IDP Dynasty Assets for the AFC East and NFC East
The offenses might be on the rise in 2021, but don't overlook the defenses in the AFC East and NFC East. Specifically, these assets for your IDP dynasty teams.
If you listened to Josh and Johny the Greek break down these two divisions, you know we promised to reveal our research on the guys who didn’t make the cut for discussion on the episode. True to our word, here are the IDP assets from the AFC East and NFC East you should be paying attention to in your dynasty leagues. As always, these rankings are pulled from Adam’s free dynasty rankings on our website.
Note: If you see some obvious players who are missing from this list that weren’t covered during the episode, check out our other newsletter posts. We tried to steer clear of repeating guys we’ve already discussed and offer fresh insight below.
Gregory Rousseau, EDGE15
Gregory Rousseau was built in a lab where the scientist wanted to clone Jason Pierre-Paul (just with all his fingers). Rousseau is 6’6”, 266 lbs, has a 34 ⅜” wingspan, and ran a 4.73 in the 40-yard dash. For comparison, JPP is 6’5”, 270 lbs, with a 34 ¾” wingspan, and ran a 4.70 in the 40-yard dash. Like we said, the similarities are freaky.
We haven’t seen Rousseau play since his 2019 season with the University of Miami after he opted out of 2020. But, in that 2019 season, he was second in the nation in sacks with 15.5. That was only 1 behind 2020’s NFL DROY, Chase Young.
Only 2 edge rushers in Buffalo notched over 450 snaps in 2020: Jerry Hughes and Mario Addison, who both clocked over 700. Buffalo looks set to deploy a platoon of edge rushers with Addison, Hughes, Boogie Basham, and 2020 2nd round pick A.J. Epenesa. I wouldn’t expect this to last for more than this year, with both Hughes and Addison currently being 33 this season and on expiring deals at the end of 2021.
If we use Epenesa’s 2020 season as a yardstick, Rousseau could see rotational usage to the tune of 300-ish snaps. (Remember, Basham will get some snaps, too). But Rousseau did something Epenesa didn’t have the chance to do: play in the preseason, and boy, did he look good. Along with Joe Tryon-Shoyinka, Rousseau was one of the biggest winners of the preseason and training camp in terms of his perceived IDP value.
Jordan Poyer, S16
People talk about the certainties in life: death, taxes, and Manscaped giving you the smoothest trim on the market (we had to do it). We’d like to add another one: Jordan Poyer averaging double-digit PPG. Since joining Buffalo in 2017, he’s averaged 13.2 PPG and only missed one game in that span. What did he put up in 2020?
You guessed it: 13.2 PPG! No one played more snaps on the Bills than Poyer did last year, and per PFF, he was damn good while doing it:
Only Jerry Hughes rated higher than Poyer did last year, and Hughes played close to 400 fewer snaps. So, if you’re looking for points, volume, and consistency at the safety position, Poyer fits the mold perfectly. He is 30 years old and his dead cap drops tremendously in 2022, so there are concerns about his future in Buffalo. But don’t be surprised if he gets a Harrison Smith-type deal to finish his career in Buffalo.
Matt Milano, LB33
Much like Lavonte David in Tampa Bay, Milano is perenially underrated. In fact, if David is discount Bobby Wagner, Milano is Dollar Store Lavonte David.
Unfortunately for Milano, he was injured for much of 2020. Now, if you looked at the box scores, you’d think he played 10 games last season—but even in those 10, he only managed to play more than 30 snaps 4 times. Toughness is great to see when you’re his coach, but not so much as when he’s on your fantasy roster.
Where we do feel better knowing Milano was hurt is looking at the drop in his PFF grades, with his DEF grade dropping from 65.3 to 55.8, and his COV grade dropping from 83.3 to 54.9. We’re happy to give him a pass knowing he was hurt.
Amazingly, Milano is still only 27 years old, so we’ve got a few years before he hits the dreaded “30 zone.” (Trust us, it’s terrible. Savor your 20s. SAVOR THEM!) Milano will constantly get passed over for flashier names, but if he’s healthy, you can count on him to give you points week in and week out, like he did across 2018 and 2019. Across 28 games those two seasons, Milano put up double-digit points in 18 of them (64%).
Ed Oliver, IDL8
Drafted 9th overall in 2019, we’re still awaiting the Ed Oliver breakout we all knew was coming when Buffalo selected him. While it might happen this year, we’re not putting all our chips on it. Oliver was bad in 2020, both in a vacuum and compared to the other interior lineman on the Bills. Take a look at the grades from PFF:
His pass-rush ability was the lone bright spot in what was an underwhelming season. With 35 total pressures and 3 sacks on a 13% win rate, our old chum Tom Kislingbury put it best in his 2020 defensive scheme handbook: Oliver was a fairly average pass rusher in 2020. Certainly nothing special. He is not a top 15 interior rusher [at this stage] at a position group where there tends to be a top 5 or 6 who are elite difference-makers.
