Fantasy Football 2010 IDP Draft Rankings: Defensive Lineman

Ryan SitzmannContributor IJanuary 19, 2010

Here are my IDP Defensive Lineman Rankings for Redraft Leagues. 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.

I would love to get feedback from my readers. Often times, we get stuck in our own philosophies and tendencies. So it's nice to get a different perspective on things. Your comments will definitely influence my rankings.

Drafting Philosophy:
Defensive linemen are by far the most inconsistent fantasy point producers during the year. Many linemen will go three or four weeks without registering a sack and then, exactly when you drop or bench 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 fantasy defensive linemen.

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 Justin Tuck 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.

Also, when you're trying to fill that last defensive lineman position, I prefer to go with younger, high risk/high reward players such as Everette Brown or Connor Barwin as opposed to the safer, veteran players such as Richard Seymour or Albert Haynesworth. This philosophy is reflected in my lower-tier rankings.


Scoring System:
Solo Tackle = 2 points
Assist = 1 point
Sack = 7 points
Interception = 12 points
Fumble Recovery = 5 points


DSC = Possible Defensive Scheme Change
S = Sleeper/Undervalued Player
B = Bust/Overvalued Player
R = Injury Risk
ROOKIE = 2010 NFL Rookie

Tier 1

Jared Allen1. RDE Jared Allen (MIN) - This is an obvious one. Allen was the top fantasy lineman by a substantial margin in 2009. Not only does he get to the quarterback on a consistent basis, he seems to come up with a handful of big plays every year. Allen provides the largest relative fantasy value of any defensive lineman and should therefore be one of the first defensive players selected.

Tier 2

Justin Tuck2. RDE Justin Tuck (NYG) - Tuck had his worst season in three seasons and he still finished as the eighth leading scorer for defensive linemen in my scoring system. Keep in mind that Tuck was struggling with injury problems the whole season and that the Giants defensive line severely underperformed, both of which greatly limited his production. Heading into the 2010 season, with a clean bill of health and an improved defensive line, Tuck should be able to return to top form. DSC, R


Trent Cole3. RDE Trent Cole (PHI) - Cole has been a model of consistency over the last four seasons. During that span, he has averaged over 10 sacks per season and over 60 total tackles. Defensive linemen are the most inconsistent fantasy producers. With this being said, Cole becomes a valuable commodity in the IDP world.


Julius Peppers4. RDE Julius Peppers (CHI) - Peppers answered all the doubters this season by registering 10.5 sacks to follow up his 14.5 sack season of a year ago. This marks the fifth time in eight seasons that Peppers has registered double digit sacks. Peppers signed a six-year, $40 million contract with the Bears in the off-season. He has less wear on his tires than most 30-year-olds, but the odds don't favor him finishing this contract. His move to Chicago should affect his fantasy value.


Mario Williams5. RDE Mario Williams (HOU) - Williams had somewhat of an off-year in 2009 by compiling only nine sacks. However, over his last three seasons in the league, he has averaged 12 sacks per year. The possible emergence of Connor Barwin at LDE could take some pressure off of Williams and allow him to return to his double digit sack production of 2007 and 2008.

Tier 3

Terrell Suggs6. RDE/ROLB Terrell Suggs (BALT) - Suggs in one of the safest choices at defensive lineman. He is usually a lock for 65-80 total tackles and eight or more sacks. His 2009 sack numbers (5.5 sacks) seem a bit disappointing. However, keep in mind that Suggs missed three games due to injury which lowered his overall numbers. A healthy Suggs should be able to produce his typical fantasy numbers in 2010. S, R


Robert Mathis7. LDE Robert Mathis (IND) - Mathis' 2009 numbers are bit deceiving. Yes, he did have 9.5 sacks. However, all 9.5 of those sacks were registered during the first 12 games of the season. Mathis only registered one tackle and no sacks during the last five games of the season due to injury issues. If he had played a full injury-free season, he probably would have had 13-15 sacks. As long as Freeney continues to draw the attention of defenses, Mathis will be a top 10 fantasy DL.


Will Smith8. RDE Will Smith (NO) - Smith was sure "getting jiggy wit' it" in 2009 by sacking the quarterback 13.5 times. Personally, I think the "Fresh Prince" played a little over his head in 2009 and may be somewhat overvalued heading into the 2010 draft. However, he does have the advantage of playing on the Saints defense where he has plenty of sack opportunities since opposing teams are usually trailing the Saints and have to throw to catch up.


