Post NFL Draft IDP Rankings
For all those complaining about the lack of talent in the 2013 NFL Draft, there are IDP fantasy enthusiasts that are smiling because for them it is quite the opposite. This draft in particular has generated some explosive playmakers that can be an immediate impact to fantasy teams. Through my experience, IDP leagues rely heavily on the number of required roster spots and the scoring breakdown. In standard scoring leagues, the most important asset is the linebacker, which is usually the workhorse for your defense and is similar to running backs on offense. These players are coveted and are drafted early and often, and early success can be seen in Panthers linebacker, Luke Kuechly, who was a tackling machine in 2012. Linebacker is pretty deep in terms of talent this year, but there are several rookies that could be immediate contributors.
The second most important position is the defensive line spot. When selecting defensive lineman, the explosive defensive ends are the most coveted with defensive tackles valued less. There are some very exciting linemen in this 2013 draft class to add to what is considered a very thin position for fantasy. Defensive back is considered the least important of all your positions, mostly because it is such a deep player pool, and it is more of a crapshoot when trying to nail down a solid contributor. When adding rookie talent to your fantasy teams, it is safer to pay a little more or take a safety earlier than a cornerback that is has a greatest risk of job loss and is less involved in the run defense. Let’s look at the top defensive targets for IDP leagues now that we know their landing spots and the role they could possibly play in 2013.
1. Dion Jordan DE/OLB Miami Dolphins: Miami needed to trade up in the draft to grab Jordan, and for good reason. Jordan is a freak athlete who is a perfect fit in multiple, attacking defensive schemes. He has played everything from defensive tackle to slot cornerback and has a skill set unlike any other defensive player in this draft. Most importantly, however, he is an adept stalker of the quarterback, should rack up multiple sacks and be huge part of the Miami Dolphins defense in 2013.
2. Ezekiel Ansah DE Detroit Lions: Detroit made a risky pick here due to his lack of experience, but the upside in Ansah is undeniable. At 6'5" 270 pounds, Ansah ran a 4.63 40-yard dash and a 4.26 20-yard shuttle, an overall top performer at his position. Ezekiel Ansah hasn't been playing football for very long, but that doesn't mean he can't be effective. With his size and speed, we could be looking at the next Jason Pierre-Paul and be an immediate contributor to a Lions defense that already has a very strong interior defensive line. He is definitely worth a top pick in IDP format drafts.
3. Barkevious Mingo DE Cleveland Browns: Many experts were certain that the Browns would be trading down from the sixth spot to try to recover a lost second round pick after the acquisition of Josh Gordon. With a player like Mingo on the board that dominated the NFL Combine and SEC offensive lineman during his time at LSU, the Browns couldn't pass on such a tempting prospect. There are some questions about his size and lack of experience, but Mingo is ready to take the next step and paired with former Baltimore Raven Paul Kruger on the Browns defensive line he will be a force to be reckoned with and should definitely be on your fantasy teams.
4. Bjoern Werner DE Indianapolis Colts: Replacing Dwight Freeney was an important task in this draft for the Colts. Elite pass rushers are very valuable to a franchise, and it's possible that the Colts have found their replacement. Even though he was born in Germany, Werner grew up around football and portrays a very in-depth knowledge of the game. He may lack the physicality of some of the lineman taken above him, but with his solid fundamentals and high football IQ, I have no doubt that he can be an immediate impact player for the Colts. Indy needs him to get pressure on opposing quarterbacks next season, making Werner a must-draft who could transform into the next J.J. Watt.
5. Datone Jones DE Green Bay Packers: The Packers made an excellent first round selection and added a great pass rusher. Datone Jones is a freak of nature whose production backs it up. Jones dominated nearly everyone he faced at the Senior Bowl, and his combine numbers were off-the-charts amazing. Combine Jones with the already excellent pass rush scheme of the Packers, and there is no doubt that Jones could be the rookie defensive player with the most sacks by the end of the season. Between upside and scheme fit, Datone Jones is an absolute must add for all fantasy teams.
6. Jarvis Jones OLB Pittsburgh Steelers: The Steelers have a history of drafting players with highly productive college careers and who played for winning programs. Jones fits that mold as a highly productive college player who can step right in and play opposite LaMarr Woodley, as the Steelers had to part ways with James Harrison and his massive contract. Harrison had two years left on his deal and huge cap hits both years. Drafting Jones gives the Steelers a starter-capable linebacker that provides a different element than Woodley's power rush. Many are concerned with Jones' slow 40-time and lack of athleticism, but the bottom line is that Jones is a football player and can be successful much like Terrell Suggs, who was criticized for his lack of speed as well. Jones might not be an every-down player for the Steelers, but his ability to get to the quarterback makes him a huge asset to fantasy in 2013.
7. Alec Ogletree OLB St. Louis Rams: The Rams and Jeff Fisher made a risky pick on a player with major character concerns, but that's how Jeff Fisher does it. If anyone can give Ogletree the support and mold him into a mature professional football player, it will be Fisher and his staff. Ogletree is a rare talent; he has elite speed and is excellent in pass coverage that comes from playing safety in high school. He does have some issues getting off blocks due to his lack of size, and his tackling is poor in terms of fundamentals, both which could limit his playing time. The bottom line is that Ogletree is a high-upside player that will be all over the field while he's on it; the kind of player you want on your fantasy team.
8. Arthur Brown ILB Baltimore Ravens: With a Super Bowl win and a dramatic Ray Lewis retirement, the Ravens failed to find a player worthy of the veteran's role in free agency. The draft held a surprise for the Ravens, as they were able to draft a very talented and versatile linebacker in Arthur Brown. He is a small linebacker listed at 6'0" 241 pounds but what Brown lacks in size he excels in every other aspect of the game. That’s not to say Brown is Ray Lewis, but he has a very high ceiling and should be an every-down playmaker for the Ravens next season and for many to come. As tackles are such an important part of scoring, Brown is a must add to fantasy teams.
