Because the preseason is coming to an end there is no better time to discuss strategy than right now. That means an abundance of fantasy football drafts are expected to take place. As many of those leagues will focus on standard or PPR scoring some may focus on IDPs. IDP stands for Individual Defensive Player and gives players the freedom of drafting defensive players. Like your conventional fantasy league that drafts team defenses, each of these IDPs will focus on their own positions. These spots will break down by DL (defensive line), LB (linebacker), and DB (defensive back). As part of this IDP rankings series, we will discuss the top five players at each of these position groups.
To kick things off, let’s take a look at the top defensive linemen for your 2019 IDP drafts.
Joey Bosa (Edge; Los Angeles Chargers)
Bosa broke onto the scene in a big way back in 2016. He would end the season as one of the highest-rated edge rushers according to pro football focus that year. As a rookie, Bosa would compile 11 sacks, pressure the QB 59 times and forced 37 QB hurries. 2017 was an even better year for the sophomore defender. He would increase his total snaps, sacks, hurries, and tackles from the year prior.
Unfortunately, an injury to his foot would require missing the first 10 weeks of the 2018 season. Despite losing a significant amount of time, the injury didn’t stop Bosa from doing what he does best. Bosa would finish the season with six sacks in the final seven games of the season.
Poised to rebound from the injury, all fingers point to Bosa being healthy and ready to go in 2019. With Bosa being a member of a very young strong defensive unit the four-year veteran should put up career-best numbers.
JJ Watt (Edge; Houston Texans)
After multiple injuries that would put Watt down for an extended period of time in 2016 & 2017, last year was a dominant showing for the All-Pro defender. Watt finished as the 9th best linemen and the 2nd best edge rusher in 2018 according to pff.com. Only four other edge rushers had more snaps played than Watt last year. None of them had more sacks or tackles than Watt’s 17 & 36 respectively.
17 sacks last year would mark the fourth time in his career that he has reached that mark. Three of those times hitting 19+. Of his eight-year career, never has he had less than 11 sacks in any given season. His consistency makes for a great defensive linemen selection.
Aaron Donald (DT; Los Angeles Rams; IDP ADP: 1; Round 8)
I might be crazy for listing Donald as the #3 defensive linemen after having 21 sacks a year ago. There is no question that Donald is one of the most feared defenders in the game. He had the highest PFF.com defensive and pass rush rating in the league last year. His 95.6 defensive rating was three points higher than the next player (Fletcher Cox). And his 106 total pressures was 11 better than Cox and 28 better than the third-best defensive linemen.
Where the hesitation grows is around consistency. Donald has had two seasons of fewer than 10 sacks and has only had more than 13 one time (2018). The addition of Ndamukong Suh prior to the start of 2018 had an impact on Donald. Suh is in Tampa Bay now and that could again have an impact on Donald. If Donald drops to who he was in 2017, so will his value.
Chris Jones (DL; Kansas City Chiefs)
Chris Jones was one of the best defensive linemen in the final 8 weeks of the season. Jones’ 11 sacks tied for the league lead from week 10 to 17 (Aaron Donald). This would take Jones from the 32nd best defensive linemen through the first 9 weeks to the 9th at seasons end.
The Chiefs had an outstanding defensive front in 2018. Three defenders would reach double-digit sacks with Jones’ leading the bunch with 16. Dee Ford now with the 49ers would tally 15 and Justin Houston now with the Colts would grab 10 of his own. Coming into the off-season many wouldn’t have listed Chris Jones as one of the top guys even with his outstanding finish. But the addition of Frank Clark from a trade with the Seahawks will make things a bit easier.
Using 2018 numbers, Clark and Jones had 29 total sacks between the two of them. Now on the same roster and putting pressure on the QB together the totals should rack up yet again.
Danielle Hunter (DE; Minnesota Vikings)
Danielle Hunter can easily be the number one pick out of this position group. Hunter is one of the best players at both sacking the QB and taking down the ball carrier. Of the qualified defensive linemen, Hunter would finish 3rd in tackles (47) and 5th in sacks (14). In fact, of the top 10 defensive linemen by tackles, only four of them have double-digit sacks. Of those four, Hunter leads them all in sacks.
Most IDP scoring revolves around tackles and there is a significant abundance of them. This makes the stat more important than the sack. The sack while great doesn’t usually make for a great defensive player when it comes to fantasy. The added bonus of Hunter being able to get in the backfield and make plays for his team sets him apart from the rest of the pack.
The Vikings clearly love Hunter and are going to continue to scheme him into the defense. Look for Hunter to be even better in 2019 as the Vikings push to make the playoffs.