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Rookie IDPs in the Best Fantasy Situations


While it may seem complex, adding individual defensive players (IDPs) to your fantasy league can be a fun way to spice up the overall level of competition!

While the core nucleus of our fantasy lineups will always be on the offensive side of the ball, a strong defensive crew can be a difference-maker on any given week. Unlike quarterbacks and receivers, who can frequently take years to fully develop, defensive players often contribute right away in the fantasy world.

With the 2018 NFL Draft in the books, now is a good time to take a look at some of the freshly drafted defensive rookies and project some of those players who can make an immediate impact in IDP scoring formats.

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Defensive Linemen

Projecting rookie defensive linemen for fantasy purposes can be an extremely daunting task. Although edge rushers are the bread and butter of fantasy production because of their greater propensity for sacks, a dominant interior defensive lineman can still return significant value if said player is an athletic freak at the position a la Aaron Donald. The 2018 class of defensive linemen offers a few top-level talents on both the interior and the edge, but little overall versatility and depth after that.

Vita Vea (DT, TB): Interior lineman typically don't provide much in the way of fantasy production, but Vea could be an exception while generating pressure with Gerald McCoy on the Tampa Bay Buccanneers. It is tough to find an interior defensive tackle who can effectively disrupt offenses on his own in this draft class, but Vea fits that mold. During his time at Washington, he developed a well-rounded pass rushing repertoire that will facilitate some measure of fantasy success in the NFL. Of course, defensive tackles aren't particularly well known for fantasy production, so it might be best to look for an edge rusher to fill in that defensive line spot amid concerns of Vea's tackling radius.

Bradley Chubb (DE, DEN): With pass rushing and run-stuffing skills that compare to Everson Griffen, Chubb offers a skill-set that should lead to solid fantasy production. Simply put, Chubb is one of the easiest projections for fantasy success. What he lacks in flexibility he makes up for in powerful technique, displaying advanced hand usage as a pass-rusher in college that will serve him well in the NFL. With Von Miller on the opposite side of the line to take pressure off, Chubb could be a sneaky fantasy pickup for owners in need.

Honorable Mentions: Maurice Hurst Jr. (DT, OAK), Marcus Davenport (DE, NO)

 

Linebackers

As tackling machines, true ball-hawking linebackers at the second level of the defense can provide significant fantasy production early and often. Much like the aforementioned defensive line group, there is a significant drop-off between the few top linebackers and the rest of the class. A rookie linebackers success can largely be gleamed from the spot they play (i.e.: middle, weak, strong-side) and their situation.

Tremaine Edmunds (LB, BUF): The best overall linebacker in this class with the greatest chance to produce LB-1 numbers as a leader for the Buffalo Bills over the middle. Edmunds' fantasy prospects shot up when he was drafted by the Bills at fifteenth overall, as he will no doubt be expected to occupy the middle linebacker spot on a team desperately needing a young field general in their 4-3 defense. He was already a forced to be reckoned with coming out of college with an elite combination of size and speed, but occupying such a heavy tackle volume role early will no doubt translate to fantasy success.

Roquan Smith (LB, CHI): A rangy athletic monster whose elite pursuit and coverage skills will flourish in the Chicago Bear's 3-4 defensive scheme. It is impossible to deny Smith's physical ability, as his overall fluidity and explosiveness led the Bears to take him as the first linebacker off the board. He projects as an ideal coverage linebacker for the team at 6'1, 225 lbs who can make plays in the open field alongside Danny Trevathan. The fantasy numbers could be somewhat limited by operating as the weak-side interior linebacker and his overall lack of size that made him somewhat of a liability in run defense at the college level, but his uncanny instincts for the position make him too good to ignore.

Rashaan Evans (LB, TEN): With impeccable sideline to sideline speed, his play against the run and ability to impact the passing game on the blitz should lead to plenty of tackle totals in a newly reformed Tennessee defense. As arguably the most athletically gifted linebacker in this draft class, Evans will no doubt bolster an already formidable Tennessee Titans defense. New defensive coordinator Dean Pees has had top-10 defensive units in six of his 10 years in the league and knows how to utilize his linebacking core to the best of their ability. Although he is largely an unfinished prospect in that he lacks ideal coverage skills, he should easily make a fantasy impact on day one.

Honorable Mentions: Leighton Vander Esch (LB, DAL), Malik Jefferson (LB, CIN) 

 

Defensive Backs

From your interception hogging game-breakers to your tackling hybrids, defensive backs are often the difference between a solid fantasy defense and a great one. While it is difficult to find fantasy gems in rookies who play in the secondary, there are a couple of elite playmakers who are worth taking a look at heading into 2018.

Denzel Ward (DB, CLE): As one of the best pure cover corners in this draft class, Ward will get the opportunity to produce tackle totals early and could make a considerable fantasy impact as a rookie. His interception totals in college leave much to be desired, but Ward only missed 11 tackles over his two seasons as a starter at Ohio State. Rookie corners are typically good point producers in IDP as long as they get playing time and I would expect a player as physically gifted as Ward to be on the field as much as possible.

Derwin James (S, LAC): James is the safety/linebacker hybrid that makes for ideal fantasy production and will see a starter's snap share right out of the gate for the Los Angeles Chargers. As the starting safety for the Los Angeles Chargers, James' size and athleticism will allow him to fill multiple positions along the defense in a role not unlike Landon Collins. There are fantasy points to be had in his ability to attack downhill, stop runs, and break up passes in the short to intermediate passing game. Of all the rookie safeties, James could be an elite fantasy option in his rookie season.

Honorable Mentions: Minkah Fitzpatrick (S, MIA)

 

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