Top 100 IDP Rankings 3.0
With training camp in full swing, it’s again time to revise my top 100 IDP rankings. I last checked in on July 16, and a lot has changed since then. You’ll notice the changes from July’s version are shown in parenthesis.
Here’s my top 100 IDP rankings as of August 16, based on a balanced scoring system and weighted for positional depth.
1. J.J. Watt (-) – 81 total tackles, 20.5 sacks, 16 passes defensed, and four forced fumbles in 2012. Nuff said.
2. Luke Kuechly (-) – 164 total tackles, and he didn’t even take over as the every-down middle linebacker until Week 5. The possibilities are scary.
3. James Laurinaitis (-) – Tackle machine who plays his home games in the league’s most solo tackle-friendly venue.
4. Sean Lee (-) – Recorded a tackle on 19.1 percent of his snaps and is always around the ball. The Cowboys’ switch to a 4-3 only helps his value. If he could just stay healthy …
5. D’Qwell Jackson (-) – Disappointing 2012 campaign, but he gets the Ray Horton bump. Jackson will be used like Daryl Washington.
6. Derrick Johnson (-) – As consistent as they come. Triple-digit total tackles in each of the last three seasons.
7. Paul Posluszny (–) – Poz totaled triple-digit solos last season and knows how to fill the stats sheet.
8. Navorro Bowman (-) – Back-to-back Penn State guys is always a crowd pleaser. 291 total tackles over the last two seasons despite playing next to Patrick Willis.
9. Bobby Wagner (-) – Like Kuechly, he didn’t assume every-down duties until Week 5. Like Kuechly, he puts up a lot of tackles.
10. Cameron Wake (-) – Beast. Wake had 15 sacks last season, and his league-high 86 QB pressures says he could have had even more. Worthy of being one of the first 10 IDPs off the board.
11. Patrick Willis (-) – Perennial IDP stud. Bowman hurts his fantasy value, but only slightly.
12. Jerod Mayo (-) – I doubt we ever see 2010 out of him again, but I’ll take the 147 total tackles he posted last season all day long.
13. Lavonte David (-) – Doesn’t have the ceiling of fellow second-year linebackers Wagner and Kuechly. Still, every-down role means plenty of tackles.
14. Brian Cushing (↑1) – Injury cut short a promising 2012 campaign. Perhaps the league’s most complete linebacker. Sounds like he’s recovered and ready to roll.
15. Chad Greenway (↑1) – Triple-digit total tackles in five-of-six seasons. Not sure if the addition of Desmond Bishop hurts his value as much as we originally expected. Greenway’s still locked in the LB2 range.
16. Lawrence Timmons (↑1) – Unlike Santa Claus, I still believe in Timmons. His five sacks in the last three games of the season really piques my interest. Has Top 10 fantasy upside.
17. Wesley Woodyard (↑1) – Only 6’0” tall, but was an IDP monster in 2012 with 117 total tackles, 5.5 sacks, and three picks. Stewart Bradley or Nate Irving will not threaten Woodyard’s nickel role.
18. Dannell Ellerbe (↑1) – Not a large sample size, but Ellerbe was nasty last season. He gets the MIKE in South Beach.
19. Jason Pierre-Paul (↓5) – He’d be a Top 10 option, but his recovery from back surgery is really concerning. I’m projecting him to miss Week 1.
20. Morgan Burnett (-) – The first defensive back on the list recorded 123 total tackles last season.
21. Mychal Kendricks (↑12) – Another big jump for Kendricks, who will be free to roam at the WILB spot in the Eagles new-look 3-4. I expect him take a huge step forward in his second season.
22. Charles Johnson (-) – OK, so he’s not consistent, but what defensive end is? His 12.5 sacks and seven forced fumbles are worth the ups and downs.
23. Eric Berry (↑9) – Finally looks back to 100 percent. Chiefs plan to use him as a blitzing nickel linebacker. Giggity.
24. Nick Roach (↓1) – I’m higher than most on Roach. He posted 31 total tackles in four games as an every-down middle linebacker. Could be 2013’s breakout IDP.
25. Jerrell Freeman (↓1) – From CFL to triple-digit tackles. Freeman has no threats to his job on the Colts roster.
26. Tyvon Branch (↓1) – Not quite the big-play upside of Burnett or Berry, but triple-digit tackles is a lock.
27. London Fletcher (-) – One of the few NFL players who’s older than I am. I’m going to use that joke until I can’t. Hopefully that’s at least four more years.
28. Donald Butler (↑1) – Like Timmons, I still believe. A healthy Butler can be a top-20 option.
29. Stephen Tulloch (↑1) – Low ceiling, high floor. You’re getting about 110 total tackles, but don’t expect more. Still, a solid value at his current ADP.
