There are a number of resources that fantasy drafters use to help determine potential value plays as draft day nears. Two of the most popular are examining Average Draft Position (ADP) data and participating in and/or checking out mock drafts.
There’s a problem with that where Individual Defensive Player (IDP) league managers are concerned though. The format has gained in popularity in recent years, but IDP mocks and ADP data are about as common as a clear photo/video of Bigfoot.
Oh yeah. That’s definitely … something.
Still, that isn’t to say that there aren’t any options available to IDP managers to help pick out players who could be available at a position of value in their draft. By this point in the season, there have been more than a few actual drafts. I should know — I’ve already taken part in at least a dozen.
And in the drafts I have participated in so far this year, the following IDPs are coming off the board later than their potential for production would indicate — making each a player worth keeping an eye on once the draft begins.
IDP VALUE PICKS IN 2020
Sam Hubbard, DE, Cincinnati Bengals
In just two NFL seasons, Hubbard has become a key contributor for one of the league’s deepest defensive fronts. As James Rapien wrote for All Bengals, despite topping 75 total tackles and logging 8.5 sacks in 2019, Hubbard insists he’s only just getting started in the pros.
“I hope to be a little bit more on the edge this year,” Hubbard said. “I’m just really excited overall with the experience and talent we have on the defensive line. I pride myself in my work ethic and I put in a lot of work this offseason. I really wanna put it on display. That’s why I’m so hopeful and really hoping that this season is able to go through smoothly. I know we got a lot of other guys that are very self-motivated and feel the same way.”
Hubbard’s 2019 production landed him sixth among all defensive linemen in Fantasy Sharks Default IDP Scoring, but he’s regularly coming off the board outside the Top 15 at the position. If you grab an elite defensive lineman and pair him with Hubbard, you’re going to have a formidable front in 2020. He’s also a solid DL1 target for IDP managers who go hard at the linebacker position early.
Justin Houston, DE, Indianapolis Colts
Houston’s first season with the Colts was a successful one — he tallied 44 total tackles, added 11 sacks, and finished inside the Top 10 in many fantasy scoring systems. Per Andrew Walker of the team’s website, Houston believes the arrival of Pro Bowl defensive tackle DeForest Buckner could portend bigger and better things in 2020.
“I feel like when you have a guy like that up the middle, the guard can’t slide out and help as much as he usually does,” Houston said. “They definitely have to take care of him before they take care of me, and that will give me more of a one-on-one opportunity.”
Houston is 31 years old, and last year was the first time since his 22-sack season with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2014 that he tallied 10 in a campaign. But having Buckner on the inside should only help keep double-teams away in 2020, and getting Houston outside of the Top 20 among defensive lineman (as I have more than once) makes him an attractive target.
Leighton Vander Esch, ILB, Dallas Cowboys
After a fantastic rookie season that included 140 total tackles and 102 solos (not to mention a Top 10 fantasy finish), Vander Esch’s second NFL season was wrecked by a neck injury that cost him almost half the season. As ESPN’s Todd Archer reported, Vander Esch said he’s healthy again and eyeing a big-time bounceback in Year 3.
“I’m not worried about my neck anymore,” he said. “I don’t talk about it. It is what it is and people can think what they want to think. I’ve been training for four months hard, and I’m already better than I was before I got hurt with the injury. It doesn’t affect me. I just don’t talk about it. It’s not worth wasting time about.”
Vander Esch’s injury has apparently given more than a few IDP drafters a serious case of the willies — he’s going with regularity in mower-end fantasy LB2 territory. At that asking price, his durability concerns are more than worth the risk — especially if you attack the defensive line early and want to target upside at linebacker later on.