In this weekly series, we're exploring every NFL team’s defense to provide in-depth fantasy football analysis for key IDPs. We'll focus on projected depth charts, what each IDP’s role will be heading into the 2020 NFL season and what we can expect from them for fantasy purposes. Plus, we'll cover a bonus name to watch for each team.
The Broncos’ defensive line includes one of the best edge-rusher combos in the NFL in Von Miller and Bradley Chubb. Unfortunately for most IDP leagues, they will be designated as outside linebackers, which hurts their overall value. Either way, in sack-heavy leagues, these two can still contribute solid enough production to make it into most starting lineups. Miller has perhaps been the most productive edge player of the past decade, having totaled 480 tackles and 112 sacks — both of which are the most by an edge defender since 2011.
Chubb started his sophomore campaign in the NFL off to a pretty decent start in terms of IDP production, as he was able to manage 19 total tackles in the first month of the season — which tied for fourth among edge-defenders — before losing the rest of his season due to injury. He only notched one sack in his very short 2019 season, but Chubb was starting to land on more IDP fantasy owners' radars with his tackle numbers alone. After averaging over 58 snaps per game in 2019 and with another influx of snaps expected in 2020, Chubb should once again be on the radar of fantasy owners this coming season.
Denver was a sneakily good spot for LBs in IDP this past season. Todd Davis had 124 total tackles, and Alexander Johnson joined the starting lineup in the second month of the season and finished as LB8 in total tackles from that point on. Both Davis and Johnson should have plenty of opportunity again in 2020 to create some solid fantasy numbers, as there isn’t a whole lot of competition at the position. Johnson is the more intriguing player at this point, having graded incredibly well last season after being thrust right into a starting role. I do have Davis ranked higher than Johnson right now but wouldn’t be surprised to see that change at some point this season.
Alexander Johnson became a starter in week 5 of 2019 for the #Broncos. His numbers from weeks 5-17:
88.5 overall grade (LB5*)
91.4 run-defense grade (LB1*)
76.3 coverage grade (LB12*)
97 total tackles (LB8)
10 TFL+NG (T-LB7)
731 snaps (LB18)#IDP
*min 100 snaps pic.twitter.com/4sCprEY0E1
— Jon Macri (@PFF_Macri) August 14, 2020
Two of the three highest-graded Broncos defenders last season were starting safeties Justin Simmons and Kareem Jackson. With both returning in 2020, there isn’t a whole lot of uncertainty about who will be seeing the most snaps in the secondary. Simmons has now played over 1,000 snaps in back-to-back seasons, which hasn't slowed him down — his 94 total tackles in 2019 landed him inside the top-12 among safeties. Considering his expected workload, I have him ranked right there again as S11.
Jackson's tackle numbers only slightly increased (5.4 per game vs. 5.2) during his first season in Denver after moving from corner to full-time safety. He finished 2019 tied for 32nd among all safeties in total tackles. The move to safety has likely extended Jackson’s career, but it hasn’t done much to help his IDP prospects as he enters his 11th season in the NFL.