It’s been a whirlwind month in the world of IDP! Several big-name defensive players have moved teams, and it can be a real challenge to keep on top of those changes, much less what it means for each player involved.
This is the first of a two-part article bringing you up to date on the important changes in IDP value at this point in free agency. This article lists a handful of the players whose value has increased, and the second discusses players whose value has decreased.
READ: IDP Free Agency Biggest Fallers
Please be mindful that there are still some moving parts. Free agency isn’t over yet, and the NFL Draft is less than a month away. However, it’s important to assess where things stand right now, and we will re-evaluate how things stand once the draft is in the books.
Enough with the preamble. Let’s get into it:
I asked the IDP community which of the four linebackers mentioned in this article has most risen in value following free agency. The poll results were interesting but not conclusive:
I want to know which of these four linebackers the IDP community thinks has gained the most value since the start of free agency.#IDP #FFIDP
— Jase Abbey (@JaseAbbey) April 2, 2023
Nakobe Dean, LB PHI
Dean was widely expected to step into a more significant role in year two, and his path to increased snaps looks much clearer following the departure of TJ Edwards, who left to join the Bears, and Kyzir White, who signed with the Cardinals.
Dean barely got a look-in as a rookie, playing only 47 defensive snaps all season. However, he’s seemingly earned the trust of the Eagles’ brass and should be in line for a sizeable role in 2023 and beyond. Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni spoke glowingly of Dean’s progress back in December:
Eagles HC Nick Sirianni said he is extremely “happy” with Nakobe Dean’s development so far.
Dean led the Eagles in total tackles and tackles for loss against the Titans, all while only playing 15 defensive snaps 😳 pic.twitter.com/EJYIR5iBNU
— NFL Rookie Watch (@NFLRookieWatxh) December 7, 2022
Sean Desai’s appointment as the new Eagles defensive coordinator doesn’t change much regarding Dean’s 2023 outlook. The former Bears DC utilized only one full-time linebacker in 2021, but even Alec Ogletree saw 700 snaps behind Roquan Smith that year.
I view the addition of Nicholas Morrow as a plus for Dean. Morrow inherited, rather than earned, a sizeable role for the Bears after Roquan Smith’s departure. He’s not good enough to threaten Dean’s role, but his arrival slightly decreases the chances that the Eagles draft one of the few rookie linebackers capable of immediately challenging the second-year player.
You can read more on Dean here.
Bobby Okereke, LB NYG
Okereke was an IDP stud two years ago, and he maintained some value in 2022, managing almost 1,000 snaps behind Zaire Franklin. However, his long-term outlook was shaky at best, pending the eventual return of the dynamic Shaquille Leonard.
Okereke’s move to the Giants is a perfect fit for both parties. New York peddled out several sub-par off-ball linebackers in 2022, including Jaylon Smith, Tae Crowder, Micah McFadden, and Jarrad Davis. All four players were sub-par, hence the need for an upgrade.
A four-year, $40 million contract with $21.8 million guaranteed is the kind of money teams hand out if they intend to use that player heavily. Okereke will be given every opportunity to continue producing the numbers we’re familiar with seeing from the 26-year-old.
Azeez Al-Shaair, LB TEN
I remain unconvinced that Al-Shaair is a quality NFL player, but this move is great for his IDP value. He was stuck behind two excellent linebackers in San Francisco, but he should be the top dog at the heart of the Titans’ defense, sliding in to replace David Long Jr, who joined the Dolphins.
Monty Rice is probably the only player currently on the roster who could challenge Al-Shaair for what will likely be the one full-time linebacker role in Tennessee. However, it’s notable that even when Long Jr missed time toward the end of the season, Rice and Jack Gibbens shared the spoils, and neither player excelled.
Al-Shaair’s long-term value is unclear as he only signed a one-year deal, but he should be a reliable fantasy asset in 2023.
Ernest Jones, LB LAR
Last off-season, I was a vocal pessimist about Jones’ chances of becoming an IDP starter in 2022. Ultimately, his snap volume was approximately what I expected, but he was far more efficient than predicted, notching 109 tackles despite playing only 723 snaps.
It’s dangerous to assume Jones can maintain that efficiency in 2023, but he may not have to. Bobby Wagner missed only eight snaps all year, and the veteran was a cap casualty in free agency. Jones is first in line to assume the role.
The Rams’ depth at the position is woeful, and it would be no great surprise to see them add a veteran in free agency or a rookie in the draft. However, regardless of what moves they make, it would be a major surprise if Jones wasn’t a huge part of their plans next season. His future is bright.
Milton Williams, DT PHI
The loss of Javon Hargrave leaves a gaping hole in the middle of the Eagles’ defensive line, literally and figuratively speaking. The team re-upped Fletcher Cox, and 2022 first-round pick Jordan Davis should see an expanded role.
