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Jene Bramel

DL Tiers

144 posts in this topic

These tiers will obviously change significantly between now and August. But it’s never too early to take a stand and start sorting players into tiers.

I’m going to use this thread to update the defensive line tiers through the summer (they’ll also be translated into my rankings starting in early May after the NFL Draft). Each update will have its own post in the thread, with later posts including a notation for changes from the previous version. I’ll link the post to each version here to keep things (somewhat) organized.

For the purposes of the defensive line tiers, assume a league with 30-40 DL rostered, 20+ starting DL, a balanced scoring system (about 4:1 sack to tackle) and a relatively strong upside bias.

Discussion is welcome and encouraged.

Post Coaching Changes / Pre Free Agency

Version 1.0 (Post 2)

Post FA Wave 1 / Pre Draft

Version 2.0 (Post 40)

Post Draft / Pre Camp

Version 3.0 (Post 69)

Version 3.1 (Post 85)

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Version 1.0

ELITE

Jason Pierre-Paul

Jared Allen

Trent Cole

Terrell Suggs

Justin Tuck

Julius Peppers

ELITE WITH RISK

Chris Long

Jason Babin

Osi Umenyiora

Cliff Avril

Elvis Dumervil

Charles Johnson

Jabaal Sheard

(UNSETTLED ELITES)

Cameron Wake

Mario Williams

Robert Mathis

DL2 / HIGH FLOOR

Calais Campbell

Adrian Clayborn

JJ Watt

Justin Smith

Chris Clemons

Will Smith

Andre Carter

DL2 / TOP 20 UPSIDE

Da’Quan Bowers

Robert Quinn

Carlos Dunlap

John Abraham

Jeremy Mincey

Derrick Morgan

Michael Johnson

Greg Hardy

Lamarr Houston

Ndamukong Suh (DT)

Brian Robison

DL3 / DEPTH WORTH ROSTERING

Ahtyba Rubin (DT)

Kyle Vanden Bosch

Israel Idonije

Haloti Ngata (DT)

Darnett Dockett (DT)

Ray Edwards

DL3 / UPSIDE WORTH ROSTERING

Lawrence Jackson

Brandon Graham

Cameron Jordan

Matt Shaughnessy

Marcell Dareus (DT)

Kroy Biermann

ROOKIES ON THE RADAR

Quinton Coples

Nick Perry

Courtney Upshaw

Melvin Ingram

Whitney Mercilus

Andre Branch

Vinny Curry

Cam Johnson

Chandler Jones

Malik Jackson

Billy Winn

Jared Crick

Shea McClellin

Jack Crawford

Jake Bequette

Tyrone Crawford

Trevor Guyton

Devon Still

Jerel Worthy

Brandon Thompson

Kendall Reyes

Michael Brockers

Josh Chapman

Fletcher Cox

Mike Martin

Dontari Poe

Alameda Ta’amu

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The Ravens depth chart lists Suggs as OLB. Do we have to be afraid because of that?

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Dwight Freeney not listed.

Freeney isn't in my top 50. His non-sack solo tackle numbers have always been among the worst in the league, the current offensive situation isn't likely to provide him many sack opportunities, his rush metrics have trended downward in recent seasons and the Colts are likely to install a hybrid defense that may not fit him well (or make him a situational player).He's got a big contract number for 2012 (FA in 2013) and there's a chance he could be released and catch on in a more favorable situation.For now, 25-14 is his ceiling (matchup DL2), with 20-8 a much more reasonable expectation (marginal matchup bye week depth).

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No Geno Atkins?(I'm all for discussing DTs "parallel-esque", etc.)

Atkins is in a big group of players just outside the top 40-50 for me. His tackle numbers are limited by rotational usage and Cincinnati's assist-leaning stat crew. 6+ sacks is a tough plateau to hit every year. I love Atkins and he'd be a more likely hold in dynasty leagues with deeper rosters, but I'd rather have the flyer on a potential 40-8 defensive end in shallower leagues or as my redraft DL3.Other DTs that fit into that category: Kyle Williams, Phil Taylor, Jared Odrick, Tommy Kelly, Richard Seymour, Antonio Garay, Jurrell Casey, Corey Peters

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The Ravens depth chart lists Suggs as OLB. Do we have to be afraid because of that?

The Baltimore defense isn't likely to change from what it's been in recent years. Unless your league software is prone to waffling in the offseason -- or Rotoworld changes its depth chart decisions -- I don't think Suggs' positional designation will change for 2012.

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Thanks Jene :thumbup:

Yes. Thank you for this. Is there any chance you will be separating DEs and DTs for those of us that have to specific DE and DT starting requirements? Same would be awesome for S and CB if you are planning on putting out a list for them.

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So would you value the "Unsettled Elites" more than the DL2 (w/top 20 upside)? Assuming that's how to read that....

Thanks! Reason I ask is I have Mario Williams and trying to figure out whether or not to deal him for Quinn.

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Nice job but where do you have Phil Taylor?

