Honestly, I don’t wanna hear it. It’s the best title I could come up with. And no, I don’t know why they greenlighted that title. Or is it greenlit? This is going downhill fast.
Welcome to the IDP Skip & Scoop. Now that the final rosters are all but solidified, we’re going to focus on the big names to avoid and the sleepers to target. For this article, we’re ignoring the middle grounds and the middle rounds.
These players are being drafted in the top 15 at their position, but carry more risk than others with similar ADPs.
J.J. Watt (DE, Ari) — The guy AVERAGED 17.5 sacks a season for a while. He’s hard to pass up, considering after a few injury-riddled seasons he posted 16 sacks and 7 forced fumbles in 2018. But since then, our aging superstar amassed just 4 sacks in 8 games in 2019 and 5 sacks in 16 games last season. He also went from a 60-80 tackle guy to the 40-50 tackle range. Now, these are really good numbers. But they’re not elite numbers. And at age 32, on a new defense, and already nursing a sore hamstring that puts his Week One status in jeopardy, I just can’t draft him as my DL1. (ADP DL14)
Jason Pierre-Paul (DE, TB) — JPP’s 9.5 sacks last season were on par with his previous seasons. He’s posted at least 8.5 sacks in each of his last four seasons, and if you remove his injury-shortened seasons, he averages double-digit sacks. Similar to J.J. Watt, age is a factor here. Pierre-Paul is also 32 and history tells us betting on 32-year-old football players to equal or best their previous season is a bad bet (JPP’s QB aside). But that’s not why he makes this list. The Bucs drafted pass rusher Joe Tryon, who is having a strong preseason and is in line to spell the veteran pass rusher to keep him fresh. That’s great for Tampa Bay’s playoff chances but bad for IDP. JPP’s 943 snaps last season (89%) aren’t likely to be matched this year. And that lowered opportunity will make it tough for him to repeat as a DL1. (ADP DL10)
Micah Parsons (LB, Dal) — I’m scooping up ALL the Parsons shares … in dynasty. But Parsons is leaving the board as a top-10 LB in redraft, and that’s just too rich for my blood. Parsons is a star in the making, but Roquan Smith, Devin White, Patrick Queen, and countless other future stud ILBs couldn’t crack the top 10 their rookie year…and they had clear starting jobs. Parsons looks to be in line for the most LB snaps, but Jaylon Smith (who was Parsons before Parsons was Parsons), Leighton Vander Esch, and Keanu Neal have been heavily involved in rotating this preseason. It appears as though Parsons and Neal are the passing-down duo, while Smith and LVE are the early-down options. Your chances of being an LB1 plummet if you can’t hit 1,000 snaps. And Parsons needs a lot to go right for that to happen. (ADP LB5)
Joe Schobert (LB, Pit) — I had my doubts about Schobert last season, when he was generally outplayed by Myles Jack in Jack-sonville. (Is that a dad joke? I can’t tell anymore. Remember: I titled this article Skip & Scoop, which sounds like an on-the-go lunch option in the snack aisle at your local grocery store.) New HC Urban Meyer apparently agrees with me (duh), and shipped him off to colder pastures for a 6th-round pick. Schobert loaded up on tackles in Jax but now that he’s moved to Pittsburgh, he should be a solid contributor next to Devin Bush. Solid. Not the 145-tackle guy he was last season in Jacksonville. Pittsburgh’s defense doesn’t rely as much on LBs for tackles as Jacksonville does. Even Ryan Shazier at his height averaged 110-120 tackles a season. Schobert should be a solid LB2, but he’s currently going ahead of the likes of Eric Kendricks and C.J. Mosley - two players who are in line for much higher tackle production. (ADP LB9)
Landon Collins (S, Was) — A perennial DB1, Collins has a few red flags this season that are hard to ignore. For one, his Achilles’ injury has our injury specialist Dr. Edwin Porras concerned about his first step quickness. Collins has bounced back from injuries in the past and then instantly regained his elite status, but the previous injuries were to the upper body. Secondly, Washington knows what it has in Kamren Curl. That’s not to say Collins won’t be productive, but they used him as a deep safety in the preseason with Curl hanging closer to the action. That’s not only a sign that Collins won’t be heavily featured in the box - a role he’s been in for much of his career — it’s also a sign that his first step quickness is a concern for the team. While I generally wait on DBs as it is, I’m certainly not comfortable spending an early pick on Collins. (ADP DB11)
These players are often available outside the top-36 for their position but have a solid chance to finish in the top 25.