However, there’s room for another impact player at the position; despite his nine sacks in 2022, Cox isn’t getting any younger, and Davis is arguably a one-dimensional player, perhaps best utilized in a two-down role.
Enter the ultra-athletic Williams. The 2021 third-round selection blew everyone away at his pro day workout, posting eye-popping numbers in the 40-yard-dash, vertical, and three-cone drills.
Milton Williams was drafted with pick 73 of round 3 in the 2021 draft class. He scored a 9.96 RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 7 out of 1371 DE from 1987 to 2021. https://t.co/eklfW85No1 #RAS #Eagles pic.twitter.com/uF1eEdWLKp
— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) May 1, 2021
We’re yet to see Williams demonstrate he can make an impact in the NFL – he’s managed only 941 snaps, 35 pressures, and six sacks in two seasons. However, he should see an uptick in opportunity unless the Eagles add competition at the spot.
Drake Jackson, DE SF
Jackson had a fast, albeit unsustainably efficient start to his rookie year, posting four sacks despite registering only eight pressures through the first six weeks. Unfortunately, he failed to record another sack the rest of the season, despite rushing the passer 143 times over the final ten games of the regular season.
In the last month, Samson Ebukam left the 49ers to join the Colts, and Charles Omenihu signed with the Chiefs. The departure of the two veterans leaves over 1,300 snaps on the table, and while it’s foolish to expect Jackson to pick up even close to those vacated snaps, the 2021 second-round pick should be in line for more work.
I don’t expect Jackson to become a reliable IDP starter in 2023, but he may be an asset in best-ball formats. Just keep an eye on what competition the 49ers inevitably add in the remainder of free agency or the draft.
Darrick Forrest, S WAS
Forrest emerged from nowhere to become an IDP favorite for many fantasy managers in 2022. He played only 26 snaps in his rookie year but exploded to earn 849 snaps in 2022.
The results were encouraging. His DB33 finish didn’t set the world alight, but he was a blessing in best ball formats after registering four interceptions, five pass breakups, and two forced fumbles despite not being a full-time starter for almost half of the season.
Broke down the Darrick Forrest pick. Really good film study! Played off a Hurts tendency from the Steelers game pic.twitter.com/YBJS9y3P2C
— Benjamin Solak (@BenjaminSolak) November 15, 2022
We should temper expectations that he can reproduce that big-play ability every season. Still, it’s reassuring that Bobby McCain left in free agency, opening the door for Forrest to play a more significant role in the 49ers’ plans.
We need to keep an eye on whether the Commanders add any additional players in free agency or the draft. Still, we should remember that the team employed a three-safety scheme well above the league average in 2022. There’s a good chance that continues as defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio remains with the team heading into next season.
Kyle Hamilton, S BAL
Hamilton struggled to establish the early foothold in his rookie year that many of us expected. Still, he became more involved as the season unfolded, and overall, he performed well in his expanded role.
The Ravens employed a three-headed beast at safety in 2022. Even when prized new signing Marcus Williams missed time with an injury, they handed Geno Stone an every-down role alongside Chuck Clark, leaving Hamilton a distant third in snap volume.
Clark has left to join the Jets, and Hamilton will assuredly fill the void. I’m a big advocate of not overpaying or over-drafting safeties in IDP, but I’m excited to see what Hamilton can do in 2023 and beyond.
I’m cheating with this one; Chuck Clark was traded to the Jets rather than exiting in free agency, but I’m allowed this one, right?
Sorry to disappoint. There’s not a single cornerback move in free agency that I feel changes the value of the players involved sufficiently to list them here.
Jalen Ramsey, Cameron Sutton, Patrick Peterson, and Sean Murphy-Bunting were all candidates here, but Ramsey, Sutton, and Peterson will remain in every-down roles. Despite his late-season resurgence, Murphy-Bunting appears to be embroiled in a battle for fantasy relevancy with three other corners in Tennessee.
Almost made the list
Terrell Bernard, LB BUF
Tremaine Edmunds needs to be replaced somehow, but I’m concerned the Bills will add competition at the spot in the next month.
Devin Bush, LB SEA
Can Bush do enough to secure the role next to Bobby Wagner until Jordyn Brooks returns from injury?
Kyle Dugger, S NE
Devin McCourty has retired, vacating over 1,000 snaps at safety. However, neither Dugger nor Adrian Phillips is true deep safety in the mold of McCourty, so I’m not confident it’s as simple as handing a more significant role to the guys remaining on the roster.
Dugger arguably had his finest season in 2022 and will remain involved in the Patriots’ three-safety scheme. Still, I have reservations that he will see a massive increase in snaps from the 752 he had last year.
- IDP Dynasty Fantasy Football: 2023 NFL Draft Rookie Edge Rusher Class - May 17, 2023
- Dynasty Fantasy Football: IDP Rookie Mock Draft - April 25, 2023
- 2023 IDP Dynasty Fantasy Football Rookies: Top Landing Spots for Defensive Tackles - April 23, 2023