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Preseason IDP Rookie Risers

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Which rookie IDPs have boosted their stock so far this preseason? Here is a breakdown of my top three preseason IDP rookie risers.


Preseason is of particular importance for rookies. As fantasy managers, we scrutinize their performance, snap counts, and alignments to the nth degree. We hang on to every piece of feedback from coaches, teammates, and fantasy analysts and are desperate for any sort of insight that might help us understand which of these preseason IDP rookie risers can develop into NFL and fantasy stars.

To help you achieve that goal, I’ll select some rookies who I think have acclimated themselves well in the previous week(s). This is not an overreaction piece. Preseason is… just the preseason after all. The level of competition is often a level below that of which we expect once the real games get going. But ignore the preseason at your peril.

So without further rambling, here are my top preseason IDP rookie risers.

1. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Cleveland Browns

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Owusu-Koramoah was a highly anticipated talent in the build-up to the 2021 draft. Many assumed he would be a first-round selection. Apparently, most league GMs were non-believers, as he fell to the second round. Browns GM Andrew Berry must have been ecstatic to find such a dynamic player available on day two. He selected JOK with the 52nd pick.

JOK’s size is among the main reasons he wasn’t a day one selection. The Browns currently list him at 216lb. That is only one pound heavier than rookie Texans WR, Nico Collins. Granted, Collins has a 2-inch height advantage, but you see the problem here. JOK is more of a safety-sized player with some Linebacker traits. Questions remain about his ability to stand up to the rigors of playing LB in the NFL, or more specifically, his ability to take on and disengage blocks.

Whether his size is a problem remains to be seen, but it wasn’t an issue vs the Jaguars in week 1 of the preseason. JOK didn’t start the game, but when he came on midway through the second quarter, I couldn’t take my eyes off him:

He was everything we hoped to see. He was explosive, he was rangy and he was very, very fast. On a Browns team that has been devoid of speed at the LB position, the sheer energy JOK brought to the table was refreshing.  JOK finished the game with 8 tackles, including 7 solo and 3 for a loss. He also earned 1 sack. He registered 36 snaps in the box. It wasn’t the perfect performance and mistakes were made, but c’mon, this was his first taste of NFL action.

He was much quieter in game 2, partly because he played only 15 snaps. Importantly, he did play with the starters which bodes well.

Outlook

Can he hold down a large enough role to produce in fantasy terms? Time will tell. Anthony Walker will probably lead the team in snaps at ILB. Jacob Phillips was due to compete but has suffered a season-ending bicep injury. It helps JOK’s cause that the Browns played at least two ILB’s on 95% of packages last year. So this is a rare situation where there can be more than one fantasy-relevant ILB on the same team. My money is on JOK to be one of those guys.

JOK headlines my preseason rookie IDP risers list for good reason.

2. Rashad Weaver, EDGE, Tennessee Titans

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Rashad Weaver is the third and final player featured in this article. He was yet another player who did not hear his name called on day one of the 2021 draft. Weaver was selected in the fourth round with the 135th overall pick by the Titans. He is presumed to be a depth and developmental prospect who could sit behind Harold Landry and new signing, Bud Dupree.

Weaver dominated in the ACC, posting gaudy numbers across the board despite missing a season with an ACL injury. In only 34 games the former Pittsburgh Panther produced 109 tackles, 34 for a loss, 17 sacks, 5 forced fumbles, 4 fumble recoveries, and 9 passes defended. Weaver and Vikings rookie Patrick Jones combined to form a fearsome duo.

The main reason he fell to the fourth was due to a perceived lack of athleticism. Draftniks criticized his “twitch”, suggesting the 6’5″ 270lb’er lacked speed and agility. Ultimately they may be correct, but Weaver set out to prove this may not stop him from producing at the next level.

He built upon his impressive camp by playing extremely well in preseason week 1 vs the Falcons. Head Coach Mike Vrabel put it best “(Weaver) showed up just like we had talked about in the practices leading up to this game, he was becoming much more active, comfortable with playing“. The truth is, as rookie debuts go, Weaver put on a clinic. He finished the game with 3 tackles, 2 for a loss, 1.5 sacks, 2 QB hits, and a pass defended.

The performance from Weaver vs. the Falcons in week 2 was not quite at the same level, but it was not disappointing by any stretch of the imagination. He played 55 snaps, 47 of which were spent rushing the passer. He was active, managing 3 hurries, a QB hit and he also batted down a pass.

We need to temper expectations based on the performances of two preseason games. But this is exactly the start the Titans were hoping to see from their rookie. We can remain realistic about his outlook while also giving credit where credit is due. The two points don’t necessarily have to be mutually exclusive.

Outlook

It is difficult to envision a path to fantasy stardom for Weaver in year one. Harold Landry and Bud Dupree should dominate snaps at the edge positions. Unless injury occurs, Weaver remains more of a value in dynasty rather than redraft. However, Landry played 1,050 snaps in 2020, which led all NFL edge rushers. Given that the Titans need to provide him with more help, Weaver could stand to benefit. Especially if this preseason is an indication of things to come.

3. Joseph Ossai, EDGE, Cincinatti Bengals

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Update

Unfortunately for Ossai, he suffered a severe knee injury which is expected to cost him the season. He is due to have surgery in the coming days:

The Texas Longhorn was selected in the third round to help the Bengals replace Carl Lawson. He wasted no time stepping into Lawson’s shoes. Even donning the same number 58 jersey Lawson wore as a Bengal before departing to the Jets as a free agent.

Ossai immediately looked capable from the get-go, showcasing his pass rush ability against some of the Bucs starters, including the capable Tristan Wirfs. On only 23 pass rush attempts, he earned 7 total pressures including 1 sack, 2 QB hits, 4 hurries. He also managed 2 solo tackles. Simply put, he was the most disruptive pass rusher out there… As a rookie… In his first NFL game.

Ossai’s injury is a devastating blow for him and for the Bengals, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that fantasy managers should be quick to release him. Read ZMags’ injury article here and find out whether you should hold or fold when it comes to Joseph Ossai.

 


THANKS FOR TAKING THE TIME TO READ MY ARTICLE “PRESEASON IDP ROOKIE RISERS.” I HOPE YOU ENJOYED IT AND FOUND IT USEFUL. YOU CAN FIND MORE OF MY WORK ON MY IDP GUYS AUTHOR PAGE AND YOU CAN FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER @FFIDP_JASE. MY DMs ARE ALWAYS OPEN FOR ANY QUESTIONS OR FEEDBACK.

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