Who will be this year's Kiko Alonso in your IDP league?
Well, the most likely answer is: nobody. Sure, another LB could come out of relative obscurity and finish among his position's top 10 in fantasy. But that doesn't mean you should bet on it.
That said, you can definitely bet on the rest of your league completely overlooking some strong IDP value come draft day. Some such sleepers will be understandably missed because they're new. Others will be the type that your league mates will kick themselves for not selecting.
Here's a list of 13 defensive sleepers you can draft to help bring about that kicking ...
Lamarr Houston, DE, Bears
Houston should be well known to IDP owners after cracking the top 15 at his position last season, but he remains undervalued in drafts. It's probably because he has never been the flashy sack guy that many other DEs are, but he'd make for a terrific DL2 on your squad.
Houston has been a poster boy for hidden pass-rushing productivity over the past couple of years. While his sack numbers have climbed just modestly across 3 years as a full-time starter -- from 1 to 4.5 to 6 in 2013 -- Houston has discomforted QBs at a much higher rate.
According to Pro Football Focus, he generated 39 total pressures (including 5 sacks) as a 2010 rookie who played the 2nd most snaps among Oakland D-linemen (and not as a pass-rushing specialist). That productivity dipped in his 2nd season -- 34 total pressures -- but then spiked the past 2 years. Houston racked up 54 total QB disruptions in 2012 and then 63 last year. His 2013 total tied Rams DE Chris Long for 12th best among all 4-3 DEs.
Tying with Long seems particularly noteworthy because Long is a pass-rushing demon and weak run defender -- basically the opposite of what you might think about Houston.
Now that Houston has moved to Chicago, he just might find a few more sack opportunities. Fellow free-agent addition Jared Allen will start on the opposite end, upgrading what Houston has paired with in the past. And 3rd DE Willie Young (a former Lion) probably could have started for at least a couple of those Raider teams.
Will moving back to left DE after playing on the right last season hurt Houston's pass-rushing production? We'll see. But his 2013 sack total shouldn't be difficult to approach, match or even exceed -- regardless of his overall performance.
More importantly, Houston ranked 6th among all D-linemen in total tackles last year after tying for 2nd in 2012. So he lays a strong, consistent fantasy base on which to build whatever he can in the sack category. That has us projecting Houston 13th in our site rankings, compared with his DL21 ADP so far in MyFantasyLeague.com drafts.