IDP Sleeper to Keeper: Lavonte David
The Buccaneers hit the nail on the head when they selected Lavonte David in the second round of the 2012 draft after enduring a horrendous linebacking corps the year prior. Likewise, IDP owners who took a shot on the rookie in the mid to later rounds in drafts had a similar payoff. The athletic Nebraska product finished second in IDP leagues among linebackers in fantasy points, and was third overall to the Cardinals’ Daryl Washington and Texans lineman J.J. Watt.
Everyone has different draft strategies, and there are tons of ways to rack up points in IDP leagues. One of the “safest” methods is to draft volume tacklers who will get a decent output each game. I’ve written ad nauseum that this isn’t the best way to go, and for best results, draft true playmakers instead of guys who are just “there” each play.
The reason I bring this up once again, is because it could be misconstrued that Lavonte David falls into the latter category because of his superb tackle totals (139 total, 112 solo). This isn’t the case, and because of this, David should be a tremendous asset to fantasy teams for many, many years to come.
David is a lighter, fleet-footed linebacker with the ability to shed blocks and therefore play bigger than he actually is at 233 pounds. As a result, he isn’t just able to bring down ball carriers, but attacks them before they’re able to do much of anything. That kind of tenacity has a way of adding up to fantasy points in the form of tackles for loss, and 19 of David’s solo tackles were of that variety. If you crunch the numbers further, that comprises a whopping 17 percent of his solo tackle numbers.
But you don’t always need to tackle the guy from behind the line of scrimmage for it to constitute a failure for the offense, and David didn’t slack on creating these either. Take a look at what he did in the run game, compared with other linebackers:
|Linebacker||Team||Run Stop Pct|
As you can see, David tops all linebackers with a 14.7 run stop percentage and is well ahead of the pack of 4-3 outside linebackers. The closest player to David of that position is Jerod Mayo, who posted a 10.6 run stop percentage mark. Compared to all other players in the league, David’s second only to J.J. Watt’s 17.7 mark in this category, well, because Watt is in a tier of his own atop the league.
Though the importance of efficiency is great, simply put, volume can’t be ignored in fantasy football. It’s great that Player X can get sacks or create turnovers, but it doesn’t mean much for your team if he isn’t on the field for a significant amount of snaps. Bottom line is, fantasy football is always going to be scored on volume, so you may as well make sure you’re getting this in addition to efficiency. Lavonte David will give you that. He played in over 1,000 snaps in his rookie season at great efficiency in stopping the run. The result? He led all 4-3 outside linebackers in total stops with 70, and finished second among all linebackers. Have a look:
In addition to these numbers, it’s also worth mentioning the biggest knocks on David are his lack of created turnovers, vulnerabilities in coverage and the fact he hasn’t been an asset in rushing the passer. He is prone to missing tackles here and there, but despite that, has been one of the best run defenders in the NFL. His aggressive– but not undisciplined– style of play indicates that forced fumbles and quarterback pressures could be in his future even though he didn’t cash in this season. But when the third-highest scoring IDP in the NFL has room for improvement, imagine his ceiling if he does in fact do this. That alone makes Lavonte David a very hot commodity going forward.