IDP sleepers

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IDP sleepers

Highlighting the underrated lineman, linebackers and defensive backs Profiled players include Chandler Jones, David Harris, Brad Jones, Nick Roach, and Anthony Spencer.

Jones was a terror out of the gate last year, garnering Defensive Rookie of the Month honors for September and racking up six sacks to go along with three forced fumbles by midseason. But it was all downhill from there. Ankle injuries shut him down from Weeks 10 through 13 and continued to hamper him through the team's final few games, during which his tackle numbers dropped off and he failed to record a sack. He's had seven months to recover and now looks primed to build on his early success. According to, Jones added 10 pounds of muscle this offseason and worked with a boxing trainer to refine his hand and arm movements. We believe the hard work will pay off and Jones will elevate himself to become one of the league's top pass-rushing threats.

Harris suffered through two mediocre seasons before returning to form last year as a top-20 tackler. Still just 29 years old, he is being overlooked in drafts and -- in some cases -- bumped below teammate Demario Davis. Davis is a solid prospect and likely to do well for himself with an expected promotion to starter, but he's limited by playing in Bart Scott's old position. Scott himself averaged nearly three tackles per game less than Harris in the four years they played next to one another. What's more, Harris has proven to be an extremenly effective pass-rusher. As he told ESPN New York, "we're going to do a lot of blitzing and getting after people" and, "there should be a different brand of football than you were used to seeing the last couple of years." If his prediction comes true, it would further boost the value of a veteran IDP standout who will surely see plenty of field time. Harris finished sixth among all NFL linebackers in total snaps last season -- a trend that will continue until the Jets can establish some offensive consistency.

After D.J. Smith tore his ACL midway through the 2012 season, Brad Jones moved into the starting lineup and quickly became a fantasy force. Jones converted from outside linebacker to man Green Bay's WILB spot and it seemed a perfect fit. In 10 starts last season he amassed 75 combined tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble and was graded 10th among all inside linebackers by Despite his strong showing, he looked doomed to start 2013 as a backup behind one or both of D.J. Smith and Desmond Bishop. The surprising offseason releases of Smith and Bishop put the reigns squarely in Jones' hands. He'll be a three-down player this season and a high value target in IDP drafts.

As the SAM linebacker in Chicago's Tampa 2 defense, Roach never eclipsed 75 total tackles during any of his six seasons with the team. It wasn't necessarily a matter of talent either; his role with the Bears was largely to take on blockers at the point of attack, freeing up opportunities for Brian Urlacher and Lance Brigg to make plays. Now with the Raiders, Roach instantly becomes the most talented linebacker on the team. He'll shift over to the much more fantasy-friendly MIKE position, where he'll likely be a three-down player. Last season we got a sneak peak at what Roach could accomplish with an expanded role. After Brian Urlacher's injury, Roach slid over to the middle and filled in as an every down 'backer, where he averaged nearly 8 tackles per contest over the final four weeks.
To be clear, Brian Urlacher he is not. But Roach has the toughness, the range, and now -- most importantly --plays an ideal position for strong IDP numbers.

A 3-4 outside linebacker his entire NFL career, Anthony Spencer is now being asked to transition to defensive end in Monte Kiffin's 4-3 scheme. Making the move more difficult is the fact that Spencer has been rehabbing from a knee injury and hasn't been able to practice with the team. We're confident he'll overcome this minor obstacle. Spencer played end at Purdue before turning pro. He's still on track to start Week 1 and should eventually adjust and thrive in his old position. In 2012 , he raised his game and broke out as the pass-rushing complement to devastating teammate Demarcus Ware. With Ware absorbing most of the attention from opposing offenses, Spencer broke loose for 11 sacks and 95 combined tackles in just 14 games. Although his tackle numbers will drop considerably now that he's no longer playing in space, Spencer will have opportunities as a dedicated rusher and should equal or surpass last year's sack total.