• IDP Depth Pieces Part Two: ILB and DB

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    Are you dealing with woeful options available on your waiver wire? Dismal value left at the end of your draft? Terrible trade bait targets? Read on if you need some help adding depth to your IDP roster.

    This is part two of a two-part series on IDP depth players. Part one covered the DL and EDGE positions, This part covers the LB and DB positions.

    I’ll list a couple of players at each position who I feel can provide IDP depth at a decent 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. Some guys fly under the radar and/or consensus is just slow to react. This article has you covered in both respects.

    ILB Justin Strnad, Denver Broncos.
    ADP - Unranked 

    Strnad had to earn playing time at Wake Forest. He redshirted as a freshman and played sparingly as a junior, (still led the team in INTs) before earning a starting spot in his senior year. Then he seized the opportunity that season and didn't miss a game while leading the team in tackles. He was elected a team captain in his senior year and was playing his best football before suffering a season-ending bicep injury during a tackle attempt on Florida State's Cam Akers.

    As fluid and athletic as Strnad appears to be on the field, he didn't wow at the combine. The Broncos wisely overlooked this point and drafted him in the fifth round of the 2020 draft. Many were hopeful he could provide improved coverage skills over the likes of Josey Jewell. After all, Jewell was particularly poor in coverage in the 2019 season. Unfortunately, Strnad suffered a wrist injury in training camp. It was 'only' a dislocation but due to certain complications, he ended up missing the whole year.

    Josey Jewell and Alexander Johnson barely came off the field in 2020, ranking 6th and 14th in total snaps among all ILBs. Neither really capitalized, neither shook the reputation they have for just being… 'OK' linebackers. Jewell played better in coverage than some give him credit for, but it will never be his strength. Johnson, a late developer in the NFL, was used as a blitzer more than Jewell, but not with any great success. The Lion's Reggie Ragland was better at rushing the passer last year, and when Ragland is better than you at anything, something is wrong.

    So we know Strnad's competition isn't particularly strong. It also works in his favor that both Johnson and Jewell are in the final year of their contracts.

    Jewell suffered a groin injury in training camp in late July. Strnad has capitalized on that opportunity, drawing positive reviews from Vic Fangio, D.C. Ed Donatell, and Alexander Johnson. Fangio hasn't handed over the keys quite yet, offering constructive feedback about how Strnad still has a way to go, but that is to be expected given the situation.

    What is clear is that he has gained ground. In a division with two dynamic, young QB's and arguably the two top TE's in football, an ascending young linebacker who is capable in coverage is a valuable commodity.

    I expect Strnad to eat into Josey Jewell's snap count this year. His game is more suited to the modern game than either Jewell or Johnson. It may take another season before we see him elevate from an IDP depth player to one who takes the majority of snaps. I would be slightly surprised if Strnad isn't one of what might be two new starting ILB's for the Broncos this time next year. Rookie Baron Browning could be the other.

    Check out this play. Pop!

    LB Logan Wilson, Cincinatti Bengals.
    ADP - 63

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    Twitter is awash with training camp highlights at this time of year. We've been starved of any real football games for over six months. I'm far from being a fun sponge. I LOVE to watch WR's 'Mossing' DB's as much as the next person (or in my case, DB's dominating WR's). I do temper my excitement, however, in terms of how I think some of this stuff will translate in terms of fantasy production.

    Some news out of training camp can absolutely become relevant in fantasy terms. Injuries, of course. Coach praise - sometimes. And thanks in part to Mike Woellert, I am more interested in understanding who is commanding the green dot, especially if it’s a player who has been more of a rotational piece in the past. That often hints to increased opportunity on the basis that such a player is unlikely to come off the field. The coaching staff generally perceives such players to be key to their defensive plans. The "quarterback" of the defense, if you will.

    Logan Wilson is a player who falls into that last category. He has been wearing the dot and coaches have praised his overall development and communication skills.

    I've actually been a bit hesitant to get on board the Wilson hype train. In fantasy terms, I usually shy away from linebackers who aren't particularly strong in coverage. Wilson can struggle in that area at times. He wasn't terrible at it last year, far from it. He played more coverage snaps than any other Bengals LB in 2020, but he didn't excel either. I had reservations about his inability to separate himself from what was pedestrian competition in Josh Bynes, Germaine Pratt, etc.

    Josh Bynes led the ILBs in snaps in 2020 but is now gone, presenting Wilson with an opportunity he seems to be capitalizing upon. He still has competition in the form of Akeem Davis-Gaither, Jordan Evans, and perhaps even Markus Bailey. Wilson seems ready to earn the majority of snaps, especially if he can manage more plays like this one.

    Monitor this one in the early stages of the season. If Wilson plays as much as the assigned green dot suggests that he should, he could quite easily outplay his current ADP. He may not be an every-week starter but he could provide solid IDP depth for your roster.

    IDPGuys' Zach Magley included Wilson as one of his breakouts for 2021. Check out that article here

    DB Daniel Sorensen, Kansas City Chiefs.
    ADP - Unranked

    Sorensen isn't a sexy option. He's 31 and doesn't have the name recognition of other Chief's safeties Tyrann Mathieu and Juan Thornhill. He's scheduled to be a free agent after this season. Hardly the type of situation that gets fantasy managers too excited.

    But what Sorensen brings to the table is that he's steady and reliable. The Chiefs like playing three safeties. While Mathieu earned 982 snaps and Thornhill 762, Sorensen still played 883 snaps. He also plays in the box a lot and he racks up good tackle numbers as a result, over 100 in the 2020 season according to PFF. And although it isn't his forte, Sorensen is no stranger to splashy plays. After week 5 and including the playoffs he notched 3 FFs and 3 INTs, 1 of which he returned for a TD.

    This is one of my favorite Sorensen plays, it demonstrates the type of heads-up plays of which he is capable.

    Admittedly Sorensen's ceiling isn't as high as other younger safeties, especially in dynasty leagues, but his 2020 floor is better than his ADP suggests. That contract I mentioned earlier is fully guaranteed for the season, so he's going nowhere for now. If you need IDP depth at the safety position this season you could do a lot worse than the guy who finished as the safety 20 in IDP formats last year. Especially as he's basically available for free.

    DB (well, not really) Hamsah Nasirildeen, NY Jets.
    ADP - Unranked

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    I'm being ambitious including Nasirildeen on this list. He played in only two games in 2020 due to an ACL injury suffered in 2019. He wasn't selected until the sixth round of the draft, and the Jets took Jamien Sherwood one round earlier. Sherwood has a similar skillset to Nasirildeen.

    So why is he here? Well despite those points, Nasirildeen is simply a talented player. He possesses a skill set that translates well into the NFL, exhibiting the kind of versatility at multiple positions that modern defenses tend to covet. He doesn't just play multiple positions, he plays them well. He's a former 4-star recruit who became a favorite at FSU due to his performances. Nasirildeen dominated at the Senior Bowl too, demonstrating his impressive coverage skills.

    Check out this interception and return. He has moves. And O linemen really, really can't tackle!

    The Jets are likely to play Nasirildeen as a linebacker, a point some fantasy platforms have been slow to pick up on. Check your leagues and see if this is a situation you can capitalize on until it is changed. Early camp reports about his performances at LB are positive. More importantly, he has been running with the first-team defense.

    Despite the fast start, Nasirildeen still has an uphill battle to earn enough snaps to be fantasy relevant. C.J. Mosley will definitely be starting, Jarrad Davis was expected to earn a spot next to him, but let's face it, Davis has been nothing special thus far. If you have taxi squads or the spare roster space, stash Nasirildeen until we see how this plays out.


    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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