OTHER POSITIONS: Linebackers | Defensive Linemen | Defensive Backs
These defensive linemen were at or near the cream of the crop in this draft class and were drafted into good situations. They should be the first DLs off the board in rookie dynasty drafts and could be solid picks in redraft leagues to boot. In no particular order:
Robert Quinn (STL): While Chris Long hasn’t provided the Rams with much of an impact, he has improved a bit and with James Hall being an aging vet, Quinn should have an opportunity from the get-go. Head Coach Steve Spagnuolo says they’ll take their time getting Quinn involved, but we like the fact that Spags is a master at getting talent out of pass rushers.
Marcell Dareus (BUF): For those in leagues that start DT, Dareus will be an “Instant Impact” kind of guy. With his ability to play inside or outside, he’ll fit the Bills’ 3-4 scheme and will actually play an end position opposite the somewhat underrated Dwan Edwards despite likely being listed as a DT.
Perhaps this Year
These linemen were likely ranked pretty high pre-draft and were drafted into good enough situations and could emerge at some point this season, especially if a key starter goes down with injury. Redrafters may snag them very, very late in large leagues, but it’s really only the dynasty owner that needs to know these names right now.
Nick Fairley (DET): His falling in the draft is both the Lions and fantasy owners gain. The Lions nabbed a guy who had top-5 talent on some boards and will be a solid “Robin” to Ndamukong Suh’s “Batman”. Had Fairley gone to a different team, he’d probably face a good share of double teams. Now the big guy will likely roam free and could put up some decent numbers.
J.J. Watt (HOU): The Texans ignored a gaping need at DB to take Watt, who could benefit from Super Mario commanding all the attention on the other end. Antonio Smith couldn’t get it done, so the high-motor rookie from Wisconsin may just get his chance.
Muhammad Wilkerson (NYJ): The drafting of Wilkerson could spell the end of Shaun Ellis for the Jets. He’ll be in a 4-man rotation to start out, but has a ton of talent and will be on the field for most situations.
Cameron Jordan (NOS): Cameron Jordan. Not Jordan Cameron. The Saints got a bit of a steal with this selection and Jordan could easily slide up a group if he lands the starting gig opposite Will Smith for Gregg Williams’ aggressive D.
Da’Quan Bowers (TBB): Bowers comes with a ton of risk, perhaps needing major knee surgery. Bowers says he’s ready to go and the Bucs plan on using him from the get-go. This could be a huge coup for both the Bucs and your fantasy squad if that knee holds up.
Stephen Paea (CHI): This beast-like tackle from Oregon St. fits nicely with the Bears’ D and will have a chance to shine given the lack of recent production from others that tried.
Best of the Rest
These DLs are solid talents, but were drafted into not-so-great situations, or were drafted as projects. They’re certainly worth drafting in dynasty leagues.
Corey Liuget (SDC): The Bolt DEs rarely, if ever, have any fantasy value. He’ll be designated as a DT in most leagues, though, so he could have a little value in leagues that start DT. As a decent pass-rusher, Liuget is a bit of a sleeper.
Cameron Heyward (PIT): Iron Head’s son will fit right in with the Steelers, but that doesn’t mean his fantasy value will be anything more than marginal. Aaron Smith has been a serviceable fantasy DL, so perhaps down the road Heyward may have some value as a backup.
Adrian Clayborn (TBB): Clayborn will have value if Bowers’ knee is actually shot. Otherwise, he’s a project at best.
Phil Taylor (CLE): Phil Taylor sounds like he should be doing your taxes, not starting at DT for your fantasy team. With a breakout performer like Ahtyba Rubin holding down the starting spot, Taylor’s value will only be in deep leagues, and Rubin would have to go down with a major injury.
Christian Ballard (MIN): Anyone with the potential to line up opposite Jared Allen has some inherent value. Take a stab later in your draft, why not.
Jabaal Sheard (CLE): The scheme isn’t the best for a DE, but Sheard will be part of a rotation that does not include too much talent.
Allen Bailey (KCC): Like Sheard, Bailey’s a 3-4 DE that will be part of a rotation. A bit better talent here in KC but he’ll have a chance.
And The Rest
These guys should only be looked at in deep dynasty formats.
Jurrell Casey (TEN)
Terrell McClain (CAR)
Marvin Austin (NYG)
Jarvis Jenkins (WAS)
Drake Nevis (IND)
Jeremy Beal (DEN)