If you want to draft him in a DT-required league and see if this is the year when he finally breaks out, go for it. It could very well happen, and in dynasty leagues, it’s probably a good bet. But we’re looking elsewhere at DT for 2021.
New York Jets
Marcus Maye, S41
Somewhat surprisingly (or maybe not, considering it’s the Jets), Maye was the highest-graded player for Gang Green in 2020 per PFF. There wasn’t anywhere in his game you could point to as a glaring weakness: he was good at tackling and pass-rushing, great at run defense, and borderline elite in coverage. Take a look:
Even grading that well, Maye wasn’t as great as you would think for fantasy. Nearly 25% of his points came from a monumental 43-point performance in Week 1, which he then followed up by only reaching double digits in 3 of his next 8 games until the bye, averaging just 7.3 PPG in that stretch. Coming out of the bye, he put up double digits in 6 of his next 7 games, so he bounced back in time for your playoff push.
Maye was moved around between box and deep safety last season, and that could be the same this season with 2nd-year safety Ashtyn Davis starting the season on the IR, ruling him out for at least 3 weeks to start the season. Maye isn’t a big name for IDP, so he doesn’t come at a high cost. This means he’s a low-risk, possibly high-reward player who would add nice depth to your DB position as a S3/4 in 2021.
Emmanuel Ogbah, EDGE34
2020 was a breakout year for Ogbah. Finding himself on his 3rd team in 3 years after stints in Cleveland and Kansas City, he finished the season averaging double-digit points for the first time in his career. This was mainly in part thanks to a strong performance in the pass-rushing department, where he generated 66 total pressures, 10 sacks, and 12 QB hits with a pass rush win rate of 12.9%.
This year, Miami’s #2 and #3 edge rushers from last season (Shaq Lawson and Kyle Van Noy) have departed, which could very well mean an uptick in the 792 snaps Ogbah saw last season. It’s also a contract year for Ogbah, having signed a 2 year/$15 million deal in the 2020 offseason, so at only 27 years old, he’ll be looking for that next payday.
Jevon Holland, S27
While Holland was the first safety taken in the NFL Draft, most times you’ll see him taken as the 2nd or 3rd safety in rookie drafts behind Richie Grant of the Falcons and Trevon Moehrig of the Raiders. Holland was a 2-year starter at Oregon, playing 27 games across his freshman and sophomore seasons. He opted out of 2020.
We have to be a little skeptical of Holland’s ability to score points, as all signs point to him filling that deep safety role in Miami after they released the incumbent Bobby McCain earlier in the offseason. McCain, who’s now in Washington, rarely figured to be IDP relevant during his years in that role. Not once in 6 seasons did McCain ever average double-digit points across a season. In fact, only 5 of the 25 games he played across 2018 and 2019 amounted to double-digit scoring. So yeah, Holland has high draft capital and a decent college profile, but we’re not really digging the role.
New England Patriots
Josh Uche, EDGE46
In a year where seemingly half of New England’s starting defense opted out of the season, 2nd round selection Josh Uche was a bit of a bright spot in very limited action.
Though he played just shy of 180 snaps, Uche was the second-highest-rated Patriots defender per PFF and their highest-graded pass rusher at EDGE. (Minimum 9 games played). Uche put up 14 pressures, 1 sack, and 6 QB Hits on a 21.7% win rate.
So, that would beg the question: Why didn’t Belichick play Uche more? We can’t answer that, but we can tell you that barring injury, we won’t see a repeat in those reduced snap totals. Good Morning Football’s Peter Schrager has already put his personal stamp on Uche, calling him one of his breakout players for 2021. He said: "He simply does it all, and you can feel the buzz all the way from Foxboro this month." Schrager is usually pretty tapped in, so if he’s calling for a breakout, it might pay to stash Uche on the back of your bench while he’s still cheap.
Demarcus Lawrence, EDGE30
NFL-wise, Lawrence was ELITE in certain areas last year. Peeps the PFF grades:
Let’s just all agree to ignore that tackling grade, shall we? Yeesh. Thankfully, DLaw made up for his inability to tackle anyone with this pass-rushing acumen. He was top 10 in the league amongst edge rushers with 47 pressures on 668 snaps, 7 sacks, 6 QB hits, and a 17.1% win rate. What tanked his season a bit was injuries: Lawrence was plagued with a herniation in his back that caused pain to shoot down his legs. He had surgery for this injury during the offseason but is expected to be ready for Week 1.
What also hampered him in 2020 was a knee injury he suffered in Week 1 that put him on what appeared to be a pitch count of sorts. Only once did he play over 50 snaps in a game last season. Even then, he still managed to put up 11 PPG across the season and managed 6 games with over 15 points, all of those coming after September.
Lawrence no longer comes with the hefty price tag he once did, so if you can get him as your DL2/3 and not have to rely on him every week, you’ll be sitting pretty.
