Welcome back IDP Nerds. This is your week one edition of the rookie report. I’ll bring you the top performers from the 2023 IDP rookies during the opening weekend of NFL football. The long-awaited return of football was well worth it, and as dynasty managers. It’s always essential to make sure you are in the know when it comes to IDP dynasty fantasy football. The IDP team at Dynasty Nerds always has your back, and we are here to deliver some defensive knowledge on what we learned from the rookies after an exciting weekend of football.
Will Anderson DL, Houston Texans
2023 Stats | DL 17 | FPts: 20 | Snaps: 48 | Tk: 6 | Sk: 1
The third overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft wasted no time proving his worth to the Houston Texans and dynasty managers alike. Will Anderson was widely regarded as the DL1 in this class, and he looked every bit the part in Week 1. He played 48 snaps, the second most on the team among defensive linemen. Pro Football Focus charted him as playing 42 of his 48 snaps as an EDGE defender, with the remaining two snaps coming with him over the tackle. Anderson posted an 83.1 overall PFF grade as well as posting positive pass rushing (69.7), tackling (75.4), and run defense (78.7) grades.
The man effectively known as “The Terminator” is currently a riser in our IDP rankings, climbing up to DL8 after Week 1. Anderson should be regarded as one of the highly valuable DLs in all IDP formats. In 2022, only 8 DLs averaged more than 15 fantasy points per game. It’s a good sign that Anderson already has a 20-point performance under his belt. The Texans rookie finished tied for DL17 this week, and I feel that’s his floor.
Lukas Van Ness DL, Green Bay Packers
2023 Stats | DL 53 | FPts: 13 | Snaps: 35 | Tk: 2 | Sk: 1
The Green Bay Packers received some bad news in Week 1 with Aaron Rodgers’ season coming to an unexpected end, which will cost them what they thought would be an additional first-round pick in 2024. However, the Packers got instant gratification from their top pick from the 2023 NFL Draft, Lukas Van Ness.
The University of Iowa product put together a surprising 13-point performance on limited snaps. Lukas Van Ness played 35 snaps, all with him lining up as an EDGE defender. He recorded five pressures, resulting in two tackles and his first career sack. He performed much better as a pass rusher than a run defender, but his 47% snap share was encouraging. I believe this was largely due to Rashan Gary playing limited snaps. Gary is coming off an injury that cost him most of last season.
Dynasty managers should pump the brakes on Van Ness being an every-down player. However, you have to love seeing production like this for a rookie in his first game. It appeared Green Bay was drafting for some insurance at EDGE with Rashan Gary in the last year of his contract. This year could be big for both players; if Gary departs in free agency, the Packers and IDP managers will be in good hands with Lukas Van Ness.
Jalen Carter DL, Philadelphia Eagles
2023 Stats | DL 61 | FPts: 11 | Snaps: 40 | Tk: 1 | Sk: 1
I must give a little love to the DT-premium leagues and the stud rookie Jalen Carter. It’s no secret how dominant Jalen Carter could be after being a key piece on back-to-back National Championship teams in Georgia. Carter fell in the draft due to some off-the-field issues. In just one NFL game, he has proven that he was worthy of a top-five pick in the NFL Draft. The Philadelphia Eagles’ future looks bright. Carter posted the highest grade (92.1) among all defensive rookies in Week 1. Carter also posted the fastest get-off for an interior lineman at 0.68 seconds. This man will be a superstar in the NFL and in IDP formats that require a DT starting position.
Highest graded rookies from Week 1⭐️ pic.twitter.com/UWdkJYWY37— PFF College (@PFF_College) September 13, 2023
Jalen Carter played the second most snaps of the Eagles interior lineman. He was a nightmare for the Patriots offense to block. It will be very difficult for the Eagles to keep him off the field. That’s good news for IDP managers, who will likely find some much-needed value from Carter in their respective leagues. Jalen Carter is credited with a 25% pressure rate in Week 1, according to PFF, the highest of any Eagles defensive lineman. As the rookie continues to get better, he will surely make a significant rise in dynasty rankings, even with him being a DT.
