Fantasy Football: NFL 2010-11 Top 20 Defensive Ends
Defensive ends: some of the most athletic players on the field—the players that quarterbacks hate the most because they always try to bring them down, hard.
Some of the names on this list make it because of others not on this list. Some of the names on this list you may have never heard of or paid attention to.
Defensive ends could mean a lot in IDP leagues, so here's a crack at the top 20 players at that position.
No. 20: Cliff Avril, Lions
For someone you probably haven't heard of, Cliff Avril can sure play football, which makes fantasy owners very happy.
Last season Avril had sleeper/breakout status on him but never truly broke out. Avril had 41 tackles, 5.5 sacks, and three forced fumbles.
With Ndamukong Suh (No. 8 DT) and Kyle Vanden Bosch, who also finds himself on the list, helping Avril out on the D-line, Cliff should see more opportunities to wreak havoc.
No. 19: Trevor Scott, Raiders
Trevor Scott's value is to Oakland what Terrell Suggs' value is to Baltimore. Mostly used at the OLB (outside linebacker) position, Scott also has DE eligibility, which is the reason he makes this list.
Last season Scott had 43 tackles and seven sacks behind an Oakland defense that had to spend a lot of time on the field due to lack of offensive production.
With rookie linebacker Rolando McClain in Oakland, the Raiders are ready to show that neither their offense nor their defense is a laughingstock, and neither is their team.
No. 18: Brandon Graham, Eagles
The only rookie to make this list has plenty of reasons to make it. He is also in the shoes that Trevor Scott and Terrell Suggs are in. All three players can play at OLB/DE depending on your league roster.
During his playing career as a Michigan Wolverine, Graham had 138 career tackles, and during his final season in college he excelled with 64 total tackles and 10 sacks. That production made the Eagles draft Graham with the 13th overall pick.
Playing alongside another dominant defensive end, Trent Cole, Graham might see a lot of action and will produce. His upside lands him at No. 18, and he's my early pick for defensive rookie of the year.
No. 17: Kyle Vanden Bosch, Lions
Once a Titan, Vanden Bosch is now a Detroit Lion, which reunites him with his former defensive coordinator and now head coach, Jim Schwartz. Moving from the AFC to the NFC will surely give Vanden Bosch more upside.
Last year with the Titans, Vanden Bosch had 44 tackles, two forced fumbles, and an underperforming three sacks.
New city, new team, new performance? Fantasy owners surely hope so. Detroit has the defensive weapons to make Vanden Bosch a fantasy name.
No. 16: Justin Smith, 49ers
While Smith isn't the most known player on the San Fransisco defense because of some linebacker they have, he certainly puts up numbers.
Last season Smith had 55 tackles, two forced fumbles, and six sacks. Whether or not Smith can keep this up is yet to be seen, but if he can, not only does he bring another element to the 49ers defense, but he is also a defensive end you can get cheaply in drafts.
Smith is a tackle producer, and if head coach Mike Singletary can get the defense together as a group, Smith might overproduce, which is always good.
No. 15: Aaron Kampman, Jaguars
For a guy who tore his ACL in week 11 and missed week 10, Kampman had one hell of a year in a system that made him play outside of his normal position. With a move to Jacksonville and his normal position, Kampman could excel.
Last season, before injuries kicked in, Kampman had 42 tackles with 3.5 sacks and one forced fumble.
If Kampman can return to his old form, then maybe the whole Jacksonville unit can come together and make a run at the AFC South title, but until then, Kampman is a good defensive end who will be overlooked because of his ACL surgery.
No. 14: Osi Umenyiora, Giants
More of a ranking to light a fire underneath Osi, as he had been underperforming as late.
When the Giants drafted Jason Pierre-Paul (DE USF) in the first round, they sent a message to Osi: Perform or sit on the bench. As trade rumors did swirl during the offseason, Osi claims to be healthy and motivated.
Healthy and motivated he better be, as Osi only had 29 tackles last season to go along with four forced fumbles and seven sacks. If Osi doesn't perform and loses his job to a rookie, this is a foolish ranking. Stay tuned.
No. 13: Robert Mathis, Colts
If it wasn't for a late-season injury, Mathis was on pace for a record season. While Dwight Freeney gets all the attention, Robert Mathis feeds off the non-attention.
Last season Mathis had 37 tackles, 9.5 sacks, and five forced fumbles, giving quarterbacks something to worry about on both ends of the defensive line for Indianapolis.
If he can remain healthy and keep up last year's pace, Mathis will quietly have a very productive season.
No. 12: Antwan Odom, Bengals
Another player devastated by injury, but Odom's came at the worst possible time in his season last year.
After a five-sack game and eight sacks overall in the season, Odom was on a roll. He had 19 tackles to go along with those eight sacks and was making a household name for himself.
Back and healthy with the over-amped and high-powered Bengals team, Odom should have another great season. Provided he can stay healthy, Odom has the talent to end up in the top 10 this year.
