he was one of the first defensive backs off the board. I was all in on the Peppers hype.

His two years in Cleveland were unspectacular, but he has a chance to revamp things after going to the Giants in the Odell Beckham Jr. trade. In Peppers, New York got a strong, run-stopping safety who can usually hold up in zone coverage. Peppers will be at his best when he has a chance to play the run, where he can get himself a lot of tackles. He won't be a high interception guy, but I can see him increasing his usual number from one to three or four. Peppers can be one of the better linebacker/safety hybrid-style guys in the league.

Kendall Fuller - CB, Kansas City Chiefs

Finally, we close with a player in one of the NFL's worst defenses last year.

Fuller was supposed to break out last year in a full-time role with Kansas City. Instead, he recorded two fewer picks and just two more pass defenses than he did in a more limited role with Washington the year before.

This year, Kansas City has a new defensive coordinator in Steve Spagnuolo and Fuller should take a step forward. He was second among corners in solo tackles last year, largely because he was first among them in catches allowed. So, worst-case scenario: Fuller keeps getting a ton of tackles. But best case is he looks more like the guy who was PFF's second-highest coverage grade in 2017. I'm fairly willing to bet that changes to the Chiefs' defensive scheme will help enable Fuller to get closer to that level, which should help him reach a new career-high in interceptions.

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