4 IDP Fantasy Football Targets for Week 4
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 4 IDP waiver wire. Here are your four targets:
Demarcus Lawrence, DL, Dallas Cowboys
vs. Washington Commanders
Roster Percentage: 20%
Coming off of a six-tackle, three-sack performance this past week against a divisional rival with a bad offensive line, Dallas Cowboys defensive end Demarcus Lawrence should be basically rostered everywhere in IDP fantasy football leagues. That he’s eligible for this column is criminal, and I will be reporting any of you who don’t pick him up to the FBI (Fantasy Bureau of Ignorance).
Lawrence has repeatedly been in the mix this season, helping set a strong edge as the bookend to sophomore sack artist Micah Parsons. So far, Lawrence has racked up 17 combined tackles in just three games, and Monday night saw him finally put a tally in his sack column – and then put two more in for good measure.
Lawrence has a roughly league-average pressure rate (per PFF) and pass-rush win rate on true pass sets (plays with four pass-rushers or more, excluding play-action, screens, short drop backs, and time-to-throws under two seconds). What elevates his game, however, is the attention defenses have to pay to Parsons, allowing Lawrence more single blocks and free rushes.
Even better is when he gets a cake offensive line and quarterback to attack, like the Washington Commanders' line and quarterback Carson Wentz. Wentz’s protection was non-existent in Week 3 as his O-Line allowed him to get rag-dolled for nine sacks. Wentz throws so much that his rates are about average, but Washington allows pressure on the quarterback and Wentz holds the ball for a long time.
Our model projects Lawrence for 3.4 tackles and 0.4 sacks, for just 4.7 fantasy points. That should be viewed as a floor after both his and the Commanders’ performances last week; Lawrence has sky-high upside here.
Jerome Baker, LB, Miami Dolphins
at Cincinnati Bengals
Roster Percentage: 8%
He’s finally back!
The Miami Dolphins’ defensive pivot, linebacker Jerome Baker, had been one of the least-efficient tacklers in the NFL prior to Week 3. This is uncharacteristic for Baker, who has a career tackle rate of 10.3%; in Weeks 1 to 2, he was at just 5.3%. Week 3 saw Baker return to a traditional box linebacker role, rather than lining up off the edge repeatedly as he did in Week 2, and he thrived. After 13 tackles and a half-sack, our young IDP hero should be back in your good graces.
In Week 4, Baker will face off against the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday night. Baker should get chances to make plays all over due to Cincinnati’s balanced approach to the offense (they rank 14th in adjusted pass rate over expectation; PROE). With running back Joe Mixon pounding the rock up the gut, Baker should have plenty of tackle opportunities in the run game. In addition, the Bengals’ status as a home favorite and Miami’s elite cornerbacks could lead to clock-burning play calling of runs and short-middle passing late in the game that can pad Baker’s box score.
Our model projects Baker for 6.9 tackles and 0.3 passes defended, totaling in 9.0 fantasy points. He’s expected to be a high-end LB3 for fantasy this week, but this projection accounts for his early-season struggles; Baker has major potential in this matchup.
David Long, LB, Tennessee Titans
at Indianapolis Colts
Roster Percentage: 8%
Much like the aforementioned Baker, the 2022 iteration of Tennessee Titans linebacker David Long has been struggling to rack up the points he usually does. This seems to be more a function of luck and the scorer’s decisions, however: Long has picked up eight combined tackles twice in three games this year but still comes in as just the LB54 (when removing LB-eligible pass-rushers) due to almost half of those being ruled as “assisted tackles,” which receive half the value of a “solo”.
His tackle rate is nearly 10% and he has played 93% of the team’s defensive snaps. While improvement from the Tennessee defender wouldn’t go unappreciated, he hasn’t been nearly as bad as his fantasy scores would have us believe.
If the process stays true, those pesky results should improve in Week 4 when Long and the Titans visit the Indianapolis Colts. In what is expected to be a fairly low-scoring affair (43.0-point total on FanDuel Sportsbook) where the host Colts are favored by a field goal, Long should see plenty of time covering the highly utilized running backs Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines.
Indy is a slightly below-average offense by adjusted PROE, so they won’t hesitate to lean on the ground game if the situation dictates it. Considering how inept Tennessee has looked on offense this year, too, there may be a lot of clock to salt away and therefore a lot of running back tackles for Long to make.
Our algorithm projects Long for 7.9 tackles and 0.3 passes defended, adding up to a total of 8.7 fantasy points this week. However, Indianapolis is the best fantasy matchup for linebackers so far this season, so his current projection as an LB3 is -- as we’ve said before -- probably a floor for Long in Week 4.
Richie Grant, DB, Atlanta Falcons
vs. Cleveland Browns
Roster Percentage: 10%
A year ago, I got very frustrated with the Atlanta Falcons’ deployment of 2021 second-round defensive back Richie Grant after his debut season. More than half of the 40th overall selection’s snaps were coming from special teams plays, and he spent 79% of his 276 defensive snaps as a slot or wide cornerback, rarely making a play in coverage.
As his PFF draft profile says, “[Grant is] a tough, physical safety that is about as good as it gets as the eighth man in the box vs. the run.” Those kinds of players -- especially ones with a 6-foot, 200-pound frame -- get used close, allowing them to essentially be another linebacker. Grant’s superb ball-hawking skills, however, were getting him dropped back in coverage too often.
This season, though, Grant is splitting his duties evenly between close roles (defensive line, box safety, and slot corner) and deep (free safety and wide corner), and it’s paying off. His 24.0 fantasy points tie him for 25th among defensive backs through Week 3, and his 11.9% tackle rate is better than the clip for most players at his position.
In Week 4, Grant and the Falcons will face the Cleveland Browns. Cleveland is a slight road favorite in a game with a 47.5-point total, which should mean a decent pace despite the Browns’ tendency to run the ball roughly a million times a game. Grant will get plenty of opportunities if he keeps getting to blitz from a slot position and attack downhill in the box against Cleveland's short-area-based offense.
Our model projects Grant for 6.5 tackles and 0.5 passes defended, totaling 7.5 fantasy points. He’s our DB13 overall for the week.