No. 11: John Abraham, Falcons
While Abraham wasn't quite as productive last year as he had been in previous seasons, Atlanta has made some moves, and fantasy owners hope they help Abraham.
Abraham is coming off a season where he had 35 tackles, 5.5 sacks, and one forced fumble, and that was underperforming.
If Atlanta can come around as a core group on both sides of the ball, they will be a dangerous team. If their defense can get it together, Abraham could be a dangerous player.
No. 10: Andre Carter, Redskins
Here's to the hope that your league and roster settings allow Andre Carter to play at defensive end. While Washington is now playing the 3-4, there is a chance that Carter gets defensive end eligibility.
Last season Carter was a fantasy monster, piling up 62 tackles, 11 sacks, and three forced fumbles. A defensive force on a team that was struggling says a lot about Carter.
No matter his position eligibility, if Carter can keep his pace up from last season, he will be a fantasy force. Some owners just hope to have him at the defensive end slot.
No. 9 Ray Edwards, Vikings
It must be nice to have one of the best defensive ends on the opposite side of you.
That's exactly the situation that Ray Edwards is in with Jared Allen lining up as the other defensive end, although Edwards is just "the other guy."
Edwards was able to pile up 51 tackles, 8.5 sacks, and one forced fumble as Minnesota's "other guy."
Well, offensive lines might want to pay attention to this guy, or he will continue to improve while you pay attention to Jared Allen.
No. 8: William Hayes, Titans
With Vanden Bosch in Detroit and rookie Derrick Morgan being a rookie, William Hayes is now the face of the Titans' defensive line.
Last year Hayes had 51 tackles, four sacks, and two forced fumbles, and now the focus will be on him to perform at that level again.
Whether or not Hayes can keep that pace is a question that we will have answered this season, but he sure has enough fuel to keep him running after quarterbacks.
No. 7: Dwight Freeney, Colts
While Freeney may not record a high tackle total, when you draft the elusive spin move player, you know what you're getting: high volume of sacks and forced fumbles.
Last year Freeney had only 24 tackles and one forced fumble, but he was able to even those low numbers with 13.5 sacks.
While he's not the most attractive fantasy defensive end, the master of the spin move certainly will put up the numbers.
No. 6: Will Smith, Saints
Smith gave his fantasy owners a reason to dance, shout, and celebrate for the most part as he turned in one hell of a productive season.
Last season Smith had 49 tackles, 13 sacks, one interception, and three forced fumbles as he was a nightmare for offensive linemen.
With the Saints' high-powered offense usually on and off the field right away, the Saints defense will see more reps, which means more opportunities for Smith to dominate.
No. 5: Julius Peppers, Bears
From Carolina to Chicago, Peppers is bringing a defensive attraction that Bears fans have been waiting for. Their defensive line will give opposing offensive coordinators major headaches.
Last season Peppers had 42 tackles, 10.5 sacks, five forced fumbles, and two interceptions playing for Carolina. A move to the Bears should help him improve those stats.
Changing addresses isn't always a good thing, but Peppers' upside to the Bears is a good thing. His productivity should increase if he doesn't take any time off.
No. 4: Mario Williams, Texans
The Houston Texans have an underrated defense, and Mario Williams is an underrated player on that defense. While that certainly is just my opinion, Mario certainly doesn't get enough credit for what he does.
Last year he had 43 tackles, nine sacks, and two forced fumbles while playing with the defensive rookie of the year, Brian Cushing.
With good surrounding defensive players around Mario, he has more opportunities to wreak more havoc, and fantasy owners can only hope for another consistent year.
No. 3: Justin Tuck, Giants
Not quite No. 1, but if he can get back to double-digit sacks, Justin Tuck could easily jump ahead two places.
Last season Tuck had 59 tackles, five forced fumbles, and six sacks. While his job is more secure then Osi Umenyiora's, he will have to keep up the productivity.
Tuck should remain in the top five even with lingering injuries and will remain a dominant force among fantasy defensive ends.
No. 2: Trent Cole, Eagles
His rookie teammate cracked this list because of him, and he makes it at No. 2 because of his rookie teammate. With Philadelphia getting more help on the defensive side, Trent Cole should have less pressure on him.
Last season when he had an enormous amount of pressure, Cole was able to pile up 57 tackles, 12.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles.
This year, with more weapons in Philadelphia, Cole looks to only perform better then he did last year, which makes quarterbacks cringe and fantasy owners smile.
No. 1: Jared Allen, Vikings
Look who's No. 1! Well, it wouldn't be anyone else, would it?
Ever since he was traded to Minnesota, Jared Allen has thrived in their system, and that's partly thanks to his teammates.
Last season JA had 50 tackles, 14.5 sacks, five forced fumbles, and one interception, truly showing he can do it all. While it's yet to be known how much longer Allen will have all his teammates, this year should be a good one for Allen owners.
Allen should be the first defensive end taken off your draft board because there really isn't anyone who can put up better numbers. There's also no one better who can wear a mullet like Allen.