Ray Edwards9. LDE Ray Edwards (MIN) - Edwards really exploded onto the IDP scene this season with 9 sacks. Obviously, Edwards benefited greatly from having the beast known as Jared Allen drawing double teams on the opposite side of the defensive line. Allen continuing to draw the attention of opposing offenses should free Edwards up to produce similar stats to his 2009 season. He may, however, see a slight decrease in numbers now that opposing offenses know about him. S

Tier 4

Ray Edwards10. RDE Aaron Kampman (JAX) - From 2006-2008, Kampman was a top 8 fantasy defensive lineman. During this span he averaged 71 total tackles and 11.5 sacks per year and established himself as one of the most productive fantasy defensive lineman in the NFL. Kampman's numbers took a severe hit in 2009 however when he was moved into a rush linebacker position. After signing with the Jaguars in the off-season, Kampman will return to his natural defensive end position. He should be a great fit in Jacksonville and I can see Kampman putting up top 10 numbers next season. R


Darnell Dockett11. RDE Darnell Dockett (ARI) - Dockett's numbers have never been overly impressive. However, he did finish as the number 10 lineman in my scoring system by having both solid tackle (54 total tackles) and sack (7.5 sacks) numbers. The addition of NT Dan Williams from this year's draft should help Dockett replicate his 2009 numbers next year.


Justin Smith12. RDE Justin Smith (SF) - Words cannot describe how atrocious Smith was this season. Through 15 games of the season, he only had 2.5 sacks. He finished the year with six sacks because he registered 3.5 sacks against the lowly Rams in the final game of the season. With this being said, Smith still finished as the 12th highest scoring lineman. The fact remains that Smith is one of the better tackling lineman and is therefore a fairly safe pick to be a top 20 defensive lineman.


Mathias Kiwanuka13. LDE Mathias Kiwanuka (NYG) - I really like Kiwanuka heading into the 2010 season. At this point in time, he looks to have a slight hold on the starting LDE position in New York. "Special K" has shown that he can produce when given the opportunity (8 sacks in 2008 as a full-time starter) and he will surely benefit from playing opposite RDE Justin Tuck. I figure "Kiwi" will get about 60-65% of the defensive snaps this season which should be enough to make him a solid DL2 next season. DSC, S


Dwight Freeney14. RDE Dwight Freeney (IND) - In my opinion, Freeney is overrated and always has been. As a like to say, there are three things in life that are inevitable: death, taxes, and someone taking Dwight Freeney too early in a fantasy draft. Yes, he has averaged 12 sacks over the last two seasons. However, he just doesn't generate enough tackles to warrant top 10 consideration. Excluding solo tackles obtained from sacking the quarterback, Freeney had only six solo tackles. In my scoring system, that puts him as the 20th ranked defensive lineman. Keep in mind though, if you're in a league that rewards heavily for sacks, Freeney may be of extra value to you. B

Tier 5

Chris Long15. RDE Chris Long (STL) - I was high on Long coming into the 2009 season and he really disappointed. He failed to register a sack until Week 8; however he had five sacks the rest of the season. I think Long is going to carry over that late-season success into this year and finally prove his fantasy worth. S


Kyle Vanden Bosch16. RDE Kyle Vanden Bosch (DET) - If you read my articles, you probably know that I don't have much love for KVB. I think he is highly overrated as a standalone defensive lineman. However, I think KVB can be a very good player when surrounded with a strong supporting cast and this is exactly what he has in Detroit now that the Lions have drafted Suh and signed DT Corey Williams (and they have Cliff Avril on the left side as well). I think KVB can have a top 15 season. However, he is 32 and only has a couple years left which hurts his dynasty value.


Greg 17. RDE Greg "Stylez" White (TB) - The "(Sack) Artist Formerly Known as Greg" come through with a solid season and is one of my favorite sleeper picks next season. All of White's 6.5 sacks came after the Buccaneers traded RDE Gaines Adams in Week 5. The Bucs spent their 1st two draft picks on interior defensive linemen (Gerald McCoy and Brian Price) and White has said he is in the "best shape of his life." This is a guy you can grab late in drafts and someone I think has a chance for double digit sacks next season. S


Alex Brown18. RDE Alex Brown (NO) - Brown manages to fly under the radar every year. But, you will be hard pressed to find a more consistent defensive lineman. Brown has never had more than 7 sacks in a season, but he usually finishes in the 5-7 sack range with decent tackle numbers. These numbers may not seem very impressive but, in my scoring system, Brown scored the 21st most points for a defensive lineman. Brown's signing with New Orleans helps his fantasy value somewhat since he's playing on a very strong defensive line. S


Calais Campbell19. LDE Calais Campbell (ARI) - Campbell took advantage of teams focusing on Pro-Bowl RDE Darnell Dockett by getting to the quarterback 6.5 times. Campbell is only going into his 3rd season and is a talented player who should only improve with time. The addition of NT Dan Williams should only help Campbell's numbers and he could prove to be a great fantasy option.


