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IDP Dumpster Diving: Low/No-Cost Options for the End of Your Bench

Kemoko Turay

The post-rookie draft period can be a tough time for dynasty managers. The cycle of roster turnover just plateaued and is on a decline – sometimes, a steep decline if your fellow leaguemates have a tendency to tune out between the draft and the season. The best dynasty managers are always searching for ways to maximize upside and production at every roster spot, and the itch to upgrade the end of your bench is strong.

Typically during this slow point of the off-season, I’m scrolling through the “complete free agent listing” for each league just to see what’s out there – sometimes you can find some gems. I’m also giving a hard look at other franchise rosters to try to pick off non-fantasy starters in exchange for more recognizable names that I’ve soured on (Frank Clark, for example). In other words, I’m dumpster diving.

In this article, I’ve identified a few IDPs with fantasy upside that clearly outweighs the cost of acquisition. Chances are low that any of these guys are going to bring league-winning upside for you, but I think they make sense as sensible dart throws given talent, situation, and/or scheme. If you lack confidence in the IDPs at the end of your bench, consider these options instead.

Edge Rushers

Kemoko Turay, IND

I wouldn’t be so sure the Colts have given up on Turay despite spending first- and second-round draft picks on edge rushers. Indianapolis doesn’t just give the bulk of the edge snaps to two guys; there’s a frequent rotation. Two key pieces from 2020 – Denico Autry and Justin Houston – are no longer in town, and rookie Dayo Odenigbo is recovering from an Achilles tendon tear suffered in January.

Turay looked primed for a bit of a breakout in 2019 before breaking his ankle in week five. The injury cost him the rest of that season plus most of 2020, but he’s reportedly fully recovered. The opportunity to establish himself is still there. And, he’s totally free in fantasy. The only cost is whomever you release to make room on your roster. I recently added him as a free agent in the following formats where at least two of your 11 IDP starters must be defensive ends (non-true position):

  • A 14-team league with 52-man rosters. Defensive ends are awarded three points per tackle vs. two points for linebackers.
  • A 24-team, dual-copy league after blind bid waivers opened and rosters were already at 71 players.
  • A 32-team, dual copy format post-draft and most teams were at 45-man rosters.

Bryce Huff, John Franklin-Myers and Jabari Zuniga, NYJ

The Jets have two young options in Huff and Zuniga that are going to likely rotate a good bit along with veteran Vinny Curry on the other side of Carl Lawson, at least early on in 2021. It’s possible that one of them impresses enough to emerge as the “main” rotational piece, and if that happens there’s some upside in future years.

While there was a good bit to like about Zuniga as a prospect, he spent the first seven weeks of his rookie season on injured reserve recovering from a quad injury, and never got much in the way of playing time. Huff was a surprise contributor as an undrafted free agent and situational pass rusher, and flashed at times. The new coaching staff reportedly likes both, especially Huff, and Gang Green didn’t add an edge rusher in the NFL Draft.

Rising fourth-year lineman Franklin-Myers is also in the mix to get edge snaps, so you could consider him a cheap add as well, but he popped more in 2020 as an interior rusher. He’ll probably lead the trio in snaps given his versatility, but his upside will be more limited since it’s generally harder to generate pressure from inside the tackle box than off the edge, and he’s listed as a defensive end on MyFantasyLeague. In the vast majority of leagues, all three are simply hanging out on the waiver wire. I have a hard time seeing any of them providing fantasy-viable production early in the season, so I’ll be watching to see if the snaps and production start to favor one of the three as the season goes along.

Interior Defensive Linemen

Dre’Mont Jones, DEN

Jones, the talented third-year player out of Ohio State, forms a nice tandem with Shelby Harris along Denver’s defensive interior. Quick and aggressive, Jones really turned on the production after returning from an early-season trip to injured reserve in 2020. Over his final 11 games, he turned in 14 pressures (per Pro Football Reference), nine quarterback hits, and six and a half sacks – good for DE2 numbers in non-true position setups from week seven through 17.

He’s likely not on your waiver wire, though I did pick him up in May in a 14-team league with 52-man rosters. The DLF Trade Finder shows mostly bargain prices, including a mid-May swap for the 4.09 rookie pick in a 16-team conference (32-team league) with 47-man off-season rosters. That’s too cheap for a pass rusher who effectively broke out in his second season.

