IDP Improvements: Moves to Make Before Week Five

Jason Abbey

We’re already a quarter of the way into the fantasy season. Hopefully, your team has made a fast start and is well-positioned to make a playoff run. Consider some of the moves below to improve your chances of winning the fantasy championship.

Shaquille Leonard, LB IND – BENCH

EJ Speed, LB IND – ADD

Leonard has struggled to recapture the kind of form that made him a fantasy star a few years ago. The nature and prevalence of the injuries he has suffered in the last two years appear to have taken their toll on the 28-year-old. His fantasy value has plummeted:

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Source: DLF Dynasty Rankings History Comparison Tool.

His involvement in the Indianapolis Colts’ defense has decreased each week. Leonard played only 45% of the snaps against the Los Angeles Rams in week four. Conversely, E.J. Speed’s snap share increased to 55%.

Despite playing 57 fewer snaps than Leonard this season, Speed has been the more productive player. It’s too early to suggest starting Speed, but it’s looking increasingly likely that the Colts are grooming him to be Leonard’s successor. Leonard’s 2024 cap hit is an untenable $20.1 million, and the team can save over $4 million against the cap by releasing him.

David Long, LB MIA – ADD

One of your league mates may have dropped Long recently; Jerome Baker appeared to have a firm hold on the only every-down linebacker role for the Miami Dolphins through the first few games, relegating Long to fighting for scraps.

Long had a more significant role in week two than in week one, but we believed this was because Jaelan Phillips was unavailable due to injury. The versatile Andrew Van Ginkel – who played 41 snaps as an off-ball linebacker in week one – spent more time as an edge rusher in Phillips’ absence, creating more opportunity for Long at the linebacker spot.

However, in week four, Long earned a 93% snap share to Baker’s 76%, suggesting Baker may have fallen out of favor.

Cameron Jordan, EDGE NOS – START

Jordan was productive last season, but the truth is that he’s been in decline for years. This season has been no exception – the veteran has only a single sack in four games.

He may, however, be a sneaky bye-week replacement in week five. The New Orleans Saints face the New England Patriots this weekend. Jordan lines up almost exclusively on the left edge, and the right side of the New England Patriots offensive line is abysmal.

Patriots’ Right tackle Vederian Lowe has played as poorly as any right tackle (save for the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Dan Moore Jr.) The 2022 sixth-round pick was traded from the Vikings in August, and the Patriots may have regrets; Lowe has surrendered 17 pressures and a sack in the last two weeks.

The Patriots may turn again to Calvin Anderson, who started at right tackle to start the season, but they moved on from him for a reason. He’s just as poor as Lowe in pass protection.

Jordan’s dynasty value is diminishing, but you may be able to capitalize on any temporary increase in production by trading him to a contender after week five.

Josh Uche, EDGE NE – ADD

Uche was a productive pass rusher in 2022; he amassed 56 pressures, including 12 sacks, despite rushing the passer only 285 times. His impressive 19.6% pressure rate ranked first among all edge rushers.

The 25-year-old has been similarly efficient in 2023, producing 15 pressures, including two sacks on only 64 pass rush attempts.

The only thing standing in Uche’s way to becoming more fantasy-relevant has been his limited snap volume. Matthew Judon and Deatrich Wise Jr. have dominated snap share at the position, and the arrival of second-round rookie Keion White has exacerbated the problem.

Hope springs eternal in the form of the unfortunate injury suffered by Judon in the blowout loss to the Dallas Cowboys in week four. The veteran tore his bicep and is expected to miss “at least” two months, Tom Pelissaro reported.

Uche and White should both have increased roles in Judon’s absence. The New Orleans Saints and the Las Vegas Raiders present favorable matchups for the Patriots’ edge rushers in the next two weeks.

Deommodore Lenoir, CB SF – START

Cornerbacks are notoriously streaky in IDP, but Lenoir has offered an excellent fantasy floor this season. He leads all players at the position with 29 combined tackles, registering double-digit efforts in two out of four games.

The top-scoring cornerbacks are often the most targeted, and it’s no coincidence that the 23-year-old ranks sixth in targets.

The 49ers welcome the Dallas Cowboys to the Levi Stadium in week five. It’s extremely optimistic to expect Lenoir to have a game reminiscent of the Patriots Myles Bryant, who finished with ten combined tackles against the Cowboys last weekend. Still, it’s well within Lenoir’s range of outcomes to continue his hot streak.

Conclusion

Bye weeks provide an excellent opportunity to find ascending players other teams cannot afford to carry. Pay close attention to waivers this week, as you may be able to find a dynasty gem.

Don’t despair if your chances of making it to the fantasy playoffs look bleak. The worst thing you can do is to sit on your hands and do nothing. Consider making moves to strengthen your team in preparation for 2024, and be mindful that other managers in your league may be thinking similarly. Don’t wait too long, or you may miss your opportunity to strike.

jason abbey