This week’s article focuses on those players who line up opposite the offensive line, the Defensive Ends (DF) and Defensive Tackles (DT) of the IDP realm. These players can rack up the tackles for your defensive squad, and offer some big-play production, though generally less in that format than last week’s subject, linebackers, and those still to be featured the last half of the month, the defensive backfield performers.

To repeat the first suggestion set forth last week, you will be benefited immensely by examining and comprehending your league settings intimately. This will allow you to take full advantage of any idiosyncrasies that your commissioner or the platform your league plays within have inserted in your league’s scoring system. Once you have studied the settings, you should be able to determine what on-field results are most valuable for defensive players. 

Essentially, there are three types of IDP leagues: tackle-oriented, big-play or hybrid schemes. Those three league formats are fairly self-explanatory, but in short, tackle-oriented leagues reward heavily for tackles collected, while big-play leagues compensate for interceptions (INT), sacks, fumbles forced (FF) and fumbles recovered (FR). Hybrid IDP leagues combine both those systems, remunerating in an even-handed manner for IDP that either tackle a ton or shake things up on the field by generating turnovers or loss of yardage. For an example of a hybrid scoring system, the following point structure is one used in certain leagues that I have participated in over the years:

Scoring Category

Points Awarded

Solo Tackle (or Total Tackles)

1 point

Assisted tackle

1/2 point

Sack

4 points

Interception

6 points

Pass defended

1 point

Fumble forced

4 point

Fumble recovered

2 points

Safety

2 points

Blocked FG/PAT/Punt

6 points

All defensive TDs

6 points

One additional proposition is that touchdowns are generally set at a standard six points, no matter how achieved.

Reiterating the second suggestion put forth last week: Do not to get caught up in any one player that will make or break your draft. There will (almost) always be another player that can provide the same or nearly the same results as that player that your opponent drafted before you had the opportunity to select him. Instead, you can improve your confidence and provide yourself with some peace of mind by grouping your IDP into tiers as part of your draft preparation. Figure out, based upon whatever projections you gather from the experts or that you compile yourself, which players are relatively comparable in the overall fantasy production they will provide you over the course of the NFL season. Then, when you are in the middle of your draft, you can keep track of when the set of IDP in a particular category (LB/DL/DB) is being diminished to a point where you will have to settle for lesser value if you do not jump into the pool this round.

To aid in your drafting efforts, and understanding that no rookies are included in the tables below, and further realizing that these projections are subject to adjustment over the next few months, below are tables that set forth the top 25 defensive linesmen for tackle-oriented, big-play and hybrid leagues, with rough tiers (1/2/3 and in two sets, 4) within the groups. 

Over the course of the next couple of weeks, we will cover defensive backs, safeties and cornerbacks, in separate articles, in the same fashion. Once the draft takes place, rookies as appropriate will be included in the tables.

Tackle-Oriented DLs

Defensive Lineman

Team

Position

Tier 1

   

Sam Hubbard

CIN

DE

Davon Godchaux

MIA

DT

Danielle Hunter

MIN

DE

Montez Sweat

WAS

DE

Tier 2

   

Jonathan Allen

WAS

DE

Joey Bosa

LAC

DE

Grady Jarrett

ATL

DT

Christian Wilkins

MIA

DE

DeForest Buckner

SF

DT

Tier 3

   

Kenny Clark

GB

DT

Cameron Heyward

PIT

DE

Sheldon Richardson

CLE

DT

Dante Fowler Jr.

LAR

DE

Danny Shelton

NE

DT

Linval Joseph

MIN

DT

Calais Campbell

JAX

DE

Matt Ioannidis

WAS

DT

Arik Armstead

SF

DT

Trey Flowers

DET

DE

Tier 4

   

Josh Allen

JAX

DE

Aaron Donald

LAR

DT

Lawrence Guy

NE

DT

Myles Garrett

CLE

DE

Cameron Jordan

NO

DE

Maxx Crosby

OAK

DE

Big-Play DLs

Defensive Lineman

Team

Position

Tier 1

   

Danielle Hunter

MIN

DE

Myles Garrett

CLE

DE

Tier 2

   

Chandler Jones

ARI

DE

Sam Hubbard

CIN

DE

Aaron Donald

LAR

DT

Josh Allen

JAX

DE

Montez Sweat

WAS

DE

Joey Bosa

LAC

DE

Tier 3

   

Dante Fowler Jr.

LAR

DE

Arik Armstead

SF

DT

Cameron Jordan

NO

DE

Nick Bosa

SF

DE

DeForest Buckner

SF

DT

Maxx Crosby

OAK

DE

Tier 4

   

Jonathan Allen

WAS

DE

Grady Jarrett

ATL

DT

Cameron Heyward

PIT

DE

Chris Jones

KC

DT

Frank Clark

KC

DE

J.J. Watt

HOU

DE

Justin Houston

IND

DE

Jason Pierre-Paul

TB

DE

Calais Campbell

JAX

DE

Matt Ioannidis

WAS

DT

Kenny Clark

GB

DT

Hybrid-League DLs

Defensive Lineman

Team

Position

Tier 1

   

Danielle Hunter

MIN

DE

Myles Garrett

CLE

DE

Chandler Jones

ARI

DE

Tier 2

   

Sam Hubbard

CIN

DE

Aaron Donald

LAR

DT

Joey Bosa

LAC

DE

Montez Sweat

WAS

DE

Josh Allen

JAX

DE

Dante Fowler Jr.

LAR

DE

Cameron Jordan

NO

DE

Nick Bosa

SF

DE

Tier 3

   

Arik Armstead

SF

DT

DeForest Buckner

SF

DT

Jonathan Allen

WAS

DE

Maxx Crosby

OAK

DE

Chris Jones

KC

DT

Grady Jarrett

ATL

DT

Cameron Heyward

PIT

DE

Justin Houston

IND

DE

Jason Pierre-Paul

TB

DE

Yannick Ngakoue

JAX

DE

J.J. Watt

HOU

DE

Calais Campbell

JAX

DE

Matt Ioannidis

WAS

DT

Trey Flowers

DET

DE

The big plays that DLs provide are generally sacks and forced fumbles, and as would follow from forcing the ball out of a ball carrier's hands, fumble recovery. Due to the nature of the position, therefore, you will see more DTs as being valued in Tackle-Oriented leagues than either of the other two formats. If you are not playing in a Tackle-Oriented league, and your setting require a DT slot to be filled in your active roster, act fast to pick up a top DT over the DEs that are available, due to position scarcity.

As ever, godspeed and best of luck in your fantasy endeavors. If you have any questions regarding IDP, or fantasy football in general, you can send an inquiry to ia@fantasyalarm.com for a personalized suggestion (or two, if the spirit moves).