Five IDP Rookies that Should Make an Impact in 2013
Last year we discussed the Six IDP rookies that should make an impact in 2013 and if you took our advice, chances are you were thrilled by the results.
Luke Kuechly racked up 133 fantasy points on his way to winning the Defensive Rookie of the Year, while Bobby Wagner compiled 124.5 fantasy points and Lavonte David finished with 129.5 points. Our lone rookie defensive back was Mark Barron, who scored a respectable 88 fantasy points. (Our two misses were Mychal Kendricks and Courtney Upshaw, who posted 74.5 and 57 points, respectively).
With an eye on duplicating that success this year, here are five IDP rookies who should make an impact in 2013.
Jon Bostic, LB, Bears
Bostic hasn't officially won the starting middle linebacker job but given how he's played this preseason, it'll be an upset if D.J. Williams unseats the rookie when he returns from a calf injury. Bostic received the majority of first-team reps in training camp and thus far in preseason he's compiled 12 total tackles, two tackles for loss, two pass breakups, and one interception. While it is a small sample size, he's shown enough to suggest that he's a playmaker, a Defensive Rookie of the Year candidate, and more importantly to fantasy owners, an IDP sleeper.
Alec Ogletree, LB, Rams
Ogletree was downright brutal in the Rams' first two preseason games and didn't look any better in the first quarter of their Week 3 matchup versus the Broncos. But then all of a sudden something clicked for the former Georgia standout, who popped the ball loose from Denver running back Ronnie Hillman in the second quarter, scooped it up and ran it into the end zone for a touchdown. Later in the quarter he intercepted Peyton Manning despite St. Louis' insistence on playing a basic shell coverage this preseason, and nearly intercepted Manning again in the red zone on a pass breakup. While he struggles to shed blockers, he has the athleticism and play-making ability to cause havoc for the Rams this season. In 2012, Jo-Lonn Dunbar racked up 111 fantasy points playing the same weak-side position that Ogletree will man this season. Already viewed as a three-down starter, Ogletree will have plenty of opportunities for tackles, interceptions and even sacks this season.
Manti Te'o, LB, Chargers
Te'o suffered a foot injury earlier this month but he's recently been walking without a boot and he's on track to start Week 1. Lining up next to Donald Butler in the middle of San Diego's defense should offer plenty of opportunities for tackles and forced fumbles. Some believed Te'o was overrated coming out of Notre Dame but that was based mostly on one brutal showing versus Alabama in the national title game. If you watched his entire collection of work last season you would have seen a linebacker that navigates well through trash, effectively sheds blockers, and is a playmaker in pass defense. Don't be scared off by the injury - Te'o is a solid IDP option.
T.J. McDonald, S, Rams
Tyrann Mathieu and Matt Elam are the two rookie safeties drawing the most buzz nationally heading into Week 1, but McDonald will wind up being the better fantasy player of the trio. If you're going to play safety for Jeff Fisher, you better know how to tackle. Last year Quintin Mikell racked up 101 total stops with three sacks and four forced fumbles for the Rams, numbers that could easily be matched by McDonald this season. The former USC product has been viewed as a starter since he was drafted in the third round and he's already made an impact this preseason, racking up nine tackles and blocking a field goal versus Denver. He's yet another rookie that IDP owners are falling asleep on.
Ezekiel "Ziggy" Ansah, DE, Lions
Defensive line coach Kris Kocurek stated earlier this month that the Lions view Ansah as a three-down player and not just a situational pass rusher. And while it often takes defensive ends up to three years to make an impact in the NFL (the moves they used in college don't often work at the next level, hence the slow development), Ansah could be a stud right out of the gates because of his linemates. Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley have looked fantastic in preseason and with the duo drawing so much attention in the middle, Ansah could be left to go one-on-one with offensive tackles. Granted, he was a boom-or-bust pick for the Lions at No. 5 overall and he could be a boom-or-bust pick for fantasy owners, too. But there's no doubting his freakish athletic ability and opportunistic situation in Detroit.
Waiver wire pickups to keep an eye on:
Arthur Brown, LB, Ravens
Tackles are everything for IDP owners and Brown should rack up plenty while taking over Ray Lewis' spot in the middle of Baltimore's defense. The last time Lewis played 16 games was in 2010 when he compiled 102 total tackles, two forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and two interceptions. The problem is that Brown isn't yet running with the starters; that would be former practice squad player Josh Bynes. But Bynes isn't going to hold off Brown all season so while Brown might not be draftable right now, he would be a great in-season pickup one he does take over.
Jarvis Jones, LB, Steelers
Jones is currently competing with Jason Worilds for the job opposite LaMarr Woodley in Dick LeBeau's highly effective 3-4, so there's no guarantee he'll make an impact Week 1. But make no mistake: Jones will work his way into the starting lineup at some point this season. It's going to be too tempting for LeBeau to keep Jones' athleticism, pass-rushing skills and coverage ability on the sidelines all year. In three preseason games Jones has racked up seven total tackles and would have had an interception versus Kansas City had the Steelers not be flagged for pass interference on the play. He has already made an impact in preseason, just wait until LeBeau starts designing plays to get him attacking the edge as a pass rusher.