When it comes to the IDP side of fantasy football, there are a lot of variables, and those change from position to position. However, in general, playing time is key. This is more so than on offense, where a player can play a handful of snaps a game and have fantasy value if those snaps come in high-leverage situations.
For defensive players, playing time is key, especially when looking at linebackers and defensive linemen. Therefore, let’s go position by position and examine some intriguing usage trends that we saw from Week 1.
All snap count data in this article is from Football Outsiders and is available free to view simply by signing up for an account. Roster percentages are from ESPN. However, IDP roster percentages are hard to judge simply because of the wide variation in IDP spots required from league to league.
The number used here is for reference only. If you have any specific questions about players available in your leagues, then feel free to shoot over any IDP questions to me (Ben Rolfe) on the PFN Discord server.
Additionally, IDP values vary wildly by scoring setting. My preference is the IDP123 scoring, so that is what my analysis is based on.
Week 1 IDP Snap Counts: Defensive Line
First up, here are the six defensive linemen eligible players on ESPN to play more than 90 percent of their team’s defensive snaps in Week 1.
- Micah Parson, DAL
- Maxx Crosby, LV
- Sam Hubbard, CIN
- Trey Hendrickson, CIN
- Greg Gaines, LAR
- D.J. Jones, DEN
Immediately, five of those names stand out as not having a huge roster percentage on ESPN. Crosby (23.2 percent) sticks out first, especially since he almost has the perfect outlook for a pass rusher. He plays a huge number of snaps and gets plenty of pressure on the QB.
In a tough matchup, he had six pressures on Justin Herbert in Week 1. Crosby is a must-add if available in your leagues. The only thing missing from his Week 1 stat line was sacks, but based on his play last week, those do not appear far away.
Hubbard and Hendrickson played the same number of snaps for the Bengals in Week 1. Both can get after the passer at will, making them valuable options. Hubbard is the more all-around contributor, while Hendrickson is the higher upside play.
Gaines and Jones fit a different profile as defensive tackles. Gaines’ stat line from Week 1 was underwhelming despite playing more than 90 percent of the team snaps. Last year, Gaines was in the top 15 among DTs in terms of total tackles and also added 4.5 sacks.
If you need DTs in your lineup, Gaines certainly has the playing time to help you. The same can be said for Jones, although he lacks the same sack upside as Gaines.
Other DL names of interest from Week 1
When you look at the player playing more than 80 percent of their team snaps, there are a lot of familiar names (Chandler Jones, Jeffrey Simmons, Aaron Donald, DeForest Buckner, Myles Garrett, Cameron Jordan, Leonard Williams, and Yannick Ngokoue). All of those are on IDP radars already.
The two names that immediately stand out are Aidan Hutchinson and Jadeveon Clowney. Hutchinson is immediately playing over 80 percent of the team snaps, which is promising. However, the Week 1 results were underwhelming, with just one assisted tackle and one pressure. The playing time makes him a player to stash, but maybe not one you want to start immediately.
Clowney is intriguing. He is widely available and had a strong start. He got half a sack credited to him despite just one pressure, had three assisted tackles, and defended two passes. Those two passes defended matched his 2021 total and put him a third of the way to his career high. However, if he is on my waiver wire and I have a bench spot to gamble on with the DL position, Clowney is a player I am considering based on his Week 1 usage opposite Myles Garrett.
Charles Harris is another DL name with an intriguing Week 1 stat line. He had five solo tackles and two assists, including a tackle for loss. He also played more than 80 percent of the team snaps. However, his stat line may also indicate that if you are streaming defensive linemen looking for tackles, targeting players with high playtime who face the run-heavy Eagles could be a wise move.
Similarly, Deatrich Wise’s three-pressure and one-sack performance for the Patriots would indicate targeting players with high playing time against the Miami Dolphins could reap intriguing rewards.
When we look at linebacker numbers, things are somewhat different. There were 26 players to see 100 percent of their team’s snaps and 38 over 90 percent. We won’t list them all, but I will highlight some intriguing names from that list.
Zaire Franklin played 100 percent of the defensive snaps for the Colts. However, this was likely because of the absence of Shaquille Leonard. When Leonard is fully healthy, Bobby Okereke and Leonard will likely be on the field the most. Franklin played just 18 percent of the snaps for the Colts last year. He is a player who managers should not get carried away with and could consider a sell high this week.
Mykal Walker is a player I am targeting on waivers this week. He played 100 percent of the Falcons snaps and put up a solid return. He appears set as the lead linebacker in that defense. Additionally, he blitzed on four occasions, increasing his ceiling exponentially. Similarly, with Blake Martinez gone, Tae Crowder played 100 percent of the Giants’ snaps and appears to have that role in New York.
David Long is another player whose stats stood out from Week 1, with two pressures to add to eight total tackles. He blitzed five times against the Giants, adding potential upside to the solid floor he should offer by playing on the majority of the snaps. Alex Singleton also appears to have jumped Jonas Griffiths on the depth chart. Singleton played the majority of the Broncos snaps, while Griffiths was around 50 percent.
Looking for deeper league options, Nicholas Morrow returned to the field in 2022 and played 100 percent of the Bears’ defensive snaps. He had five solo tackles in the game, putting him on pace for more than 80 such tackles this year. Based on last year’s numbers, that would put him as a fringe LB3 in 12-team leagues.
His playing time is certainly intriguing if you are looking for depth. Divine Deablo also played the majority of snaps for the Raiders and could see that playing time remains with Denzel Perryman injured.
Judging the value of defensive backs is intriguing because the value changes massively between scoring systems. Plus, a huge number play on the majority of snaps. 71 defensive backs played all their team’s defensive snaps, and 106 played more than 90 percent. Regardless of scoring, it is always wise to look for high-floor players who make a lot of tackles.
We know the likes of Minkah Fitzpatrick and Jonathan Abram will see that value, but who else stood out in terms of their tackles and what that might mean for their role?
Talanoa Hufanga had a monster first day as a starter. He played 100 percent of the snaps, and while you may think his Week 1 numbers are artificially inflated by the interception, his role in this defense appears clear. He is the starting strong safety, and production should follow. If you need a DB addition, he is a must-add right now.
Marcus Williams was not known for being a tackling machine in New Orleans. However, he had a great first start for the Ravens, with 12 tackles, an interception, and a forced fumble. Whether that was a product of the Jets leaning heavily on their RBs or Williams’ hybrid role between free safety and seeing snaps in the box is yet to be seen. He is a DB I am investing in right now in the hope we see these high tackle numbers from Week 1 continue.
Marcus Epps is another player to have a good week. He appears to have stepped up into a starting safety role. It will be intriguing to see if he can continue to have double-digit total tackle days playing out of free safety. He is a name on my radar to be added but maybe not started yet. He sits behind Hufanga and Williams in my priority for waiver adds this week.
At cornerback, Mike Hilton only played 84 percent of the snaps, but his role in the defense makes him intriguing. He had eight tackles this week, which seems inflated. However, he plays in the slot, which can often provide higher tackle numbers. Hilton should be a solid floor option if you need to start a cornerback.
In contrast, try not to get sucked in by a nine-tackle game for William Jackson. He plays out wide and had a career-high 45 combined tackles in a season. If you have room to speculate for depth at the position, add him but hold off starting him for another week.
In really deep leagues, Caden Sterns is a player to put on your radar. With Justin Simmons going on the IR, Sterns is expected to see increased playing time. While you may see him starting at free safety, if he assumes the role of Simmons, then he could drop down into the box and provide a high number of tackles as a starter.