Osi Umenyiora20. LDE Osi Umenyiora (NYG) - Even though Umenyiora is currently behind Mathias Kiwanuka at right defensive end, he will still see ample playing time. The Giants are going to rotate their defensive linemen quite a bit and I would expect Umenyiora to see about 60% of the defensive snaps. I see his value being comparable to that of Kiwanuka's. DSC

August 1 Update: I've moved down Osi a few spots since reports out of camp have said that he has been quite bothered by a hip injury. These type of injuries are hard to overcome and I feel like it may bother him for a significant part of the season. Kiwanuka and Tuck are the guys to target in IDP leagues.


Cliff Avril21. RDE Cliff Avril (DET) - Avril was one of my top sleepers heading into the 2009 season and, man, did he make me look like a jackass. However, I'm still a believer in Avril and his value has definitely increased since the Lions added KVB, Suh, and Corey Williams. Also, the Lions released LDE Dewayne White which should improve Avril's chances of getting decent playing time. I may have had Avril ranked a couple spots higher if he had not burned me so badly last season :).

Tier 6

Antwan Odom22. RDE Antwan Odom (CIN) - Odom had 8 sacks in his first five games of the season before going down with a season-ending knee injury. I think Odom is going to be severely overvalued heading into the 2010 fantasy draft. The Bengals' defensive line hasn't been a very fruitful place for fantasy players lately and, keep in mind that, 5 of Odom's 8 sacks came against Aaron Rodgers and his offensive line (at the time approximately named "Baby Swiss"). B, R


Jay Ratliff23. NT Jay Ratliff (DAL) - Ratliff is one of the few nose tackles in the league who is actually a viable fantasy option. Ratliff has finished in the top 25 for defensive lineman in each of the past two years. With this being said, he has pretty much maxed out his upside. However, he is a pretty safe bet to finish in the top 30 for defensive lineman.


Kelly Gregg
24. NT Kelly Gregg (BALT) - Kelly Gregg, similar to Jay Ratliff, is one of the few interior lineman that are worthy of a fantasy roster spot. Gregg is a tackling machine and can provide consistency to fantasy owners which is something hard to find with defensive linemen. Gregg is almost always good for 65-80 total tackles.


John Abraham25. RDE John Abraham (ATL) - This year was, perhaps, the worst season of Abraham's career. Abraham is getting older and is starting to be relegated to passing situations only. Many owners think Abraham is done and consequently his perceived value will be greatly diminished heading into 2010. However, many forget that it was only one year ago when Abraham had 16.5 sacks. I think Abraham may still be worth a late-round flier. R


Shaun Ellis26. LDE Shaun Ellis (NYJ) - Ellis had a nice year and seemed to thrive under new, defensive-minded, head coach Rex Ryan. I'm always a little bit skeptical of 3-4 DEs such as Ellis. However, Ellis has proven throughout his career that he is a top 30 defensive lineman.

Tier 7

William Hayes27. LDE William Hayes (TEN) - Hayes is now the #1 defensive lineman in Tennessee with the departure of KVB to Detroit. He had quite a few QB hurries in 2009. If he can improve his game and turn those QB hurries into sacks, he's going to be a solid DL2 next season. The drafting of Derrick Morgan should help Hayes in this task. S


Derrick Harvey28. LDE Derrick Harvey (JAX) - Owners have been waiting for Harvey to breakout since he was drafted with the 8th overall pick in the 2008 NFL draft. This has failed to happen yet but Harvey did play well down the stretch last season and if he can manage to put things together, he could be a top 20 lineman in the future. Also, the addition of Aaron Kampman finally provides the Jaguars with a serious pass-rushing threat opposite Harvey. If you're feeling risky, this is a good pick for you. S


Darren Howard29. LDT Sedrick Ellis (NO) - The Saints spent the 7th overall pick of the 2008 draft on Ellis and so far he hasn't panned out (largely due to injury issues). In the games in which he's played, he's put up nice tackle numbers and even thrown in a few sacks. Assuming he can stay healthy for a majority of the season, Ellis could be fantasy viable and be a top 35 defensive lineman. R, S


Kevin Williams30. RDT Kevin Williams (MIN) - Williams' sack totals weren't off-base with his previous year's accumulation. However, he had a career-low in tackles. I attribute these low tackle numbers to Williams being unhealthy for a large part of the 2nd half of the season. Tackle-wise, I think Williams will substantially improve next season and I foresee a similar sack total. R

Last Updated: August 1, 2010

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