Chandler Jones (DE, Ari) — Let me get this straight: J.J. Watt (32, multiple injury-shortened seasons) and Jason Pierre-Paul (32, multiple injury-shortened seasons) are being drafted as DL1s, but Jones (31, only 1 injury-shortened season in the last 6 years) is a DL5? I should just stop right there. Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, the defense rests. Jones has at least 11 sacks in each of his last five full seasons, but a torn bicep last season and a hold out this preseason scared many away from a player we regularly pencil in for 10-50 sacks a year. Uhh, yeah. I’ll take that risk as my DL3 or 4. A healthy Jones ended his holdout and is practicing with the Cardinals. (ADP DL49)
Marcus Davenport (DL, NO) — Not only was Davenport’s promising sophomore season (6 sacks in 13 games in 2019) cut short due to injury, his injury kept him off the field until Week Five of 2020. By that time, Trey Hendrickson was firmly entrenched in the role of “the other guy across from Cameron Jordan.” Hendrickson parlayed that fantasy-friendly role into a lucrative free agent contract in Cincinnati. WIth Hendrickson gone, a full-speed Davenport has dominated training camp and preseason. PFF graded him in the 90s in both preseason games, including 8 pressures in 39 pass-rush snaps. Talent? Check. Tons of snaps? Check. Recent (albeit preseason) production? Check. Is Davenport a lock to be a DL2? No. Is he free right now in drafts? Yes. Davenport is going largely undrafted this year. (ADP DL58)
Anthony Walker (LB, Cle) — After averaging 107 tackles per season in Darius Leonard’s shadow, Walker finally got his own Big Dog role in Cleveland. He’s their 3-down LB, but he missed some of the preseason with a knee injury that was initially thought to be severe…but turned out wasn’t at all. Walker played in the final preseason game and put to rest any fears of his knee and any fears that he won’t be in line for an every-down role. It won’t be hard for Walker to surpass that 107-tackle average on his new team. This is a role that Joe Schobert soaked up 140+ tackles in just a few years ago. Your LB2+ is being drafted as an LB3-. Go get him. (ADP LB 36)
Logan Wilson (LB, Cin) — If you’ve listened to any of the offseason IDP Corner podcasts (and you have … haven’t you??), you’ll know how much we’ve harped on the depressed value of Year Two players who were buried their rookie season due to having no preseason. Exhibit A: I present Wilson. He was drafted to be their future 3-down LB but predictably got off to a slow start last season. Wilson worked his way up to a 60% snap share before an ankle injury cost him the last four games. Wilson has been wearing the green dot and calling plays this preseason, and the LB rotation appears to be Wilson on every down, while Germaine Pratt and Jordan Evans rotate based on run/pass situations. Wilson is going behind part-time players like Christian Kirksey and Cory Littleton, as well as Danny Trevathan, who’s injured and might not come back to a starting gig. I’ll take the every-down upside of Wilson for my LB3. (ADP LB46)
Donovan Wilson (S, Dal) — When news broke of stud safety Keanu Neal coming from Atlanta to join his former DC Dan Quinn in Dallas, Wilson’s stock plummeted. But the Cowboys said all along that Neal was an LB in their minds. Well, all training camp and all preseason, Neal has been a clear-cut LB (and a rotational one at that). This leaves Wilson right back in his safety role from last season; a role he thrived in. Wilson posted at least 8 tackles five times in his 10 starts in 2020, adding 3.5 sacks as well. He was a DB1 as a starter, and while Neal and Co. will make it harder for him to hit the top-10 this year, he’s a solid DB2 in our eyes. Lucky for you, he’s being drafted as a DB4. (ADP DB39)
Daniel Sorensen (S, KC) — The most criminally underrated safety in fantasy, Sorensen posted 89 tackles in his first year as a starter, but was injured early the following season, then lost his starting job to rookie FS Juan Thornhill. Well, Thornhill proved problematic on the back of this defense (need I remind you of the multiple amazing comeback victories Patrick Mahomes pulled off on the way to a Super Bowl victory? Those highlights were brought to you in part by Thornhill, whose centerfield play helped put his offense in a huge hole). Last season, Thornhill was still fairly involved (79% snap share), but Sorensen (80%) was also heavily involved again and posted 91 tackles on his way to a top-20 finish. The 2021 preseason shined a bright light on Sorensen and Tyrann Mathieu being the full-time safeties, while Thornhill has been relegated to backup/third safety duties. This puts Sorensen in line for at least as many snaps as last season if not more, which puts him on the DB2 radar. He’s currently going undrafted. (ADP DB54)
ADP data via MyFantasyLeague