We have talked time and again on this site about how shallow the depth is at the defensive linemen position with regard to fantasy viability. So there is perhaps no more important IDP spot to find your sleepers.
The defensive line position is one of the hardest areas for rookies to make an immediate impact, especially in terms of fantasy production. We'll see that again this year when you watch many fantasy owners jump on guys like Ndamukong Suh, Gerald McCoy, and Jason Pierre-Paul. The learning curve is just too high to have lofty expectations.
In 2009, fantasy owners drafted Detroit Lions rookie Cliff Avril with high fantasy expectations, and for the most part, they were disappointed. However, there were signs last season of what Avril could do in 2010 and why I see him as a legit 2010 fantasy football sleeper candidate at a very thin position.
Cliff Avril, DL – Detroit Lions
ADP: 401st overall – 25th DL selected
Statistically speaking Avril had a rather pedestrian rookie season. He ended 2009 as the 30th ranked fantasy DL. That would have made him good for perhaps a DL3 on fantasy teams. He had 5.5 sacks and only 27 solo tackles.
Avril missed three games in 2009. Divide his fantasy numbers by the 13 games he played and he was actually the 15th best DL in 2009, averaging the same as the San Francisco 49ers Justin Smith who is being selected ahead of Cliff in most drafts.
Over the seasons final 5 games Avril began to show signs of life knocking down 3 of his 5.5 sacks, with 1/3rd of his solo tackles, 8 assists, a pass defense and 2 forced fumbles. If Avril can carry that over into 2010 he could be a real stud at the DL slot in fantasy.
Rookie defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was drafted to plug up the middle for the Lions. Many fantasy owners are jumping on this guy as a dynasty fantasy stud, but his real fantasy value is the room he opens up for his defensive ends. Suh is not fantasy relevant.
The Lions grabbed DE Kyle Vandenbosch from the Tennessee Titans this off-season which further helps Avril's value. With a stud like KVB on one side and Suh clogging the middle, Avril should get some great opportunities for more tackles and sacks this season. All he has to do is beat out Jason Hunter and Jared Devries for the starting right defensive end slot. But according to reports out of camp, he seems to be well on his way.
ADP taken from our friends at MyFantasyLeague.com