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IDP Hits: Dynasty LBs to Stash

By Matt Schauf 12:29pm EST 12/2/23

Is the Next IDP Stud on Your Waiver Wire?

Foye Oluokun was always destined to be an IDP star … right?

Not even close.

Sure, now he’s a highly paid LB who led the league in tackles each of the past two years. But after his second season (2019), he was just some dude on the Falcons who had started 10 of a possible 32 games.

T.J. Edwards sits second among LBs in total fantasy points right now (depending on your format). But heading into his second season, he was an undrafted 24-year-old with 30 rookie-year tackles.

Bills LB Terrel Bernard got a better start, entering the league as a third-round pick in 2022. But he played just 10.5% of Buffalo’s snaps that season and then had to fight off Tyrel Dodson for a starting gig this year.

 

Opportunity is the Key

Am I saying the list of LBs below holds the next Oluokun, Edwards, or Bernard? No. Well … not necessarily.

The point: We don’t if it does or doesn’t. We didn’t know after Year 1 that any of those first three LBs would be carrying our IDP lineups by 2023. But each faced available opportunity ahead of his breakout season.

Tremaine Edmunds’ free-agent departure gave Bernard a starting gig to fight for.

Edwards played for an Eagles team that sported Nathan Gerry as its top incumbent LB. (Don’t feel bad if you’ve forgotten who that is.)

Oluokun’s Falcons let LB De’Vondre Campbell walk in free agency the offseason before Oluokun’s breakthrough.

 

Who’s Next?

It’s probable that none of the LBs below becomes the next Foye Oluokun. That’d be a lofty standard to hope for.

And perhaps none of them becomes valuable for IDP lineups at any point.

So why bother highlighting them? Because many of these guys should be freely (or at least cheaply) available in may IDP leagues. And this is the time of year to stash players you hope will help next year and beyond, rather than clinging to a guy who might help you in Week 16 if two other wideouts on his team gets hurt and his QB rebounds.

And why LB? Because the league has devalued the position to the point that we now commonly have mid-round, late-round, and even undrafted new guys getting shots.

Just look at Ivan Pace Jr. in Minnesota this season. Or Frankie Luvu emerging in Carolina over the past two years.

Consider stashing available players from this group before their opportunities arrive …

SirVocea Dennis, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

He gets top mention because his opportunity has already started to arrive.

Dennis played starter-level snaps in Week 12, with Lavonte David inactive. David and Devin White have both been ruled out for Sunday’s game against the Panthers. But Dennis is also doubtful with an illness. So it’s unclear when we’ll get our next look at him.

David and White are both set to hit free agency this offseason, though. White’s an overrated player who was reportedly available via trade this past offseason (and found no takers). David remains very good but will also turn 34 in January.

Dennis brings limited athleticism, including just a 34th-percentile speed score for the position. But he racked up 10+ tackles for loss in each of three starting college seasons. That’s terrific production especially for a non-edge LB.

And Dennis’ Pro Football Focus coverage grade improved each college season.

Daiyan Henley, Los Angeles Chargers

This third-round pick has gotten just 27 total snaps so far despite the Chargers’ defensive struggles. But the rookie opened the year dealing with a hamstring injury and sits behind two high-priced veterans on the depth chart.

Kenneth Murray’s rookie contract runs out after this season. Eric Kendricks has one more year on the pact he signed after Minnesota dumped him last offseason. But the Chargers can also cut him and save $4 million in cap space (just $2.75 million in dead cap for 2024).

Among this year’s non-edge LB rookie class, Henley ranked:

  • fourth in final-year TFLs per game
  • fifth in final-year tackle share
  • first in single-season high for INTs (4 in 2021)

Henley trailed others in career numbers for good reason. He arrived at Nevada as an “athlete,” beginning his college career at WR. He: 

  • played a little DB in 2018
  • moved to safety in 2019
  • shifted to LB in 2020
  • Became a LB starter in 2021

He led that team with 102 tackles and grabbed those 4 INTs. Then Henley followed his position coach to Washington State and delivered 12 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, and 3 forced fumbles in his final college campaign.

He’s still fairly new to LB. But there’s room for him to start for the Chargers in 2024.

Drew Sanders, Denver Broncos
Trenton Simpson, Baltimore Ravens

I’m pairing these two because they hit the 2023 draft with higher profiles than other guys on this list.

Both Sanders and Simpson got some first-round play in mock drafts, but both ultimately landed in Round 3 – on teams that didn’t need them to play right away.

Denver could move on from LB Josey Jewell as soon as this offseason, though. And Ravens LB Patrick Queen seems likely to leave when his contract expires at the end of this season.

If you drafted either guy and are wondering if you made a mistake, hold on to him for now.

DeMarvion Overshown, Dallas Cowboys

No, this is not a character from a Key & Peele sketch. It’s a rookie LB the Cowboys drafted in Round 3.

Overshown might have gotten a shot this season, but he tore his left ACL in Week 2 of the preseason. That cut short an exciting summer, according to Jerry Jones.

“I don’t know that we’ve had a draft pick show any better and have the promise of extending that into the season in his first year,” Jones said after Overshown’s injury.

Assuming he’s ready for 2024, Overshown will likely find a defense without LB Leighton Vander Esch. Damone Clark has filled in solidly but doesn’t look like a lock to lead the unit long term. 

He has reached 90% playing time in a game just twice this season, despite LVE’s extended absence. Among 79 LBs who have played at least 200 snaps, Clark ranks: 

  • 37th in overall PFF grade
  • 61st in run D
  • 19th in coverage

That’s not bad, especially the high coverage grade. But it doesn’t lock him in as the position leader going forward.

Overshown opened his college career at DB, finished it with 17 career passes defensed, and put up a 79th-percentile speed score among LBs at the Combine.

TIP

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Henry To’oTo’o, Houston Texans

To’oTo’o got his first NFL start in Week 2 and stayed in the lineup for the next five games. So he might seem a misfit for this list. But he has since fallen behind journeymen Denzel Perryman and Blake Cashman, and back behind Christian Harris, on the depth chart.

Doesn’t that make the fifth-round pick’s outlook worrisome? Maybe.

But it could also just be that coaches deemed him not yet ready for the opportunity – rather than a poor fit.

No current Houston LB looks like a sturdy long-term bet. That favors the only one among the quartet that was drafted since HC DeMeco Ryans arrived.

D’Marco Jackson, New Orleans Saints

Jackson’s the only non-rookie on this list but might be one of the most exciting players.

He’s wrapping up Year 2 as a Saints reserve after arriving in Round 5 of the 2022 draft. Demario Davis’ unreal durability (zero missed games across 12 seasons) has kept his backup from getting any chances. But Davis will turn 35 in January.

Corps mate Pete Werner has played 93.5% of snaps in his third NFL season. But he has also sen his PFF grades for total defense, pass rushing, and coverage decline vs. last year.

Jackson delivered numbers across three Appalachian State seasons, including:

  • 11.5 career sacks
  • 11 passes defensed over and 3 INTs his final two years
  • 20 tackles for loss as a senior

And then he notched an 87th-percentile speed score with a 4.55-second 40 time at 6 feet and 234 pounds at the Combine.

Heading into his age-26 season, Jackson could just be an opportunity away from becoming a serious fantasy contributor.

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