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I think unsettled Elites is just that... very unsettled. If Mario Williams ends us back as a LB then he wouldnt even be a DL2/Top 20 upside but a LB3 with LB2 upside.

This is probably one of the screwiest parts of IDP.

Great players get marginalized by the base set they play fron and how they get recognized by position. Top DBs are nearly worthless because no one throws at them, while horrible DBs on bad teams can rack up points because they consistently give up a reception and then tackle the receiver.

Is this something that will ever get resolved? If so, any creative solutions to recognize the real value of top defenders?

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So would you value the "Unsettled Elites" more than the DL2 (w/top 20 upside)? Assuming that's how to read that....

Not necessarily. It's possible that none of the three will be classified at DL in 2012. My guess is that all three will be, with Wake the most likely, but it's certainly possible that Houston brings Williams back and Robert Mathis gets classified as a LB despite playing the same role that Terrell Suggs has. If confirmed DL in a good role (Wake MIA 4-3 DE, Williams 4-3 DE, Mathis DE in Pagano true hybrid), they're more likely to land in the DL1 with risk than the DL2 with upside tier.

Will Kampman play again?

I think so. But I strongly doubt we'll see more than 500-600 snaps out of him and his days as an elite pass rusher are likely over.

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I think unsettled Elites is just that... very unsettled. If Mario Williams ends us back as a LB then he wouldnt even be a DL2/Top 20 upside but a LB3 with LB2 upside.

This is probably one of the screwiest parts of IDP.

Great players get marginalized by the base set they play fron and how they get recognized by position. Top DBs are nearly worthless because no one throws at them, while horrible DBs on bad teams can rack up points because they consistently give up a reception and then tackle the receiver.

Is this something that will ever get resolved? If so, any creative solutions to recognize the real value of top defenders?

There are ways to tweak a scoring system to give almost any defensive player value. I'm not sure there's a statistical way to value a CB that doesn't get thrown at often enough to run up PD/INT numbers, however. Even the most diehard fantasy player willing to use advanced metrics would have trouble with targets against, yards allowed per attempt, success rate, etc.

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Great stuff Jene ... for us dynasty leaguers that have to make roster decisions in February for the 2012 season, this is a great reference.

Any chance Aldon Smith gets classified as a D-Lineman?

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Any chance Aldon Smith gets classified as a D-Lineman?

No chance.

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Do you think D. Morgan gets healthy and produces?

And do you think Dunlop bounces back? Will he be a 3 down starter?

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Do you think D. Morgan gets healthy and produces?And do you think Dunlop bounces back? Will he be a 3 down starter?

I'm biased toward all-around 4-3 end prospects. Morgan projected to play the run and rush the passer well and he's flashed when healthy. But the rotation the Titans like to use limits his upside and I think the off-and-on knee issues last year after he recovered from the ACL limited him, too. If he looks healthy in the preseason and looks likely to get a larger rotational role, then I think he can be a 40-8 player.Dunlap, pre-hamstring injury, was fine last year. He had the highest per snap pressure metrics in the league. That's skewed a bit because he played the vast majority of snaps in passing situations, but still notable. His issues are durability and the lack of snaps he's sees against the run. The coaching staff will have a full offseason to work with him this year, though, and hopefully both issues fade over the next two seasons. But it's hard to project him into the upper tiers without clear evidence that he can get 650-700+ snaps.

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I love your IDP Tiers Jene, they've helped me tremendously while drafting! :thumbup:

Do you think Edwards and Biermann get a bump if Abraham does indeed walk (which seems likely, right?)

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Do you think Edwards and Biermann get a bump if Abraham does indeed walk (which seems likely, right?)

Biermann is a free agent, too, but I'd give him a bump if he re-signed with the expectation that he'll get more snaps. I still think Edwards has some upside, but he looked bigger last year and the knee problems are a big concern. A free agent from outside the current roster or the draft might bring a better IDP prospect.Still three weeks from the start of free agency. Looking forward to seeing how many of these issues shake out.

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I am interested in seeing how Carlos Dunlap response to last years tough year. I still rank him higher then most.

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SI_JimTrotter (Beat Writer / Columnist) "if rumors are true that the Giants have interest in vet pass rusher John Abraham, one word: SCARY. two words: EXTREMELY SCARY."

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Thanks Jene once again. One question I have is, Tucks value seems to be dropping... Injury and JPPs emergence. Are there simply not enough stats to go around for that D line and what if they add another like Abraham? I have Tuck and Peppers and need to cut one. Thanks!

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Thanks Jene once again. One question I have is, Tucks value seems to be dropping... Injury and JPPs emergence. Are there simply not enough stats to go around for that D line and what if they add another like Abraham? I have Tuck and Peppers and need to cut one. Thanks!

