Utilizing individual defensive players (IDP) in fantasy football leagues can take your game to a new level. However, judging when to draft IDP players can be tough. Therefore, the important thing is to know which players you might be able to get late in the draft who can perform as starters for you during the season. Doing so takes the pressure off from jumping into the pool early and sacrificing at other positions.
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Fantasy football IDP sleepers for 2022
One thing to be aware of when it comes to IDP is that scoring systems vary more in that format than we generally find on offense. The IDP sleepers listed below will cover a variety of different scoring systems and present different options across a range of positions. The numbers quoted below are from Fantasy Data, utilizing their standard IDP scoring system.
Additionally, fantasy managers should also be aware that positional assignments can vary wildly from site to site. Therefore, it is important to check both your scoring system and where individual players can be utilized well before heading into your draft.
Chandler Jones, DL/LB, Raiders
Chandler Jones is a confusing IDP player to judge. His 8.7 fantasy points per game in 2021 was the fourth best among defensive linemen. However, 36.6 of his 130.95 points came in Week 1. The remaining 14 games saw him average 6.7 fantasy points per game. That was still good enough to finish tied for 16th at the position in points per game.
Therefore, it does not make sense that Jones is being ranked 27th among DL options on Fantasy Pros. Even if he just repeats his performance in Arizona, he would outperform that ADP. Meanwhile, there is reason to consider he could outperform those numbers in 2022. Last year, Jones was the main focus of opposing offenses after his Week 1 exploits. However, in 2022 he will be rushing opposite Maxx Crosby, who is a force himself. Jones could find plenty of one-on-one matchups that he can exploit in 2022.
Shaq Barrett, DL/LB, Buccaneers
If you can get Shaq Barrett as DL eligible, then selecting him is an easy call. Barrett averaged 8.2 fantasy points per game in 2022, which would have been good enough for a top 10 finish at the position. Even at linebacker, he was a top-24 player at the position in what was just a middling year for him.
Barrett is now two years removed from his 19-sack season. However, for the past two years, he has been the focal point of the defense. The hope is that Joe Tryon-Shoyinka will develop and take some of that attention away. If that does happen, Barrett could be heading towards the 15-sack range and make his current ADP and expert consensus ranking (ECR) look like a mistake.
Matt Judon, DL/LB, Patriots
Judon is another player that you have to jump at the chance if you can get him DL eligible. He celebrated his big-money contract in 2021 with a career-high 12.5 sacks. He supplemented that with a more than solid return of 60 combined tackles, including 14 for loss. His ceiling could potentially be even higher if he can force some turnovers. In the final three years in Baltimore, he forced seven fumbles but failed to force a single one in 2021.
In New England, Judon is part of a very talented front for the Patriots. There are a lot of very talented players that should allow Judon to continue exploiting one-on-one opportunities. His current value as the 47th-ranked defensive lineman and 78th-ranked linebacker leaves lots of potential room for value this season.
Devin Lloyd, LB, Jaguars
Do not sleep on Devin Lloyd just because he is a rookie. He was a multi-faceted player at Utah, able to rush the passer and drop into coverage effectively. As a senior, Lloyd had seven sacks, four interceptions, six passes defended, and 111 total tackles, including 66 solo tackles.
He is set to start at inside linebacker alongside big-money free-agent addition Foyesade Oluokun. Lloyd has the potential to be a three-down back for the Jaguars, but given the expectations are low for the Jaguars, teams could run against them plenty, keeping them in base formation. Lloyd can be a threat, whether it be tackling, getting after the QB, or following tight ends and backs on passing routes.
Damien Wilson, LB, Panthers
Wilson has become almost a forgotten asset this year, and that is a strange situation. He is coming off the back of a 106 tackle season with three sacks and five tackles for loss with the Jaguars. He can also work well in pass coverage, with a QB rating against of just 88.9 last season.
Wilson is now set to start in Carolina in the middle of that defense. He is more than capable of repeating or improving on the numbers that saw him as the LB37 in 2021. While those are not exactly incredible numbers, as a last round selection, Wilson could be a solid starting option in deep IDP lineups.
Divine Deablo, LB/DB, Raiders
It is exciting to see what role Divine Deablo could play for the Raiders in 2022. The young hybrid linebacker-safety played more than 50 percent of the defensive snaps in each of the final six weeks last season. In four of those games, Deablo scored 7.5 or more fantasy points. While it is nothing to shout from the rooftops about, it is potential.
Deablo is now set to start at linebacker for the Raiders in 2022 and could be a three-down option. Currently, Deablo is ranked as the consensus 62nd linebacker and 70th defensive back. He is another player you can add in the last round of drafts that could be an intriguing week-to-week starter given his projected role with the Raiders.
Jevon Holland, DB, Dolphins
If you have any Dolphins fans in your life, then Jevon Holland is not a sleeper for you — trust me, I have far too many in my life. Holland was an emerging star as a rookie, playing more than 90% of the snaps in all but one game that he was active for from Week 5 onwards. Despite not being a full-time player through the first four weeks of the season, he finished as the 41st-ranked DB in terms of fantasy points per game.
He should open the season as the starter in Miami and is well worth his price as the current DB28. What makes Holland an intriguing option is how multi-faceted he was as a rookie. Holland finished with 69 total tackles, three tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, and 10 passes defended.