Welcome to the fantasy football’s Top 26 dynasty IDP targets under 26 in 2020. This series of articles is intended to help those fantasy football owners looking to revamp or start a dynasty roster. So why 26 under 26? Because our focus is on a group of fantasy football defensive players that are no older than 25. And have shown to be long term potential IDP assets at the highest level. The kind players we want to have on our rosters as they hit their prime years. And hopefully helping us earn a few titles as the seasons roll by.
Dynasty IDP Targets Ranking Ground Rules
Ranking fantasy football players can vary in opinions. So we will lay out the ground rules on how those IDP hairs were split between these players. Starting with the following things taken under consideration. And making this statement now.
No matter how, when. or why it’s an opinion. And the same can be said on who the players are that are chosen to be in the rankings.
So with that being said, my credentials in IDP knowledge runs around fifteen years now. And much of that time is not just spent on fantasy football data. It also includes researching and keeping up on the latest reports and news. And although “numbers” have to be used to rank. I find that those IDP hairs are so thin to split that normally I’d soon have any player within a difference of ten from any given rank.
The point here is we’ll list the considerations taken into these rankings. And my personal opinions are just that. Because all of the 26 and likely a few that didn’t make my list, boils down to my personal preferences.
Now on to our Top 26 Dynasty IDP Targets under 26 years old for 2020.
Consistency Margin Of Error
2020’s Fantasy Football Top Dynasty IDP Targets: #6
Houston Texan Linebacker Zach Cunningham
Position: ILB/OLB – Height/Weight: 6-3, 240lb – Age As Of Jan.1, 2020: 25
Salary / Contract
Rank 10th (tied)*
Rank 10th (tied)*
Rank 6th (tied)*
Note* Rank is only among the qualified inside linebackers in either defensive scheme used in the NFL.
20 Yd Shuttle
A native of Alabama, Zach Cunningham graduated from Pinson Valley High School and recorded 459 combined tackles in his three years with the varsity squad. As a senior, he earned first-team All-State adding Alabama’s Lineman of the Year and was named the Birmingham News Lineman of the Year winner in 2012. He then took his talents to the University of Vanderbilt after graduation in 2013. As a redshirt freshman in 2014, he recorded 67 tackles and added two sacks. Following that up his sophomore season, he finished 2015 with 103 tackles and five sacks in twelve contests. He earned an All-SEC first-team designation for his efforts that season.
Cunningham was a beast in 2016, recognized as a first-team All-American by over twelve different national publications or foundations for his junior year campaign. Including being named the first Vanderbilt Commodore to the All-American first-team by ESPN. He was also a finalist for the Butkus Award and recognized as the SEC’s Most Valuable Linebacker by the Birmingham Monday Morning Quarterback Club. Cunningham concluded his junior year leading the SEC with 125 total tackles, ranking sixth nationally while recording seventeen tackles for loss, which was 22nd nationally and second in the SEC. He then announced he would enter the 2017 NFL draft and forgo his senior year.
Projected as a first to second-round prospect, the Texans selected Cunningham 57th overall in the second round of the 2017 draft. He then competed for the starting weak inside linebacker position while Brian Cushing was suspended ten games for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. And Cunningham did earn the starting job, but his snaps were sporadic at times and he didn’t play the traditional weakside linebacker role all the time.
Cunningham did accomplish a couple of milestones for his rookie season. Including he was one of two rookies to post ten or more combined tackles in consecutive games that year. And he was second on the team with 82 combined tackles, five for loss, and with six passes defended.
With a little fewer snaps in 2018, Cunningham was the starter after the Texans had moved on from Cushing. And even with an odd rotation, and again sporadic position usage, he showed growth on the field for the Texans. He ended that season tied for first with 105 combined tackles, three for loss, five passes defended, and one interception for a touchdown.
In 2019 he finally assumed the traditional role as an inside linebacker and topped his highest amount of snaps available. And he took full advantage of the situation, recording six games out of the sixteen with ten or more tackles. In total, he hit highs of sixteen combined tackles in two contests, fourteen combined in two games, and ten in the other two contests of the six. Ending his 2019 campaign leading the team with a career-high 137 combined tackles and he recorded a great ratio of solo tackles versus his assisted tackles in the process.
