IDP Rookie Targets
Dynasty league rookie drafts are challenging — you’ve spent all off-season studying prospects and you’ll only get a couple chances to add impact players to your roster. When your league includes IDPs, the challenge becomes even tougher.
The following is a list of the top ten IDPs to target in your dynasty rookie drafts this summer. Also check out our IDP Rankings 2016.
10. Keanu Neal
DB, Atlanta Falcons
A surprise first round pick in this year’s draft, Keanu Neal is an athletic hard-hitting strong safety that will make plenty of plays around the line of scrimmage. For fantasy owners, that’s exactly the kind of defensive back we want to find. Dan Quinn, former defensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks, drafted Neal to fill the Kam Chancellor role of his old Legion of Boom defense.
This season, Neal will battle with Kemal Ishmael in camp for the opening week starting strong safety job. Even if he doesn’t win the job right away, we should see Neal become a fantasy factor by mid-season at the latest.
In a majority of IDP scoring systems, defensive backs aren’t worth drafting early — or at all, in some cases. However, Neal will play in the box most of the time and has DB1 upside, especially in tackle-heavy scoring systems. He doesn’t have the big play ability of the other two DBs on this list, but he is a solid third option in your rookie drafts.
9. Karl Joseph
DB, Oakland Raiders
Despite coming off of an ACL tear, Karl Joseph was still drafted 14th overall by the Oakland Raiders — that should speak to his ability.
Joseph is a play-making machine, as evidenced by his FBS-leading five interceptions in his first four games last season before he went down with the knee injury. He can play all over the field, whether it be in the box or as a deep safety.
If you’ve played in IDP leagues long enough, you’ll remember Bob Sanders. Because of his hard-hitting, reckless nature and nose for the ball, Joseph has been compared to Sanders. If Joseph enjoys the fantasy production that Sanders put up in his prime, he’ll be a fantasy force at the DB position.
Joseph will step into the Charles Woodson role for the Raiders immediately, making him both an intriguing long-term dynasty prospect and a high-upside DB for 2016.
8. Reggie Ragland
LB, Buffalo Bills
begin his career as a weak-side linebacker and play alongside 2014 draft pick Preston Brown.
Ragland is as impressive as any prospect in this draft between the tackles, but his questionable speed and coverage abilities will likely limit him to being a two-down backer for most of his career. As a result, this will limit his fantasy upside unless he can work his way into playing time in passing situations.
Ragland is a safe pick with a lower ceiling than other LBs on this list, but his ability to rack up tackles makes him worth as a selection in the late second or early third round of your rookie drafts.
7. Su’a Cravens
DB, Washington Redskins
Positional designation is a hot topic in IDP leagues, but it’s something you need to take advantage of when considering IDP prospects. For now, Su’a Cravens has been given a defensive back-designated jersey number, but has been working with the inside linebackers in rookie minicamp.
It certainly appears that Su’a Cravens will compete for a starting safety position while working as a dime linebacker at minimum. Last year, we saw the impact of this designation and role when Deone Bucannon of the Arizona Cardinals, who finished as a top-five DB in most scoring systems.
Cravens may not have all of the tools that Karl Joseph possesses, but his situation and designation make him a better fantasy prospect for the early part of his career. Unless your league is full of savvy owners, Cravens won’t be the first DB off the board in your rookie drafts — but he should be.[wlm_nonmember]
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6. Joey Bosa
DL, San Diego Chargers
The San Diego Chargers surprised everyone by selecting Joey Bosa third overall in this year’s draft. It’s an interesting fit — Bosa is best-suited to play as a 4-3 DE, but he’ll play as a DE in San Diego’s 3-4 scheme unless they decide to use more 4-3 looks on base downs.
Bosa has the motor and physical ability to be a fantasy stud, as he can rack up tackles versus the run and get after the QB on passing plays. However, his situation is cause for concern.
There’s a great chance Bosa is selected too highly in rookie drafts based on his NFL draft status alone. But if he falls to the fourth round of your draft, he’s certainly worth the pick.
5. Deion Jones
LB, Atlanta Falcons
Deion Jones, a second round pick for the Falcons, is a three-down prospect who is best suited to play WLB in a 4-3 scheme, so it was a surprise to hear that Jones is slated to middle linebacker in his rookie season.
This will push Paul Worrilow outside or to the bench, which isn’t great news for his fantasy owners, obviously. Jones will have the opportunity to produce immediately in IDP leagues, which makes him a worthwhile selection around the third round of rookie drafts.
However, Jones has limited starting experience and only played WLB at LSU, so he may experience some growing pains early in his career. Keep an eye on how he’s progressing and how the coaching staff talks about his assignments and technical abilities; it’s possible that he produces early but could suffer a Worrilow-like fate and be replaced by a more well-rounded talent down the line. A savvy owner may flip Jones for a small profit if he produces in his rookie season.
4. Noah Spence
DL, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Noah Spence is the draft’s best pure rusher and he’s been drafted into a situation where he will receive a high number of snaps early in his career. Whereas Bosa was drafted into a questionable scheme, Spence will have a great opportunity to take advantage of his talents in Tampa Bay.
But unlike Bosa, Spence doesn’t hold up as well versus the run. In balanced scoring leagues, his light tackle numbers will likely push him down your draft board.
But in big-play leagues where sacks are heavily rewarded, he’s the top rookie DE by a good margin.
3. Darron Lee
LB, New York Jets
Like Deion Jones above, Darron Lee is best suited to play WLB in a 4-3 defense. Instead, he was drafted to play ILB in the Jets’ 3-4 scheme.
Lee is uber-athletic and can chase plays all over the field, but at 6’1” 232 pounds, he is too undersized to consistently shed blocks over the course of a season. Luckily, with the massive front in the Jets’ 3-4 defense, he’ll likely be free to make tackles on most plays. Lee can rush the passer, too, notching 12 sacks in his last two seasons at Ohio State.
His upside isn’t quite as high and he isn’t as scheme-independent as the next two guys, but he’s a great talent and a great selection in the second round of your rookie drafts.
2. Jaylon Smith
LB, Dallas Cowboys
Depending on your risk tolerance, there is an argument for dropping Jaylon Smith further down this list. There’s a good chance that Smith won’t play at all in 2016; not something you want to see from your rookie LB. Unfortunately for Smith, he suffered a gruesome knee injury during his final college game and it’s unknown if his nerve will ever fully recover.
The Cowboys’ team physician performed the surgery on Smith and the medical reports were positive enough for the Cowboys to take Smith at the top of the second round. He’s an elite talent when healthy — in the second round of your rookie draft, his upside is far greater than any other prospect.
If you can stomach the possibility of using a second rounder on a guy who won’t play this season and possibly may never recover from a knee injury, Smith may reward you as a perennial top-five fantasy linebacker.
1. Myles Jack
LB, Jacksonville Jaguars
With Jack, we have the opposite of Smith. He’s an elite talent who will start week 1 in Jacksonville, but a degenerative knee condition clouds his NFL future. Will be be able to play more than a couple seasons? Truthfully, no one knows.
However, he was slated to be a top-5 NFL draft pick before his medical reports were released, with rugged between the tackles ability and a safety-like fluidity in his coverage responsibilities. If you need to see his versatility, check out his YouTube highlights when he played running back for UCLA.
In dynasty leagues, it’s best to look at your roster in two to three year windows. No IDP in this draft has a better two to three year outlook than Myles Jack, who will likely be a top-10 fantasy LB in any scoring system each of the next three seasons.[/wlm_ismember]