Jaylon Smith, LB29
There are generally 2 schools of thought in IDP land when it comes to Jaylon Smith.
Jaylon Smith is great. He’s an elite IDP scorer and the Cowboys wouldn’t have paid him if they didn’t believe in him. (Turns off all Micah Parsons highlights.)
Jaylon Smith is a liability. The cowboys realized they screwed up in paying him and are trying to rectify it by drafting 2 LBs and bringing in Keanu Neal.
We fall more in the second camp. Yes, over the past 2 seasons, Smith has averaged just shy of 14.7 PPG while playing all 32 games. In 25 of those 32 games, he put up double digits, and in 6 of those 25, he scored 20 points or more. That’s far from a flop.
But, from what we’ve seen in the preseason and heard from smart football analysts who cover the team, Jaylon Smith and running mate Leighton Vander Esch have been benched in favor of Parsons and Neal. Will the Cowboys outright cut Smith? Probably not: his dead cap is $16 million. And he’s too highly paid to never see the field.
But for the price you have to pay, we’re not interested in Smith at all.
Donovan Wilson, S24
Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn has a certain type he likes at strong safety. Donovan Wilson is… not that guy (cue the drop). But, and to quote Jason Moore of The Fantasy Footballers, don’t hear what we’re not saying—that doesn’t mean Wilson is a bad player. He graded out pretty well on a Dallas defense that was historically bad.
What he accomplished in the pass rush is outrageous and unsustainable: 4 pressures and 4 sacks on 8 pass-rush attempts. So no, we don’t expect that kind of output again in 2021. Wilson was OK for fantasy teams, averaging 10.75 PPG in 14 games.
What worries us for this year is his opportunity. Like we said, Quinn has a type and Wilson doesn’t fit the mold. They brought in Neal and Damontae Kazee from Atlanta, and although Neal will be playing LB, it could be a box safety/WLB hybrid. Kazee is more of a deep safety, so how are the alignments and snaps going to shake out?
It seems like Wilson will be starting, we’re just not sure where he’ll be lined up given everything the Cowboys have changed from 2020 to 2021. He’s a pass for now.
New York Giants
Blake Martinez, LB5
After making the switch from Green Bay to New York, Martinez put up his best fantasy scoring season to date, clocking in with 15 PPG and notching multiple 20+ point games throughout the season (see Week 3, 9, and 17). He had over 150 total tackles, 3 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, and an INT.
Translation: you were very rarely disappointed playing Martinez. Case in point, he only failed to score double-digits three times in 17 games. He also graded well:
Yes, the pass-rushing grade was disappointing, placing Martinez as the 3rd lowest on the team in that respect. But his career average pass-rushing grade is in the low 60s, so we expect that has a good chance to rebound in 2021. If he does, and that translates into more sacks and TFLs, you can make a strong case for Martinez as the LB1.
Leonard Williams, IDL5
All it took was getting away from Adam Gase for Leonard Williams to flourish—who would’ve thought it? (Ryan Tannehill, perhaps.) After being traded to the Giants in mid-2019, in his first full season in the other Meadowlands locker room, Williams finally lived up to his billing of the 6th overall pick in 2015. His 62 total pressures was 3rd in the league from the interior, behind only Stephon Tuitt and Aaron Donald.
He turned those pressures into 13 sacks, 18 QB hits, and a 14.3 pass rush win rate.
The 2nd highest-graded player on the Giants per PFF, Leonard was good at rushing the passer, but run-stuffing was where he really excelled, with 18 defensive stops that constituted a failure for the offense, and only a 2.4% missed tackle rate.
While Williams averaged 14.61 PPG from the interior, take it with a grain of salt. He put up an unbelievable 47.75 point performance in Week 17, and as we know, that kind of output helps no one. Without that game, he would have dropped to a more average 11.63 PPG, so it’s just something to keep in mind when you’re slotting Williams into your lineups. The ceiling is definitely there, but the floor is lower than you think.
K'Von Wallace, S43
Wallace’s ranking as a S4 says as much about others in this range as it does about him. It’s also a decent amount of projection on our part because the 4th round rookie wasn’t used much last season, and when he was used, he wasn’t overly good.
Before your heart goes pitter-patter at that pass-rush grade, allow us to slow your roll. Wallace didn’t record a single pressure. He rushed the passer 5 times on 203 snaps.
However, it’s not all doom and gloom! There’s a huge chance for playing time in this defense that is playmaker deficient. Jalen Mills and his 1,000+ snaps are now in Foxborough, and the other incumbent, Rodney McLeod, is predominantly a deep safety, which leaves Wallace to (hopefully) dominate the box snaps.
Washington Football Team
Jamin Davis, LB9
Don’t worry—you’ll hear all about Davis in next week’s “Flag Plant” episode!
To hear our discussion of these players, check out the podcast episode here.
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