4 IDP Fantasy Football Targets for Week 3
Individual Defensive Player (IDP) has to be my favorite format in fantasy football. If you’ve felt satisfaction at a job well done with just offensive players, there’s truly nothing else like getting to field a full team – offense and defense – on the virtual gridiron and watching them grind your best friends into dust. You may not realize, but IDP have been in the fantasy game since the original fantasy league was formed back in Oakland in 1962, with two defensive back/linebacker slots and two slots for defensive linemen. IDP are an institution in fantasy football, and we aim to treat them as such in this column.
Each week this season, in honor of the four-IDP requirement in the OG fantasy league, I will identify four targets widely available on waiver wires (20% or less rostership on Yahoo!) that you should be aiming for in your IDP leagues. These recommendations are based on a balanced 3:1 big play-to-tackle scoring ratio. We’ll examine their matchups and their snap count trends while helping you figure out the best fit for your IDP rosters.
It’s the Week 3 IDP waiver wire. Here are your four targets:
Travon Walker, DL, Jacksonville Jaguars
at Los Angeles Chargers
Roster Percentage: 13%
I’ll be the first to admit that I did not believe in edge rusher Travon Walker when the Jacksonville Jaguars made him the first overall draft selection this spring. As anyone who prospects regularly knows, it’s immensely difficult to properly translate demonstrated production from college to the NFL. Walker, however, had put down only flashes of talent on tape and little to nothing on the stat sheet in his time in the NCAA; I assumed that would hinder him from developing right away into a pro-level pass-rusher. I was wrong.
Per PFF, on true pass sets (plays with four pass-rushers or more, excluding play-action, screens, short drop backs, and time-to-throws under 2 seconds), Walker has been just fine to date. His pass-rush productivity mark ranks 56th among the 110 edge rushers to play at least 18 pass-rush snaps through two weeks; his win rate against blocking ranks 60th among the same.
This week, Walker and the Jags travel to the west coast to take on the Los Angeles Chargers, who currently have a banged-up Corey Linsley and Trey Pipkins at center and right tackle, respectively. Walker has spent all but two snaps this year rushing from the edge, so Linsley’s likelihood to play doesn’t matter too much. What actually does seem to matter is that Walker gets moved to the side with the stronger offensive tackle, so that he can set up star Josh Allen with the weaker matchup.
This week, that means Walker will likely be on the right defensive side, working against left tackle Rashawn Slater -- who ranks second by PFF’s blocking grades. The upside here is that Slater is far more productive as a run-paver than pass-blocker -- the Chargers are allowing the 14th-highest pressure rate in the league -- and Walker has been beating the better tackles in his matchups enough to average 7.8 fantasy points per game.
Our model projects Walker for 5.3 tackles and 0.3 sacks against the Bolts; his 6.9 projected fantasy points makes him our DL2 for Week 3.
Zaven Collins, LB, Arizona Cardinals
vs. Los Angeles Rams
Roster Percentage: 3%
The Arizona Cardinals' defense is #notgood; we know this. They tend to give up a lot of yards and oodles of points, and that means they will be on the field quite a bit in 2022. For our purposes, though, that’s a positive thing, because we can target the Cards when looking for defensive streamers. I recommended safety Jalen Thompson last week for just that reason, and he raked in his second week in a row with nine or more total tackles.
In what should be the third-highest paced game of the slate, linebacker Zaven Collins should be consistently in the mix against the Los Angeles Rams. The young defender has been on the field for 98% of the Cardinals’ defensive snaps, averaging 7.5 total tackles and a tackle for a loss per game.
I was surprised to find that Collins currently has a bottom-third targeted rate in the passing game among linebackers to play at least 20 coverage snaps in 2022, but that should increase once offenses realize how vulnerable he is in coverage. Big pass volume in this contest could make for a ton of IDP scoring opportunities due to increased target attention, but also since Collins has already been deployed as a pass-rusher on 14% of his snaps this year -- an atypical trait among linebackers.
