In this article, I recommend four players at each of the 3 defensive positions (DL, LB, DB) who I believe will be significantly undervalued heading into the 2015 fantasy season.
I will continually 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 2015 Fantasy Football Draft Guide.
Solo Tackle = 1 point
Assist = 0.5 point
Sack = 3 points
Interception = 4 points
Forced Fumble = 2 points
Fumble Recovery = 2 points
Pass Deflection = 1 point
Defensive TD = 6 points
DE DeMarcus Lawrence (DAL) - A foot injury during training camp forced Lawrence to miss half of last year's regular season. He failed to make much noise in the box scores during the rest of the regular season as the team eased him into the lineup. Come playoff time however, Lawrence flashed with 2 sacks and a forced fumble over the team's two games. His long frame and explosiveness off the ball, combined with ideal opportunity in Dallas, make him a breakout IDP candidate for the 2015 season. He's a great player to target as a high-upside DL3.
DE Jacquies Smith (TB) - Among all defensive linemen with over 450 snaps, Smith was fifth in terms of sacks per snap at 1.4%. That’s a pretty impressive stat considering J.J. Watt, Mario Williams, and Cameron Wake were three of the players in front of him. With Michael Johnson and Adrian Clayborn both gone, Smith should see a nice uptick in playing time as the starter. He’s not going to rack up tackles at a torrid pace, but he has a sneaky chance at double digit sacks. It’s fair to project him as a DL3, but owners can likely wait longer than that to grab Smith as he’s going undrafted in most leagues right now.
DE Damontre Moore (NYG) - Moore was a top five fantasy defensive linemen on a per snap basis last year, averaging 0.30 fantasy points per snap. Entering into his third season, he should see an increase in snaps over the 300 total he received last year. His overall value may be mitigated somewhat as the Giants are expected to rotate in George Selvie, Robert Ayers, and Owamagbe Odighizuwa at a fairly decent clip, but JPP's injury does open the door for more immediate playing time for Moore. Even as a part-time starter, he has enough talent to be a high variance DL3. And more if he can carve out more snaps for himself he could easily jump another tier.
DE Malik Jackson (DEN) - Jackson is entering into the final year of his rookie contract and will finally get a chance to light up the box scores as an attacking, 5-technique in Wade Phillips' defensive scheme. He was a top five DL in solo tackles per snap last year and with the scheme change, he's expected to eclipse 700 snaps in 2015. This makes him a strong candidate for 40+ solos and 5-7 sacks. One of my favorite sleepers this season.
RILB Demario Davis (NYJ) - Davis had his best season to date with a 78/38/4 stat line last year which was good enough for a top 25 finish in most leagues. The change in coaching staff should do Davis some good as new defensive coordinator Todd Bowles' has had great success elevating his linebackers production in recent years. Owners should expect another season of statistical growth out of Davis in 2015.
ILB Sam Barrington (GB) - On average, Barrington is currently being taken as the 76th linebacker in MyFantasyLeague.com fantasy drafts, making him one of the best bargains at the position. You’d be hard-pressed to find another linebacker at that draft position that plays every down and has as little tackle competition as Barrington. LB3+/LB2- numbers are definitely within reach for the third year player out of South Florida. Snap him up as your fourth or fifth linebacker and laugh all the way to the bank.
WILB Christian Jones (CHI) - In a bit of a surprise, Christian Jones has overtaken Mason Foster for one of the starting inside linebacker positions. I expect this role to produce solid numbers for owners as the Bears defense is likely to be on the field a ton and there is very little tackle competition along the front seven. Chances are quite good Jones' exceeds his current ADP. He just has to play well enough to hold the position throughout the year.
WILB Zach Brown (TEN) - Brown only played four snaps last year as a torn pectoral suffered in Week 1 against the Chiefs robbed him of the entire 2014 season. So he’s not receiving a lot of attention heading into this year - which is a mistake. During his first two seasons in the NFL, Brown compiled an impressive 184 total tackles and 9.5 sacks. He’s back to pre-injury form and has a good shot at locking down an every-down role as the Titans like his speed in open space. Add in Brown’s sack potential and you have a player that makes for a fantastic high upside selection deep in drafts. Considering he’s currently going undrafted in all but the deepest of leagues, you can likely fill him in your last linebacker slot.
SS Da'Norris Searcy (TEN) - The strong safety position in Tennessee has been a treasure trove for fantasy owners in recent years as the team has fielded a weak set of inside linebackers. Searcy showed flashes of play making ability over various starting stints in Buffalo, so he has a decent chance at coming close to Bernard Pollard's 2013 stat line of 78 solo tackles, 22 assists, and 1.5 sacks. His current ADP of DB28 makes him a great value at the position.
SS Corey Graham (BUF) - Graham is one of the more underrated corners in the league finishing eighth in Pro Football Focus' rankings. Early indications are that he will move to strong safety alongside Aaron Williams. This should translate to increased production for the eight year veteran out of New Hampshire. Considering he was a top 40 DB last season, I feel confident selecting Graham in this draft slot.
FS Bradley McDougald (TB) - McDougald was a top 10-15 fantasy DB over the last six games of the year during which he saw significant playing time. According to latest reports, he's the favorite to start at free safety. Due to the small sample size, I'm not as willing to spend a DB2/DB3 spot on him, but he's one of the better DB4 upside picks.
FS Dashon Goldson (WAS) - Goldson was a middling fantasy performer during his previous eight seasons in the league, but should receive a boost in value with Washington, a team that has had a serious lack of talent at the safety position since the departure of LaRon Landry in 2011. Despite that lack of talent, the safety role in Washington has shown flashes of fantasy upside which makes Goldson a semi-intriguing late round fantasy prospect. Consider him a DB4 with some upside that you can throw on your roster at the very end of deep league drafts.
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Last Updated: August 26, 2015 Related Posts: