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Fantasy Football: IDP values & sleepers to target late in rookie drafts

Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bearcats defensive lineman Myjai Sanders (21) reacts after gaining the ball on a play against the Murray State Racers in the second half at Nippert Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Most fantasy football managers know who they want at the top of drafts, but finding the gems late in drafts or in free agency is no easy task. Hitting on one of these lottery tickets, however, can pay dividends down the road. 

Here are 10 names that can be found in the last rounds of IDP rookie drafts, and likely even after drafts finish, who fantasy managers can pick up for little to no cost. 

For full rankings, find them here on the top-50 IDPs to target in rookie drafts.

EDGE MYJAI SANDERS, ARIZONA CARDINALS

Sanders is the only edge defender in this year’s class who posted three straight seasons above 80.0 pass-rush grades, making him one of the more consistent players at his position. While Sanders doesn’t have gaudy sack numbers, his other pass-rush metrics are a better indicator for future success. Edge defenders’ college production is a strong indicator of how they’ll perform in the NFL, and Sanders ticks all the boxes that matter most as a pass rusher.

Majai Sanders ranks | EDGE defenders since 2018 (26 qualifiers):
Overall grade Pass-rush grade Total pressures Pass-rush win-rate Blocks defeated
88.6 (9th) 91.5 (6th) 139 (3rd) 19.64% (6th) 72 (1st)

Sanders has a good chance to see the field early with the Cardinals — an elderly Markus Golden is the biggest roadblock for snaps. Cameron Thomas (also a third-round pick in 2022) should play more as an interior 3-4 defensive end along with J.J. Watt. So Sanders only has to beat out Devon Kennard, Victor Dimukeje and Dennis Gardeck for snaps — none of whom could even crack a 65.0 pass-rush grade in 2021.

LB MICAH MCFADDEN, NEW YORK GIANTS

Aside from Blake Martinez, the Giants are lacking for talent at the linebacker position. Although the fifth round of the draft isn’t an ideal spot to find such talent, it’s better than the collection of sixth- and seventh-rounders currently on the roster. Tae Crowder was called upon to play 1,100 snaps in 2021 after Martinez tore his ACL, and he ended up being the lowest-graded linebacker (29.1) for the entire season. This is not the route new defensive coordinator Don “Wink” Martindale will want to follow again if Martinez isn’t fully healthy, which makes McFadden a much more enticing option.

With Martinez locked into a full-time role (assuming health), the Giants' second linebacker spot isn’t likely to be a high-volume role, judging by how Martindale deployed his linebackers with the Ravens. But there is still a role that can be effective in deep IDP leagues. Martindale’s Ravens blitzed their linebackers at a top-five rate during his tenure, which happened to be McFadden’s strength at Indiana. He earned a 92.0 pass-rush grade, posting 32 pressures and eight sacks on 124 attempts last season for the Hoosiers — he figures to be deployed in a similar manner with the Giants. At the very least, McFadden could serve as a nice big-play upside linebacker in best ball or deep IDP leagues, and/or as the next man up should Martinez miss anymore time.

DI PHIDARIAN MATHIS, WASHINGTON COMMANDERS

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