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2022 Post-NFL Draft IDP Rookie Sleepers for Dynasty Fantasy Football

We examine some potential defensive sleepers to target in your IDP rookie drafts.

Terrel Bernard

Now that the 2022 NFL Draft is over, it’s time to look at the potential gems you can target in your dynasty leagues for the long term. These are IDPs you should be able to target and take in the later rounds of your rookie draft, or even as UDFAs.

Happy hunting!

Terrel Bernard, LB BUF

Buffalo went LB with their third-round pick and Bernard looks like he’ll contribute as their third LB. They needed a player they could develop at the position and Tremaine Edmunds, although a voice in the room, hasn’t been a standout player. Matt Milano is a nice player, but he’s a replaceable piece.

Bernard is a good nickel LB and has good instincts. He’s like that small dog who doesn’t know how small he is – he plays much bigger than his size. I don’t like the missed tackles – 17 or more in two of his three seasons at Baylor but he was a tackle machine – recording a 14.6% tackle rate which led to 270 tackles over three seasons.

He’s going to compete for the third LB spot behind Milano, so I’m not expecting too many snaps as a rookie, as the Bills rarely use three LBs. If they allow him to develop, he could take on a full-time role over the next few seasons. He’s a taxi squad stash.

Brandon Smith, LB CAR

Smith is an athletic LB and earned the starting role for Penn State in 2020. In 2021, Smith appeared in 789 defensive snaps and produced a 10.2% tackle rate, as well as 9 TFLs. He’ll also contribute in the pass rush. He’ll need to improve in coverage, but you won’t need to worry about him allowing TDs. Over 84 career targets, he allowed one score.

He has the ideal make-up for an off-ball LB and moves effortlessly. He has a “see ball, go tackle the ball” mentality. He’ll have no problem keeping up with tight ends and running backs. Carolina is a relatively simple scheme and he could grow and develop into a full-time player, especially if he’s able to slow the game down and improve his play diagnosis.

Smith has a short path to snaps in 2022, but will probably start as a special team/sub-package LB. If he improves coverage, the path to playing time could shorten, as I do think he’s more athletic than Cory Littleton and Damien Wilson. Smith has sleeper appeal with his landing spot and full-time snaps could come in 2023.

Travis Jones, DT BAL

The Ravens are fantastic at taking advantage of bad drafting teams. Jones just fell into their lap and they got a solid player at a position of need.

Just put Jones in the b-gap over a guard and let him wreak havoc. He beats his man by sheer strength – think Brock Lesnar. Jones is the irresistible force and immovable object. I think his pass-rush ability is under-rated, but he still may come off the field in those situations. He did record four sacks and seven QB hits in his final season. He’s not going to miss tackles – just five over 584 defensive snaps in 2021.

This is a typical Ravens pick and you could argue Jones was the second-best interior lineman in the draft behind Jordan Davis. He can move (4.9-second 40-time) and his three-cone was solid (7.33). He should be the DT2 in leagues that require the DT position in rookie drafts. I think he could see snaps this season.

Joshua Paschal, EDGE DET

The Lions addressed the pass rush with their draft, adding Aidan Hutchinson with their first-round pick and Paschal in the second.

Paschal recorded 13.5 sacks over 52 games while at Kentucky, so you’d like to see a bit more production from a four-year guy. He beats his blockers, just needs to close out the sacks. Paschal knows how to get leverage and has a build that helps him get around opposing tackles. He has a good first step. Play him over the tackle and then utilize his athleticism and move him to 3-tech in pass rush downs/situations.

He needs to develop some secondary moves, but hopefully, that comes with coaching and development. Taxi squad stash in big-play scoring leagues.

Perrion Winfrey, DT CLE

I saw Winfrey mocked to Cleveland in a few places and they got a player with second-round potential in the fourth.

Put him at 3-technique over the guard. The Browns’ scheme should allow him to get penetration and cause chaos. He put together two solid seasons at Oklahoma – granted in limited playing time, although his tackling took a hit with his six misses. He produced 18 pressures in ten games against Power Five teams, so I do believe his production is going to translate to the NFL.

Winfrey is a second-round talent who could see meaningful snaps in 2022, as their interior is lacking any true playmaker. If you’re in a DT-required league, you’ll be able to get him late in your rookie draft or as a UDFA.

DeAngelo Malone, EDGE ATL

The Falcons added to their defensive line depth with the addition of Malone. The Falcons ranked last in sacks last year, so any help is welcomed. I really liked their pick of Arnold Ebiketie and Malone could be his potential running mate.

He’s someone you’re not going to drop into coverage. He put together a solid Senior Bowl – generating a 44% pressure rate with a sack and a hit. Malone strung together three solid seasons at Western Kentucky – recording 25 sacks and 48.5 TFLs. He also provides a potential high tackle floor. Malone recorded an 11.1% tackle rate which led to 261 tackles.

He’s an experienced prospect and can get to the QB with his bull rush. He’s quick and looks to be a guy you’ll be able to throw in on pass-rushing situations. Let’s hope he develops into a full-time player. In big-play scoring formats, he’ll be worth a taxi squad stash.