30. Harrison Smith (↑1) – The former Golden Domer had an electric finish to 2012. He racked up 104 total tackles, three picks, and two touchdowns in his rookie season.
31. Mario Williams (↑3) – Under the new regime, Williams doesn’t have a position. Translation – he’s going to be all over the place. One concern is if he gets the “LB” designation in league commissioner sites.
32. Brad Jones (↑3) – The (somewhat) surprising release of Desmond Bishop opens the door for Jones. Can easily finish the season as an LB2.
33. Bruce Carter (↑3) – The sky’s the limit for Carter in Monte Kiffin’s Tampa-2 scheme.
34. Greg Hardy (↑3) – Eleven sacks last season, and we’ve only reached the tip of the iceberg. He’s a borderline elite DL option.
35. Eric Weddle (↑3) – Ten picks in the last two seasons. Eighty-plus solo tackles in two of the last three. Sign me up.
36. Lance Briggs (↑3) – Steady as she goes. Triple-digit total tackles in eight of the last nine seasons.
37. Mark Barron (↑3) – He’s beyond the year-one learning curve and will take a step forward in 2013.
38. Curtis Lofton (↑3) – Not a super-high ceiling, but his tackle floor is high. Like last season, the Saints defense will have a tough time getting off the field in 2013.
39. Jared Allen (↑3) – Formerly elite, but his age is starting to show. Still a lock for double-digit sacks.
40. Charles Tillman (↑3) – One of the most consistent defensive back options. Forced an eye-popping 10 fumbles last season.
41. Daryl Washington (↑3) – A four-game suspension (and possibly more) or he’d be in the No. 1 spot.
42. DeMarcus Ware (↑3) – Gets a boost in fantasy value with his hand in the dirt.
43. Zach Brown (↑3) – A good band and a high-upside fantasy linebacker.
44. Julius Peppers (↑3) – There’s still some tread left on the tires. Double-digit sacks in four of his last five seasons.
45. Perry Riley (↑3) – 129 total tackles last season. Plays his home games in front of the assist-heavy Redskins’ stat crew.
46. Geno Atkins (↑3) – Play the Beatles’ “Revolution No. 9” backwards and it says “Atkins is a stud…Atkins is a stud…Atkins is a stud.”
47. Sean Weatherspoon (↑3) – Low tackle ceiling. 120-plus total tackles is unlikely. Don’t overrate him.
48. Vontaze Burfict (↑3) – The more I look at Burfict, the less confident I am in his fantasy upside. Last season may be more of a ceiling than a floor.
49. Demario Davis (↑3) – Gets an every-down role with Bart Scott out of the mix. Sky’s the limit, though 2014 is more likely his breakout year.
50. Michael Johnson (↑4) – Boom/bust defensive end with elite upside.
51. Reshad Jones (↑5) – Took over the strong safety job and racked up 94 total tackles. Triple digits certainly possible. New contract shows the confidence the Dolphins have in Jones.
52. Calais Campbell (↑5) – He’s a freak of nature, but the 3-4 limits his fantasy upside.
53. William Moore (↑5) – Frequently banged up, but extremely productive when on the field. Averaged the most fantasy points on a per-game basis among all safeties in 2012.
54. Derrick Morgan (↑5) – Perhaps the most underrated pass rusher in 2012 with 72 QB pressures. Sacks will come in bunches.
55. Johnathan Cyprien (↑5) – The second-rounder will play in-the-box and make an immediate impact. This year’s best IDP rookie.
56. Daryl Smith (NR) – John Harbaugh called him the “quarterback of the defense.” Looking more likely than rookie Arthur Brown to take over for Ray Lewis.
57. Kam Chancellor (↑4) – He had more tackles last season than he did in 2011, but many considered him a 2012 IDP flop.
58. Jason McCourty (↑4) – One of the league’s best tackling corners. A constant big-play threat.
59. Aldon Smith (↑4) – Reggie White had 31 sacks after his first two NFL seasons. Smith has 33.5.
60. Stevie Brown (↑4) – From special teamer to just plain special. Eight picks won’t be replicated, but the big-play upside is enticing.
61. Bernard Pollard (↑4) – Will man the strong safety spot in the incredibly fantasy-friendly Titans secondary.
62. Arthur Brown (↓9) – The emergence of Smith hurts Brown’s value. There’s no Luke Kuechly in this year’s draft class.
63. Chandler Jones (↑3) – Despite a hot start, finished with just six sacks. Takes a step forward in year two.
64. D.J. Williams (↓36) – Still think he wins the job, but his injury and play of Jon Bostic give me pause.
65. Carlos Dunlap (↑2) – Fingers crossed that we see him for all three downs. If we do, he jumps up the rankings. Starting a campaign for him to change his last name to “Danger.”
