IDP Sit/Start: Week 1

Updated: September 16th 2022

Welcome to my IDP Sit/Start Article for the 2022 NFL season. This article aims to help you identify those truly start-worthy players who might be more on the fringe of the 2nd or 3rd or even 4th tier of the position groups (based on FantasyPros weekly rankings) but have the right situation to be a startable asset for each given week. The layout of this series will focus on DL, LB, and DB position groups, however, I will try to get some nuggets in there for those “True Position” leagues that get down with DT and CB requirements! Additionally, where I can find the long-term value, we will also call that out to help you with some of that season-long planning.

Let’s get to it now that you know what I am trying to do!

START: Danielle Hunter, Minnesota Vikings, DL19

Danielle Hunter has that injury-prone label hanging over his head after back-to-back years of lost seasons (pectoral muscle in 2021, neck in 2020). This is scaring people off from what I strongly believe Danielle Hunter to be, and that is at tier 1 DL for IDP fantasy football. He meets the prerequisites of having pass rush win rates and pressures per game at elite levels when on the field. Secondly, throughout his career he has consistently seen around 80% of the defensive snaps each game and season and nothing has shown us that they are planning to bring that number down. Combine those points with the fact that Hunter is finally paired with another strong pass-rushing partner in offseason signing, Za’Darius Smith, Hunter has a path for success that should make him an every-week starter with top 8 DL upside for the entire season.

SIT: Sam Hubbard, Cincinnati Bengals, DL16

Sam Hubbard had a career year last season, in terms of sacks with 9 (tied career best), tackles at 62 (tied 2nd best), TFLs at 12 (career high), and QB hits with 17 (career high). These are strong numbers for where Hubbard was drafted last year and his perceived value. However, he did this on his highest snap total ever as well. His overall efficiency saw a drop but he delivered on volume. I am sure this is confusing at first because you are asking yourself, “Doesn’t Jake always say to chase volume for IDP?” And you would be right in every case. Volume is the first key to success for an IDP fantasy asset. The problem is, that volume came in what seemed more of a necessity than a desire. Hubbard and Hendrickson saw the vast majority of snaps as Joseph Ossai went down early last season. Ossai was an early round 3 pick (69th overall) and in the preseason, the Bengals were clearly showing signs of him being a key contributor. Once he went down, the Bengals didn’t have the talent or depth to replace that and just rode Hubbard and Hendrickson. With a full season to recover and prepare, Ossai will see an increased role which means a reduced snap count for Hubbard and Hendrickson. This means if you are looking for that high-end DL2 value, you are hoping he improves efficiency which is the less likely outcome.

START: Isaiah Simmons, Arizona Cardinals, LB26

Isaiah Simmons has had an interesting path to his current situation as it exists today. He was a top 10 draft pick (8th overall, 2020) but found himself on the wrong end of the snap counts (376, 34%) and given praise coming into the season and the increased utilization in other spots on the field, Simmons is looking like the key piece of this defense that he was (presumably) drafted to be. He spent time working with the safeties this offseason and he was recently named the defensive play-caller (given the green dot) for week 1. This aligns with his increased usage last season (1,005 and 94%) and the departure of other key defensive pieces in Jordan Hicks and Chandler Jones.

Right, wrong, or indifferent on how we got to this point, but we are here, and that place is “Success-town”, population Isaiah Simmons. I am sure there are plenty of people who held on tight to Simmons and always had the belief. Others though were most likely scared off from the low utilization, the lack of responsibility given, and even offseason talks that Jalen Thompson (Cardinals’ safety) would be the defensive play-caller this year. To those people I say, now is the time to get Simmons into your starting lineups! His talent, utilization, and opportunities are going to meet in a perfect storm, giving you a top end LB play this week and probably most of this season.

SIT: Anthony Walker Jr., Cleveland Browns, LB27

Going back-to-back in the FantasyPros rankings after Simmons is Anthony Walker Jr., and even though it is only one spot behind him, I would move Anthony Walker even further down that list. The primary reason for this? He is not even the best LB on his team… he might not even be in the top 2 for some people, and that is the case for me. I have him behind Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah and Jacob Phillips as LB3. This LB room ambiguity was not well-known in Cleveland due to other conversations in Cleveland (starting QB anyone?). There has been a some waffling on the green dot wearer for week 1 and for the season.

With so many things in the way of Walker succeeding and NFL defenses running almost no 3 LB sets to try and “guarantee” that Walker gets the snaps needed to be relevant, I am not rolling the dice on Walker of all people in that LB room. For me, it is JOK or pass. And I would rather pursue other 3-down LBs on other teams that give a better upside overall.

START: Kyler Gordon, Chicago Bears, Unranked

I am getting super deep on this one, but am a big believer in the slot role in Matt Eberflus led defenses. Kenny Moore has shown with the physical toolsets, the right coaching, and the opportunity a cornerback can be relevant. With Matt Eberflus taking over in Chicago, Kyler’s high draft capital and strong RAS, and him taking the lead on the slot role, all things are pointing up for Kyler Gordon!

Kyler Gordon to me is a player that will see the valuable snaps on the field as he was announced as the starter in the slot position and has taken most of his snaps there in the last two preseason games. The presumed microcosm of all of this, his first snap from the slot starting in preseason week 2, Eberflus blitze Gordon from the slot. In my opinion, that is just the beginning for him. With him taking the bulk (if not all) of his snaps so close to the ball and line of scrimmage, he has what we look for in DBs even but moreso for those leagues that require CBs. Also, historically rookie cornerbacks tend to see a strong number of targets against them that keep the floor and value safe for Kyler as well. He is basically free at this point and I am picking up all the shares of Kyler everywhere I can.

SIT (Fade or Trade): Jeremy Chinn, Carolina Panthers, DB5

So this is tough one to treat as a true “sit”. If you spent the required draft capital to require Chinn, it may be hard to actual have Chinn on your bench come week 1 this season. However, let’s just look at what we can probably more realistically do with Chinn, and that is trade him for a “tier down” at DB and maybe something more in another player or draft capital. But why would you get rid of someone from your roster that is a consensus top 5 DB (redraft and dynasty)?

It breaks down to two key components and one consideration. The first being the fact that Chinn has thrived almost exclusively on his ability to rack up tackles while taking the bulk of his snaps in the “Sweet Spot” (Box, Slot, DL) and his production comes heavily from his tackle production. He has not show big-play tendencies from his first two seasons combined:

  • 2 sacks
  • 2 interceptions
  • 3 fumbles (2 forced, 1 recovered)
  • 10 passes defensed
  • 8 TFLs
  • 10 QB hits

And this preseason he has taken 8 snaps in the “Sweet Spot” and 23 at free safety with new teammate, Xavier Woods, taking the bulk of those valuable snaps while they were both on the field. Knowing the usage looking like this and his past success heavily predicated on tackles (which are more easily achieved from the “Sweet Spot”), getting out on Jeremy Chinn now would be the best chance to maximize his value before it starts to potentially shift. Is this to say that if Chinn’s positional play shifts to a deep safety role he can’t produce? No, we have seen others do this; Justin Simmons and Minkah Fitzpatrick are great examples, but also tend to be the outliers. Chinn is good, but his value might be at his highest it will ever be right now, so now is the time to sell!

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