Darrian Beavers, LB NYG

I like Beavers’s profile heading into the draft and I like the spot here in New York. The green dot is being held by Blake Martinez, but behind him are ‘just guys’. Tae Crowder was a three-down player by default – yes, I know, according to Homer Simpson the two sweetest words in the English language. But they are not exactly a vote of confidence for an NFL player.

Beavers was productive for the Bearcats and bulked up to 255 pounds for his 2021 season. He has a good frame and above-average lateral movement. As a pass rusher, he recorded an 18.6% pressure rate with 11 combined hits/sacks and had a sub-seven-second three-cone.

He’s a physical defender who can diagnose plays and moves well. He’ll need to develop in coverage, so that may keep him off the field, but he’ll have a chance to move up his path to snaps. He’s playing behind a solid defensive line that can keep him clean. If he develops, he’s on a two-year path.

Chance Campbell, LB TEN

The Titans added Campbell to their linebacker room, to go along with David Long and Zach Cunningham and some guys behind them.

Campbell is a throwback linebacker who can play in the middle and thump around. Although he has some athletic limitations, his instincts to get to the ball trump those limitations as he knows the paths to get to the ball. Ignoring the 4.68 40, if you look at his play, he has above-average sideline-to-sideline range. He’s also a very good pass rusher from the inside with a 36.8% pressure rate and 35% win rate.

He’s smart and held up well in the SEC with 850 defensive snaps in 2021. 2022, he may see limited snaps and could just be a special teamer and backup. David Long is set to be an FA at the end of the season, so he could be in line to compete for a starting role. He’s a solid pick to add for depth in deeper dynasty leagues.

Smoke Monday, S NO

Monday went undrafted and the Saints scooped him up post-draft. I thought he deserved consideration as a third-day pick, at the very least. He showed improvement development over his four seasons at Auburn.

He is a solid hitter and can cover ground. He has good length to make tackles and can play deep or run downhill in the box. He needs some bulk and to improve his man coverage, but I think the Saints place him in the box around the line of scrimmage and just let him make plays.

Malcolm Jenkins retired and the Saints added Marcus Maye in free agency, but the path to snaps is short. Monday is a nice sleeper for dynasty as you fill out your roster.

D’Marco Jackson, LB NO

I think he’s one of those small school players who can hang in the NFL. He’ll find the ball and he’s a tackle machine. He’s explosive, especially in the run game, and was deployed as a blitzer the most times in his career in 2021. He saw 76 pass-rush snaps and produced six sacks.

Jackson tends to lose his base as a tackler, which is why he had as many misses. He has the desire to play and if he can loosen up in coverage, he could develop into a full-time guy over the next few seasons, or at least compete. Taxi squad stash in deeper leagues.

Zakoby McClain, LB BAL

McClain went undrafted, but was signed as a free agent by the Baltimore Ravens. I like the fit and landing spot for him.

He was a productive linebacker and recorded 113 tackles in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season and ran it back as a senior to record 96 tackles – resulting in a 15.8% tackle rate over those two seasons. McClain can be found near the ball, but does need to improve his tackling technique, as he’s not going to be able to throw himself at NFL ball carriers. He has above-average chase-down and awareness.

I’m still a believer in Patrick Queen, but his leash is short. Josh Bynes was brought back on a one-year deal and I don’t think Malik Harrison is developing as hoped. As of now, there’s a short path to snaps here. I think McClain will start out on the path of a special teamer, but has the ability to develop into a contributor and starter, given the current off-ball LB talent on the Baltimore roster.

Cameron Thomas, DE ARI

Thomas appears to be the heir apparent to JJ Watt and Chandler Jones. The Cardinals just aren’t deep at the edge position. Markus Golden is atop the depth chart, but you have Devon Kennard, Dennis Gardeck, and Victor Dimukeje.

Thomas led edge rushers in total pressures created (73) and generated a 16.5% pressure rate to go along with his 30.7% pass rush win rate in 2021. He has the twitchiness you like to see out of an edge rusher, but needs to improve and expand on his moveset. He has a nice first step and has good hands, but don’t put him inside – keep him outside the tackle.

I like the spot here for Thomas and should be looked at as depth in the sixth/seventh round of your rookie draft.

2022 Post-NFL Draft IDP Rookie Sleepers for Dynasty Fantasy Football
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Jackson Scott
4 months ago

Thank you for all you do. Great article and incredibly helpful in terms of filling out my taxi squad year in and year out

Chad Gorick
4 months ago

Thanks Mike. Do you see any likely 3 down Linebackers in the draft?

Chad Gorick
Reply to  Mike Woellert
4 months ago

Thanks Mike. Harris looks very interesting because Houston’s system seems to breed tackle monsters. Harris is available in my draft today, my league does 2pts for a tackle, 1 pt for an assist and 3 pts for a hit on QB or a PBU. Would you give up a 2023 third rounder to get Harris? or Anderson, Tindale, Thanks!

Chad Gorick
Reply to  Mike Woellert
4 months ago

Thanks Mike, much appreciated!

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