I think there's reason for concern with Tuck. I don't like leg muscle strains in defensive ends as they make me (right or wrong) concerned about conditioning, wear-and-tear, etc. And the neck problem should worry us, too. But I'm not yet so worried that I think Tuck should be red flagged out of the elite tier altogether. If Tuck is healthy and gets a reasonable snap count, his numbers should be fine. There's always room for multiple pass rushers to run up stats on a solid offensive team and Tuck has never been a one-dimensional player. A healthy Tuck will be a big tackle producer, too.

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If Mario Williams signs with Buffalo does he instantly become one of the top couple DE's?

Thanks!

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If Mario Williams signs with Buffalo does he instantly become one of the top couple DE's?Thanks!

I'd have him in the elite group, I think. Somewhere in the Tuck/Peppers range.

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If Mario Williams signs with Buffalo does he instantly become one of the top couple DE's?Thanks!

I'd have him in the elite group, I think. Somewhere in the Tuck/Peppers range.
I would think he'll be moved back to DE in that they will play a 4-3....not counting the injury last year was just a waste with him at LB.

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Thoughts on Mark Anderson as Mario's bookend? Also if you could have Jeremy Mincey or Mark Anderson....which would you rather have? Or would you draft a DE out of this class....??

TIA

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If Mario Williams signs with Buffalo does he instantly become one of the top couple DE's?Thanks!

I'd have him in the elite group, I think. Somewhere in the Tuck/Peppers range.
I would think he'll be moved back to DE in that they will play a 4-3....not counting the injury last year was just a waste with him at LB.
He still managed 5 sacks in just under 5 games played.

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Thoughts on Mark Anderson as Mario's bookend? Also if you could have Jeremy Mincey or Mark Anderson....which would you rather have? Or would you draft a DE out of this class....??TIA

Chan Gailey strongly suggested that Anderson could be more than a subpackage player last week. I'm not sure I buy it. We've seen how Anderson performed in a similar role in Chicago some years ago and it didn't go well. It's possible we're seeing yet another late bloomer, but I'd be wary of projecting Anderson's part time stats to an 800-900 snap season. A new set of tiers is on its way soon, but I'm guessing I'll slot Anderson as a high upside, high variance DL2. A Chris Clemons type if things go well.

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Wondering about Kamerion Wimbley. Do you think the Titans play him exclusively at DE? Where would you project him if he gets the MFL DE designation?

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What are your thoughts on Jason Jones in Sea?

Until he proves more durable and consistent, he's a marginal DT2 with upside.

Wondering about Kamerion Wimbley. Do you think the Titans play him exclusively at DE? Where would you project him if he gets the MFL DE designation?

Wimbley will be a full time DE and his positional designation is almost certain to change on MFL. He'll be in the swing upside group between the elite DE and the safe DE2 group I think.

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Version 2.0

ELITE

Jason Pierre-Paul

Jared Allen

Trent Cole

Terrell Suggs

Mario Williams ++

Julius Peppers

Justin Tuck

NEAR ELITE

Chris Long

Jason Babin

Osi Umenyiora

Elvis Dumervil

Charles Johnson

Jabaal Sheard

Cameron Wake +

ELITE DL2 / TOP 12 UPSIDE

Cliff Avril -

Kamerion Wimbley +

Chris Clemons

Calais Campbell

JJ Watt

Mark Anderson +++

Justin Smith

DL3 W/ TOP 20 UPSIDE

Jeremy Mincey

Robert Quinn

Carlos Dunlap

Adrian Clayborn

Derrick Morgan

John Abraham

Haloti Ngata (DT)

Da'Quan Bowers

Ndamukong Suh

(Andre Carter) -

Matt Shaughnessy

Michael Johnson

Greg Hardy

Marcell Dareus (DT)

Ahtyba Rubin (DT)

DL3 PREFERRED DEPTH

Darnell Dockett

Will Smith -

Frostee Rucker ++

Lamarr Houston

Israel Idonije

DL4 TO CONSIDER

Brian Robison -

Cory Redding +

Geno Atkins (DT)

Kyle Williams (DT)

Lawrence Jackson

Brandon Graham

Kyle Vanden Bosch -

Ray Edwards -

Phil Taylor (DT)

Sione Pouha (DT)

Ray McDonald

Cameron Jordan

Richard Seymour (DT)

Gerald McCoy (DT)

Jonathan Fanene +

Vince Wilfork (DT)

DEEP DL4 / INJURY SPEED DIAL

Kroy Biermann --

Willie Young

Corey Wootton

John Chick/Austen Lane

ROOKIES ON THE RADAR

Quinton Coples

Melvin Ingram

Nick Perry

Courtney Upshaw

Whitney Mercilus

Andre Branch

Vinny Curry

Cam Johnson

Chandler Jones

Malik Jackson

Billy Winn

Jared Crick

Shea McClellin

Jack Crawford

Jake Bequette

Tyrone Crawford

Trevor Guyton

Fletcher Cox

Devon Still

Jerel Worthy

Kendall Reyes

Michael Brockers

Dontari Poe

Brandon Thompson

Mike Martin

Josh Chapman

Alameda Ta’amu

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