1981 was THE YEAR that I became addicted (to fantasy football!). It was a basic concept: six co-workers each picked a seven man team. Stats were computed by hand on Tuesday (USA TODAY as the official source). That league still exists today, commonly with 16 teams and with the same loony concept of pulling a position card and bidding secretly on players. Rosters are now 17 players (8 offensive, 7 defensive and two substitutes). Real simple, you come across a week you’re short players either take a donut, or chop and choose. The rules got tweaked over the years but the best “change” was the addition of defensive players. And with that said I am honored to be the guy rolling out IDP nuggets the next six weeks. This week you’ll get THE TOP 20 DEFENSIVE ENDS and another Baker’s dozen “honorable mentions.” For the stat heads among y’all SEE THE GOZIFIED CHART that may make you tweak the rankings based on your league’s scoring system.
#20 Leonard Williams, Jets – with a little luck, 2018 will be the year he finally gets his head straight and unleashes his Pro Bowl type game
#19 Danielle Hunter, Vikings -young, speedy guy that can get to the double digit sack level
#18 Muhammed Wilkerson, Packers– if there was ever a guy that needed a change of scenery it is this three down force. Could shine as a #2 DE with bigger upside
#17 Markus Golden, Cardinals– coming off major injury makes him a relatively unknown unless you’re a Arizona fan or an opposing team’s offensive line coach
#16 Vic Beasley, Falcons– coming off a misplaced season at LB this rocket could be the key to the Atlanta D going from respectable to damn good
#15 Brandon Graham, Eagles– under the radar, solid player whose motor never quits
#14 Jean-Pierre Paul, Bucs– showed glimpses of his old game wrecker form. Adjusting to playing with the “club” and with a new team- great late draft target
#13 Cam Heyward, Steelers– steady and solid as granite. More hefty than a lot of DEs doesn’t stop him from getting to QB’s and destroying RBs
#12 J.J Watt, Texans– could rise to the top but the multitude of injuries make blowing a top pick on him incredibly risky
#11 Ziggy Ansah, Lions– visions of another massive 15+ sack season is probably dope smoking territory but when he’s hot NO ONE CAN BLOCK THIS GUY. An especially good target in the up and coming best ball craze
#10 Melvin Ingram, Chargers– tweener type that can drop back in coverage, maul QBs and disrupt game plans. This is an exciting player that could take it to the next level
#9 Carlos Dunlap, Bengals– physical specimen that scares offenses. The problem is the erratic nature of two good games and four crumby ones. If you are loaded elsewhere on D and he’s a by-the-way selection- you did good
#8 Demarcus Lawrence, Cowboys– looked absolutely unstoppable at times. Needs better support from his defensive mates in order to be in the discission as THE MAN
#7 Yannick Ngakoue, Jaguars– heat seeking missile that benefits from being on the best defense in the land. Doesn’t matter that you can’t pronounce his name. A definite value pick if you can swipe him after most others fill their #1 DE spot
#6 Everson Griffen, Vikings- at 30 years old a nice blend of wily veteran and pedal -to -the- metal pass rusher
#5 Chandler Jones, Cardinals- could be listed at linebacker, and if so, he’s solid but lower in top twenty. Leaving New England brought him a lot of latitude to do what he does best: crush Quarterbacks
#4 Joey Bosa, Chargers- a tremendous athlete. Entering his third season this monster could easily enter the land of sack-a-game stardom
#3 Calais Campbell, Jaguars- large and in charge the scary good potential may have finally arrived. By mistake will garner a dozen sacks
#2 Cameron Jordan, Saints- key player in the Saints defensive resurgence. Other years he was good last year and in 2018 FORCE MATERIAL
#1 Khalil Mack, Raiders- what were the Raiders thinking making this guy a linebacker? Regardless, Gruden and company will scan the tapes and get him back to All Pro level in a jiffy
For whatever reason there seems to be a rather steep learning curve for young defensive ends. Top player after top player, on average, registered five or six sacks, Julius Peppers was the lone exception with 12. Bluntly, the last two years there have been no Julius Peppers types but I will list a few youngsters that will at least break the surface and maybe more.
ROOKIE ALERT^Bradley Chubb, Broncos- former N.C State star has a chance to be special. Could be listed at LB- either way TAKE A FLYER !
ROOKIE ALERT^Marcus Davenport, Saints- may not even start but is supposedly has Can’t Miss ability
Myles Garrett, Browns- #1 pick of the 2017 draft. Forget about last year and think Hard Knocks and a big role in the Browns return to relevance (just kidding…but they’ll win some games!)
Derek Barnett, Eagles- breaking Reggie Whites sack record at Tennessee is nice but can he be the bookend at RE that he got paid a bundle to be?
Dante Fowler, UFA- injury riddled and not the best attitude but if he passes a physical someone will reignite the fire
Chris Jones, Chiefs- rave reviews and opportunity makes him a watch list player at worse
Robert Quinn, Dolphins- played well last year and happy in Miami (at least the weather is great)
Cameron Wake, Dolphins- if this was baseball he’d be traded at the deadline every year. Rock solid #2 DE on your team
Julius Peppers, Panthers- returning home. special talent destined to be a sacks specialist…not a bad thing
WORTH A LOOK
Trey Flowers, Patriots- piled up good stats last year. Expect more of the same in ’18
Akeem Hicks, Bears- key player on a team that is being hyped as supposedly back to playoff relevance
Jabaal Sheard, Colts- team stinks. He doesn’t
Frank Clark, Seahawks- gets sacks now and again but is mean and creates turnovers
Trent Murphy, Bills- another tweener that wrecks havoc in opponents backfields. Could surprise overall
2018 GRID ( LAST THREE YEARS COMPOSITE)
GP=games played TK=solo tackles / TFL=tackles for loss/ SACK/QB hits/PD= passes defensed/FF= forced fumbles
*stats omitted due to injuries (previous years composite would easily make J.J Watt #1!!!
**indicates a top three producer in the column (based on averages PER GAME)
***indicates a third year player (stats for two years)
~ spent time at linebacker (tackle total affected)
So Long for now
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join host Cole Freel and Kyle Amore live on Sunday July 1st, 2018 from 8-9:30pm EST for episode #127 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. We will discuss the latest information in the world of fantasy baseball.
Major League Fantasy Football Radio Show: Join host Corey D Roberts, and Kyle Amore live June 21st, 2018 from 8-9:30pm EST for episode #83 of Major League Fantasy Football Radio. Call in number is 323-870-4395 press 1 to speak with the host. We will hit free agents, rookies, and fantasy football as a whole for each team for 2018. This week we will discuss everything AFC North!
Kyle is a writer with majorleaguefantasysports.com going on his 5 th year. He focuses primarily on baseball, but is a fantasy football fan and analyst as well.