Half the battle in IDP is getting opportunities. These 10 players have a variety of reasons to believe their opportunities will increase in 2021.
IDP fantasy football analysis starts with one stat in particular — snaps. I’ve explored the individual defensive players who may come at reasonable prices and who look poised to increase their workload in 2021. All of the players on this list (except for the lone rookie, obviously) played less than 70% of their team’s snaps in 2020. For one reason or another, all of these IDP situations have changed. Snaps, by the handful, are theirs for the taking.
Bobby Okereke, LB, Indianapolis Colts
2020 IDP Snaps: 685 snaps, 66%
Entering his third year, Bobby Okereke has his biggest opportunity to break out. Anthony Walker is walking out the door and leaving his 697 snaps behind. Without any notable free agents or draft picks to soak them up, Okereke is primed.
The defense is loaded. DeForrest Buckner, Grover Stewart, some combination of Kemoko Turay, Tyquan Lewis, Al-Quadin Muhammad, Ben Banogu, and rookies Kwity Paye and Dayo Odeyingbo will provide enough attention for Darius Leonard and Bobby Okereke to stay relatively clean. The Colts didn’t add anyone of significance who should challenge his role. Give Okereke 900+ snaps and we’re dancing in the streets.
Quinnen Williams, DL, New York Jets
Mekhi Becton couldn't stop laughing at Quinnen Williams' "game face" 😂😂
— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) June 14, 2021
2020 IDP Snaps: 587 snaps, 52%
I think we have a superstar on our hands. In these limited snaps, Quinnen ended the 2020 season at the points-per-game (PPG) DT3 (and DL6) in NPLB scoring. He was a wrecking ball and achieved this while missing three games.
In walks Robert Saleh.
Do you know what Robert Saleh did when he had a superstar DT in San Francisco? He played him about 80% of the snaps. If we see Williams in the 800 snap range, I can almost guarantee he will be a top 10 DL. Even more exciting, he has some real players flanking him now. New additions Carl Lawson and Sheldon Rankins will only improve Williams’ surroundings. While the focus in New York is on their shiny new QB and WR, go get their superstar DT.
Isaiah Simmons, LB, Arizona Cardinals
2020 IDP Snaps: 376 snaps, 34%
When a linebacker is drafted in the top 10, our eyes get reeeeal big. Isaiah Simmons did not have the season that managers expected when investing a second-round rookie pick on him. With the disappointment of his rookie season in the rearview mirror, there’s a lot of optimism that his opportunity should increase.
Snap team leader Jordan Hicks (1,026) and De’Vondre Campbell (883) are either out the door or soon to be. It will be a highly interesting case study to see whether a safety/LB hybrid and the rookie edge/LB can succeed as traditional off-ball linebackers. Nevertheless, the path is clear for Isaiah Simmons to jump into a full-time role.
Logan Wilson, LB, Cincinnati Bengals
2020 IDP Snaps: 343 snaps, 32%
The Bengals split their 1,059 snaps between four linebackers — Josh Bynes (759), Germaine Pratt (686), Wilson (343), and Akeem Davis-Gaither (314). Bynes is currently a free agent freeing up those snaps to the young trio. There are two fears for a guy like Logan Wilson: veteran acquisition and lack of development.
If Logan Wilson is able to avoid the trade of someone like Jordan Hicks or a vet free-agent, I like his odds. Germaine Pratt is running out of chances and will have to make great strides to keep his role. The flashes that Wilson showed in his rookie year warrant more starts and snaps.
Taylor Rapp, DB, Los Angeles Rams
2020 IDP Snaps: 365 snaps, 36%
Injury has defined Taylor Rapp’s early career. John Johnson III’s injury in Rapp’s rookie season paved the way for Johnson to start for 10 games. In 2020, Rapp was in and out of the lineup and back and forth from starter to bench, with Jordan Fuller going in and out of the lineup due to injury. Rapp also struggled with his own injuries in 2020.
