The Houston Texans boast one of the league’s best defenses, and have several players that will be at the top of their positions in fantasy drafts this fall. In honor of the Texans defensive prowess, I’m taking a look at IDP fantasy football leagues and some of the top contenders for your draft.
IDP player values can be difficult to determine, since the scoring can vary so drastically from league to league, but there are a few players guaranteed to rack up points no matter what way you keep score. Let’s take a look at a few of the top prospects on defense for your fantasy team.
Linebackers (OLB, ILB)
Kuechly has been a reliable fantasy option at his position for the duration of his career. He had another good season in Carolina last year, with 102 total tackles, two sacks, a forced fumble, an interception and six passes defended over only 10 games (and he still finished in the top 30 scoring fantasy LBs despite missing significant time). This year, Kuechly should be fully healthy and ready to return as one of the most dangerous defensive players in the league. If he can continue to build on the success he has had with the Panthers, he should be fantasy gold for his owners again this season.
Wagner finished 2016 atop the linebacker group in fantasy points, with 167 total tackles, 4.5 sacks, three passes defended, a fumble recovery and an interception. Entering his sixth year with the Seahawks, he should have another successful season as a part of the dominant Seattle defense. Last season was one of his most productive to date, and Wagner will likely build on that output in 2017.
Several Texans shined on defense last season, including McKinney, who burst onto the scene with 129 total tackles, five sacks, a forced fumble and two passes defended. Quietly emerging as one of the top linebackers in the NFL, McKinney finished the season as a top-15 fantasy linebacker as well. Now entering his third year with the Texans, McKinney could be in line for his most successful season to date. With so much talent along the defensive line in Houston, McKinney (and many other Texans) should have impressive fantasy seasons in 2017.
The Dallas linebacker has been reliable through his career, boasting six productive seasons with the Cowboys. In 2016, Lee had 145 total tackles, a forced fumble and a pass defended, finishing in the top 10 at his position for fantasy points. Lee has long been a solid fantasy choice, and could finish 2017 as the highest-scoring linebacker, especially if he can force a few more turnovers than he did last year.
The Buccaneers linebacker finished second among fantasy linebackers last season, with 145 total tackles, seven passes defended, three sacks, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, an interception and a touchdown. Kwon built on his promising rookie campaign with an explosive sophomore season, and there is no reason to doubt continued improvement as he heads into his third year in Tampa Bay. His disruptive style of play makes him a top option at his position for fantasy owners.
Defensive Linemen (DE, DT)
The league’s most dangerous defensive weapon, three-time DPOY and all-around juggernaut JJ Watt is finally back from a series of injuries that cost him the bulk of his 2016 season. Between 2014-2015, Watt compiled 154 total tackles, 38 sacks, 18 passes defended, seven forced fumbles, six fumble recoveries, an interception and a touchdown on defense. There are fantasy owners worried that Watt won’t return at 100% after his back surgery, but even if he slips a bit in his production, he will remain one of the most dominant defensive forces in the NFL. He should be one of the top defensive players off the board in any draft.
The Raiders defensive end has been an explosive playmaker for Oakland since being drafted in 2014 (four picks after our own Jadeveon Clowney). He has emerged as one of the most versatile and reliable defensive talents in the league, and has racked up 150 total tackles, 26 sacks, seven forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, five passes defended, an interception and a score. (Our fantastic Brett Kollman made an incredible video about Mack, which you can watch here). Entering his fourth season in Oakland, Mack should be another top pick off the board. Last season, he finished first among DL in standard fantasy scoring.
The Chargers first-round pick from 2016 has already flashed great potential to be destructive on the field. As a rookie, he had 41 total tackles, 10.5 sacks and a forced fumble through 12 games, and should only improve entering his second season. (Brett Kollman with another killer breakdown, right here). Bosa should be considered a top option at his position, and a great pick for fantasy owners.