Fantasy Football Dynasty IDP Targets Summary
Fact, Zach Cunningham’s 14.2 run-stop percentage in the regular season led all qualified linebackers by a nice 2.8 margin. As a reflection of that, it shows in his Gridiron Solo Ratings of 118. And noting here, Cunningham owners likely got a bargain in 2019 in base tackle scoring formats.
In fifteen weeks Cunningham’s overall average was 8.37 combined tackles, and 5.9 of those were solos. That was not only a high and solid average from Cunningham but a consistent pace. And he only had three weeks with less than those six combined tackles as well. We’ll mention here that in week seventeen (three combined), the Texans barely played their starters preparing for the playoffs. And not counting that week isn’t a big deal because 90% (guessing) of the Fantasy Football championships are in week sixteen. Just in case any readers might be wondering why we keep talking about only fifteen games.
The real bargain was his 2019 ADP among the linebackers in redrafts, dynasty start-ups, and likely his trade value. At least for this writer in five different redrafts right before the season, Cunningham went after his fellow first-wave teammate McKinney in drafts. And fell into the mid-second to the mid-third wave of designated linebackers off the board. So in those tackle based leagues, owners likely ended the season with at the least a top ten linebacker IDP play.
The only thing his IDP owners might have like more of was game-changing type plays, like interceptions and such to pad the stats. And it’s the lack of those that Cunningham’s overall and performance Gridiron Ratings sit where they do. But that 118 solo rating coming in first is the main core for IDP scoring any owner would love to of had in 2019.
Dynasty IDP Targets 2019 Cunningham Versus McKinney
Note: McKinney did not play in weeks sixteen and seventeen. Which affected his availability rating.
It is this Writer’s Opinion
It’s this writer’s opinion that Zach Cunningham was finally allowed to grow as an inside linebacker in 2019. And although Bendrick McKinney was the best inside linebacker option for IDP owners in the past, he isn’t as talented as Cunningham. They’ll coexist but Cunningham is no longer the second Texan player at the inside linebacker position to target.
We know Cunningham will climb in the 2020 IDP rankings after his performance in 2019, and it’s about time that he does. The Texans had squandered his talents at first, and now that’s not the case, his dynasty owners will benefit from it. And some readers might be shocked to see I have Cunningham ranked this high as one of the dynasty IDP targets, and that’s fine. Because we all have our respected opinions, and mine is that Cunningham is just scratching the surface. And he will continue to develop and produce as an upper-tier one linebacker from this point going forward.
As for Cunningham’s dynasty value, it’ll be off the charts compared to what it had been in the past. We should be firm believers that we get what we pay for when playing fantasy football. And it’s this writer’s opinion that for the next three to four years that we will see Cunningham produce as a top tier option. Pending any injuries, of course. And that doesn’t mean he’ll always end the season as a top-three option every year. But it’s not out of the question he’ll produce yearly as a top ten like he did this past season.
Writer’s Dynasty IDP Targets Opinion Continued
As it stands, Cunningham will be in a good position to produce those tackle type stats going forward. The division the Texans are in works in his favor, as well as some of aging personal around him on the defense. And technically after how the Texans used Cunningham his first two seasons, he is just now really entering his third year as a true inside linebacker. A season notorious for breakouts, although he did achieve that this past season to a degree. But perhaps in 2020, he’ll include more game-changing type plays to his campaign. Such as interceptions and creating turnovers, adding those flashy points to owners scorecards. He has shown the run-stopping fundamentals and should start feeling more comfortable in his role.
I would like to add that it was hard not to suggest to go after Cunningham this time last year. Because in pre-season drafts this writer was in, he was falling to the middle of tier two and tier three. And his trade value was moderate until the middle of the season. But the Texans had said before he would be used strictly as an inside linebacker, and it didn’t happen. Instead, they would use him in odd ways within the scheme or used him in minor rotation. Which would hamper his opportunities and limited time on the field. But now that the situation was corrected, there is no reason to think that Cunningham won’t top triple-digit combined tackles each season.
Top 26 Dynasty IDP Targets To "Click On" And...
Thank you for joining me as we rank the top 26 under 26 fantasy football dynasty IDP targets for 2020.
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