Welcome back to the IDP Nerds rookie report. This is where we break down those top rookie performances from the previous week. It was a big Week 5 as we started the second quarter of the fantasy football season. We had multiple first-round NFL draft picks perform at a high level, and some sleeper rookies make an impact on their respective teams. Let’s dive into the young guy’s performances from last week’s slate of games.
Jalen Carter, Philadelphia Eagles
Week 5 Stats | DL 8 | FPts: 25 | Snaps: 39 | Tk: 4 | Sk: 2
Death, taxes, and Carter being the steal of the 2023 NFL draft. The former Georgia Bulldog has put the NFL and dynasty managers on notice; he’s the real deal in every sense of the word. Carter had his best finish of the young season coming in as the DL8 in week 5. Through his first five games, he has a 91.8 overall PFF grade while creating 23 pressures and 17 hurries, resulting in four sacks. He’s averaging 0.32 fantasy points per snap this season as an interior defender.
IDP managers never thought we would see an interior DL with 20 sacks upside like Aaron Donald showed us, but Carter is trying to change that narrative. He’s recorded the most fantasy points, sacks, and forced fumbles among all rookie defensive linemen this season. IDP managers playing in DT-premium leagues must feel like they have a cheat code at the position for years to come if they have Jalen Carter on their roster.
Will Anderson Jr., Houston Texans
Week 5 Stats | DL 38 | FPts: 13 | Snaps: 52 | Tk: 6
Anderson has recorded his third double-digit fantasy point performance of the 2023 season. He has finished over ten fantasy points in three of his first five games. Although his sack numbers aren’t where we want them to be just yet, he has been effective at creating havoc. According to Pro Football Focus, Anderson has collected 16 pressures, ten hurries, and five hits through five games. He’s also tied for first among EDGE defenders with 17 solo tackles on the season.
We don’t always get instant results as IDP managers. There’s an argument to be made that we have gotten that with the Alabama rookie pass rusher. Anderson has only recorded one sack, but his tackle numbers, pass rush win rate, and defensive snap share are all positive signs. He is tied for second in fantasy points among all rookie defensive linemen, while he ranks first in tackles among that group. Anderson is as good as advertised, and it’s only a matter of time before he’s in the conversation for the top-five dynasty asset at the DL position.
Dorian Williams, BUF
Week 5 Stats | LB 58 | FPts: 9 | Snaps: 32 | Tk: 4
IDP dynasty managers didn’t anticipate Williams seeing much, if any, playing time this season. The Buffalo Bills have been rocked with injuries through five weeks, and the most crucial blow came in Week 5 after All-Pro LB Matt Milano suffered a fractured leg. The Tulane product stepped in immediately when Milano went down but was on the wrong side of a split snap with Tyrel Dodson. The rookie LB did manage to record four tackles on 32 snaps while also having one pass breakup.
The decisions on who to target on your waiver wire are going to be difficult this week. Williams and Tyrel Dodson are opposites as linebackers, and if you could combine them into one, there might be a strong chance you have a serviceable LB in Matt Milano’s absence. I would caution IDP managers to play this safe because there’s also a very strong chance we see A.J. Klein as the LB playing alongside Bernard for the remainder of the season. Don’t get me wrong, we all love the opportunity for a young rookie LB, but in a system that favors rotation as much as the Bills do, this could be a nightmare scenario.
Henry To’o To’o, HOU
Week 5 Stats | LB 21 | FPts: 18 | Snaps: 75 | Tk: 12
The early season race for rookie LB1 has taken an interesting twist, as it always does. The Houston Texans drafted To’o To’o in the fifth round of the 2023 NFL draft, and he’s been a steal in rookie drafts. The former Alabama LB took over a full-time role in Week 2 and hasn’t looked back. He’s finished with double-digit fantasy points in four consecutive games while collecting 10+ tackles in 50% of those games. To’o To’o has averaged nine tackles per game since being inserted into a starting role and had one of his best weeks as he finished as LB21 in Week 5.
There’s very little competition at the LB position for To’o To’o in Houston. Veteran LB Denzel Perryman has returned from injury but is on the back nine of his career, and Christian Harris has seemed to fall out of favor with the coaching staff already. To’o To’o is currently the LB36 on the season and has a good chance to improve on that if his consistent play keeps up. IDP managers who took the gamble on him are very happy with their investment after the first five weeks of the season.
Tyrique Stevenson, CHI
Week 5 Stats | DB 33 | FPts: 17 | Snaps: 66 | Tk: 9
Stevenson has been one of the over-performing rookie DBs early in the season. The former Miami Hurricane is a speedy corner who has earned a role as the nickel back for the struggling Chicago Bears secondary. He’s averaged 53.4 snaps per game this season and has racked up 26 tackles on the season. The Bears rookie has also been targeted 27 times this season, which ranks tied for 21st at his position.
The DB position is very replaceable in dynasty fantasy football, but knowing where you can find value is key. The Chicago Bears LB group ranks in the top five in the league at combined tackles per game, so it’s fair to assume that Stevenson won’t maintain a safe tackle floor. Stevenson has shown the ability to produce so that should if nothing else, draw the attention of dynasty managers.
Julius Brents, IND
Week 5 Stats | DB 93 | FPts: 10 | Snaps: 60 | Tk: 4
The Indianapolis Colts selected defensive back Brents in the second round of the 2023 NFL draft. The Kansas State DB missed the first two weeks of the season with a hamstring injury. Since then, Brents has played 193 snaps, with 176 of those coming at the cornerback position. He has averaged 64 snaps per game and 13.6 fantasy points per game since his return.
The young DB is a solid streaming option in CB-required leagues due to his high-volume tackling production. Brents has 17 tackles, including a forced fumble and fumble recovery in his first three games. He didn’t have a huge performance in Week 5, but he’s featured here because of his consistency as a fantasy producer early in his career. Brents is the DB39 on the season with an average of fantasy points per game (15.7). He’s a name to keep an eye on as the season moves along.
It was another solid week of performances from our IDP rookie class. It’s always beneficial to see the players we spent high draft capital on performing well early in their careers. Dynasty fantasy football is truly a long game, so we can’t be so quick to give up on young players, especially on the defensive side, when opportunities and snap shares can vary so much from game to game.
I hope all of you Nerds can continue to use this rookie IDP content to your advantage to help build strong rosters now and for the future. I look forward to catching up with you later in the week for our ‘Man Coverage’ series; until then, keep building those IDP dynasty powerhouses.