2012 IDP Draft Rankings - Defensive Linemen (Redraft)

I will continually update these rankings throughout the off-season to reflect changes in free agency, defensive schemes, defensive playing time, rookie draft selections, etc.

Drafting Philosophy:
Defensive lineman are by far the most inconsistent week-to-week fantasy point producers. Many lineman 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 lineman that emerge during the season and consequently the waiver wire is usually not packed with worthwhile fantasy lineman.

With this being said, in order to lessen my "cognitive dissonance", I try to use many of my early round defensive draft picks on defensive linemen. Obtaining guys like Jared Allen and Trent Cole 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 throughout their careers.

Scoring System:
Solo Tackle = 2 points
Assist = 1 point
Sack = 7 points
Interception = 7 points
Forced Fumble = 5 points
Fumble Recovery = 5 points

DSC = Possible Defensive Scheme Change
S = Sleeper/Undervalued Player
B = Bust/Overvalued Player
R = Injury Risk

Tier 1

Jason Pierre-Paul 1. RDE Jason Pierre-Paul- JPP was straight up nasty in 2011. His freakish athleticism combined with a never give up attitude allowed him to put up a ridiculous 88 total tackles and 17 sacks. The scary part is he's still quite raw and will only become more polished with time. Add in the fact that he's only 23 and is surrounded by 2 elite defensive ends and you have the makings for a potential top overall IDP pick.

Jared Allen 2. RDE Jared Allen (MIN) - In any other year, Allen's performance would have been a much bigger story in the media as he was only a sack away from breaking the all-time record for sacks (23). In my leagues, his fantasy production was equal to or slightly better than Pierre-Paul. However, Allen is 7 years his senior and will face constant double teams on a mediocre defensive line in Minnesota. I still wouldn't fault somebody for taking Allen over JPP as he obviously has a longer track record of consistency and production. They are essentially 1 and 1a in my book.

Trent Cole 3. RDE Trent Cole (PHI) - Cole is one of my favorite fantasy DLs to draft as he is one of the more consistent point producers not only on a year-to-year basis but on a week-to-week basis as well. Despite losing 3 games due to a leg injury and being hampered for several more, he still finished with above average tackle numbers and double digit sacks which was good enough for a top 15 finish in most leagues. This is one defensive lineman you shouldn't have any concerns about.

Mario Williams 4. RDE Mario Williams (HOU) - It's unfair to even look at Williams' 2011 numbers or performance as he was playing at a new position and suffered a season-ending injury very early on in the season. 2012 should be a much more productive year for Super Mario as he's moving back to his natural RDE position in Buffalo where he'll be a good bet for double digit sacks once again. The addition of Mark Anderson on the strong side will keep offenses honest and allow Mario to face a good percentage of one-on-one matchups. Welcome back to the elite tier Mario! DSC

Justin Tuck 5. RDE Justin Tuck (NYG) - A nagging neck injury really derailed Tuck's entire 2011 season. Although he only missed a total of 5 games due to the injury, he was visibly hindered by injury and lacked the explosiveness he usually possesses. He should be back to his normal self in 2012.

Tier 2

Jason Babin 6. LDE Jason Babin (PHI) - Babin silenced any doubters with 18 sacks last year for the Eagles. He had 6 games in which he registered 2 sacks or more and anchored the defensive line while Trent Cole was nursing himself back from injury. He won't rack up a ton of tackles playing in the wide 9 technique, but he's still one of the top sack artists in the league and should be a top 10 pick in all balanced and sack-heavy leagues.

Elvis Dumervil 7. RDE Elvis Dumervil (DEN) - The first half of the season was really a struggle for Dumervil as he was shaking off the rust after missing the entire 2010 season with a torn chest muscle. Through the season's first 8 games he only had 8 tackles and zero sacks. Elvis really found his groove in the 2nd half of the season however compiling a sack in 8 straight games and finishing the year with a solid 9.5 sacks. He has the potential to leap into the top 5 if he can stay healthy. Good value with Dumervil in this year's drafts. S

Julius Peppers 8. RDE Julius Peppers (CAR) - Peppers is one of the elite pass rushers in the NFL and has made his impact clearly felt since signing with the Bears. He reached double digit sacks for the 6th time in his career despite struggling through some injuries throughout the course of the season. He does have a couple of potential issues that slightly concern me. First, his tackle numbers were the lowest since his rookie season. Secondly, the Bears have no serious pass rushing threat opposite Peppers which means he gets constantly double teamed. Add in the age factor (32) and there's some cause for concern (especially in dynasty leagues). However, his high marks for consistency keep him at the bottom edge of of the top 10 for this season. B

Chris Long 9. RDE Chris Long (STL) - Chris Long (the son of former NFL defensive lineman Howie Long) has been trending upward each and every year he's been in the league. His sack production has steadily increased from 4 in his rookie season to 13 last season and he benefits greatly from playing in the NFC West where he gets to face the pourous lines of the Seahawks, 49ers, and Cardinals a combined 6 times each year. He still needs to show he can perform at a high level against elite offensive tackles before he can be considered an elite pass rusher but he still warrants top 10 fantasy consideration regardless.

Charles Johnson 10. RDE Charles Johnson (CAR) - Johnson finished the year with a respectable 9 sacks and never went longer than 2 weeks without a sack. However, he had no multiple sack games and failed to make a big splash in any fantasy weeks. He will need to become more dominant to break though into the top 10. He's still a solid low-end DL1 choice, however.

Cliff Avril 11. LDE Cliff Avril (DET) - Much like Chris Long, Avril's year-to-year production has been trending upward and he has the talent and surrounding cast to be a clear cut DL1. The Lions franchise tagged him this year and seem unwilling to give him a long-term contract until he proves he can produce top level numbers once again this season. Avril is a solid DL2+ choice with DL1 potential in a contract year.

Tier 3

Osi Umenyiora 12. LDE Osi Umenyiora (NYG) - Albeit one of the bigger crybabies in the league, Umenyiora once again proved that he deserves a long-term contract extension. He strung together 9.5 sacks in the 9 games in which he played which would have been good enough for a top 12 finish over the course of a full season. Overall playing time is a slight concern, but look for the Giants to rotate him in often to keep Tuck and JPP fresh. He should see enough snaps to be a top 15 DL. Additionally, he just had his contract restructured which means he will be able to test the free agent market come next season. Look for this to create a highly-motivated Osi, which is a dangerous thing.

Chris Clemons 13. RDE Chris Clemons (SEA) - Clemons, an undrafted free agent out of Georgia, has steadily developed into one of the more threatening situational pass rushers in the league. He's garnered double digit sacks in back to back seasons and has a plethora of favorable matchups playing in the NFC West. He doesn't see enough snaps to warrant being a top 10 pick, but he's still a solid DL1-/DL2+ option.

14. LDE Calais Campbell (ARI) - At 6'8', 300 pounds, Campbell is one of the most formidable 3-4 DEs in the NFL and should be the first of his kind off the board. Playing in a 3-4 scheme ultimately limits his sack potential and he will likely max out around 9-11 sacks, but he will give you very nice tackle totals as well as more week-to-week consistency than players in his same draft range.

Cameron Wake 15. RDE Cameron Wake (MIA) - Wake is a new addition to the defensive lineman club as he will be moving from outside linebacker to defensive end in Miami's new 4-3 scheme. I expect his production to be pretty similar to that of previous years making him a solid DL2. S

Jabaal Sheard 16. RDE Jabaal Sheard (CLE) - Sheard held up incredibly well in his rookie season for being on the field for 80-90% of the Brown's defensive plays. It typically takes defensive ends 2-3 full seasons before they become fantasy relative which makes Sheard's 8.5 sacks and 55 tackles that much more impressive. Don't expect a significant growth in production, but it's reasonable to think he will produce similar numbers to last season.

Justin Smith 17. LDE Justin Smith (SF) - Smith has been a model of consistency throughout his 11 year career in the NFL. You can bank on him for 45-50 solo tackles and 6-8 sacks each year. He has a limited ceiling but also one of the highest floors of any IDP. He would make a perfect addition to anyone's team as a DL2.

Kamerion Wimbley 18. LDE Kamerion Wimbley (TEN) - Like the aforementioned Cameron Wake, Wimbley will be transitioning from outside rush linebacker to defensive end in his new home of Tennessee. His seven sacks last year were a bit fluky as 4 of them came in one game against the Chargers. Even with this said, he's still typically good for 6-9 sacks a year and he will be playing on an underrated defensive line. He's a sneaky option for those willing to get a little risky with their DL2 spot.

J.J. Watt 19. RDE J.J. Watt (HOU) - Watt's constant motor and great technique allowed him to excel in his rookie season. This guy gets it and is going to be a solid player for a long time (a la Justin Smith). His ceiling is somewhat limited by the Texans defensive system but he's one of the safest picks remaining at this point in most drafts.

Robert Quinn 20. RDE Robert Quinn (STL) - Quinn is a top level talent and produced at a relatively good rate in his rookie season (5 sacks). He's one of the more boom/bust picks on this list as his value honestly could fall anywhere from DL1-/DL4+. At this point in the rankings, his upside is worth the risk. S

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Last Updated: August 14, 2012
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