2019 IDP Sleepers (Redraft)

I hesitate to use the word sleeper too much because the term has been overused to the point of losing its meaning and readers often associate that word with no-name fantasy football players. I prefer the word "undervalued." As a drafter, this is what I am always looking for: value. If I can get a third round value in the sixth round, it gives me a significant relative advantage over my opponent. The following players (e.g. Sam Hubbard, Haason Reddick, Ronnie Harrison) most people have heard about and really aren't considered "sleepers" in the traditional sense. However, this doesn't mean they can't provide just as much relative value as a no-name player that comes out of nowhere.

In this article, I recommend four players at each of the three defensive positions (DL, LB, DB) who I believe will be significantly undervalued heading into the 2019 fantasy season.

I will periodically update these throughout the off-season to reflect changes in free agency, defensive schemes, playing time, draft selections, etc. However, keep in mind that the information listed here is just a small sample of a much larger set of rankings and descriptions that are accessible through purchasing my 2019 IDP Fantasy Football Draft Guide.

Scoring System:
Solo Tackle = 1.5 points
Assist = 0.75 points
Tackles for Loss = 2 points
Sack = 4 points
Interception = 5 points
Forced Fumble = 4 points
Fumble Recovery = 4 points
Pass Deflection = 1.5 point
Defensive TD = 6 points
Safeties = 2 points


DEFENSIVE LINEMEN


1Sam Hubbard DE - CIN (9), +25 vs. ECR 
Sleeper
Hubbard, a third-round selection out of Ohio State, strung together a very solid (and under-the-radar) rookie season last year in which he compiled 35 total tackles and 6 sacks in a part-time role. Among all lineman with over 500 snaps, Hubbard had the 11th most fantasy points per game just ahead of Akiem Hicks and behind Deforest Buckner. He will assume a starting role this year playing opposite Pro Bowler Carlos Dunlap and is a good bet to take another big step forward in his sophomore season. He's one of my favorite breakout candidates at the position and someone I'm projecting for 45+ total tackles and 8-9 sacks.

2Derek Barnett DE - PHI (10), +1 vs. ECR 
Sleeper
Barnett was one of the more "NFL-ready" defensive players coming out of the 2017 draft and a player I expected to have a solid rookie season and emerge as a fantasy force in his second year. Although he had a reasonable five sacks in his first season, a shoulder injury caused him to miss most of the 2018 season and derailed his year 2 campaign. The Eagles don't have as much depth on their d-line as they've had the past couple of seasons, so I expect Barnett to push for 700+ snaps. Many have already written Barnett off due to a lack of production so far in his career, but he has the talent and opportunity to emerge as a consistently impactful fantasy threat in 2019. I'm going to be grabbing him as a back-end DL3 in every league I can.

3Marcus Davenport DE - NO (9), -3 vs. ECR 
Sleeper
Davenport's rookie season stats don't look overly impressive on the surface, but it's important to recognize he was hindered by a toe injury for a good portion of games. The Saints traded up to grab him in the first round and believe he can be a dominant force along their defensive line - a sentiment that flashed true at a few points in 2018. Playing on a high-powered offensive team amongst a couple other very good DLs should ensure Davenport sees a substantial amount of one-on-one sack opportunities in his sophomore season. There's plenty of reason to think a breakout campaign is coming for the 22-year old.


LINEBACKERS

1Myles Jack LB - JAC (10), -4 vs. ECR 
Sleeper
Playing on the strong side in his rookie season and then manning a new position (MLB) and fighting for tackles with teammate Telvin Smith in his second season have suppressed Jack's production to begin his career. However, with Telvin Smith taking the season off for personal reasons, Jack becomes the de facto leader of the defense and should rack up tackles at a career-high pace in 2019. Jack himself has stated, "Telvin is gone, so that's 120 tackles unaccounted for, and I want at least 50 of those so I can get 150 tackles to create some leverage for myself." Those expectations may be difficult to reach but I see no reason why he can fall into the 125-135 total tackle range with a few big plays thrown in for good measure. I feel comfortable taking him on the fringes of the top 20 linebackers (although he may fall further than that in a good amount of drafts).

2Patrick Onwuasor LB - BAL (8), +17 vs. ECR 
Sleeper
The departure of All-Pro linebacker C.J. Mosley in free agency leaves a serious void in the middle of the Ravens defense - a void Onwuasor seems ready to fill. Now I don't expect the same level of play or production out of the undrafted free agent out of Portland State; however, he plays with a certain tenaciosity and natural leadership that make him a very good candidate to lead the team in tackles. He's not someone I've heard a lot of chatter around leading into the season, but I feel like that's likely to change once we get into the regular season. He's a great buy low option ride now in deeper leagues and someone I will be waiting to pluck off the waiver wire in shallow leagues if he has a strong Week 1 performance.

3Haason Reddick LB - ARI (12), +9 vs. ECR 
Sleeper
I'm higher on Reddick than most but for good reason. After being miscast last year as an outside linebacker, he's moving back to the inside which is a more natural fit for his skill set. Additionally, he's playing next to a talented, but injury prone, linebacker in Jordan Hicks on a defense that is quite likely to be near the top of the league in tackle opportunity. You can likely snag Reddick as a low-risk LB4/LB5 in most drafts and could easily have fantasy starter potential. I like the value here with him. He did have a meniscectomy on his knee and is questionable to play Week 1, however. So that is something we will need to monitor.


DEFENSIVE BACKS

1Ronnie Harrison S - JAC (10), +14 vs. ECR 
Sleeper
Harrison is one of my favorite DB "sleepers" this season. Coming out of Alabama, he was a player deemed suitable to play either safety position, but someone I liked better in a run-defending strong safety role - that's exactly the role he will play in Jacksonville. He got valuable playing time as a rookie last season and with Telvin Smith sitting out this year, Harrison should see a decent amount of tackle opportunity. I'm projecting 70+ solo tackles, 15 or so assists, and a couple sacks. I don't believe he will be a big contributor in terms of interceptions, however.

2Adrian Phillips S - LAC (12), +23 vs. ECR 
Sleeper
Phillips has been a solid player for the Chargers but has been primarily used in a rotational role as a nickel/dime package "linebacker." With the injury to Derwin James, Phillips will now slot in as the team's starting strong safety. His per snap historical stats tell us he's capable of upper tier fantasy production and given how the Chargers tend to utilize their linebackers, Phillips is primed to be a DB2+/DB1- for as long as James is out (which is likely several games). He'll lose a lot of value upon that return, but he warrants a starter range draft selection based on his projected first half value.

3Minkah Fitzpatrick CB - MIA (5), +0 vs. ECR 
Sleeper
Fitzpatrick was a secondary utility man of sorts at Alabama and that has held true in his professional career so far as he bounced around safety and slot corner with the Dolphins. This said, slot corner is really where he excelled, grading out as the top player at that position last year according to Pro Football Focus. Although he may not have a clearly defined role, he should see enough snaps between corner and safety to be a compiler-type DB3 on a team where he's one of the more talented defenders.

Like what you've read so far? Looking to dominate your 2019 Fantasy Football draft(s)? For $7.99 you can get complete access to The IDP Guru's comprehensive and exhaustive 2019 IDP Fantasy Football Draft Guide.

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Questions, comments, or concerns with any of these rankings? If so, please let me know by posting a comment below or emailing me at theidpguru@idpguru.com. You can also hit me up on Twitter


Last Updated: August 19, 2019
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