I’ve found IDP stats vary league to league more than offensive stats, so for clarity purposes I’m using 1pt per tackle, 2pts for forced / recovered fumbles and 3pts per sack and interception, which I believe is at least close to the Yahoo default. Under that scoring system, I’ve found middle / inside linebackers to be the best bet for consistent IDP value. They generally average around 7 tackles per game plus the occasional interception, sack, or forced fumble. They are more consistent than defensive ends or safeties though the top-tier at both positions (Watt, Weddle) are worth owning. 17 of the top 20 IDP scorers last year were LBs so those make up most of my rookie list. If your league values turnovers more or tackles less, then this list probably won’t be much use to you.
Rookie Fantasy Rankings
Rookie IDP Fantasy Rankings
1.) LB Ryan Shazier, Steelers:
Playing time - Shazier is already running with the first team in OTAs, so it’s looking like he’s going to open the season as one of the Steelers starting ILBs.
Fantasy outlook - Shazier has 4.35 speed so you can expect him to rack up tackles as sideline-to-sideline defender. The Steelers blitz up the middle often as well and Shazier showed great blitzing instincts in college, so I think he’s a lock for some sacks / forced fumbles on top of impressive tackle totals. I think he’s a top ten IDP option already.
Auction value - $5
2013 Statistical comparison - Navarro Bowman
2.) LB C.J. Mosley, Ravens:
Playing time - Mosley has to beat out last year’s 2nd round pick Arthur Brown to earn a spot in the starting lineup, but I don’t think Ozzie Newsome would have drafted Mosley in the 1st round if they didn’t think he had the potential to start as a rookie. Newsome is known for sticking to his best player available strategy, and he drafted Mosley ahead of some players that would have filled a more immediate need, so I’m pretty sure Newsome and the Ravens brass are high on Mosley. I am as well, I had him ranked as the 8th best player overall.
Fantasy outlook - If Mosley wins the starting ILB job for the Ravens, as I expect him too, he should put up solid tackle numbers. Mosley is also adept in coverage and as a blitzer so there could be some sacks, fumbles, and interceptions to boost his overall fantasy numbers. I think he’s a top 20 IDP option in this year.
Auction value - $3
2013 Statistical comparison - Lawrence Timmons
3.) LB Kyle Van Noy, Lions:
Playing time - All that is standing in the way of a starting job for Van Noy is Ashley Palmer, an undrafted free agent in 2009 who has a -11.3 grade for his career in limited playing time the last few years. I’m pretty sure Van Noy begins the season as the Lions starting OLB.
Fantasy outlook - Van Noy is one of those rare linebackers who is good at all aspects of the game. He’s a fierce pass rusher, great in coverage and can be a sideline-to-sideline run stopper. His versatility should result in solid fantasy lines on a weekly basis for Van Noy. He’s not going to rack up the tackle numbers of MLBs, but the sacks and turnovers generated should more than make up for it.
Auction value - $2
2013 Statistical comparison - Bobby Wagner
4.) LB Christian Kirksey, Browns:
Playing time - The Browns lost their best ILB, D’Qwell Jackson, in free agency (Colts) but replaced him with Karlos Dansby. Unfortunately their other ILB, Craig Robertson, was the 4th worst 3-4 ILB in the league (-18.1) according to Pro Football Focus. Kirksey is similar to the previously mentioned Kyle Van Noy in that he is pretty solid in all aspects of linebacking. I thought Kirksey would be a better fit on the outside, but with Mingo and Kruger on the outside, Robertson’s incompetence, and the fact that the Browns used an early 3rd round pick on Kirksey… I’d be surprised if he’s not starting at ILB for the Browns this year.
Fantasy outlook - Kirksey can do it all and should rack up decent fantasy numbers as a rookie. He’s not as good of a blitzer or in coverage as Van Noy but he may be a better tackler. I don’t think he’ll have many double-digit fantasy games, but he should be consistent with around 7-9 fantasy points a game which makes him a decent IDP option.
Auction value - $2
2013 Statistical comparison - James Laurinaitis