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. LDT Aaron Donald (STL) - 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.
2. RDT Fletcher Cox (PHI) - After three seasons of sub-5.5 sack production, Cox exploded for 9.5 sacks last year. He doesn't have the same double-digit sack upside as the edge rushers in the DL1 tier, but he's been particularly strong against the run, so he should be a fairly safe pick.
3. LDT Kawaan Short (CAR) - After two years of decent play, Short exploded onto the IDP scene in his third year with 11 sacks from his interior lineman position. Now that teams are aware of his skill, I expect more double teams to come his way which will likely bring his numbers down. He still should be good for decent tackle numbers and seven to eight sacks, however.
4. RDT Geno Atkins (CIN) - I pumped Atkins up all last off-season as a great buy low candidate so I was glad to see he had a bounce back year with 10 sacks after two injury riddled seasons prior to that. His sub-par tackle numbers keep him out of the top 10-15 DLs; however, he's a solid DL2 and should be one of the top 5 DTs taken off the board.
5. LDT Ndamukong Suh (MIA) - For all of his troubles in recent years, Suh has perennially been a top 15-20 fantasy DL. He's failed to post the type of numbers we saw during his rookie season, but he's settled into the 40/10/7 range which is good enough for a DT1/DL2-. With a new coaching staff coming to town, we may even get a little more upside out of Suh this season.
6. LDT Gerald McCoy (TB) - I was high on McCoy coming into the 2015 season (as witnessed by my DL15 ranking of him). His 8.5 sacks were close to my 10 sack projection; however, his tackle numbers left something to be desired. He seems to have settled in the 25-30 solo tackle range which ultimately depresses his value down into DL25-30 range. Consider him a sack-reliant DL3.
7. DT Malik Jackson (JAX) - Jackson cashed in on his impressive 2015 campaign by inking a six-year, $90 million ($42 million guaranteed) contract this off-season with the Jaguars, making him one of the highest paid defensive players in NFL history. Some drafters tend to devalue players who recently signed hefty, long-term deals over fears the player will get complacent after a big payday. Although those concerns may be valid to a certain degree (e.g. Albert Haynesworth in 2009), the fact that Jackson is joining an emerging team in the prime of his career should help keep him motivated. He will be transitioning to a 4-3 defense this year but his role and responsibilities should remain largely unchanged. He should be taken as a mid-to-low DL3 in most 10-12 team fantasy leagues.
8. NT Linval Joseph (MIN) - Joseph was on pace to lead all defensive linemen in total tackles before suffering an injury in Week 13. With just 13.5 sacks over six years, he's mainly just a run-stopping defensive tackle. But he can provide low-end DL3 value in tackle-heavy scoring formats.
9. RDT DeForest Buckner (SF) - Buckner was the third defensive player taken in this year's draft and projects as an immediate starter on San Francisco's line. He size/power combination makes him a formidable force against the run and he should put up above average numbers in those areas early on. He'll likely need time to polish his pass-rushing skills however and I wouldn't project him for more than 5 sacks in year one.
10. DT Sen'Derrick Marks (JAX) - Marks was virtually absent from the stat sheet in 2015 as he struggled with injury all year. This will likely lead most owners to forget in 10-sack season the year prior. This said, the upside with him is there so he's probably a smart add as a DL4 in 10-12 team leagues.
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Last Updated: August 25, 2016 Related Posts: