IDP: Top 10 Defensive Linemen

Contributed by: Walton Spurlin
Last Updated: Jun 07, 2019 8:25 AM


 

As veterans have finally joined the offseason team activities in the NFL, there's a bit more excitement and anticipation. So let's keep looking at early IDP rankings as training camps are right around the corner. As we look at the defensive line position (DL) let's have some fun and switch things up a bit. Instead of the same old 1-10 listing we are going to count down from 10-1 for a change. All due respect to the late Dick Clark.

10. Frank Clark, DE Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs have switched to a 4-3 scheme which has led to revamping the edge rush defensive position, with Dee Ford and Justin Houston having departed. Kansas City has brought in Alex Okafor, Emmanuel Ogbah and Clark as their edge rushing defensive ends. For Fantasy purposes Clark is the name to concentrate on as he will be the primary edge rusher heading into the 2019 season.

Clark is coming off a season in which he set a career high in sacks, racking up 13 along with three forced/two recovered fumbles and an interception. Those numbers were good enough to see him post his first ever top-10 Fantasy finish. Look for a repeat performance in 2019.

9. Chris Jones, Kansas City Chiefs

Let's stay in Kansas City and give some love to the only defensive tackle to make the Top-10 rankings. In his third season Jones erupted as a Fantasy force and nearly unstoppable interior presence. Jones put broke an NFL record by registering a sack in 11 consecutive games on his way to posting 15 on the season. The 40 total tackles Jones put up were a career high and he added an interception (returned for a touchdown) as well as two forced fumbles. The addition of the aforementioned Frank Clark will benefit Jones (and Clark) as offensive lines will have to pick their poison with double teams.

8. Cameron Jordan, New Orleans Saints

Consistency…thy name is Cameron Jordan. If there is one thing IDP owners covet it is consistency on a yearly basis. How does six top-10 DL Fantasy finishes since 2012 sound consistency wise? Or the fact that since 2012 Jordan has had at least 7.5 sacks in every season and reached double digits four times. More than solid in run support, he is averaging 53 total tackles and 16 tackles for loss over the past four seasons. Look for yet another Top-10 finish from Jordan in 2019…it's what he does.

7. Demarcus Lawrence, DE Dallas Cowboys

The 2014 second round draft selection out of Boise State has struggled to stay healthy early in his career as he has missed 15 regular season games in his first three seasons. That is all in the past as a healthy Lawrence has been a Fantasy force over the past two years. He has put together back-to-back Top-10 finishes while producing splash plays at a high rate and racking up tackles. Over that time he has averaged 60 total tackles per season while amassing 25 sacks, an interception, six forced and three recovered fumbles. Lawrence would be ranked higher, but just recently underwent shoulder surgery that could have him miss some early season games.

6. Calais Campbell, DE Jacksonville Jaguars

The veteran has been a Fantasy force for a decade, having put up DL2 numbers or better in 10 of the past 11 seasons. Aging like a fine wine Campbell has shown no signs of slowing down since signing with Jacksonville prior to the 2017 season. He has flourished in the 4-3 scheme, putting up the first two double-digit sacks seasons of his career, while continuing to be above average against the run. In the past two years Campbell has 139 total tackles along with four forced fumbles and a defensive touchdown. There's no reason to expect a let down heading into 2019.


 

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5. Danielle Hunter, DE Minnesota Vikings

It seemed that Hunter had arrived as a top DL Fantasy option back in 2016 when he put up 12.5 sacks on his way to a top-10 finish. Unfortunately, he took a step back in 2017 managing to post just DL3 totals. Last season was a different story as Hunter played a career high 877 snaps and was a dominant force for the Vikings. Hunter finished with 72 total tackles (21 tackles for loss) along with 14.5 sacks with a fumble recovery and defensive touchdown. Still just 24-years old (will turn 25 in November) Hunter will continue to dominate and benefits from having veteran Everson Griffen as his bookend at DE.

4. Myles Garrett, DE Cleveland Browns

In his 2017 rookie season Garrett would miss the first four games due to an ankle injury and another game later in the year with a concussion limiting him to just 520 snaps. Despite missing the five games Garrett flashed Fantasy potential managing seven sacks with a forced and recovered fumble. Last season a healthy Garrett showed what he could do posting 44 total tackles with 13.5 sacks and three forced fumbles finishing just outside the top-10. After knocking on the door of the top-10 look for Garrett to kick it in as he has Olivier Vernon as well as Sheldon Richardson to draw offensive line attention.

3. J.J. Watt, DE Houston Texans

Let's keep this short and sweet. Even at 30-years-old, a healthy J.J. Watt is a Top-3 DL Fantasy selection. With the exception of his rookie season back in 2011, he has been Fantasy gold when playing 16 games. In those five seasons he has reached double-digit sacks and finished as the top or second-highest DL, including last year. Reports are that he's healthy heading into 2019. ‘Nuff said'.

2. Joey Bosa, Los Angeles Chargers

It's simply about staying on the field when taking into consideration Bosa's Fantasy outlook. A foot injury cost him the first nine games last season after missing the first four games of his rookie season due to a hold out. When he is on the field Bosa flat out dominates off the edge. In the lone 16-game season he's played he finished with Top-5 DL numbers, posting 70 total tackles, 12.5 sacks and four forced fumbles. In 35 career regular season games Bosa has racked up 28.5 sacks. This ranking tells you that I believe Bosa will have a healthy 2019 campaign and return to his 2017 form.

1. Aaron Donald, Los Angeles Rams

Would someone please cue up the Tina Turner classic “Simply the Best” as we look at the top defensive player in the league. Donald has been an interior force to reckon with since entering the league back in 2014 with a DT designation but has taken his game to new heights over the past two seasons. The Rams switched to a 3-4 prior to the 2017 season and Donald has been unstoppable at DE. In that time he has amassed 99 total tackles (40 tackles for a loss), 31.5 sacks, nine forced and three recovered fumbles. Look for Donald to repeat as the top scoring DL in 2019.


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