When it comes to fantasy football (the 2023 season being no different), finding those hidden IDP gems and sleepers can be the key to championship glory. While most attention is often focused on offensive superstars, savvy fantasy managers know that uncovering sleepers among individual defensive players (IDPs) can provide a significant advantage.
In this article, we will explore the concept of “sleepers” in the IDP landscape, identify factors to consider when targeting them and highlight a few under-the-radar defensive players poised to make a big impact this season.
What is a sleeper?
In fantasy football, a “sleeper” refers to a player who is undervalued or overlooked during drafts but has the potential to deliver excellent performances during the season. For IDP leagues, sleepers typically include defensive players who might not have received much attention in mainstream discussions or rankings. Identifying these hidden gems early can give your team a competitive edge as the season progresses.
Defensive Scheme impact
One crucial factor to assess is a player’s role within the defensive scheme. Look for players who are expected to see an increase in playing time or have been promoted to a starting position. More playing time often translates to more opportunities to accumulate fantasy points. Pay attention to the defensive scheme of the player’s team. Some schemes may be more favorable to certain positions, leading to increased statistical production. A player who fits well within a scheme can be primed for a breakout season. Players who are strong tacklers tend to have a high floor in IDP leagues. Consistent tackling leads to a steady stream of fantasy points, making linebackers and defensive backs with excellent tackling skills attractive targets.
Consistency or big plays?
While consistency is valuable, don’t overlook players who have shown the ability to make big plays. Sacks, interceptions, forced fumbles, and defensive touchdowns can result in significant fantasy point totals, even if they happen less frequently. Injuries can open the door for lesser-known players to step up and shine. Keep an eye on injury reports and consider stashing promising backups who might see an increased workload due to injuries ahead of them on the depth chart. As the season unfolds and injuries and depth chart changes occur, keeping a watchful eye on the waiver wire can be the key to staying ahead of the competition. By identifying and acquiring these under-the-radar defensive talents, fantasy managers can enhance their chances of success and propel their IDP teams to championship glory.
T.J. Edwards (Linebacker, Chicago Bears)
After an impressive run with the Eagles, culminating in a Super Bowl loss, T.J. signed in the offseason with the Bears. The Bears also signed Tremaine Edmunds from the Bills with 50 million being guaranteed in his contract. T.J. has a guarantee of 12 million entering his 5th year in the NFL. Understanding that T.J. (2022 = 159 total tackles) suited for all 17 games vs Tremaine (2022 = 104 total tackles) missing 4 games, I like the chances for T.J. to have another T.J. year and be the best of the two offseason signings.
Jaelen Phillips (Defensive Lineman, Miami Dolphins)
Entering his 3rd year out of the University of Miami, Phillips has quietly emerged as a force on the Dolphin’s defensive line. With improved technique and a knack for disrupting opponents’ backfields, he’s poised for a breakout season in both tackles and sacks. I think Phillips cracks double-digit sack level this year, a true breakout playing with Christian Wilkins and Bradley Chubb who will require teams to consider them first.
Grant Delpit (Safety, Cleveland Browns)
As Grant settles into his 4th year out of LSU, expect his role to expand further, leading to increased tackles and big-play potential. Significant total tackle increase year over year (2021 vs 2022) from 43 to 72, I am expecting Grant to near the century mark for total tackles this year. He is ready to break out!
In the world of fantasy football, mining for sleepers among individual defensive players can be a game-changer. By recognizing the factors that make a defensive player a potential sleeper and targeting those with untapped potential, fantasy managers can gain a crucial advantage over their competitors. T.J. Edwards, Jaelen Phillips, and Grant Delpit are just a few examples of IDP sleepers who could elevate your team to championship heights. As the season unfolds, keep a watchful eye on these under-the-radar defensive talents and stay ahead in the ever-evolving world of fantasy football.
Image Credit: Jasen Vinlove – USA Today Sports