For the last few weeks, Jay has been unveiling his 2015 rankings on the offensive side of the ball, and now it’s time for IDPs to join the party. If you’re new to IDP leagues, or thinking about joining one, I encourage you to read my annual case for using IDPs in fantasy football. Assuming you’ve already taken the leap into the IDP world, you know that positional rankings are not quite one-size-fits-all. Depending on your league’s roster requirements and scoring system, my DL20 could be your DL5, and potentially even your LB50. I try to cover the most “standard” settings with the rankings below, but if you have questions about a particularly customized league, feel free to post in the Comments section. One of the many beauties of IDP leagues is the level with which they can be customized, and I love hearing about the more exotic options out there.
Without further ado, here are the Razzball 2015 Defensive Linemen rankings, as well as a brief take on each of my tiers below:
Tier 1 – Assuming that past performance equals future results can be a dangerous proposition, but I think it’s safe to say that, barring an asteroid hitting Earth (and even then, who knows), J.J. Watt will be the top DL for the fourth straight year in 2015. Instead of continuing to discuss his absolute dominance, I’ll leave you with a question to ponder: Would Watt be as dominant if he went by Justin instead of J.J.? Would opposing QBs tremble in their cleats knowing that Justin Watt was chasing them down? With that name he sounds more like an electrician than a football player, am I right? Sorry J.J.! I’m sorry! Please don’t hurt me.
Tier 2 – The next tier down is also known as “Guys fighting for #2”. None of them have the weekly dominance that Watt has, but each has an extremely high ceiling based on their talent and situation. I prefer Robert Quinn over Jason Pierre-Paul and Chandler Jones, but you can’t really go wrong with any of them.
Tier 3 – This tier starts to have a lot of questions. How much will Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson see the field now that Leonard Williams is in the fold? How will the move to OLB affect the stats of Mario Williams and Jerry Hughes (and will they even be eligible at DL in most leagues)? Will Ndamukong Suh’s presence help or hurt Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon? These guys are all weekly starters, but some are certainly safer than others.
Tier 4 – 2014 was a banner year for interior Defensive Linemen in IDP leagues, and this tier highlights the best of them. Big-play leagues can pretty much ignore these guys entirely, but in more tackle-heavy leagues, some of the best values can be found here. I wouldn’t necessarily call sophomore Aaron Donald a sleeper, but he’s still a great bet to outproduce his draft position.
Tier 5 – This is the last tier that you should even think about drafting, and even then, only in leagues where you start 2+ DLs. There is a mix of high-upside guys like Demarcus Lawrence and Damontre Moore (and Vic Beasley if he’s classified as a DE), as well as established, if boring, veterans like Justin Tuck and Jared Allen. The most intriguing name is obviously Greg Hardy, who’s value will be directly tied to how long he’s suspended. Expect his ranking to change one way or the other based on that news, but for now I’m assuming he misses at least 6 games.