Day 1 IDP impact
The first round is in the books and we finally get to see where our favorite IDPs will call home. Even more than on the offensive side of the ball, landing spot is absolutely critical to deciphering IDP value. The PFF Fantasy Team previously gave initial impressions on the NFL draft, but it’s time to dig a little deeper into IDPs that saw significant shifts in value.
Karl Joseph, Oakland (1.14) – There’s a Charles Woodson-sized hole in Oakland. Karl Joseph will pair with Reggie Nelson to replace some of that production. Nelson projects to the free safety role and Joseph is the clear preference at strong safety.
Joseph will be the preferred fantasy play, as his powerful presence in the box could lead to huge tackle numbers. Joseph was the top safety in PFF’s draft guide, where he was compared to tackle hog Eric Weddle. If there’s an argument against Joseph, it’s that he’s recovering from an ACL injury and an improving Raiders team on both sides of the ball might limit defensive opportunities across the board.
Darron Lee, New York (1.20) – Say what you want about Darron Lee, he’s likely the only linebacker you want to roster from the Day 1. That doesn’t mean he’s destined to succeed. Surprisingly, the previous cornerback and safety didn’t grade out well in coverage, ranking 103rd in yards per coverage snap. He also played startlingly few snaps in the box at Ohio State.
Heading to the Jets means he’ll be asked to do both of those things as a 3-4 inside linebacker. These are two areas where he’ll need to prove capable to earn a three-down role. Assuming he passes the test, he’ll have big game potential as the Jets will use him frequently as a blitzer.
His success getting to the quarterback is one reason some PFF staff compared him to Daryl Washington. If he nears that ceiling without Washington’s off-field baggage, it would be a huge hit for fantasy. His inexperience at the linebacker position can be viewed as either a red flag or potential for huge growth.
Shaq Lawson, Buffalo (1.19) – Is this a good landing spot? Rex Ryan’s players have classically received 3-4 designations. This changed in 2015, with most host sites using 4-3 defensive positions. If that remains the case in 2016, Lawson will most likely fill in at left defensive end next to DT Kyle Williams and right DE Jerry Hughes. The trio could generate significant disruption, helping the whole group tally sacks.
Lawson’s versatility and strength in run defense will afford him one of the largest snap counts among rookie defensive linemen. However, owners might need to worry that Lawson is designated outside linebacker at some point in the future, given the variable nature of Rex’s defense. For now, there’s a strong case to make for Lawson as the first defensive lineman off the board in rookie drafts. How early he goes will depend on your scoring, but he’s probably a mid round pick in most leagues.
Joey Bosa, San Diego (1.03) – This one hurts. Once projected exclusively as a 4-3 defensive end, it was clear a few 3-4 teams were eyeing Bosa as an outside linebacker. There’s little doubt Bosa can be successful from an NFL perspective. He was PFF’s top choice against the run and as a pure pass rusher. This well rounded proficiency means he should see close to every-down work very early.
He’ll most likely play under the linebacker designation in San Diego, meaning he’ll have to compete against the higher scoring off-ball linebackers. Even the best 3-4 outside linebackers struggle with fantasy relevance outside of leagues with very sack-heavy scoring.
For reference, even an elite guy like Von Miller (PFF overall +49.8) was only LB63 in our balanced scoring. There is perhaps a slim chance Bosa plays with a hand on the dirt, keeping the DE designation. He can be grabbed as a speculative add in leagues where good defensive ends are hard to find. However, he should not be relied on for 2016 value.
Leonard Floyd, Chicago (1.09) – Like Bosa, Floyd is most likely an outside linebacker in Vic Fangio’s 3-4 defense. Floyd possesses rare athleticism that could be utilized to produce a nasty presence from the edge. He may have the highest sack ceiling from this class, but he’ll struggle to reach IDP relevance among linebackers even if he realizes his Bruce Irvin/Aldon Smith ceiling.
Like Bosa, Floyd can be faded outside of leagues with extremely sack-heavy scoring. He could also be stashed in extremely deep leagues, hoping for an eventual scheme change in Chicago. However, he can be acquired cheaper later in the year when he fails to produce viable linebacker numbers. In balanced scoring, Jerrell Freeman and Danny Trevathan remain the linebackers to own in Chicago.
Vernon Butler, Carolina (1.30) – In the most redundant move of the night, the Panthers drafted an interior defender to pair with Kawann Short and Star Lotulelei. It’s possibly a sign of things to come with Short heading into a contract year and Lotulelei’s contract expiring in 2017.
Butler could grow into a disruptive force on the inside, but will see very limited snaps in 2016. Kony Ealy and Kawann Short remain the most fantasy relevant players this year. Even in defensive tackle-required leagues, Butler can be monitored on waivers. He can likely be had very cheaply once he starts to emerge.