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IDP Divisional Preview: NFC East
America's Team headlines a fascinating division for IDP assets. Who are the studs, sleepers, breakouts, and busts to know from the NFC East? Let's dive in.
We continue our divisional preview series with the NFC East, a division we covered on our recent episode with Jase Abbey. Who are the IDP studs, sleepers, busts, and breakouts you need to know from the Cowboys, Giants, Eagles, and Commanders?
Let’s find out, starting with America’s Team.
Stud: Demarcus Lawrence
If you only look at Lawrence’s total points scored and stats accumulated in the 2021 season, they look pretty lackluster. However, closer inspection reveals that Lawrence is in fact a Transformer… because there is so much more than meets the eye.
D-Law was elite in his 7 games played, and his run in the fantasy playoffs was next level (unless you needed him in your championship game, in which case, you probably lost and want to jettison him into the sun). We’re not holding grudges, though, and are happy to tell you that as long as he’s on the field and healthy in 2021, D-Law will be a true difference maker you can likely get at a discount in dynasty.
Bust: Micah Parsons
Now, before you cancel us, let us add the caveat: “at cost.” We don’t dislike players, especially ones as phenomenal as Parsons. We just dislike ADPs—and Parsons is being taken in the 4th and 5th rounds of offense + IDP drafts. That’s just too rich for a player with a low tackle efficiency and whose sack total is likely to regress from his 2021 total of 13. That said, in IDP only leagues, Parsons is in the discussion for 1.01 along with reigning DPOY T.J. Watt (especially if it’s bestball).
In regular drafts, though, build your offense while someone else reaches a couple rounds early for Parsons. There’s a non-zero chance that 2021 will be Parsons’ greatest season ever for IDP scoring. There’s also a chance the young phenom will blow up everyone’s models and be even better in 2022. We’re not betting against him, but at that ADP, we’re not drafting him either. It’s the smart approach, not the fun one.
New York Giants
Stud: Xavier McKinney
In 2021, McKinney turned into the player most thought he would be when he was drafted early in the second round of the 2020 draft. Injury might have derailed his rookie campaign but he was almost impossible to remove from the field in 2021 (96.9% of snaps), even with the Giants rotating 3 safeties before Jabrill Peppers got injured. Moving into his 3rd year, expect McKinney to improve on his S14 finish from last year and make his mark firmly among the top-scoring safeties for 2022.
The difference? We’re hoping it’s his alignment—after playing just 27.5% of his snaps in the “sweet spot” in 2021, we’re expecting that number to increase substantially in 2022. Logan Ryan, for comparison, played 41% in the sweet spot while Peppers played 74.5% of his 267 snaps in the box, slot, and on the D-line. As the possible “green dot” for New York’s defense, and with no replacement for his departed DB mates, McKinney is in line for a role that should be supremely profitable for IDP.
Sleeper: Azeez Ojulari
If we asked you who the top-scoring rookie edge rusher was in 2021, you’d probably guess Jaelan Phillips… and you’d be right. But only by 0.1 points over Ojulari! And while Phillips is being drafted anywhere from a late DL1 to mid-DL2, Ojulari can be had at DL3/4, much later than even his own teammate, Kayvon Thibodeaux.
Now, Ojulari has just come off the PUP recently at the time of writing due to a hamstring injury, but with 8 sacks in his rookie season and a proper offseason regime under his belt, we’re talking about a guy who will be in the mix for double-digit sacks. His cost, however, doesn’t reflect that upside. So buy the dip!
Sleeper: Josh Sweat
Sweat’s 76.1 overall defensive grade from PFF bodes well for 2022, especially with help on the opposite side (hello, Haason Reddick) and Brandon Graham running with the backups alongside Derek Barnett, who signed what’s essentially a 1-year deal after testing free agency. With an ADP of DL40 across our 6 IDP only bestball drafts, Sweat is an absolute steal if you think, like we do, that he has top 24 upside.
Playing just 58% of snaps, he’ll need to crest the 70% threshold to reasonably be in the mix for top 24. For context, 2021’s 24th finisher at EDGE was Charles Harris (by Big 3 scoring), who played 76% of snaps for the Lions. We see that as a likely outcome for Sweat, who’s just entering his prime at age 25, headed into his 5th season. Best of all, you don’t have to break the bank to take a shot on this high-reward player.
Sleeper: Nakobe Dean
A 2021 Consensus All-American and the 2021 Dick Butkus award winner, Dean was on the field more than any other front 7 player in what was arguably the best college defense we’ve ever seen. Five of his defensive teammates went in the first round, and Dean was expected to too, but slipped to the 3rd due to injury concerns. Well, those concerns appear to be behind us after 2 weeks of preseason action, during which Dean earned a 77.4 overall grade and an 85.4 run-defense grade from PFF.
Now, there’s a reason Dean is a sleeper and not a breakout. T.J Edwards and Kyzir White are still set as the starters, and both have had good camps so far. So Dean might be a bit of a stash, but know if the opportunity does arise, Dean has the pedigree to take hold of that position and never relinquish it to two guys on expiring deals.
Stud: Cole Holcomb
Holcomb was a late-round revelation for his IDP shareholders (no cancellations here) in 2021, with most of the shine being on Jamin Davis as the heir apparent to Jon Bostic’s 1,000-ish vacated snaps. But like his haircut, Holcomb was all business in the front end as he averaged 9 tackles per game leading into Washington’s bye week.
He dipped a bit over the back half, but not so much that he wasn’t still an every-week asset, with 6 out of his last 8 games being double-digit points. Extra appealing is his draft cost: in our IDP bestball drafts, he’s still going as a mid to high LB2 and he’s got the green dot. The LB9 from 2021 is locked in as a top 10 option.
Breakout: Kamren Curl
If this drum beat sounds familiar, it’s because we’ve been beating it for over a year! (What, why are you laughing? Oh, wait…) Coming into 2021, we were calling for the Kamren Curl breakout, and as it turns out, we were just a year early. Curl saw the bump in snaps that we wanted, unfortunately, he had a Landon Collins problem.
Collins was featured in a hybrid LB role in 2021, but now he’s gone, and the results through 2 weeks of the preseason have been fantastic for Kurl, who’s played 83% of his 49 snaps in the sweet spot. The buy-low window on Jon Macri’s #3 safety for 2022 is closing fast, and we’re not ashamed to be among the ones trying to close it.
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