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FANTASY FORECAST 2017: Incredible IDPs

If you’re in a keeper league, you realize the value of identifying undervalued players as quickly as possible– it’s easier to acquire these hidden gems if you’re the only one in your league with the inside track on their 2017 performance. Even if you’re not in a keeper league, getting the biggest return on your draft picks usually involves snagging a good player late in the draft—allowing you to use your earlier picks to select known producers.

I decided to use the following criteria for my search parameters:

  • A three-year view of the stats (for stability)
  • Players whose performance had improved each year (for quality)
  • Fantasy scores which exceeded the positional average in 2016 (for significance)

My supercomputer, Mighty Max, was able to highlight several players likely to continue their upward trends. A few may be familiar, others not; according to Max, all of them will likely improve their performances in 2017.

As with all statistical analysis applied to human actions, it is not enough to just look at the numbers. You need to have an understanding of the situation of each player.

Here’s the resulting set of players Max believes will continue to post improved fantasy numbers in 2017:

Defensive Linemen

This group of linemen certainly looks like a solid group, but I especially like Cameron Jordan and Olivier Vernon. Jordan has been a solid IDP asset for several years, and Vernon is a much underrated, all-around DE who plays the run just as well, if not better than, rushing the passer. Keep an eye on his Giants’ teammate Damon Harrison, especially if you’re in a league that requires a slot specifically for DTs.


Khalil Mack and Bobby Wagner are no-brainers, and K.J. Wright is always solid on a steady Seattle defensive unit. But if I’m looking for some value, I’ll take a look at Mark Barron and Jerrell Freeman; both guys have been quietly performing well, and they play on teams with anemic offenses, which means they’ll be on the field more often, making plays.

Defensive Backs

  • With DBs, my first rule of thumb is to ignore the guys whose production was mainly tied to interceptions. Why? Because you can’t count on them grabbing INTs year in, year out.
  • My second rule of thumb is to prefer safeties to corners (with rare exception). Safeties tend to make their money by making tackles, not interceptions; INTs are gravy for them.

Given my two rules, Johnathan Cyprien should be poised for a great season; he posts a ton of tackles, and moving to a Titans teams withweak LBs in front of him will only boost his output. Rodney McLeod and Tony Jefferson offer solid floors (84 and 96 total tackles in 2016, respectively), while offering some big play upside.

There you have it, an early look at the “Incredible IDPs” for 2017. Of course, situations change as teams go through pre-season and get a better handle on their players and defensive schemes.


About John Georgopoulos

John T. Georgopoulos is a 24-year veteran of fantasy sports journalism. John’s Fantasy Forecast series has won the prestigious Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA) award for Best Series, and he’s been nominated as an FSWA Award finalist on nine occasions. You can also listen to and watch all his various shows at The Riot.