That time of the year is fast approaching and for those who have any IDP in their leagues this article is for you. Today I will cover the top 5 at each position LB, DB, and DE. As we get closer to the drafts I will do the top 10 at each position as well as some sleepers for the year. Please don’t hesitate to join our forums for more opinions.
Jad - @LebaneseFF
1A. Lavonte David (TB) and 1B. Luke Kuechly (CAR): I’ve analyzed a lot of material and read countless other articles and the top 2 at linebacker is clear; Lavonte David or Luke Kuechly. Who is 1st and who is 2nd is subjective. There is just no way to objectively separate the two for this coming season. It may depend on your league scoring. If the league favors pass rushing, then select Lavonte. If the league isn’t so high on the pass rush, select Luke Kuechly.
- Lavonte David (TB) – numbers in 2013 (145 tackles, 2 FF, 1 FR, 5 INT, 7 Sacks) Lovie Smith is going to make this defense great and it will start with David. Leslie Frazier is the DC. And although it’s a change on David, it’s a positive change that will enhance his numbers from last year.
- Luke Kuechly (CAR) – numbers in 2013 (156 tackles, 2 sacks and 4 INT) Constant tackles. Drafting him means stability. He is a constant force to reckon with on a good defensive team.
3. Paul Posluszny (JAC) – numbers in 2013 (161 tackles, 1 FF, 1 FR, 3 Sacks, 2 INT and 1 TD) Last year was a career year. He will stay up amongst the best LB’s as long as he with the Jaguars. Poz is another great source of stability. Draft him and be happy with your LB.
4. Vontaze Burfict (CIN) – numbers in 2013 (171 tackles, 1 FF, 2 FR, 3 sacks, 1 INT) Led the league in tackles last year. I see no reason why he can’t repeat that feat. Here is the best part about his game: He plays with a chip on his shoulder. He went undrafted in 2012 after being projected as a 1st rounder! His stock fell because of some poor work ethic, apparently. I find that very hard to believe. This kid is the ultimate hard worker on the Bengals Defense.
5. Patrick Willis (SF) – numbers in 2013 (104 tackles, 2 FF and 3 Sacks) In all honesty this spot was going to Bills LB Kiko Alonso before he got injured. But just 2 years ago, Willis was considered the top LB in all IDP leagues. Navorro Bowman is coming back from injury. Willis is back to being the main man in SF.
1. J.J. WATT (HOU) – numbers in 2013 (10.5 sacks, 80 tackles, 4 FF, 2 FR) Last year was considered a down year for Watt, yet it was still considered a good year. However, watch out for his potential ADP. Don’t fall for the trap and draft him too early. He is a big name, but, in my opinion, gets drafted way too early in most redraft leagues. If, and only if, you’re playing in an IDP-only league, he is a top 3 pick along with David and Kuechly.
2. Robert Quinn (STL) – numbers in 2013 (19 sacks, 57 tackles, 7 FF, 2 FR) Last year was a career year for Quinn. He is still only 24 years old and can only improve upon last year's stats. Finding consistency at the DE position in fantasy football is hard, but Quinn can help you achieve that. He also plays in a division that is ruthless. I expect St Louis to contend with SF and Seattle this year.
3. Greg Hardy (CAR) – numbers in 2013 (15/16 sacks, 59 tackles, 1 FF) He is playing with a franchise tag I think he will deliver. Many sites have him ranked below Chandler Jones, but I think he is a central piece on a very good defensive team in Carolina.
4. Chandler Jones (NE) – numbers in 2013 (11.5 sacks, 79 tackles, 1 FF, 1 FR) He led the defensive linemen in snaps played last year and they are all in a division with very poor offensive lines. I expect his number to grow if the Patriots don’t play him as much as they did last year. He got tired towards the end and didn’t do much damage.
5. DeMarcus Ware (DEN) – numbers in 2013 (6 sacks, 40 tackles, 1 FR and 1 TD) Two factors for me giving him the 5th spot here: Denver is going to be up in many games this year and this means passing for the other teams. I also think this will be the 1st time in Ware's career he will be playing 1-on-1 with Von Miller lined up on the other side. Health is my concern, so let’s see what happens.
Small tip on Defensive Backs in general:
Draft your LB and DE before you do your DB. This is a common mistake in fantasy football in my opinion. The difference between the top tiers of LB and DE compared to that of DB’s is significant.
1. T.J. Ward (DEN) – numbers in 2013 (112 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1 FR, 2 INT and 1 TD) Ward can play both safety positions. I think he might end up as Denver's strong safety. In either case, I think Ward is up for a great season in Denver. I expect his interceptions total to go up and the rest to remain about the same.
2. Harrison Smith (MIN) – numbers in 2013 (47 tackles, 1 FR and 2 INT) He was injured last year and would have finished the season as a top DB. The reality is that Minnesota has some issues at linebacker, so Smith could pick up some of those tackles.
3. Tyvon Branch (Oak) – numbers in 2013 are irrelevant he was injured for all but 1 game. Tyvon is back, and is usually a favorite of mine. Listen, he isn’t a flash DB. But he is consistent on a team that will play a lot of defense. I do like him coming off a broken foot.
4. Eric Weddle (SD) – numbers in 2013 (115 tackles, 1 sack, 1 FF, 2 FR, 2 INT) He was second best last year at this position. One of the main reasons was the Chargers' horrible pass defense. I don’t think it’s improved much in the offseason.
5. Barry Church (DAL) – numbers in 2013 (135 tackles, 3 FF, FR and 1 INT) He led the league in tackles last year and might to it again this year. Be warned. I think Church's ADP is a bit too high. I have no problems taking a Johnathan Cyprien, Morgan Burnett, Earl Thomas etc. etc.. Instead, read the top message and don’t draft your DBs too early.