Welcome back, IDP Nerds; this is your week two edition of the rookie report. In addition to bringing you a weekly column for the ‘Man Coverage’ series, we want to provide more nerd data to our hardcore IDP supporters. Throughout the season, we will bring you feature articles featuring IDP spotlight players, rookie reports, and the quarterly IDP report covering all things IDP for your reading pleasure.
Tuli Tuipulotu, Los Angeles Chargers
Week 2 Stats | DL 20 | FPts: 17 | Snaps: 50 | Tk: 7 | Sk: 1
The Los Angeles Chargers selected Tuipulotu 55th overall in the 2023 NFL draft. The USC product has wasted no time impacting his new team. He has averaged 36 snaps per game over his first two games playing behind two veterans in Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack. His snap share increased from 33% in Week 1 to 77% last week. The Chargers’ top pass rusher, Bosa, was dealing with a hamstring injury all week, which allowed the rookie Tuipulotu to play a career-high in snaps.
The Chargers rookie EDGE rusher finished as a low-end DL2 against the Tennessee Titans. Tuipuloto collected seven tackles, including a sack. According to Pro Football Focus, he finished with a 69.3 pass-rush grade while creating three pressures out of 21 pass-rushing opportunities. This is a crowded depth chart currently, but with the long injury history attached to Bosa and Mack, there’s an opportunity here. Dynasty managers will have to wait until he becomes a full-time starter to start him with confidence, but that time might not be as far away as originally thought.
Byron Young, Los Angeles Rams
Week 2 Stats | DL 28 | FPts: 16 | Snaps: 52 | Tk: 5 | Sk: 1
Young joins his AFC rookie counterpart in making his first appearance on the IDP rookie report. Young was drafted in the third round (78th overall) by the Rams in the 2023 NFL draft. The Los Angeles Rams rookie comes in as a 25-year-old rookie, and with his experience, he has earned a starting position early. There’s no secret playing alongside Aaron Donald can give you opportunities most rookies aren’t given.
I hate that he went to the Rams but look at that spin move from Byron Young to get to Purdy. pic.twitter.com/40DsdwdjwU— Imagidadnation (@imagidadnation) September 19, 2023
Young had a huge week, finishing as the DL28 in week 2. The rookie EDGE rusher has played 88% of the team’s defensive snaps in 2023. Although it’s a small sample size, he’s been effective with eight pressures and 1.5 sacks over his first two games. Young has averaged 14 fantasy points per game to start his career with Los Angeles. The Rams’ defense is playing much better than expected, and as long as Donald is healthy, there’s going to be opportunities for Young to get after opposing quarterbacks and keep scoring fantasy points.
Ivan Pace Jr., Minnesota Vikings
Week 2 Stats | LB 28 | FPts: 17 | Snaps: 61 | Tk: 8 | Sk: 1
I’ll recommend you get very used to seeing this name in the IDP rookie report this year. We can’t get enough of an undrafted LB taking the league by storm. Pace backed up his big week 1 performance with another seven-tackle performance in Week 2. The rookie LB saw his snap share increase over the past two weeks and has posted positive PFF grades in tackling (85.4), pass rushing (91.9), and coverage grades (70.3) over his first two games.
IDP managers are thrilled with the production from the undrafted rookie to start the 2023 season, with most acquiring him on waivers after his Week 1 performance. At this point, the Vikings rookie LB is a must-start every week. He ranks tied for 12th amongst all LBs in solo tackles (14) and continues to be an effective pass rusher as well. Until he proves otherwise, you continue to start Pace and hope his consistent production continues.
Henry To’o To’o, Houston Texans
Week 2 Stats | LB 51 | FPts: 11 | Snaps: 46 | Tk: 7
The 2023 LB class wasn’t the most exciting heading into the 2023 NFL draft, so it’s no surprise that we should have multiple players making first appearances in this column all season long. Demeco Ryans is a defensive-minded coach and former Alabama LB himself, so it seemed like a solid fit with To’o To’o being drafted in the fifth round.
The Texans rookie LB played just 34% of snaps in Week 1 but saw that number jump to 80% in Week 2. To’o To’o took a majority of snaps away from another former Alabama LB, Christian Harris. I’m not yet sold on one being better than the other, so a two-game sample, unfortunately, doesn’t give us the answers we are looking for. As of now, we do know Denzel Perryman is going to be the LB1 for the Texans. Who will play the majority of snaps alongside him is going to have to be a waiting game. It was encouraging to see the rookie LB be a volume tackler in his first real chance in the NFL. If he can earn the starting spot going forward, he could turn in a solid season and be valuable as a rookie.
Emmanuel Forbes, Washington Commanders
Week 2 Stats | DB 29 | FPts: 17 | Snaps: 44 | Tk: 3 | INT 1
It’s a little disheartening as an IDP analyst to have to hype up rookie cornerbacks, but here we are, just two weeks into the season. The questionable landing spots for some of the rookie safeties have forced us to find some value at the DB position. There’s no secret about the effectiveness you can have streaming the DB position in fantasy football if you do your homework. Forbes has started his career playing 66% of snaps and averaging 14 fantasy points per game.
The 16th overall pick in the 2023 NFL posted three tackles and his first career interception in a huge Week 2 win against the Denver Broncos. I’m not advocating rostering Forbes even in CB-required formats, but he deserves some praise for being the rookie DB2 overall this week. The Mississippi State DB should continue to see his snap share increase, but until that happens, his tackle opportunities and targets are not high enough to justify having him on your roster.
Christian Gonzalez, New England Patriots
Week 2 Stats | DB 15 | FPts: 21 | Snaps: 63 | Tk: 6 | INT: 1
Are we ready to give Gonzalez Rookie of the Month yet? The Patriots CB has quickly put the NFL and opposing WRs on notice. He has posted back-to-back 20-point weeks in his first two games. Gonzalez ranks tied for 11th in solo tackles, tied for second in interceptions, and tied for ninth in targets through two weeks. He posted a phenomenal 91.6 coverage grade against arguably the best WR group in the NFL. He ranks sixth overall in the NFL in coverage grade, according to Pro Football Focus.
Christian Gonzalez had the LOCKS on Tyreek Hill last night 😳— NFL Rookie Watch (@NFLRookieWatxh) September 18, 2023
Gonzalez was targeted just TWICE while he was in coverage on Hill.
He didn’t allow a SINGLE reception and came away with an interception on one of the targets.
Gonzalez is currently allowing a passer rating of 58.5… pic.twitter.com/oNNDvdaWqz
It takes a lot for me to advocate for starting a CB in non-required leagues, but Gonzalez deserves that honor. He is just one of three New England defenders to play 100% of defensive snaps through two games. This is a special talent, but until NFL opposing offenses realize that he’s going to continue to turn in big games. He’s posted a sack or interception in each of his first two games. Surely, that will come to a halt, but his 6.5 tackles per game give him a safe floor. I’m positive this won’t be the last time we are talking about Gonzalez this season.
We are already halfway through our first month of the NFL season. I’m hoping you guys are enjoying the rookie IDP content over the first couple of weeks. As the season goes on, the IDP team here at Dynasty Nerds has more surprises in store for the #IDPNerds. It is our goal to bring you more in-depth analysis this season to help you shift your focus and realize defensive players can help you win championships, too.
Our rankings are updated weekly, and the weekly ‘Man Coverage’ series will be available to you all season long. Let us help you build those dynasty powerhouses and compete for your league championships every year.