It’s that time again, IDP managers. NFL free agency has come and gone, and we are preparing for the always exciting NFL Draft. While most dynasty managers are looking ahead to the draft and doing their best to project landing spots, it’s important not to lose sight of those veteran players who switched teams. This has been one of the craziest off-seasons in NFL history. Let’s take a quick look at the biggest moves from the AFC East and NFC East.
LB/DL Von Miller
Miller was moved before the trade deadline last season. He left Denver, where he holds the career sacks record (110.5). Miller was traded to the Los Angeles Rams for a second and third-round draft pick. The future Hall of Fame pass rusher would help bring a Super Bowl to Los Angeles last season. Miller became a two-time Super Bowl Champion while recording the highest postseason pass rush win rate (41.5%) since the stat has been tracked in 2017. The former Texas A&M pass rusher also tied a Super Bowl record with 4.5 career sacks in the big game.
Early in free agency, Miller decided to take his talents to Buffalo to join Sean McDermott and the Bills’ defense. The two sides mutually agreed to a 6-year $120 million deal worth $20M annually. Von Miller goes from the Rams, who had the highest pass-rush win rate (53%) in 2021, to the Buffalo Bills (46%), the sixth-highest rate last season. There’s zero doubt Miller can still get after opposing QBs. This will allow the Buffalo defense to use more players in coverage, which they love to do.
The biggest concern for IDP managers should be the Buffalo defensive scheme more than Miller’s age (33). The Bills have not played one single defensive lineman over 60% of snaps in a season since Trent Murphy in 2019. Miller has never posted a season under 76%. There’s already talk of using Miller in as many pass-rushing opportunities as possible. IDP managers could see him play fewer early-down snaps. The Bills are a team who have made it deep into the playoffs in back-to-back seasons. They would benefit by keeping their impact players healthy for the postseason. In seasons where Miller played in 16 games, he averaged 13.6 sacks per season. Buffalo Bills fans should be thrilled to add a highly productive veteran to pair with the youth movement they have invested in along the defensive line.
DL Shaq Lawson
A familiar face for Bills fans, a former first-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft returns home. Lawson had his best success in his last season, with the Bills recording 6.5 sacks in 2019. Lawson has recorded just five sacks in his last 28 games played. He’s played for both the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets. IDP managers should not be looking at Shaq Lawson as anything more than a bye-week fill-in. The Buffalo defense will likely rotate pretty heavily. I wouldn’t hold out hope that he can be a key piece of that rotation.
DL Jordan Phillips
Jordan Phillips also returns to the Buffalo Bills, where he had his best season as a pro. Phillips benefited heavily from the Bills’ defensive rotation up front, recording 9.5 sacks in 2019. Like his former teammate Shaq Lawson, Phillips has struggled since leaving Buffalo. He’s recorded just five sacks in 18 games played. The return to Sean McDermott and Leslie Frazier’s scheme can hopefully give him some dynasty value, specifically in DT required leagues.
DL Emmanuel Ogbah
The Miami Dolphins have been busy making moves in free agency to bolster their offense this off-season. Thankfully they didn’t forget to bring back one of their key pieces on defense. Ogbah signed a new deal with the Dolphins, keeping him in South Beach for at least the next two seasons. He has been very consistent in his first two years with Miami. He’s racked up 84 tackles and 18 sacks in that time. The Miami pass rusher finished as the DL20 last year with an average of 15.16 points per game. Dynasty managers have grown comfortable with the former Oklahoma State Cowboy, giving them consistent fantasy production every week.
New England Patriots
DB Jabrill Peppers
The New England Patriots have a long history of taking versatile defenders and making them highly productive players. They hope to keep this up with the addition of former New York Giants DB Jabrill Peppers. Peppers took a team-friendly deal (1 yr-$2M) to sign with New England. Although he was coming off an ACL tear last season, he still has a lot to prove. The former Michigan Wolverine could be used in various ways to help the Patriots’ defense. New England needs to upgrade both cornerback and linebacker. Peppers has seen time at both positions during his career, and his willingness to take less to play in Bill Belichick’s system should be encouraging for dynasty managers.
