Early in the season, there are many players who went under the radar and break out early.
This year, we’ve seen wide receiver Puka Nacua go nuclear right out of the gate, and running back Bijan Robinson has been about as good as projected. I am going to focus on IDP fantasy football.
Lions first-round draft pick linebacker Jack Campbell made his first career sack this week, but he has not been the most impressive rookie linebacker in the young season. That honor belongs to Texans LB Henry To’oTo’o.
Including To’oTo’o, here are five young IDP players you might not know who produced big in Week 3.
Henry To’oTo’o, LB, HOU
11 points in IDP123 in Week 3
To’oTo’o led Alabama in tackles his junior year and made first-team All-SEC his senior year. The California native fell to round five of the 2023 draft because his raw athletic numbers were subpar. But he’s showing he can play at the NFL level and piling up tackles while doing it. This week, he made six solo tackles and four assists, both career-highs, as well as a pass defense. His snap totals have risen each week, and this week, he played 95% of the Texans’ defensive snaps.
Texans veteran Denzel Perryman missed Week 3 with a hand injury, so that was one factor in To’oTo’o getting more snaps, but the rookie also had over 80% of the snaps in Week 2 when Perryman was active. If he keeps playing well, he could earn the top linebacker spot, especially considering Perryman is 31 years old and playing on a one-year contract.
Terrel Bernard, LB, BUF
26 points in IDP123
Bernard made seven tackles, two sacks, a fumble recovery, and an interception in Buffalo’s trouncing of the Commanders. The interception, one of four Washington quarterback Sam Howell threw on Sunday, was Bernard’s second of the season.
Bernard, a 2022 third-rounder out of Baylor, is off to an impressive start in his second season as he has stepped in to replace Tremaine Edmunds. He has made 24 combined tackles, two tackles for loss, two QB hits, and two pass defenses in addition to his two interceptions and two sacks. Bernard should continue to be a high-volume tackler who makes occasional impact plays. He is playing over 90% of the Bills’ snaps. That said, it would be unrealistic to expect many more multi-turnover games against opponents with better offenses than the Commanders.
Kenneth Murray, LB, LAC
17 points in IDP123
Kenneth Murray entered the season as the Chargers’ secondary starting linebacker behind Eric Kendricks. He still played 90% of the snaps in Week 1, when Kendricks was healthy, but he only made three tackles. Kendricks has missed the past two weeks with a hamstring injury, so Murray has played 100% of the snaps the past two weeks. He has combined for 19 tackles and one sack in those games.
In a win over the Vikings this week, Murray made eight solo tackles, his season high. Kendricks’ status going into Week 4 is unclear. It wouldn’t be surprising if he misses another week. If Kendricks’ injuries persist, Murray is a viable starter in leagues of all sizes. If Kendrick returns to the lineup and takes over the play calling duties, Murray fades to a LB1b, but he should remain a starter in deeper IDP leagues that require three starting linebackers.
Tuli Tuipulotu, EDGE, LAC
12 points in IDP123
This second-rounder from USC is off to a hot start to his rookie season. He has made a sack in each of his past two games and 11 combined tackles. Against the Vikings, he made four solo tackles, four QB hits, and a fourth-quarter sack of Kirk Cousins.
Kei’Trel Clark, DB, ARI
12 points in IDP123
The 22-year-old Louisville product made 10 tackles in the Cardinals’ upset win over the Dallas Cowboys. An undersized (5-9, 177 pounds) but fast (4.42 in the 40-yard dash, 1.49 10-yard split) corner, he led the ACC in pass breakups as a sophomore and made the All-ACC first team as a senior. Already, he has made four pass breakups in his first three professional games, which puts him at No. 5 on the league leaders chart. He is locked in as the Cardinals’ starter, as he has played 99% of their defensive snaps.