Welcome to movers and shakers, a new in-season series from DLF. Each week we choose a different ranking category; top 250 (one quarterback and superflex), devy, and IDP. We then review players from that group who may have risen or fallen substantially from the past month’s ranks and alert you to any relevant changes. Let’s get right to it.
It’s slim pickings in fantasy leagues that necessitate starting a defensive tackle. There are a handful of elite options, such as Aaron Donald, Jeffery Simmons, and Chris Jones. Beyond that trio, there is a small group of good players beyond whom the drop-off is huge. The player I’ve highlighted is in that chasing pack behind the elite three, and he deserves consideration near the top of that group.
Kenny Clark, DT GB (Current DL42, DT10)
Clark’s reputation has suffered in recent years. His best season was in 2019 when he produced 69 pressures, including nine sacks and 63 tackles (46 solos).
He’s had leaner years since, at least in counting stats, but he remained disruptive. In 2021, he almost equaled his pressure total from that banner 2019 campaign, recording 68 pressures, but he failed to gain recognition for his efforts because his pressure-to-sack conversion rate was much lower. He finished with just four sacks.
The evidence suggests that finishing rates aren’t sticky, and pressure rates are a better way of predicting future sack success. In other words, if a player is consistently good at getting after the quarterback, the sacks will eventually come.
Clark has started this campaign in fine form; here’s how the former first-round pick compares to other defensive tackles through four games:
- Tied for third with 14 total pressures.
- Tied for second with three sacks, just one shy of his 2021 total.
- Ranked first with a 30.8% win rate in true pass rush sets, per PFF.
- Tied for third with an 86.7 PFF pass-rush grade.
The former UCLA Bruins star is balling out.
Should Move Ahead Of:
In DLF’s combined offense and defense mock draft from July, Clark was taken as the DT12, behind the likes of Vita Vea, Ed Oliver, and Christian Wilkins. He should move ahead of all three players. He is currently DLF’s DT10, but he deserves to be moved ahead of Christian Barmore, who is presently the DT9.
This is a deep position. The elite group of four at the edge spot comprises Myles Garrett, TJ Watt, Nick Bosa, and Michah Parsons. The chasing group is led by players such as Maxx Crosby, Brian Burns, and Josh Allen. This player has proven he deserves to be considered in that same cluster.
Rashan Gary, DE/EDGE GB (Current DE11)
Gary had a promising sophomore season in 2020, finishing with 46 pressures, including nine sacks. Despite his efforts, he remained in the shadow of his more accomplished teammate Za’Darius Smith.
The young edge rusher emerged as an elite pass rusher in 2021. The former first-round pick generated 81 pressures; Maxx Crosby was the only edge rusher to produce more. Gary finished with three more pressures than Myles Garrett and six more than Nick Bosa. His 8.1% pressure-to-sack ratio wasn’t impressive, but as I explained earlier in the article, finishing rates aren’t sticky, and pressures are more predictive of future sack success.
Gary’s production through four games this season demonstrates that point. He is tied for 10th with 16 pressures and has recorded five sacks. He is already halfway to equaling his 2021 sack total despite producing only 19.8% of the pressures he had last year.
After four games, Gary has the 10th-highest PFF pass-rush grade among all edge rushers. He ranks 11th in PFF’s overall defensive grade.
Should Move Ahead Of:
Linebacker is often considered the most important spot in IDP; standard scoring systems ordinarily mean they score more fantasy points than any other position. Therefore, distinguishing between productive linebackers and those who will disappoint can often mean the difference between success and failure in fantasy.
Isaiah Simmons, LB ARI (Current LB32)
Few linebackers have fallen as far as Simmons in DLF’s IDP rankings over the last month. The 24-year-old was once considered a prized asset; some even believed the eighth overall pick in the 2020 draft would revolutionize the linebacker position. How quickly things change.
One year later, Simmons’ fans were unhappy with the youngster’s lack of involvement in the Cardinals’ defense. Forced to sit behind Jordan Hicks and De’Vondre Campbell in his rookie year, Simmons managed only 376 snaps.