After years of expectations and wishful thinking, Clowney finally exploded onto the scene last year as the dynamic defensive weapon that Texans fans have dreamed of since his selection in 2014. In Watt’s absence, Clowney racked up 52 total tackles, six sacks, a forced fumble and two passes defended through the regular season (along with two passes defended and his first career interception against Oakland in the postseason). I think that Clowney has barely scratched the surface of what he is capable of when healthy, and this season, opposite a healthy Watt, Clowney should wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks. He’s a great option at his position for IDP leagues, likely a top ten pick for DL.
Jacksonville has been stockpiling defensive talent over the past few years, and Campbell is another excellent addition. The veteran and former-Cardinal has compiled 114 total tackles, 13 sacks, nine passes defended, a safety and an interception over his past two seasons, and joins a defensive line already packed with playmakers like Myles Jack, Dante Fowler Jr. and Malik Jackson. Campbell should continue his exceptional level of play with his new team, and is a solid selection at his position for your fantasy team.
Defensive Backs (CB, S)
In the defensive backs category, safeties reign supreme (18 of the top 20 scoring DBs last year were safeties) and Collins is at the top of that list. He was the first ranked DB among all defensive players at the end of last season, over 30 points above the next DB). He racked up 125 total tackles, four sacks, a fumble recovery, five interceptions, thirteen passes defended and a touchdown last season. Entering his third year with the giants, Collins should once again finish among the top DBs in the league, and is a great selection for IDP owners.
Berry is another safety who scored big fantasy points last season, finishing 10th overall among defensive backs. He tallied 77 total tackles, one forced fumble, four interceptions, nine passes defended and two touchdowns in 2016, and should have another productive year in the stacked Chiefs defense. Berry will finish in the top of his group once again, and is a great fantasy option at safety.
A member of Seattle’s notorious ‘Legion of Boom,’ Chancellor had 85 total tackles, eight passes defended and two interceptions over 12 games in 2016 (he was sidelined with an injury for four games). Chancellor is entering his eight year with the Seahawks, and has been an important part of their dominant defense throughout his career. He should be in line for another productive fantasy season this year, particularly if he can stay healthy.
Last year’s first-round selection for the Raiders, Joseph had a solid rookie season in Oakland (60 total tackles, six passes defended, a fumble recovery and an interception). Part of an incredibly talented defensive unit, Joseph should only improve in his sophomore season. He could be poised for a breakout year in Oakland, and fantasy owners should invest in his potential.
Last season, Ryan was a part of the Super Bowl champion Patriots, and managed 92 total tackles, a sack, a forced fumble, two interceptions and 11 passes defended. In the offseason, Ryan signed with the Titans, and joins a defensive backfield that just spent a first round pick on corner Adoree Jackson. Ryan may not be as successful this season as he was in New England, but he should still prove a productive playmaker for fantasy owners.
I may still be bitter about Bouye’s departure, but I’m confident he will have a great year opposite fellow Jaguars corner Jalen Ramsey. A former UDFA, Bouye broke out last year for 63 total tackles, a sack, an interceptions and 16 passes defended (plus another two interceptions, six passes defended and a forced fumble in two postseason matchups). Bouye joins a Jacksonville defense that has added a lot of talent in the last few offseasons, and should be in line for another big year for fantasy owners.
Like Joseph, Ramsey was a first-round pick in 2016. He had an impressive rookie campaign in Jacksonville (65 total tackles, fourteen passes defended, a forced fumble and two interceptions), including some very physical matchups with our beloved DeAndre Hopkins. Ramsey was my favorite player in last year’s Draft, and he should continue to improve in his second season. An incredibly disruptive cornerback with Bouye on the other side of him, Ramsey could finish at the top of the DBs fantasy group this season.
Alright y’all, what are your thoughts on your favorite IDP players? Obviously there are several of the top options that aren’t listed above, so is there anyone not listed that you are targeting in your draft? The comments section below is all yours to discuss anything and everything fantasy football!