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The 2022 season provides some real intrigue regarding potential value shifts for IDP players. Free agency has provided some excellent change of scenery for some players who have yet to blast onto the scene. There are also a group of youngsters who have yet to grab a hold of a spot in their team's starting lineup, though that could potentially change for 2022 with a strong camp and preseason. 2021 did provide breakout years for some young IDP players, though they are still not garnering the attention they deserve. Here we will cover all areas of players you can acquire cheap before their value spikes and they have a breakout year.
LB Nicholas Morrow, Chicago
2020 Stats: 78 tackles (62 solos), 8 tackles for a loss, 3 sacks, 9 passes defended, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, and 9 pressures. (missed all of 2021)
Nicholas Morrow has been a hot name recently in IDP circles. He missed the 2021 season, though he landed in a great spot for the 2022 season. He replaces Danny Trevathan as the starting inside linebacker next to Roquan Smith in the center of the Bears defense. While Trevathan manned the middle with Smith, he averaged 6.5 tackles per game. During Morrow's 2020 season, he showed vast improvement with a 74.1 tackle grade per Pro Football Focus, a 70.4 pass rush grade, and a 70.4 coverage grade. Morrow seems to have fully recovered from his foot injury and is added to a depleted depth chart outside Roquan Smith.
Talking about Smith, he has recently requested a trade from the Bears, showing a lack of interest in sticking around. If Smith is traded, Morrow will be thrust into the LB1 role on the Bears. During camp, he has been wearing the green dot, calling the plays on the defense. He is also tasked with playing the Darius Leonard role in Coach Eberflus's defense. I am not saying Morrow is as talented as Leonard, but it shows that he could be used in various ways, from dropping in coverage to blitzing the quarterback. No matter what, Morrow should have a strong 2022 and has yet to truly break out. Try and trade for him now, before his value blows up.
LB Jacob Phillips, Cleveland
2021 Stats: 17 tackles (13 solos), 2 tackles for a loss, 1 sack, 3 passes defended, and 1 pressure. (4 games, 1 start)
Phillips is more of an under-the-radar prospect than Morrow is. To start, Phillips only turns 24 years old during the 2022 season and has many years of football ahead of him. Phillips was a 3rd round pick in the 2021 NFL draft, 97th overall. That is strong draft capital for an inside linebacker. Phillips did make his way onto the field as a rookie, but only for the last four games of the season after he suffered a torn bicep. During his four games in 2021, he played at a high level.
He only played on 48% of the team's defensive snaps over those four games but showed his playmaking upside. he averaged over four tackles a game at that snap share. If you boost that up to a three-down, 100% snap role, that average jumps to about eight tackles per game. He started the final game of the 2021 season and played 85% of the defensive snaps in that game. He showed out with the added responsibilities, pumping out 9 tackles, two for a loss, one sack, two passes defended, and a QB hit. Phillips and Anthony Walker are currently listed as co-starters next to Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. The job is up for grabs, and Phillips has far more playmaking upside than Walker.
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