March update: Stud Defensive Linemen win Championships. Since there are so few reliable Fantasy Football DLs, having one or two gives you an edge over your competition. It makes sense to reach a bit in your draft to make sure you get one, and when you do, you hang onto him for dear life.
In a typical IDP league, there are no more than 40 Defensive Linemen on rosters, generally three per team. If possible, acquire at least one player from Tier 1 and use your other spots for another solid veteran and a Tier 3 prospect.
Ideally, get three Tier 1 and 2 guys and forget the prospects.
Even the greatest stud DLs generally take at least a year-and-a-half to fully make their presence known on the field. Last year, I gave too much credit for upside, so if anything I’m going to err on the side of being more conservative this year.
These rankings take into account the first wave of free agency to start the new league year in early March. Undrafted rookies-to-be are not included in this month’s rankings. Ages given as for what they are on September 1, 2010.
Tier 1 – Top Studs
1. Jared Allen, 28, Vikings – Allen was the top DL of 2009 by a wide margin. What’s even more remarkable is that his 2009 numbers were almost identical to his from 2008.
2. Mario Williams, 25, Texans – Williams struggled through nagging injuries all season, resulting in three goose eggs in his box scores in 2009. And yet he still finished just outside the Top 10. He’s here not so much because he’ll be the No. 2 DL in 2010, but because he is most likely to give you consistent top 10 numbers.
3. Julius Peppers, 31, Bears – Peppers goes to a new team but his situation is remarkably similar. The defensive ends opposite him will be rotating in and out, he’ll have one halfway decent runs topping DT near him in Tommie Harris, and he’ll be in front of a couple of studs at LB. He only gets this move up the rankings from No. 5 because he’ll be motivated this year. Maybe...