9. Manti Te'o ILB San Diego Chargers: Insert fake girlfriend joke here… seriously, time to move on from all of the nonsense that Manti Te'o brought to the sports world. I think we fail to remember that for an extended period, Te'o was considered the front-runner for the Heisman Trophy, and for good reasons. He doesn't have elite speed or athleticism, but what Te'o does bring is his flawless tackling and a high football IQ, which is so important a player's success in the NFL. The Chargers needed a replacement for the veteran Takeo Spikes who was cut after the 2012 season, and Manti fills that role perfectly. If he can survive the locker room criticism and media frenzy for the first few weeks, I have no doubt that he will be the vocal leader for the Chargers while racking up tons of tackles. Do yourself a favor and block out the negative you hear; this is player that you want on your fantasy team.
10. Jonathan Cyprien SS Jacksonville Jaguars: There has been a lot of hype surrounding this Florida International University sensation, but for good reasons. Cyprien is one of the most complete players in this draft with exceptional athleticism, and that is what should make him an immediate impact player. The Jaguars were lucky enough to select him in the second round. With the expectation that the Jaguars offense will continue to struggle in 2013, Cyprien should see a lot of time on the field giving him many opportunities to be an all-around asset to the Jaguars and fantasy teams.
11. Kenny Vaccaro FS New Orleans Saints: The Saints, who gave up more big plays than almost any team in 2012, needed to draft an elite safety, and they did in the first round. Vaccaro shut down West Virginia University wide receiver Tavon Austin last season, and that game is evidence he can match up against players in the slot. He plays physical and can match up against the elite tight ends the Saints face in the NFC South. Vaccaro is the top safety in the draft because he excels in coverage and against the run by taking good angles and utilizing his above average instincts. He is a versatile player on a defense that will see a lot of time on the field and should be an asset in not only tackling but also interceptions and turnovers.
12. Kevin Minter ILB Arizona Cardinals: A nice pick for the Cardinals who desperately need an inside presence. Minter is the model of consistency, and although he lacks downhill speed, he fights off blocks, fills gaps, tackles well and plays sideline to sideline. He should be a tackling machine, as teams will look to attack the interior of a defense that has a fairly impressive secondary. Minter is a great add and while he will never have huge weekly numbers, he should be one of the most consistent.
13. Kiko Alonso ILB Buffalo Bills: Alonso is a talented linebacker and fills an immediate need for the Bills, but he is a bit of a head case with multiple off the field incidents. If the Bills can keep him focused, he could be an ultra-productive tackler in 2013 and is a player I would want, as long as he came at the right price. The Bills obviously think very highly of him as they drafted him extremely high. They really have no backup plan, but this is a high-ceiling player that comes with enormous risk.
14. Jon Bostic ILB Chicago Bears: with this draft pick, the Bears find a player to take over Brian Urlacher's role in the middle. He is a high-energy player that could offer a large amount of tackles, plugging the running lanes, and becoming a leader of the defense for the Bears. He has great downhill speed, which will help in the run game, but he lacks awareness and lateral quickness to make tackles sideline to sideline or assist in pass coverage. Bostic is definitely a player to add, but know that you are relying mostly on tackle volume in a very talented Bears defense.
15. Matt Elam SS Baltimore Ravens: The Ravens did their best to replace Ray Lewis with Arthur Brown. Now they do the same by trying to replace Ed Reed with a rookie who has a similar play style and energy level. Elam is a hard-hitting, high-emotion player that is key for any defense and should be a Week 1 starter. He is an excellent tackler in the open field but his poor pursuit angles and his lack of elite coverage ability makes him a liability in the secondary. Expect many tackles with the occasional forced turnover but not much more than that.
16. Desmond Trufant CB Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons fill an immediate need by drafting Trufant and he becomes a near-guarantee Week 1 starter. Trufant has a rough road ahead of him playing in the pass-heavy NFC South against some excellent receivers, but he is talented enough to excel and be extremely productive for the Falcons. Trufant should be an absolute add to any fantasy team looking for an impact cornerback.
17. Xavier Rhodes CB Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings needed a physical cornerback, and even late in the first round, they got one of the best out there. Rhodes is a master at press coverage and should disrupt many receivers’ routes, providing opportunities for interceptions and turnovers. He is also strong in run defense and should rack up a high number of tackles for a cornerback. Due to his physicality and his almost guaranteed starting role as cornerback for the Vikings, Rhodes is a player that should considered by every fantasy owner.
18. Eric Reid SS San Francisco 49ers: As seen in their playoff run and Super Bowl loss, the 49ers are one good safety away from having a completely dominant defense. Reid might not be the most-talented safety in the draft, but he is a good fit with the 49ers as hard hitter that covers lots of ground. Reid should be a productive tackler, but there are concerns with opportunity available on a talented 49ers defense.
19. Dee Milliner CB New York Jets: I have my concerns here with the Jets expecting a rookie corner to step into one of the toughest passing divisions in the NFL and fill Darrelle Revis' shoes. Yet, Milliner is quite talented, and if he overcomes the early jitters, he could be an immediate contributor. What I like about Milliner is his tackling ability and skill in press coverage, as he completely dominated Tyler Eifert in one-on-one coverage in the National Championship. Feel free to add him, but understand there is risk involved.
20. Star Lotulelei DT Carolina Panthers: Anyone who watched a Panthers game last year can tell you their weakness was in the middle, as running backs gashed them for major yardage weekly. Star provides the big body in the middle that they desperately need, and even though he plays the less important defensive tackle, he could rack up major stats making him a must own in fantasy.