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IDP: The Biggest Winners From Free Agency

So … March was a thing.

As we roll toward Easter Sunday, well over 90 percent of America is under a “stay at home” order as the result of the Covid-19 pandemic sweeping the nation. The economy in the United States has ground to a halt. Hospitals from coast to coast are jampacked and running low on supplies. And while it seems trivial compared to matters as serious as those, the sports world has just about completely frozen in place. There’s no Stanley Cup Playoffs, Or NBA playoffs. Or baseball.

We are well and truly through the looking glass, folks.

However, despite the chaos that has engulfed the globe, the NFL decided to soldier on with free agency as scheduled. The wisdom of that decision might be subject to some debate, but what isn’t is that free agency has provided sports fans with a desperately needed diversion.

In some respects, that’s what this article is meant to provide as well. There are admittedly a million things going on right now that are more important than fantasy football. Believe me, I know. But as we all try to navigate these uncharted waters, we all need an escape. Something to think about that doesn’t involve staying healthy and trying to score toilet paper.

So, for just a little while, let’s dive into the aftermath of the first few weeks of free agency and point out some of 2020’s biggest winners from an Individual Defensive Player (IDP) league perspective.

I don’t know about y’all, but I could use the break.

Be safe. Be well. And if you can at all help it, stay you’re a**es at home so we can get this nightmare over with as soon as possible.

IDP WINNERS FROM NFL FREE AGENCY

Mario Addison, DE, Buffalo Bills

Bills general manager Brandon Beane and head coach Sean McDermott both came to Western New York via Carolina, and Buffalo hasn’t been shy about pilfering players from the Panthers. The latest is the 32-year-old Addison, and his age notwithstanding Matt Parrino of New York Upstate likes the move.

“After watching some games of Addison from 2019 there’s no doubt he still has a nice toolbox to work with when rushing the passer,” Parrino said. “Some of his spin moves looked silky smooth and his pursuit, even against mobile quarterback like Arizona’s Kyler Murray, was impressive. If the Bills can get close to his sack production of the last four years and he can unlock some more numbers for (end Jerry) Hughes, this is a slam dunk by Beane.”

Addison’s much closer to the end of his career than the beginning, and he has topped 40 total tackles just once in nine seasons. But Addison has also piled up at least nine sacks in each of the last four seasons, and he’ll play significant snaps in 2020 for a Bills team that gets four matchups against terrible offensive lines in the New York Jets and Miami.

Dante Fowler Jr., DE, Atlanta Falcons

Fowler got $48 million over three years to anchor Atlanta’s long-languishing pass rush after posting a career-high 11.5 sacks in 2019 with the Los Angeles Rams. As Kelsey Conway wrote for the Falcons’ website, Fowler knows that in order to live up to his fat new paycheck he’ll have to back up last season’s big numbers — at least.

“I have a lot to prove … you guys haven’t seen nothing yet,” Fowler said. “In order to be the best edge rusher in the league, you have to put up double-digits [sacks] every year. That’s my job, that’s my goal to be consistent every year come out with double digits. This year was 11.5, I want to have more than 11.5-12.5 every year.”

Fowler never lived up to his billing as the third overall pick back in 2015 as a 4-3 defensive end in Jacksonville. But last year the 25-year-old seemed to really come into his own, and the “LEO” weak-side end spot in Dan Quinn’s “Under” front is a spot that Fowler’s skill-set appears to fit very well.

Christian Kirksey, ILB, Green Bay Packers

In 2016 and 2017, Kirksey averaged more than 140 tackles a season in Cleveland. But in 2018 and 2019, injuries took a massive toll — over the past two seasons, Kirksey has missed 23 games, and the 27-year-old barely played last season. Still, Kirksey told Chris Roth of WBAY-TV that he’s eager to show his new team that he still has plenty left in the tank.

“Injuries happen, it’s part of the game. I’m just glad that working with the trainers that I’m working with, and my team, we’re getting myself to 100 percent. I’m ready to show the Packers what I’ve got,” Kirksey said. “I lead by example, I’m the type of guy that if I’m going to say it I have to do it as well. I think my teammates will really appreciate me in Green Bay, I know my teammates in Cleveland did.”

Kirksey’s durability problems the last couple of years cannot be ignored. But they could also drive down his price tag in IDP drafts this summer. We watched Blake Martinez become one of the most consistently productive linebackers in fantasy football the past few years. If Kirksey can stay on the field, there’s no reason he can’t match those gaudy stats.

About Gary Davenport

A member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association and Pro Football Writers of America who resides in Columbus, Ohio, Gary has been featured on a number of fantasy websites and in nationally circulated publications. These publications include the USA Today Fantasy Football Preview and the magazines distributed by Fantasy Sports Publications Inc., for whom Gary is a both a contributing author and associate editor. Gary is an nine-time FSWA Award finalist and three-time winner who has been a finalist for that organization's Fantasy Football Writer of the Year award each of the last four years. He won the honor in 2017 and 2019. Gary also appears regularly on Sirius XM Radio (including live from Radio Row at Super Bowl XLIX) and over-the-air stations across the country. Gary was one of the co-founders of, and Head Writer at, Fantasy Football Oasis before joining Fantasy Sharks as an IDP Senior Staff Writer in 2011. He knows football. Or so he's heard.