IDP - 2015 defensive lineman review
Well, another season is in the books and it’s time to sift through the detritus and evaluate what we saw. Where did we hit with our preseason projections? Which players did we get wrong? How did the rookie class do? Were there any significant trends or changes in 2015 that altered the way we perceived the IDP universe? This week we will start with the defensive linemen.
Our combined staff preseason rankings (from Jeff Ratcliffe, Nate Jahnke and myself) for defensive linemen unsurprisingly was headed by J.J. Watt, with Robert Quinn expected to run him close, and while Chandler Jones was ranked third by both Jeff and myself, Nate only had him as the No. 12 defensive lineman. It was good to see that our staff rankings correctly identified 7-of-12 of the eventual DL1s, and missing on Robert Quinn was due to injury costing him eight games, while Cameron Jordan, our consensus DL11 narrowly missed out on making the grade, ranking 14th.
There were a couple of misses, mainly under-appreciating just how good Aaron Donald would be. The second-year defensive tackle was a revelation as a rookie, and followed it up with an equally impressive season in 2015, recording 11 sacks and 22 tackles for loss, and ending the year as the second highest scoring fantasy defensive lineman. Hat tip to Nate here, as he had Donald the highest of our trio, ranking him fifth. Donald will be seen as a top-five defensive lineman next season.
Seahawks Michael Bennett had a superb season, deservedly ranking as a DL1 and massively outperforming his top-end DL3 pre-season ranking. Bennett was simply a terror on the field, setting a career high in sacks (9.5), 18 tackles for loss (one off his career best) and a career-high in total tackles (50). His 84 total quarterback pressures led all 4-3 defensive ends, and his pass rush productivity rating (a PFF signature stat) ranked second among his peers, behind only Ziggy Ansah. He’ll be in the mix for a DL1 ranking next season, and a safer one too, with a higher floor than some of his peers due to his play against the run.
Ross Miles is a Lead Writer for Pro Football Focus Fantasy. Follow him on Twitter – @RossMilesNFL
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