Hopefully you aren’t going into your rookie drafts looking for help at the DL position because there isn’t much help to be had. Between the 3-4 defense wreaking havoc on the fantasy value of DEs that will be converted to LB and the overall lack of depth of 4-3 DEs there isn’t much immediate or even long term value associated with the 2014 draft for the DL position. In short, the DL position is ugly this year. I also think this draft shows that situation trumps talent more often than not on the IDP side of the ball.
JADAVEON CLOWNEY – DE/LB
6'6" 266 South Carolina
Pick 1 Round 1 (1) Texans
NOTE: I’m writing up Clowney first because he was drafted 1st overall but he’s not close to my top DL this year.
A transcendent talent who will be a waste for many in IDP leagues because he landed in a 3-4 defense and will be classified as an OLB. As I mentioned above, this draft really shows how situation is as important, if not more, than talent. If you are in a big-play league then Clowney will have some value but not much and that’s a far cry from the top 5 type value he would have if he had landed in a 4-3 defense. If you are in a league at MFL don’t read much into his current DE designation because I have confirmed that they will be assigning his position based on how he’s listed by Rotoworld and Rotoworld has him listed as a LB.
Redraft: In redraft leagues that are tackle heavy or neutral Clowney has next to no fantasy value, especially when you consider where he’ll be drafted by those with rookie fever. If by
Dynasty: If you are looking for dynast value from Clowney you’ll have to stash him in hopes that he’ll end up being designated a DE someday. That’s why I see Clowney as a, “the rich get richer” type of draftee. What I mean by that is that if you are a contending team you probably can stash him at the end of your bench or on your DTS to play the wait and see game, but if you are a bottom-rung team or are rebuilding you won’t have that same type of luxury. In any event, Clowney is likely to come off the board much earlier than I’d be willing to pull the trigger on him in drafts.
Demarcus Lawrence – DE
6'3" 251 Boise St.
Pick 34, Round 2 (2) Cowboys
With DeMarcus Ware no longer in Dallas and only George Selvie, Jeremy Mincey and Anthony Spencer clogging the depth chart ahead of the rookie he’ll have a chance to make an immediate fantasy impact in 2014. The Cowboys really wanted Lawrence bad and IDP owners that want immediate help should want him bad too. The Cowboys wanted him bad enough to give up the number 47 and 74 draft picks to select Lawrence with the 2nd pick in the 2nd round. In fantasy drafts you should be able to net him with an early to mid third round pick but if you really have a need for DE help a late second would be understandable.
Redraft: Lawrence is the only rookie DE that I see having fantasy value in redraft leagues this year. At best I you can expect low level DL2 numbers but realistically DL3 is where he’ll end up.
Dynasty: In dynasty drafts, Lawrence is easily the DE to target if you want help this year and looking forward I’d give him a small edge over Kony Ealy as the DE to have. Cost wise I’d be willing to spend an early to mid third round pick on him.
Kony Ealy – DE
6'4" 273 Missouri
Pick 60, Round 2 (28) Panthers
Ealy is buried on the depth chart behind Charles Johnson and Greg Hardy but it could be worse. He could have ended up in a dreaded 3-4 but instead he’ll have to bide his time for a year, two max until the Panthers likely part ways with one of their current starters. Another thing that will help to get Ealy on the field and keep him there is that he’s a versatile DE that can also play on the interior.
Redraft: Ealy will only have fantasy value this year if Charles Johnson or Greg Hardy suffers an injury.
Dynasty: You’ll have to be patient if you draft Ealy but I think that patience will eventually pay off. Like Clowney, Ealy is one of those “rich get richer” type of players but unlike Clowney, he’s at least already listed as a DE.
Aaron Donalad – DT
6'1" 285 Pittsburgh
Pick 13, Round 1 (13) Rams
The Seahawks and 49ers might get most if not all the press in the NFC West, but the Rams aren’t chopped liver, especially on defense that has an extremely formidable front seven. The Rams adding Donald to their DL with Robert Quinn, Chris Long, Michael Brockers and even Kendall Langford is almost criminal. Donald may not have the size IDP owners are used to seeing at the DT position but it doesn’t keep him from effectively getting penetration and in DT mandatory leagues that will make him a hot commodity.
Redraft: Unless you are in a DT mandatory league you won’t have any reason to look Donald’s way. In DT mandatory leagues I Donald has low level DL1 upside. I wouldn’t reach for him but you’ll likely be able to get him for a bit of a bargain in redraft leagues.
Dynasty: There’s nothing to not like about Donald in dynasty DT mandatory leagues, especially considering that average age of the Rams front four (including Donald) is just 24.5 and that includes the 29 year old Chris Long. In DT mandatory leagues where scoring isn’t an afterthought I’d look at spending a pick in the 25-35 range to acquire him.
Scott Crichton – DE
6'3" 273 Oregon St.
Pick 72, Round 3 (8) Vikings
With Jared Allen gone Crichton finds only Everson Griffen and Robison as roadblocks to playing time. I don’t expect Crichton to beat out Griffen or Robison for a starting spot, but his pass rush ability and versatility will help him to carve out a rotational/situational role in Mike Zimmer’s defense.
Redraft: In a re-draft league Crichton only holds value in extremely deep leagues but in most 12 or 16 team formats I’d let someone else draft him while you stock pile upside offensive players instead. Dynasty: With Brian Robison on the wrong side of 30 (he turned 31 in April) I can see stashing Crichton in hopes he ends up a starter in 2015 or 2016. The other thing that I like about him is that you shouldn’t have to spend much more than a late 5th round pick to acquire him.
Will Clarke – DE
6'6" 271 West Virginia
Pick 88, Round 3 (24) Bengals
The Bengals may have lost Michael Johnson to Tampa Bay and Mike Zimmer to Minnesota but they haven’t lost their love DEs in the mold of Johnson. Clarke sports a 81”+ wingspan and has more than enough athleticism to get to the QB at the NFL level. But will he be able to do that consistently enough to give him top-notch fantasy value? Color me skeptical.
Redraft: Just because the Bengals selected Clarke to help lessen the blow of losing Michael Johnson to the Buccaneers doesn’t mean you can expect him to fill Johnson’s fantasy shoes. In deeper redraft leagues I wouldn’t roster him as anything above a DL4.
Dynasty: Michael Johnson always seemed to be a fantasy tease for the IDP crowd and I don’t see Clarke being a guy that will be a big difference maker for IDP owners either. He’ll likely be valued higher than Margus Hunt but if I were going to buy a lottery ticket I’d spend it on Hunt’s upside versus Clarke’s.
Dee Ford – DE/LB
6'2" 252 Auburn
Pick 23, Round 1 (23) Chiefs
The 3-4 defense strikes again and saps all of Ford’s IDP value. Ford will get to learn from two of the better pass rushers in the league – Tamba Hali and Justin Houston. Being behind those two when coupled with an OLB designation makes Ford a player to avoid in all IDP formats.
Redraft: Zero, none, nada, zilch…that’s how much value Ford will have in redraft leagues this year. And that’s even if Hali or Houston were to get injured and Ford was thrust into a starting spot.
Dynasty: The OLB designation means that Ford has next to no fantasy value. If you have a super deep bench or rookie taxi squad you can stash him on I still wouldn’t bother and that’s even if your scoring is tilted towards big-play.
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