Defensive linemen are by far the most inconsistent week-to-week fantasy point producers. Many linemen will go three or four weeks without registering a sack and then exactly when you drop them, they have a multiple sack game. This can be extremely frustrating for fantasy owners. In addition, there aren't many unknown linemen that emerge during the season and consequently the waiver wire is usually not packed with worthwhile IDP options.
With this being said, I try to use a couple of my early round defensive draft picks on defensive linemen. Obtaining guys like J.J. Watt or Aaron Donald allows me to plug them in my roster and not worry about their ups and downs throughout the season, since they have proven their consistency and value.
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
S = Sleeper/Undervalued Player
B = Bust/Overvalued Player
R = Injury Risk
1. DE Kahlil Mack (OAK) - Mack's positional designation will differ depending on which league management system you use, however he was just re-classified to DE by MyFantasyLeague.com. In that instance, he should be the top IDP taken off the board. Yes, over J.J. Watt. He's just 25 years old and heading into his third season and wouldn't be surprised to see an increase in production over and above what we saw in 2015. Plus, Watt's back injury scares me and I don't think he will be his true self for at least four to five games. If Mack's listed as a linebacker, then he's falls more so into the LB2 realm in balanced scoring systems.
2. DE J.J. Watt (HOU) - Watt has finished as the top scoring fantasy defensive lineman in three of the last four seasons (by a fairly wide margin) and was the second leading scorer in 2013. In a normal year, he would be a no-brainer for the #1 overall IDP taken off the board. But this year is different - He had back surgery in late July to repair a herniated disk and may not be fully healthy until several games into the regular season. He also had groin surgery this past off-season. The combination of these two injuries are concerning enough for me to fade Watt in most leagues as his current draft position isn't factoring in the fact that he may miss a few games due to these injuries and his play may be diminished upon his initial return.
3. DE Ezekiel Ansah (DET) - Ansah was a top 5 lineman in points scored a year ago and was actually the top DE when looking at points scored per snap. The Lions have brought him along somewhat slowly in terms of playing time as he was raw coming out of college but I see room for his production to grow even further in 2016 as he's likely to see an increased workload.
4. DT Aaron Donald (LAR) - Donald was arguably the league's best defensive player last year. Even in the face of constant double teams he was able to bring consistent backfield pressure. If Robert Quinn returns to health this year, Donald could be even more dominant. I like him for 65+ total tackles and double digit sacks again this year.
5. DE Carlos Dunlap (CIN) - After several seasons in the DL2/DL2+ range, the Bengals took the reigns off Dunlap's snap count and he exploded for 13.5 sacks. His tackle numbers were down from what we've seen the last couple years but he still finished as a top 7 lineman in most leagues. He's a steady middle of the pack DL1 who still has some upside.
6. DE Muhammad Wilkerson (NYJ) - Wilkerson exceeded expectations last year in the sack department by registering 12. He's been one of the most dominant 3-4 defensive ends in the league. He's likely to play this year under the franchise tag which will serve as extra motivation to produce lofty box score numbers.
7. DE Robert Quinn (LAR) - Quinn may prove to be a good buy low candidate heading into this year's fantasy drafts. He's only two years removed from a 19 sack season. However a slow start to the 2014 season and an injury-riddled 2015 campaign have his value at an all-time low. Owners should know he had off-season back surgery and could miss the beginning of off-season workouts. I think he's worth a low-end DL1 selection as he's fairly well protected on a line that includes Aaron Donald and has elite DL1 upside. Plus he's still only 25 years old.
8. DE Everson Griffen (MIN) - Griffen played through injury for most of the season last year but still managed 10.5 sacks over 15 games. Mike Zimmer tends to get the most out of his young defensive ends, so I like Griffen for another double digit sack season and would not be surprised to see 12-14 sacks.
9. DE Calais Campbell (ARZ) - You don't get more much reliable than Campbell at this position - he's been a high floor low-end DL1 for the last several seasons and for the majority of his career. He was still a top 15 player despite posting his lowest sack totals since his 2008 rookie campaign. The addition of Chandler Jones will help alleviate some pressure away from Campbell and I expect a return to the 6-8 sack range.
10. DE Cameron Jordan (NO) - Jordan has been a solid low-end DL1/high-end DL2 for us over the last three seasons. He's one of the better players at his position and I would project similar results for him heading into 2016.
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Last Updated: August 25, 2016 Related Posts: