• IDP Depth Pieces Part One: DL and EDGE

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    Woeful options on your waiver wire? Dismal value at the end of your draft? Tired of tragic trade bait targets? Read on for some help in adding IDP depth to your roster.

    This is the first in a two-part series on IDP Depth Pieces. Part one covers the DL and EDGE positions. Part two will cover the LB and DB positions.

    I'll list a couple of players at each position who I feel can provide depth, reasonable upside, and value. Identifying such players isn't easy. Not all of these guys will 'hit'. In fact, the majority won't. They are cheap and/or available for a reason; they are long shots to produce as reliable, long-term fantasy options.

    Player values are often subjective in fantasy, I respect that. I don't pretend to have more knowledge than anyone else. However, sometimes I look at ADP and it's clear to me that name recognition is a key factor in player evaluation. Personally, when adding depth pieces, I'd prefer an average player with upside over an average player who is already close to their ceiling.

    I'm making the assumption you are playing in a true position IDP format which incorporates EDGE positions. If you're not then you'll need to adjust some of these values accordingly.


    DT Jordan Elliott, Cleveland Browns.
    ADP - unranked

    Elliott divided the opinion of draftniks in the build-up to the 2020 draft. Some saw him as a raw, inexperienced third-round talent while others claimed he already had first-round ability. PFF didn't pull any punches in their evaluation:

    In the end, the Browns picked Elliott in the third round with the 88th overall pick, making him the seventh DT selected that year.

    Elliott played sparingly in his rookie year (308 snaps) behind starters Sheldon Richardson (799) and Larry Ogunjobi (643). He registered modest numbers, 19 tackles, 4 pressures, and 1 Forced Fumble. Although these stats don't jump off the page, Elliott earned a PFF pass-rush grade comparable with that of highly regarded first-rounder Javon Kinlaw. His run defense grade was superior to Kinlaw's. He has shown some promise.

    Both Richardson and Ogunjobi have departed in free agency, opening the door for new blood on the interior D-line. 2020 opt-out Andrew Billings returns to the fray, and new signing Malik Jackson will be competing for a spot too.

    Once again, Elliott finds himself contending with two established players. It helps that the Browns play in a 4-man front more than most teams, so there are two potentially productive spots up for grabs. Even so, nothing is assured for Elliott.

    Crucially, Browns' management has noticed his progression as a player. As Browns' staff writer Anthony Poisal disclosed in a recent article, Defensive Line coach Chris Kiffin singled out Elliott  "I don't want to be that guy to sit here and sound super excited about everybody, but I'm just telling you, the guy I'm most excited about is Jordan Elliott.. He's going into that sophomore year everybody talks about and has made the most improvements from Year one to Year two."

    Elliott was mentioned in the 'almost made it' list of my recent article 'DT Premium: Who is the next big BIG thing'. There will probably be better redraft options, but in dynasty leagues, he's worth stashing as a DT3 with DT2 potential. Billings is in the final year of his contract, so this time next year we could be talking about a competition between Jackson, Elliott, and perhaps even 2021 fourth round selection Tommi Togiai

    DT Raekwon Davis, Miami Dolphins
    ADP - unranked

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    I'll be honest, I didn't expect Davis to play as well as he did in year one. The bicep injury Davon Godchaux suffered vs the 49'ers in week 5 opened the door for the rookie to step into a starting role. He played less than 50% defensive snaps weeks 1-6 but surpassed 50% every week thereafter. The trust the Dolphins placed in him was underscored in weeks 16 and 17 where he earned season highs of 83% and 84% of available snaps.

    Per PFF, all four of Davis' worst defensive grades of the season came in the first four games of the season. His improvement coincided with that of the whole Miami defense, it's no stretch to suggest he was one of a number of reasons the Dolphins defense looked decidedly better in 2020 than they did in 2019.

    Davis posted 40 total tackles, 14 total pressures including a sack, a hit, and 12 hurries. I was surprised to learn that his 71 PFF pass-rush grade eclipsed that of Fletcher Cox, Leonard Williams, and Kenny Clark. The fact Davis achieved this in his rookie year - a year in which rookies were robbed of valuable preparation time - makes this all the more impressive. It is interesting to wonder what he could have done in a full season as the starter. Thankfully we won't have to wait long to find out.

    I don't imagine Davis will ever become a double-digit sack guy, that's just not the type of player he is. I see him as more of a high floor/low ceiling type who can post decent tackle numbers. He may sound unexciting, but if you need a DT2 in DT premium leagues, you could do a lot worse.

    EDGE Josh Sweat, Philadelphia Eagles
    ADP 38-45 (similar range to Olivier Vernon, Jadeveon Clowney, Carlos Dunlap)

    A phenomenal athlete with the production to match, Sweat was ESPN's no.1 prospect in the country entering his senior year of high school. Then he suffered a gruesome season-ending knee injury on a seemingly inconsequential attempt to block an XP. The initial medical prognosis was extremely concerning, he was told there was a 98% chance his leg would be lost. Thankfully, mercifully, that wasn't to be the case and Sweat's incredible story could continue.

    Sweat defied the odds and recovered sufficiently to have an extremely productive three years at Florida State. Athletic ability clearly undiminished, he dominated the combine, posting in the 89th percentile or above in five out of the six disciplines in which he took part:

    Despite his college production and combine performance, concerns about Sweat's health and durability remained. He subsequently fell to the 4th round where he was selected by the Eagles with the 130th pick overall, after players such as Arden Key, Chad Thomas, and Kentavius Street.

    After missing much of his rookie year with a wrist injury, Sweat has spent the last two years spelling incumbent starters Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett, splitting time with Vinny Curry. Curry is now gone, replaced by Ryan Kerrigan, but Kerrigan hasn't been the same player for a while now. Graham played well last year but is now 33. Both Barnett and Sweat are in the final year of their contracts.

    Whether Sweat remains with the Eagles beyond the 2021 season or not, there is a path to increased snaps and it will be an opportunity he has earned.

    While the memory of the health of his knee lingers for some, Sweat is a gifted 24-year-old pass rusher who - in a non-starting role - has amassed 43 total pressures including 11 sacks, 10 hits, 22 hurries, 37 tackles, and 2 forced fumbles in the last two seasons. In 2021 he may remain more of an EDGE3-4 and better suited to IDP best-ball formats. But he does have the talent to have EDGE2 value when that opportunity comes his way.

    EDGE Uchenna Nwosu, L.A. Chargers
    ADP - unranked.

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    Melvin Ingram's departure leaves the Chargers in need of some pass rush help. As elite as Joey Bosa is, he cannot do it all on his own. The Chargers have the talent to be a top 10 defense in 2021 but to achieve that they will need an unproven pass rusher to step up. Nwosu, the Chargers 2018 second-round pick from USC, is the player I believe is most likely to do so.

    Nwosu rushed the passer 195 times in 2020. He tallied 27 total pressures including 5 sacks, 8 hits, and 14 hurries. He managed 27 tackles, 19 of which were solo. His overall defensive grade was the highest he has managed in his 3-year NFL career, as was his pass-rush grade. While neither grade has increased dramatically, there is some evidence to suggest he is still progressing.

    Nwosu is unlikely to become as impactful as Ingram. It's entirely possible he ends up in a rotation. But given the opportunity he has to play more snaps in 2021, he's worth taking a chance on. If Leonard Floyd can suddenly produce in a Joe Staley defense, maybe Nwosu can too. And it isn't like you need to invest a lot in him given his current ADP.

    If you have the room, stash Nwosu on your roster until we see how this plays out. He could provide nice IDP EDGE depth in 2021. And remember to monitor snap counts in case he ends up ceding snaps to Kyler Fackrell

    You can read more about Nwosu in JoeyTheTooth's Chargers Camp Battle article.


    Jase Abbey

    I'm an IDP-obsessive and have been playing fantasy football for 20 years. I write the weekly IDP start/sit for IDP Guys in-season, redraft IDP content during the offseason, and appear on the odd podcast from time to time. I am a big, big believer in data-driven and evidence-based content. I'm UK-based, love most sports, and study sports journalism at university. My favorite two things in life are family and sarcasm.

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