Larry Ogunjobi, CIN

Ogunjobi isn’t a true dumpster dive in defensive tackle-premium leagues, but in tackle-required formats, he offers good value coming off a down year. He provided DT1 production in 2019, but last season Cleveland moved him over center – and nose tackle is not a very statistic-friendly position to be in. Witness Ogunjobi’s 45 total pressures (Pro Football Reference numbers) over his first two seasons in the NFL versus just a dozen pressures in 2020. An in-state move to Cincinnati and a switch back to three-technique – the Bengals have DJ Reader to man the nose – should benefit Ogunjobi greatly. Plus he’s still just 27, so there’s plenty of gas in the tank.

Looking around at cost in defensive tackle-required leagues:

  • In a 32-team, dual-copy format where teams carried over a 29-man roster prior to a rookie/veteran draft, an available copy of Ogunjobi was drafted in the tenth round.
  • In a 24-team, dual-copy startup, he was drafted at 39.11 and 46.17 – that was low DT2 range.
  • One-for-one deals are somewhat tough to find, but the DLF Trade Finder turned up an early April trade in a 12-team league that awards a half-point more for defensive tackle sacks: Ogunjobi for the 4.12 rookie pick.

Jordan Phillips, ARI

Phillips is as free as free gets, and unless I’m in your league, there’s a tremendous chance that he’s not rostered. A former second-round pick of the Dolphins, Phillips finally broke out with Buffalo in 2019, logging a respectable 20 pressures (per Pro Football Reference) en route to nine and a half sacks, 16 quarterback hits, and 13 tackles for loss in a half-time role. In fantasy terms, he was serviceable as your backup or number two defensive tackle.

Even better things seemed possible after signing a big multi-year contract with Arizona prior to the 2020 season, but hamstring issues plagued him all year. He still had a decent stretch from weeks two through six, showing low-end DE3 value. (He’s classified as a defensive end if you’re playing on MyFantasyLeague and not utilizing the @AdamTz True Position MFL Tool because your commissioner is a stubborn, old fool.) Unless JJ Watt is playing consistently inside, Phillips is the best interior penetrator that the Cardinals have. He’s still only a desperation add, but when you’re dumpster diving anything that has a hint of rosy fragrance can be appealing.

Off-Ball Linebackers

Jarrad Davis, NYJ

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the Jets’ linebacker corps is kind of a mess. Granted, CJ Mosley is back despite New York’s reported attempts to trade him, and the former Raven should provide a steady veteran leader. With a new coaching staff and scheme, Gang Green has brought in several low-cost options to fill the traditional 4-3 strong- and weak-side linebacker spots.

Day three draft picks Jamien Sherwood and Hamsah Nasirildeen are being converted from safety to linebacker, and I think it’s safe to label those rookies as projects given the late draft capital and the position room changes. That leaves Blake Cashman and Davis, and the latter is apparently getting first crack at the better role with Cashman coming off the field in nickel.

With Davis, we’re taking a chance on a first-round talent who provided LB3 value in his first two seasons, then ended up in a bad situation with Detroit’s hiring of Matt Patricia. New York gave Davis $5.5 million on a one-year deal early in free agency, so he was clearly a target. In recent fantasy moves, I’ve:

  • picked him up off the street in a competitive 14-team league with 52 roster spots; and
  • drafted him in round 14 of a rookie/veteran draft in a 32-team, dual copy league in which you keep 29 players in the off-season and IDP scoring is tackle-heavy.

Troy Reeder, LAR

The Rams were one of the top teams in the NFL showing one-linebacker looks in 2020. Micah Kiser was that linebacker, at least until his season ended after week 11. That opened the door for Reeder, who generated low-end LB1 production from weeks 12-17, and played well enough to cast some doubt on just who will be Los Angeles’ linebacker of choice in 2021. The addition of third-round supplemental pick Ernest Jones has further muddied the outlook, and created value with one of three options.

In a recent 24-team, dual-copy startup draft, Kiser came off the board at 29.13 and 31.01. Jones went shortly thereafter at 32.08 and 34.04. Reeder was a distant third choice at 41.02 and 56.08. Play this one like you would an ambiguous backfield: take the late value.

Justin Strnad, DEN

Strnad is another speculative dynasty investment likely hanging out on your waiver wire. He didn’t play at all during his rookie season in Denver after breaking his wrist in training camp, but he was generating buzz early as a potential sub-package ‘backer. With good size at 6-foot-3 and 238 pounds and nice movement skills, Strnad holds appeal for 2022 and beyond with both Alexander Johnson and Josey Jewell playing on one-year deals. Yes, Denver spent a late third-round pick on the athletic Baron Browning, but there’s room here for two linebackers to provide starter-worthy fantasy production.