66. Colin McCarthy (↓11) – Injured in Week 1 and was never the same. Injured again right now, and losing his grip on the starting job. Still has upside, though I’m hedging my bets.
67. Russell Allen (↑1) – Posted triple-digit solos as an every-down linebacker. With Daryl Smith gone, that role will continue.
68. Clay Matthews (↑1) – Six sacks in the first two games last season. 20-plus is within the realm of possibility.
69. Cortland Finnegan (↑1) – Career-high tackles in his first season with the Rams. Solid DB option.
70. Kiko Alonso (↑1) – The athletic rookie has the MIKE locked up. Waiting to get a better look at him before moving him up
71. Von Miller (↓50) – The suspension kills his fantasy value. Losing four games in a 13-game fantasy regular season is a big hit. I prefer rostering options that will give me a full season.
72. Anthony Spencer (-) – His game translates well to the 4-3. Solid DL2 at a value on draft day. Not overly concerned about the surgery.
73. Robert Quinn (-) – Double-digit sacks last season, but he’s not quite there yet.
74. DeAngelo Hall (-) – Not always a fan favorite, but he’s posted 90-plus total tackles and at least three picks in each of the last three seasons.
75. Osi Umenyiora (-) – Has a chance to play every down in Atlanta. Put up 11.5 sacks when we last saw him in that role. Not convinced he sees 800-plus snaps.
76. Chris Long (-) – I’m back and forth on Long. He has an extremely low tackle ceiling, but double-digit sacks is all but a lock. Would rather take my chances on him than other DL options in this range.
77. Muhammad Wilkerson (-) – Temple Owls represent! Not a massive sack ceiling, but could easily increase his 69 total tackles from last season.
78. Alec Ogletree (-) – Freakishly athletic. Playing outside Laurinaitis limits tackle opportunities, but will get an every-down role for the first four games with Jo Lonn Dunbar suspended.
79. Cliff Avril (-) – The new “Leo” in Seattle. Low tackle numbers, but lock him in for double-digit sacks.
80. Nigel Bradham (-) – Things are still unclear in Buffalo, but has the edge to get an every-down gig.
81. Cameron Jordan (-) – Scheme shift bodes well for Jordan. Low sack ceiling not ideal in big-play scoring systems.
82. Mason Foster (-) – I just can’t quit this guy. He’ll jump tiers if he gets nickel snaps.
83. Justin Houston (-) – One of the league’s up-and-coming edge rushers.
84. K.J. Wright (-) – Cue the Flo Rida because Wright’s fantasy ceiling is low, low, low. Every-down job makes him a solid bye-week fill-in.
85. LaRon Landry (↑1) – Surprisingly injury-free in 2012. Not an elite option alongside Antoine Bethea.
86. Roman Harper (↑1) – His role is still uncertain with Kenny Vaccaro in the mix. Figures the most likely candidate for IDP production among the Saints safeties.
87. Philip Wheeler (↑1) – Triple-digit tackles last season. Solid fantasy depth.
88. Dont’a Hightower (↑1) – I still like Hightower to get the nickel snaps over Brandon Spikes.
89. Da’Norris Searcy (↑1) – Takes over for George Wilson in the very productive Bills strong safety spot.
90. Rob Ninkovich (↑1) – Gets the “DE” classification with the Patriots leaning toward more four-man fronts.
91. Fletcher Cox (NR) – Moves to a five-technique in the Eagles new look defense. Extremely undervalued right now.
92. T.J. Ward (-) – Had 123 total tackles when the Browns last deployed a 3-4 base defense.
93. Glover Quin (-) – Versatile safety will anchor the Lions’ secondary.
94. DeMeco Ryans (-) – Hasn’t seemed to regain his pre-injury form. Takes a backseat to Kendricks this year.
95. Justin Tuck (-) – Says he’s rededicated himself to football after lots of off-field distractions over the last two years.
96. Karlos Dansby (-) – A one-year stopgap. Could move up if Washington sees a longer suspension.
97. Lamarr Houston (-) – Underrated pass rusher who racks up tackles.
98. Ryan Clark (-) – One of the game’s best free safeties. Solid, steady fantasy production.
99. Terrell Suggs (-) – With a full offseason, will get back to his ways. “LB” designation hurts his value.
100. Elvis Dumervil (-) – Like teammate Suggs, Dumervil gets the “LB” tag. Both worth more in big-play leagues.
Jeff Ratcliffe is the Assistant Managing Editor of Pro Football Focus Fantasy. Follow him on Twiter – @JeffRatcliffe.