Fantasy News & Analysis

Fantasy Football: IDP sleepers to target in rookie drafts

2X4J51A Philadelphia Eagles' Jeremiah Trotter Jr. warms up during NFL rookie minicamp at the football team's training facility, Friday, May 3, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

• Betting on Day 3 linebackers is a risky play, but there are a few intriguing options: Jordan Magee and Jeremiah Trotter Jr. stand out as potential Year 2 contributors if all goes well.

Jaden Hicks is the top Day 3 safety to target: With ideal IDP usage and experience, his skill set could translate to the NFL and allow him to deliver fantasy production sooner rather than later.

• Check out PFF's fantasy football rankings: PFF’s fantasy football rankings include ranks from our experts, projections and our strength of schedule metric.

Estimated Reading Time: 7 minutes

Taking dart throws in IDP fantasy football dynasty rookie drafts can be tricky because these are truly low-success plays, but identifying good players in opportune situations to emerge, even down the road, is critical in being able to hit on one or more of these options.

Every year, a select few emerge to become fantasy stars or stash options with the potential to break out the following season, which is exactly the type of players fantasy managers should consider late in drafts. Each player listed below was, at best, a third-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft and outside my top 24 rookie IDPs.

Diving into the best data available at PFF will help identify which players going later in rookie drafts are worth a shot for dynasty rosters.

LB Jordan Magee, Washington Commanders

Magee is the first sleeper with a chance to be IDP-relevant when considering his potential beyond his first NFL seasons. His current opportunity for snaps in Washington’s defense is going to be minimal, with the team bringing in both Frankie Luvu and Bobby Wagner this season, while former first-round pick Jamin Davis is also in the final year of his contract with the team. However, with Wagner also on just a one-year deal, Magee could end up being a nice fit in Dan Quinn’s defense in 2025 and beyond.

Quinn’s Cowboys ranked fifth in the league over the past three seasons in blitz rate from the box (72.2%), which is primarily a linebacker alignment. Magee excelled there in college, delivering 37 pressures and 11 sacks on 80 pass-rush snaps over the past two seasons. Magee also improved his overall play each season at Temple, culminating in an 89.5 overall grade to go along with career highs in run defense (83.1) and coverage (79.8).

A fifth-round pick becoming IDP-relevant, even in Year 2, is an unlikely occurrence, which is what makes Magee, specifically, a sleeper, but there is at least a path for him to emerge. Since 2006, just 10% of fifth-round or later linebackers who played fewer than 500 defensive snaps as rookies exceeded that number in Year 2. That number is a bit higher (14.3%) for only fifth-round linebackers, like Magee, with teams continuing to add to the position being the greatest barrier.

Should Magee avoid those hurdles — similar to Damone Clark, Quinn’s last fifth-round linebacker, who played nearly 800 defensive snaps last year in his second season — then he should be well worth a flier late in drafts.

LB Jeremiah Trotter Jr., Philadelphia Eagles

Trotter wouldn’t have been considered a pre-draft sleeper by most, typically ranking as a top-five linebacker prospect on the majority of big boards. However, a fall to Day 3 and into the fifth round puts him in the same conversation as a true sleeper like the previously mentioned Magee. Trotter was the 12th off-ball linebacker drafted in 2024 but lands in a great spot for a future role. He'll have an opportunity to step in as a starter with Devin White on just a one-year contract and the Eagles struggling to find stability at the position.

Trotter performed particularly well in PFF’s stable metrics for the position over the past two seasons, which included a class-leading 91.8 coverage grade and the second-best forced incompletion rate (12.5%) over that span. Philadelphia's depth chart is wide open beyond the two presumed starters in White and Nakobe Dean, and that’s where Trotter becomes more interesting for IDP.

EDGE Javon Solomon, Buffalo Bills

Solomon is a rather small edge rusher out of Troy, but he boasts some impressive pass-rush metrics and career production, making him an intriguing prospect in the later rounds of fantasy IDP drafts. Solomon boasts one of the best profiles for a Day 3 defensive lineman in this year’s class, as highlighted in the chart below. He also set a school record for sacks at Troy, passing both DeMarcus Ware and Osi Umenyiora.

Solomon early in his career is more than likely to play in a rotational role, considering the Bills' past tendencies and with Von Miller presumably healthy to rejoin Greg Rousseau and A.J. Epenesa. Solomon still has the opportunity to be productive among this group due to his ability to contribute on early downs and as a pass rusher. For deeper, big-play leagues, Solomon is one of the few Day 3 defensive linemen worth a flier when factoring in his stronger pass-rush metrics.

Javon Solomon | Career Metrics and Ranks Among Edge Prospects Since 2016
Metric Value Rank
Pass-Rush Grade 91.6 89th percentile
Win Rate 16.5% 64th percentile
Pressure Rate 15.4% 74th percentile
Quick Pressure Rate 11.1% 79th percentile
Run-Defense Grade 79.1 71st percentile

S Jaden Hicks, Kansas City Chiefs

Hicks is one of the more intriguing IDP safeties from this year’s rookie class, thanks to his experience and production around the line of scrimmage. Hicks spent 47.5% of his college defensive snaps in the box, which is the highest percentage in this class. As a result, he delivered above-average tackle efficiency (10.8%) and first contact (8.7%) rates, providing IDP managers hope that he can continue to be a force in the NFL.

Hicks did not get drafted until the fourth round of the 2024 NFL Draft but landed with the Kansas City Chiefs, who may have a use for him in dime personnel — of which the team deployed at a top-five rate in 2023 (22.1%). Within that deployment is a role for Hicks as a box-heavy safety who can serve as a second linebacker, and even occasionally blitz — which he did 22 times for eight pressures and three sacks in 2023.

With Justin Reid in the final year of his contract, Hicks will have a chance to showcase his abilities in a sub-package role in Year 1 to earn a starting role in Year 2 with continued IDP-friendly alignments.

DI Michael Hall Jr., Cleveland Browns

For defensive tackle-required IDP leagues, Hall could be a really interesting player to take a swing on, especially considering he has second-round draft capital to his name but was the eighth interior defensive lineman taken in this year’s draft. Hall joins a strong interior defensive line group in Cleveland that includes Dalvin Tomlinson, Shelby Harris, Maurice Hurst and Quinton Jefferson, and the rookie could potentially provide the best pass-rush upside of that unit. If not this year, then certainly in the near future.

Hall was one of the better interior defensive linemen in this class when it came to stable pass rush metrics over the past two seasons (see chart below), and could be one of the Browns’ top contributors from that group on passing downs if he continues to show promise there. With encouraging metrics and draft capital to bank on, Hall is one of the best bets to succeed among the interior defensive linemen in this year’s class.

Michael Hall | Stable Pass-Rush Metrics and Ranks Among the 2024 DI Class Since 2022
Metric Value Rank
Pass-Rush Grade 86.8 4th
Pass-Rush Grade on True Pass Sets 83.5 3rd
Pass-Rush Grade Without Play Action 85.3 2nd
Pass-Rush Win Rate 15.0% 3rd

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