John Johnson III traded Los Angeles for Cleveland. His departure has opened up both starting safety roles. Both Rapp and Fuller should start, and Rapp should be able to jump up at least to his 2019 rookie snaps of 823. He turned those 823 snaps turned into 100 total tackles, 8 passes defended, 2 interceptions, a touchdown, and a fumble recovery.
Javon Kinlaw, DL, San Francisco 49ers
2020 IDP Snaps: 546 snaps, 53%
Javon Kinlaw had a fine rookie season and has a good chance to cement himself as a strong fantasy DT in his sophomore year. With DeMeco Ryans taking over as DC, he’s going to allow for continuity on the defense — allowing Kinlaw to build on year one. More importantly, getting a healthy Nick Bosa back on this defensive line is going to allow Kinlaw to get some better looks.
Assisting Kinlaw will be Kerry Hyder’s departure, freeing up 721 snaps. I expect Kinlaw to see 700-750 snaps and managers will be rewarded as he flashes, which is why he was selected with the 14th overall pick in 2020.
Amani Hooker, DB, Tennessee Titans
2020 IDP Snaps: 468 snaps, 42%
Kenny Vaccaro was hurt for three games last season. When he was out, Amani Hooker was a full-time player. Vaccaro was released, and Hooker looks like he will secure a starting role, barring a late vet signing (or re-signing). Unsurprisingly, those three games ended up being his best of the season, averaging 15.7/PPG in those full-time snap games.
Amani Hooker may not hold the job long-term, but he looks to have little competition for the 2021 season. He’s the perfect super late IDP target who will likely provide decent production.
Jordyn Brooks, LB, Seattle Seahawks
2020 IDP Snaps: 367 snaps, 32%
Jordyn Brooks is a high investment player who ranked third in linebacker snaps. KJ Wright, a perpetually underrated IDP player, is gone. If Brooks is able to hop into that full-time role next to Bobby Wagner, we can expect to see ~1,000 snaps. According to IDP Guys IDP ADP, this realization hasn’t caught up with mock drafters. He’s being taken at LB 57.
Look, I know there was a lot of controversy surrounding him as a first-round pick in the 2020 Draft. Sometimes, that indifference makes for screaming deals. This is one of those cases. If you can grab Brooks as your 3rd LB, I believe you’ll be getting LB2 production there.
Charles Omenihu, DL, Houston Texans
2020 IDP Snaps: 547 snaps, 49%
The organization is in shambles and there are few fantasy assets that I feel comfortable with on either side of the ball. I like taking a flier on a guy like Charles Omenihu who should lockdown a starting DE position. JJ Watt is a Cardinal and has left big shoes to fill. His 2020 stats aren’t eye-popping.
In his part-time role, he got after the quarterback pretty well. He was 21st in the league in QB knockdowns and had 4.0 sacks in that limited work. I don’t want to have to rely on him in my rotation, but with an increase in snaps to the 700-800 range, we may have someone that is useful through bye weeks and to help with inevitable injuries.
Baron Browning, LB, Denver Broncos
Baron Browning is a rookie who was drafted in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos. We always need to be paying attention to IDP linebackers in Vic Fangio’s defenses. In every season as a DC/HC but two (2015 & 2017 Bears), Vic Fangio has had at least one 100+ tackle player.
Last year, with only Day 3 draft picks Alexander Johnson and Josey Jewell, he was able to accomplish the feat. There was one striking thing missing from last year’s starters — athleticism. What does Baron Browning have in spades? Athleticism.
I can hear you asking, “But if Fangio got that kind of production out of these guys, why wouldn’t he just roll with them?” The answer comes in the passing game. Johnson and Jewell are not the strongest coverage linebackers. Again, Browning’s skillset diverges from that of his new teammates.
If Browning can hit the ground running, he can start siphoning snaps from one or both of the current starters from day one. If not, he will definitely have a full-time role in 2022, as both Johnson and Jewell are unrestricted free agents.
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