Ivan Pace Jr. LB, Minnesota Vikings
2023 Stats | LB 32 | FPts: 13 | Snaps: 46 | Tk: 8
Unfortunately for dynasty managers, the Brian Asamoah hype train was derailed just one game into the season. The Minnesota Vikings chose to roll with Rookie Ivan Pace Jr. starting alongside veteran LB Jordan Hicks on Sunday. The Cincinnati Bearcats LB was undrafted before signing with Minnesota and earning a starting role. He compiled eight tackles while playing 68% of the team’s defensive snaps. Ivan Pace was a dynamic LB in college who got better every season. He registered 260 tackles over his past two seasons before entering the 2023 NFL Draft. His 13 fantasy points in Week 1 were the most of all rookie LBs.
Ivan Pace Jr. is officially on the radar of dynasty managers and was a late off-season addition in deeper leagues. He will be added in nearly every league before Week 2. If the rookie LB can hold that starting position, he has a chance to have a very productive year at the cheapest price tag in any IDP league. Brian Asamoah should be breathing down his neck all season long for snaps. Let’s hope this isn’t a matchup-based situation for Minnesota, and we can get clarity. IDP rankers will be moving Ivan Pace way up their LB rankings if he continues to produce at this pace.
Brian Branch DB, Detroit Lions
2023 Stats | DB 10 | FPts: 25 | Snaps: 44 | Tk: 3 | INT 1 | TD 1
As a defensive football fan, Brian Branch was one of my favorite players entering the 2023 NFL Draft. His body of work at the University of Alabama was beautiful to watch, and I was excited to see his landing spot. I’ll admit I was a bit down on him joining the Detroit Lions, with the addition of Chauncey Gardner-Johnson to pair with Tracy Walker and Kerby Joseph made me nervous. As expected, the Lions could not keep Branch off the field, and he played the Nickel for 68% of the snaps on Thursday night. Per PFF, he posted a 77.4 tackle grade, but his big play came in coverage, making a great catch on a deflected pass, turning it into a 50-yard pick-6 for his first NFL touchdown.
Lions rookie Brian Branch said he’s probably watched his interception off Patrick Mahomes 100 times pic.twitter.com/je2umAIpw2— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) September 12, 2023
Brian Branch likely would have finished with a higher snap share if he hadn’t fought through some cramping in the game. If IDP managers had doubts about his usage, they surely had those questions answered. The newest Lions DB started the season as the consensus Dynasty Nerds DB24 but surely has a case to improve that with more performances like he had on opening night. The sky’s the limit for Branch after a DB10 finish in his first career game.
Christian Gonzalez DB, New England Patriots
2023 Stats | DB 15 | FPts: 24 | Snaps: 66 | Tk: 7 | PBU: 1 | Sk: 1
If we are going to show love to the defensive tackle position, it’s only right to do the same for cornerback. New England Patriots rookie Christian Gonzalez was a top IDP performer among rookies in Week 1. The Oregon product was all over the field playing 100% of the defensive snaps, all but five of those at CB. He would play one box snap, which resulted in his first career NFL sack and a big reason he turned in a 24-point performance in his first start. Cornerback is one of the easiest positions to stream in IDP leagues, but when you see rookies post 20+ point games, it’s hard not to take notice.
Christian Gonzalez finished as the DB15 after the opening weekend of football, and while you can’t rely on that every week, the numbers for now back up that he can provide a repeat performance. The Patriots rookie tied for 4th in the NFL in targets (10) and allowed a 70% catch rate. He will be tested again with a matchup against Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle in a primetime matchup next week. In CB-required leagues, dynasty managers should continue to ride the hot hand.
From an IDP dynasty perspective, it was an exciting opening week of NFL football. Not every year are we lucky enough to see rookie production like this, but I’m not arguing about getting some much-needed clarity on players we had major questions about. I will continue to break down these rookies and how well they perform as the year goes on. As an active IDP, dynasty managers feel free to use all the resources available to you at Dynasty Nerds and the DynastyGM app. Our rankings are updated weekly, and the weekly ‘Man Coverage’ series will be available all season long. Let us help you build those dynasty powerhouses and compete for your league championships.