The Patriots have more depth at safety than usual, so trying to predict where Peppers will line up is anyone’s guess, but if we know one thing, he will be put in a position to maximize his potential. In leagues where you get points for return yards, Peppers can be even more valuable as I expect New England will attempt to have him returning punts once he’s fully healed from his injury. Peppers’ impact from a fantasy perspective this season remains to be seen, but at his current cost, IDP managers should at least be inquiring about adding him to their rosters for depth.
LB Mack Wilson
The New England Patriots are taking another shot at upgrading their LB group, this time by trading pass rusher Chase Winovich to the Cleveland Browns for LB Mack Wilson. Mack Wilson is excited about a new start and should be given a chance to return to the play he showed as a rookie. In 2019. Wilson collected 82 tackles with a sack, interception, and forced fumble. Mack Wilson was at his best under Nick Saban while playing at Alabama. Bill Belichick and the Patriots system have a similar structure. Hopefully, IDP managers who have held onto Wilson over the past two below-average years will see a boost in production for the former Alabama linebacker.
New York Jets
DL Solomon Thomas
Solomon Thomas is coming off a career year in sacks (3.5), QB hits (12), forced fumbles (2), and passes defended (2). Thomas played a rotational role with the Las Vegas Raiders playing 48% of snaps. The former third overall pick in the 207 NFL Draft has been disappointing over his first few seasons. He likely will stay in a rotational role unless there’s an injury ahead of him. Thomas finished as the DL83 last season, averaging just over nine fantasy points per game. IDP managers can look to add Thomas as a waiver wire find or late startup pick to provide depth to their bench.
DB Jordan Whitehead
Whitehead left the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he was able to be part of a Super Bowl Championship team just two years ago. He brings his hard-hitting style to the young Jets’ defense. Whitehead has collected at least 50 solo tackles in each of his first four seasons despite only playing 16 games once. The former Tampa Bay safety could boost production if he can stay on the field more than he did over his first four seasons. The Jets’ secondary is very young, but Whitehead can bring his inspiring play and be the leader of that secondary in no time.
DL/LB Dante Fowler
Dante Fowler will be joining his fourth NFL team in seven seasons. The former first-round pick has had a tough last two seasons in Atlanta, and he’s become a forgotten player in most IDP leagues. The former Florida Gator pass rusher had only collected 7.5 sacks in his last 28 games playing for the Falcons. Before that, he turned in a career-high 11.5 sacks with the Los Angeles Rams in 2019. Dante Fowler will look to fill the role of Randy Gregory, who left for the Denver Broncos in free agency. Despite being a low-volume tackler, Gregory was able to post six sacks last season with the Cowboys. Dante Fowler has legitimate double-digit sack upside, and playing alongside Demarcus Lawrence and Micah Parsons should allow him to return to his 2019 numbers.
DL/LB Hasson Reddick
Reddick agreed to terms with the Philadelphia Eagles in free agency. The former Temple Owl signed a three-year, $45 million deal. Reddick will be playing for his third team in as many seasons, and his last two have been extremely productive. Reddick has recorded 23.5 sacks over that period. The Eagles will look to Reddick to bolster their pass rush after finishing 31st last season with just 29 sacks. Reddick finished the 2021 season as the DL5 with 311.8 fantasy points; he averaged 20.79 fantasy points per game.
LB Kyzir White
The Philadelphia Eagles have been making it work at LB without a true stud at the position for years now. The top tackling LB in the Eagles’ defensive system has been a reliable fantasy option despite not having a big name. Alex Singleton has held this job for the past few seasons. During that time, he’s registered 257 tackles and finished as the LB24 and LB16 in each of the past two seasons.
Kyzir White joins the Eagles on a one-year deal worth up to $5 million for the 2022 season. White is coming off a career-high 144 tackles, including 90 solo tackles last season with the Los Angeles Chargers. The former college defensive back turned NFL LB has been a reliable fantasy option as a starter. IDP managers could be setting themselves up for another big season from White if he makes it through the NFL draft and training camp as a starting LB.
This is the first look at NFL free agency from an IDP perspective this off-season. We are constantly working to provide you with the best content to help you prepare for another successful fantasy season. As an experienced IDP manager, I know the importance of keeping track of players who switch teams in the off-season. These are often players you can target in rookie drafts while the rest of the league has eyes on exciting rookies. It’s an excellent strategy always to look to improve your team, and targeting veteran players on the IDP side has become a lost art in some dynasty leagues. I hope you guys enjoyed it, and I look forward to bringing you more IDP content this off-season.
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