With quarterback Matthew Stafford fourth among current NFL starting quarterbacks in turnover-worthy play rate, too, that provides an even higher ceiling to pair nicely with Collins’ already impressive floor.
We project Collins for 8.0 tackles and 0.4 passes defended against the Rams in Week 3, for 8.9 total fantasy points. We rank him as the LB24 for fantasy this week.
Dre Greenlaw, LB, San Francisco 49ers
at Denver Broncos
Roster Percentage: 10%
The San Francisco 49ers look like they’ve gotten back to the vintage Harbaugh era-version of themselves, with a dynamic and unpredictable offense and a stout defense as their signature identity. They’re smothering teams enough with this identity that they come into Week 3 as 1.5-point road favorites, per FanDuel Sportsbook.
I’d normally say that being favorites by this small of a margin is an uncomfortable place for the IDP upside of a linebacker, but Dre Greenlaw is actually in a really good spot to take advantage of what projects to be a neutral-to-positive game script. The Niners have been running Greenlaw out on every defensive snap in 2022, and he has rewarded them and fantasy managers with an average of 6.5 total tackles and one tackle for a loss (8.5 fantasy points) per game.
One of the biggest sells for Greenlaw is his ability to both hold up as both coverage man and run defender, but the Seattle Seahawks exposed him last week by peppering seven passing targets into his zone over the game. He allowed every one of those to be caught -- that's bad for NFL purposes, but it allowed him the great IDP opportunity to wrangle eight total tackles in the game.
The Denver Broncos, his Week 3 opposition, should follow a similar pattern of attack. There will likely be a ton of dumping off the ball to tight ends, fullbacks, and running backs for Denver -- a strategy that allowed three of their opponents’ four starting off-ball linebackers to top 10 points over the first two weeks.
Our model projects Greenlaw for 6.8 tackles and 0.3 passes defended, for a total of 7.6 fantasy points. He’s Week 2’s LB42 by our projections.
Note: Philadelphia Eagles linebacker T.J. Edwards is still rostered in just 18% of leagues; if I hadn’t written him up each of the past two weeks, he’d be in here as a top-three fantasy linebacker for Week 3.
Donovan Wilson, DB, Dallas Cowboys
at New York Giants
Roster Percentage: 1%
Injuries are an unfortunate part of pro sports, but the bright side of one player getting banged up is another getting the chance to prove themselves. That’s the bittersweet situation we’re looking at with now-starting Dallas Cowboys strong safety Donovan Wilson heading into Week 3.
Wilson has been around the Cowboys for a few years now, flashing his IDP upside at various points in spot starts. With the signing of free safety Malik Hooker this offseason, Wilson was relegated to the third safety role in sub-packages due to the breakout performance of Jayron Kearse as a box safety.
Now, however, Kearse is struggling with an MCL sprain; he already missed Week 2 as a result of it, and, in his stead, Wilson stepped in and registered eight total tackles and an interception. Wilson played 51-of-69 snaps (73.9%) in either the box or the slot in his full-game relief of Kearse, an incredibly valuable role for a fantasy defensive back.
Week 3 sees Dallas visiting the New York Giants, who have so far allowed 15.0 fantasy points per week to opposing starting safeties. Those safeties, however, split the close and deep snaps almost exactly 50-50, so the average of 7.5 points per safety might be more of a floor for Wilson, who spends most of his time near the line of scrimmage.
Our model projects Wilson for 5.9 tackles, 0.12 interceptions, and 0.5 passes defended, giving him 7.2 fantasy points. By our projections, that makes Wilson the DB20 for fantasy purposes in Week 3.
Note: New Orleans Saints safety Marcus Maye is questionable with a wrist injury, but he would be a priority over Wilson if he practices in full this week. Maye is rostered in just 3% of Yahoo! leagues, but our model projects him for 8.0 fantasy points as the DB6.