Simmons played a much bigger part in 2021, amassing 1024 snaps. However, the discontent among fantasy fans and analysts about his role was well documented. 185 of his snaps (18.1%) were spent in the slot, outside cornerback, or as the deep safety. Only one other linebacker spent more time in those three roles combined. Unfortunately, this affected Simmons’ tackle efficiency, as he barely surpassed 100 tackles.
Concerns about his role aside, most of us assumed Simmons would continue to command a big part in the Cardinals’ defense in 2022. That prediction appeared accurate after the opening game when he played 87% of the snaps. However, Weeks 2 and 3 were a different story as his role all but disappeared. Simmons played just 31 snaps over those two games. Nick Vigil and even Tanner Vallejo played more.
It’s not all negative; Simmons bounced back to earn an 83% snap share in week four. However, it will take more than one game to repair the damage done and give us confidence that he can be a consistent fantasy performer. He needs to play a sizeable role consistently, and even then, his fantasy upside will be limited unless his role changes.
Unfortunately, the early signs suggest Simmons’ role won’t change anytime soon. This season, he has spent even more time in the slot, at CB, and deep safety than in 2021. 54.1% of his snaps have been spent in one of those three alignments. It’s little wonder he’s produced only nine tackles (eight solos).
Simmons was the LB25 in a series of DLF mock drafts from July. He’s underperformed, managing an average of only 4.2 fantasy points per game. This chart shows how he has produced compared to the top 50 linebackers from those mocks. He has been outproduced by 24 of the 26 linebackers drafted after him:
Should Fall Behind:
Simmons has already fallen behind guys like Pete Werner, Mykal Walker, and Jamin Davis in DLF’s IDP linebacker rankings. He is in danger of falling even further, with Malcolm Rodriguez and Dre Greenlaw nipping at his heels.
The safety position is one of my favorites. There is an incredibly flat tier behind an elite handful of players at the position, and any of the players in that huge chasing group can perform well in any given week. Predicting success at this position can be challenging.
Talanoa Hufanga, S SF (Current LB32)
Hufanga was a fantasy afterthought heading into the 2022 season. The 2021 fifth-round pick played sparingly in his rookie year; it took an injury to former 49er Jaquiski Tartt before he saw any meaningful snaps on defense. Even after Tartt left for the Philadelphia Eagles in June, little was expected from Hufanga.
How wrong we were. Hufanga played every down in the 49ers opener against the Bears, produced ten tackles (eight solos), six of which were stops, and intercepted the first pass of his career. He allowed a mere 2.8 passer rating; his PFF overall defensive grade ranked second among all safeties.
The IDP community was understandably skeptical he could maintain that level of play, but fast forward three more weeks and Hufanga is still the second-ranked safety according to PFF. He has amassed 23 tackles (20 solos), two interceptions, and two passes defended, and has allowed only a 7.7 passer rating when in coverage.
The 23-year-old safety was the S54 in a series of DLF mock drafts from July. He’s made a mockery of his ADP, producing an average of 16.5 fantasy points per game, trailing only Marcus Williams at safety. This chart shows how he has produced compared to every safety drafted ahead of him; Hufanga is the blue line on the right-hand side:
Hufanga’s tackle efficiency has dropped a little in his last two games, reminding us that we should temper expectations that he can sustain this level of productivity. Still, we should give credit where credit’s due for what he has achieved so far.
Should Move Ahead Of:
Hufanga has already risen sharply in DLF’s IDP safety rankings. He’s now ahead of Adrian Amos, Jessie Bates, and Jordan Fuller. He should also move ahead of Kyle Dugger and possibly even Jevon Holland.
Wrapping It Up
We aim to tip you off as to who the movers and shakers are weekly across our different ranking platforms. During the season, they will fluctuate regularly. The best way to stay abreast of how a particular player you are tracking is performing is to head directly to our rankings pages. Thank you for following along—best of luck in your fantasy endeavors.
- Dynasty IDP Top 150 Fantasy Football Rankings: Movers and Shakers - November 5, 2022
- Dynasty Superflex Fantasy Football Rankings: Movers and Shakers - October 28, 2022
- IDP Snap Trends: AFC Edition - October 15, 2022