Welcome to another week of intense football. Here are the things you need to know to stay at the bleeding edge of IDP this week.
1. Derwin James is the top-scoring safety so far in 2022
Last season, he finished fourth among safeties (your scoring may vary), and staying that high year after year is an incredibly difficult feat. On average just 30% of all top-12 safeties repeat the following year, and just 10% of top-five safeties.
Obviously, we’ve got a long way to go before the end of the season, but right now he’s looking extremely impressive.
2. Aaron Donald has generated 22 of the Rams’ total 51 pressures so far
This is the highest proportion in the NFL by some distance at an eye-watering 43%. To put it into context, Jeffery Simmons has recorded 21% of Titans’ pressures, and Chris Jones 22% of Chiefs’ pressures.
The fact that elite pass rushers “make things easier” for their teammates has long been a popular belief. But it’s an overblown myth. We delved into much more detail on this subject in 2021.
The Rams’ pass rush in 2022 has so far looked like a shadow of itself over the past couple of seasons. They are dead last in team pressures, and two other teams have at least doubled their total (the Cowboys and 49ers). So far they have been okay overall defensively, but they are having to play out of their skin just to be a mid-table defense right now. That’s as good as it’ll get unless they can summon some pass rush from the edge.
3. Maxx Crosby leads all edges in tackles and is joint fourth in pressures
Asking whether Crosby could replicate his stunning 2021 was a fair question, but so far, he’s been very impressive. His 22 pressures through four games put him on pace for about 94 pressures. That would be below his total from last year, but still incredibly high.
On the other hand, he’s currently on pace for 82 total tackles which is absurdly high. In 2021, he recorded just 57 for the season.
‘On-pace’ numbers are obviously predictively nonsensical because they tend to ignore the ever-present threat of injury, but they are useful for putting his red-hot start to 2022 into context.
4. The top-scoring IDP linebacker so far this year is a rookie
Devin Lloyd has had an amazing start to his career as a pro with 49 total tackles in five games (15.2% tackle efficiency), a couple of interceptions, and a sack.
His real-life play has been up-and-down for sure, but he’s flashed elite play at least – and that’s a rare thing for a rookie linebacker. For the past several years we’ve seen a litany of highly-rated linebackers simply fail to adapt to the NFL ever, let alone take to it instantly. Isaiah Simmons and Devin Bush both spring to mind. Their teams were convinced they were worth an early first-round pick and both have been poor.
At this point, it’s hard to avoid getting carried away with how well Lloyd has started, especially in this era of scarcity at the position in True Position leagues.
5. Top 36 LB tackle efficiency is at 12.5% this season
Last season it was closer to 12% over the whole season, and we know it’s been climbing steadily over the past few years.
We can speculate as to why that is (likely due to the league moving toward combining two-high safety shells with odd fronts, leading to more zone responsibility underneath for linebackers) but the effect is undeniable. Linebackers are racking up tackles at a faster per-snap basis. On the whole, tackles are becoming more distributed as a result of greater rotation, and package flexibility. But top-end linebackers are becoming more valuable.
6. The Chiefs are blitzing cornerbacks more than any other team in the NFL
Chiefs corners have blitzed 32 times in five games. The average for all other teams is slightly under ten. So, the Chiefs are three times more corner blitz heavy than the NFL. That is staggering.
L’Jarius Sneed is the top individual with 22 pass-rush snaps alone. This puts him at about double the average for any other NFL team, let alone player. So far Sneed has converted those 22 snaps into seven pressures (33%) and those seven pressures into three sacks (43%). Those numbers are about average for the position, so if he keeps up the high rate of blitzing, he should continue to rack up the points. This is significant because he’s likely one of the top-scoring corners in your league so far.
It should be noted that he also led all corners in the 2021 regular season in pass rush too. This is not a new thing, but it’s still under the radar for many folks. Jamal Adams as a blitzer got Big Media interested, but that has not happened so much with Sneed. Yet…
7. Patriots corner Marcus Jones leads all IDPs with nine kick/punt return attempts
He only started returning kicks in week three.
Jones’ nine returns are joint 18th among all players, and his 217 combined return yards rank ninth. The next-best IDP returners are fellow Patriot Myles Bryant (seven returns for 49 yards) and Colts corner Isaiah Rodgers (six returns for 113 yards). Bryant has not returned any kick in the past two games, with Jones taking his role.
Plenty of leagues count return yardage the same as rushing or receiving yards, and Jones has a chance to pile up significant numbers for you as a cheat code in those leagues. They are unpredictable of course, but this is the cornerback position. It’s entirely unpredictable. When a player comes along who has the capacity to do this, he is enormously enticing.
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