When I wrote about the top 25 defensive lineman, it was easy to get excited about it. There were players who got you revved up when thinking about their explosiveness coming off the ball, dominating the offensive lineman and putting a hit on the quarterback.  

Writing about the next 25 conjures up very little of those feelings. Historically, this is the shallowest position for IDP leagues as once you get past the top 10-20 players, there is very little difference in the next 30-40. Last year in my home league (scoring was 0.5/tackle, 3/sack/FF/INT, so big play skewed), Joey Bosa finished as DL22 with 4.16 ppg.  Brian Burns was DL51 with 3.12 ppg. That’s only 1 ppg difference between those two players. Is it better to have Bosa, well of course, but over a season, it probably made little difference in your record on a week to week basis. Now this may change a bit with the change in position designation by some sites as many OLBs will be designated at Edge and moved into the defensive line category. This will expand the choices at defensive line and make this group of 25 more interesting. I’ll cover this topic as we get more clarity as to what most sites will do.

Here are 26-50 and here’s the link to my top 25 DL rankings if you missed them.

 

Tier

Rank

Player

Team

5

26

Kenny Clark

GB

5

27

Jason Pierre-Paul

TB

5

28

Akiem Hicks

CHI

5

29

Olivier Vernon

CLE

5

30

Dee Ford

SF

5

31

Brandon Graham

PHI

5

32

Marcus Davenport

NO

5

33

Jonathon Allen

WSH

5

34

Ifeadi Odenigbo

MIN

6

35

Sheldon Richardson

CLE

6

36

Stephon Tuitt

PIT

6

37

Fletcher Cox

PHI

6

38

Jurrell Casey

DEN

6

39

Ndamukong Suh

TB

6

40

Jarran Reed

SEA

6

41

Geno Atkins

CIN

7

42

Brian Burns

CAR

7

43

Clelin Ferrell

LV

7

44

Ed Oliver

BUF

7

45

Robert Quinn

CHI

7

46

Matt Ioannidis

WSH

7

47

Emmanuel Ogbah

MIA

7

48

Derek Barnett

PHI

7

49

Kemoko Turay

IND

7

50

Derek Wolfe

BAL

 

Tier 5

 

At the top of the tier is Kenny Clark of the Packers. Clark is your prototypical DT who is an excellent pick in any format but will be a great asset in those leagues that separate out DT and DE. He may fly under the radar in a few leagues as his “name” isn’t one of those who is talked about alot but he has developed into one of the top interior lineman. He had six sacks for the second year in a row and upped his total tackles to 62, a career high.

Marcus Davenport was having a very good season lining up opposite of Cam Jordan on the Saints’ defensive line until a foot injury sidelined him for the season after week 13. Davenport was ranked as the 15th best lineman by PFF at the time of his injury and had clearly improved from his rookie campaign. Keep an eye on his play in the preseason and word out of camp to make sure he’s recovered.  He has the potential to finish as a top 20 lineman.

Jonathan Allen of the Redskins is another young lineman who could see some improvement over 2019 as Ron Rivera takes over as coach in Washington. With Chase Young and Montez Sweat causing problems on the outside, Allen could see an uptick in opportunity from the interior. He’s not the best against the run and his snap percentage did go down last year from 75 to 64, so there is some risk but he finished with 6 sacks and 68 tackles in only 13 games. He may not be the most highly rated lineman, but from a fantasy perspective he should produce.

 

Tier 6

 

A tier made entirely up of defensive tackles? As I said earlier, the differentiation among this group of 25 is small and I grouped them together as players who will have produced enough to warrant consideration as your DL3, especially in tackle heavy formats.  Fletcher Cox had a down year last year with only 3.5 sacks as he was constantly double teamed. Jurrell Casey had a similar down year, as he tied a career low in tackles but missed two games. Stephon Tuitt is the breakout candidate of this tier.  He tore a pectoral muscle and missed 10 games last year after starting the season dominating the line and was on pace for a career year.  Jarran Reed missed 6 games last year with an ankle injury but should be in line for the majority of the snaps at DT for the Seahawks.  Reed’s production on a per game basis was down a bit from 2018, but this could be from playing on that ankle too soon and then re-injuring it.

 

Tier 7 

 

Brian Burns leads off this tier which has a few young, up and coming players that may pique your interest as the choices begin to thin out amongst the linemen. Burns had 7.5 sacks in his rookie season with the Panthers despite playing in only 43% of the defensive snaps. His tackle numbers were low, so he is a better play in “big play” leagues and can top 10 sacks with some more playing time.  Clelin Ferrell started 15 games as a rookie for the Raiders and had a solid season with 4.5 sacks and 38 tackles. He played in 62% of the snaps and should see similar numbers this year. Playing opposite of Maxx Crosby will give the Raiders the ability to put pressure on the QB from either end of the line. The last of the young players is Kemoko Turay of the Colts. Turay had ankle surgery and missed most of the season last year but was graded very highly in the few games he played. He will be part of the defensive line rotation and line up opposite of Justin Houston.  There are reports that he may not be ready to start the season, so keep an eye on his status. Turay could be one of those breakout stars and is worth a stash if you can do that.

So that wraps up my defensive line rankings and it’s pretty clear that the talent is near the top of the list. Do your best to grab one of the top ten and consider taking two if you can. The good thing is if you miss out on the second one, it probably won’t hurt you too much as the differences between the players in the bottom half is small. 

Questions and comments are always welcome here, on Twitter @gasdoc_spit and on Reddit.  Stay safe!