I recently picked him up off the waiver wire in a 14-team IDP with 52-man rosters. In another 14-team league that forces roster cuts to 29 players before the draft, I selected Strnad at 14.11. The DLF Trade Finder turned up a mid-May draft deal in a 32-team, dual copy league that swapped Strnad for the 7.22 rookie pick.

Drue Tranquill, LAC

Tranquill suffered a broken ankle on his fifth defensive snap in 2020, and most fantasy players have either forgotten about his promising rookie campaign – or are assuming the Chargers will employ just one three-down linebacker in the scheme that Brandon Staley is bringing over from the Rams. I’m also assuming that will be the case and that Kenneth Murray will be the only off-ball linebacker worth putting in your starting lineup this season.

There’s a chance though that we’re wrong, and that having two strong inside linebackers will cause Staley to leave both on the field in nickel packages. Tranquill’s a good player and whether he stays on the field in sub packages or Murray gets hurt, there’s a couple of paths to fantasy production for him this season. For dynasty purposes, there’s a decent shot he’s viable as a fantasy starter in a couple of years. And, of course, he comes cheaply.

In a 24-team, dual-copy format, I swapped the 6.21 rookie pick for him. In a startup draft of a league with the same format, I picked up the second copy at 43.11. There’s too much upside for Tranquill to go for those prices.

Safeties

Jaylinn Hawkins, ATL

A week four concussion marred Hawkins’ rookie season, but he played physical when he got his shots. He’s just a dynasty stash at the moment, but for rebuilding teams he makes sense as a value stash for 2022 and beyond when the 2020 fourth-rounder can team with rookie Richie Grant to give Atlanta a young, dynamic duo at safety. For now, he’s likely to have to bide his time behind Grant and veterans Duron Harmon and Erik Harris – both north of 30 years old and on inexpensive one-year deals. Hawkins is totally free, and you can likely just leave him out on the waiver wire until late in the season.

Amani Hooker, TEN

Hooker is stepping into the role vacated by Kenny Vacarro, who Tennessee let go in a salary cap move earlier this off-season. Hooker has been groomed for the role since he was drafted, and there’s currently no one of note behind him and Kevin Byard, so a productive safety spot is his to run with. I realize you can’t truly expect Hooker to simply assume Vaccaro’s statistics, but I can’t see him coming off the field, and solid S2 production seems well within reason. Despite having two years of experience, he just turned 23, so he could make a nice safety starter for you for years to come.

A lot of sharp IDP players probably added him late last season or during the off-season, but he can still be had for fairly cheap. I took over an orphan in the 12-team DLF IDP League and added him in the seventh round of the rookie/free agent draft. Looking around the DLF Trade Finder, he’s more or less a throw-in in deals involving offensive players, or for rookie picks in rounds four or later.

Cornerbacks

Cameron Sutton, PIT

I’ll throw in one cornerback for those of you in large, corner-required leagues in which even decent corners are hard to come by – and I’m in a couple of leagues that are 14 teams or larger where this is the case. In every league I’m in, no matter the number of teams or the size of the rosters, Sutton has been available as a free agent.

Pittsburgh brought back Sutton on a two-year deal while releasing outside starter Steven Nelson and letting slot corner Mike Hilton depart in free agency. He’s clearly going to get full-time run, either outside opposite Joe Haden or over the slot, so snaps and opportunity exist for production.

Good luck dumpster diving this off-season!

IDP Dumpster Diving: Low/No-Cost Options for the End of Your Bench
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William Burke III
1 year ago

I’ve got Sutton in all my CB required leagues. I’m hoping he stays in the slot tbh, PIT uses the slot corner to blitz quite often.

Reply to  William Burke III
1 year ago

Keep an eye on Antonie Brooks Jr. If Sutton doesn’t win the job or has to play CB2 outside, Brooks is getting early run.
From the Athletic:
Secondary coach Teryl Austin said: “When we looked at him coming out of Maryland, he was listed as a safety, but he basically played the nickel-type position. He was very productive there. That’s where he has been working and what he’s been doing. He still has a ways to go, but I think the progress is coming. I think it was really important that we had an offseason this year and that will allow him to have the opportunity to win the job in there.”

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