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2012 Fantasy Football IDP Draft Strategy: Defensive Lineman Value Picks

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Linebackers may still be the kings of Individual Defensive Player (IDP) leagues, but over the past few years, the number of truly elite defensive ends that can be relied on each week has dwindled. We’ve seen an interesting phenomenon take place in 2012, one that has truly changed the landscape of IDP drafts.

In the majority of IDP drafts in which I’ve participated so far this summer, the first individual defensive player off draft boards has been a defensive lineman. And, it hasn’t been strange at all to see Jason Pierre-Paul of the New York Giants and Jared Allen of the Minnesota Vikings be the first pair of IDPs taken. At times they are taken by the same team as they try to give themselves an advantage over the opposition.

However, if you miss out on these IDP studs or find yourself waiting to fill out your defensive line while loading up at linebacker or on offense, that doesn’t mean that you can’t field a competitive defensive front.

Just as with any position in fantasy football there are some value defensive lineman picks that can be had a bit later in drafts with the potential to post solid numbers this season. Now let's examine a few of those players here.

Chris Clemons, DE, Seattle: For the second straight year, Chris Clemons tallied 11 sacks for the Seahawks, topping 50 total tackles for the first time in his eight-year career. He finished as a Top 15 defensive lineman in Default IDP Manor Scoring for the second consecutive season.

However, it would appear that not many IDP owners are predicting a third straight solid fantasy season from the 31-year-old, as Clemons is being selected well outside the Top 20 players at his position according to current average draft position at myfantasyleague.com.

The Seahawks drafted Bruce Irvin in the first round of the 2012 draft to help take some of the pressure off of Clemons, who was the team’s only viable pass rushing threat in 2011. I’ll confess that I’m not seeing why so many folks are expecting a big dropoff from Clemons this season, and if there are IDP defensive linemen capable of cracking the Top 12 at a discount price, Clemons would be at or near the top of that list.

Jeremy Mincey, DE, Jacksonville: Much like Chris Clemons, defensive end Jeremy Mincey enjoyed a career season in 2011, racking up personal bests across the board with 57 total tackles, eight sacks and four forced fumbles. Those numbers were good enough for a Top 10 fantasy finish from the sixth-year pro, and the team rewarded those efforts with a four-year, $20 million contract in March.

However, much like Clemons, last year’s performance doesn’t appear to have impressed fantasy drafters much this summer. Mincey is presently going off draft boards as the 25th defensive lineman, behind the likes of Carlos Dunlap of the Cincinnati Bengals, who is a talented pass rusher but also a rotational player who didn’t crack the Top 75 defensive linemen last year.

Sure, it’s always something of a risk to take a player coming off a career year. But even should Mincey regress a bit, his two-way ability should keep him squarely in mid-range IDP DL2 territory, making Mincey a very nice value play for IDP owners not afraid to bide their time a bit where the defensive line is concerned.

Matt Shaughnessy, DE, Oakland: It’s somewhat understandable that Oakland defensive end Matt Shaughnessy is flying under the radar in fantasy circles. The fourth-year pro’s 2011 season was all but wiped out by a shoulder injury, with Shaughnessy playing in only three games last season.

With that said, Shaughnessy showed that he was capable of being a fantasy-relevant player the season before, amassing 56 total tackles and seven sacks in a part-time role in 2010 and finishing the season among the Top 20 IDP defensive linemen.

Shaughnessy is reportedly healthy and will be a full-time starter this season for what should be a very formidable Raiders defensive front. That raises the very real possibility that Shaughnessy could once again post at least serviceable DL2 numbers in 2012, which would significantly outperform his current mid to low-end DL3 price tag.

Trevor Scott, DE, New England: I’ll freely admit that this is the sort of speculative pick best saved for the end of IDP drafts. But there are ample reasons to believe that defensive end Trevor Scott could be a very pleasant IDP surprise in his first year with the New England Patriots.

When the Patriots opened training camp Scott lined up with the first team in the “elephant” pass rushing role, a role that produced a very solid fantasy campaign from Andre Carter in 2011. According to the Boston Herald, Scott was one of the New England players recently singled out by the coaching staff as having made a good impression up to this point.

Granted, the depth chart on the New England defensive line is very much in flux right now as Scott will have to hold off youngster Chandler Jones, and should the Patriots bring back Andre Carter at some point this summer, this could all be moot.

However, when you’re talking deep sleepers, you’re looking for a player that requires a minimal investment with the chance for a sizable reward. Given that Scott is so far off IDP radars right now that NORAD couldn’t track him, if he can hang onto the starting gig, Trevor Scott would fit that bill and then some.

There are a number of other defensive linemen that could represent good values for IDP owners depending on your league’s scoring and lineup requirements, and for more information on these players be sure to check out the IDP Team Preview Series at IDP Manor, the Fantasy Sharks IDP forum. Also,for the latest news on IDPs follow IDP Manor on Twitter.