In any given season, leading your team in sacks is a noteworthy accomplishment. Doing so as an interior lineman, however, makes the feat all the more impressive. But to accomplish all this as a rookie, as Marcell Dareus did in 2011, is simply remarkable. Equally impressive was the fact that Dareus also lead his team in both his overall grade (+14.8) and pass rush grade (+12.3). Drafted third overall by the Buffalo Bills in 2011, Dareus has already proven worthy of his high draft pick and is well on his way to being an elite defensive tackle for years to come, both on the field and in fantasy lineups. Dareus currently has an ADP of 228 in our “Mocking One Out” series, and is ranked as our #1 defensive tackle for dynasty leagues.
In his rookie season, Dareus compiled six sacks (tied for third most among DT’s) and 37 total QB pressures – both of which were team highs. Factor in his 32 solo tackles, and you have yourself a great year for a defensive tackle, rookie or not.
Being a team’s best defensive linemen inevitably attracts extra attention from blockers, which can negatively affect performance – an outcome that seemed inescapable for Dareus in 2012. However, he will be excused from this dilemma thanks to the arrival of Mario Williams, who will play alongside him in the upcoming season. Williams, who is undoubtedly an elite defensive end, should help Dareus’ 2012 performance considerably. But before exploring just how good Williams is, let’s examine the production of the Bills’ defensive ends in 2011… Dwan Edwards and Spencer Johnson both had two sacks – combining for a total of four on the year. Furthermore, they managed overall grades of -14.1 and -5.2, respectfully.
Mario Williams surpassed their combined season total of sacks… despite being placed on IR in Week 5. The Bill’s other newly acquired defensive end, Mark Anderson, was one sack short of quadrupling that total in 2011. With 15 sacks and 57 total pressures, Anderson certainly commands enough respect that offenses can’t overload their protection to the side of Dareus and Williams.
For comparison’s sake, I’ve created a table that compares the Bill’s 2011 DE’s to their new ones in 2012. I took the averages of both starters’ from each season, and since Mario Williams played in just five games in 2011 I used his 2010 stats:
|Bills 2011 DE’s vs. 2012 DE’s (Avg.)|
|Pass Rush Grade||-4.2||+15.9|
|QB Pressure Freq.||6.8||14.0|
Although they averaged less tackles, the 2012 duo dominate every pass rushing category, giving themselves (and Dareus) superior fantasy value. If Dareus was able to have so much success in 2011 alongside such poor DE play, imagine what he can do with the new guys in 2012.
Although appearing in only five games in 2011, Williams still managed five sacks and 24 total pressures. Additionally, he also built up an overall grade of +10.4 in just a five game span, an equally impressive exploit. His presence will undoubtedly give Dareus ample opportunities to make plays. Here’s a table to illustrate what Mario Williams’ 2011 numbers would look like had he played at that level all year:
|5 Game Total||2011 Projected Total|
|QB Pressure Freq.||19.50%||N/A|
The Bill’s revamped defensive line is an unquestionable improvement from 2011, and looks to be one of the better units in the entire league. Williams and Anderson should compliment Dareus very nicely, resulting in a high level of production. Expectations are high for this talented unit.
In IDP leagues that require a defensive tackle, the position is often one of frustration due to a lack of depth. Many people believe that if they cannot land a big name player like Ndamukong Suh or Geno Atkins, the position will cause their team problems. Well you can certainly add Marcell Dareus to that “big name” list. Currently going as the third defensive tackle in our mocks, Dareus will be a great value for whoever selects him, and could be worth taking a bit earlier than his aforementioned ADP (228).