Of all the complaints I get from my readers at Fantasy Sharks (both of them) besides the usual “You ruined my season” (um, oops?) and the always fun “You’re a moron” (thanks for the feedback Mom) one of the biggest gripes I hear is that I that don’t dedicate enough time to deeper IDP leagues that require use of defensive tackles.
Well, today is your lucky (or unlucky if that moron thing’s true) day, as here’s a look at the Top 25 defensive tackles in 2012 for DT-required IDP fantasy football leagues.
These rankings are based off the scoring used in the WALL IDP-only showcase league here at Fantasy Sharks, which requires that teams start at least one defensive tackle. You can view that scoring by clicking here.
Also, before we go any further it’s worth mentioning that defensive tackles are, in general, a wildly inconsistent bunch. Outside the first handful of options on this list most of the rest of these beefeaters are a crapshoot, so you basically have one of two options when drafting your defensive tackles. You can spend an early-ish pick on a reliable weekly option, or burn a couple of later selections on a duo that you can hopefully platoon based on matchups.
1) Haloti Ngata, Baltimore Ravens – The cream of the crop at the defensive tackle position, Ngata has posted back-to-back 60+ tackle, 5+ sacks seasons and is a viable IDP DL2 even in standard formats.
2) Ahtyba Rubin, Cleveland Browns – Some may be surprised to see me rank Rubin above Suh, but the fifth-year pro has posted two straight years of over 80 tackles, and obscene number for a defensive tackle.
3) Ndamukong Suh, Detroit Lions – Suh cooled off considerably after his monstrous rookie season, but a bounceback year should place him at least squarely in IDP DL3 territory and make him a strong weekly starter in DT-required formats.
4) Kyle Williams, Buffalo Bills – The 29-year-old is reportedly going to be ready to go for opening day, and Williams averaged over 60 total tackles and 4.5 sacks a season from 2008-2009.
5) Geno Atkins, Cincinnati Bengals – Atkins exploded into fantasy prominence a season ago, racking up 47 tackles and 7.5 sacks while establishing him as a solid weekly starter in DT-required formats.
6) Richard Seymour, Oakland Raiders – Seymour has the ability to play all over the defensive front, and expect to see the 12th-year veteran see some time at DE in 3-4 fronts while maintaining DT eligibility his IDP value could see a small boost.
7) Marcell Dareus, Buffalo Bills – Dareus managed pretty solid numbers as a rookie even miscast as a 3-4 DE, and the move inside to tackle in Buffalo’s new 4-3 front can only serve to help his fantasy value.
8) Cullen Jenkins, Philadelphia Eagles – The ninth year pro got off to a hot start last year but cooled off considerably as the season wore on. However, it doesn’t hurt to play on one of the most talented front fours in the NFL.
9) Jurrell Casey, Tennessee Titans – Casey’s 2.5 sacks in 2011 aren’t eye-popping, but his solid tackle production is enough to make the 22-year-old worth a look as a low-end starter.
10) Tommy Kelly, Oakland Raiders – The 31-year-old Kelly tallied a career-high 7.5 sacks in 2011, and while his 7th place finish among tackles may be his ceiling if he can come close to that the ninth-year pro would make for a very nice DT1 for IDP owners that wait a bit to select one.
11) Brodrick Bunkley, New Orleans Saints – Bunkley comes over to the big easy after one season in Denver, and while he’s not much of a big-play guy Bunkley’s usually good tackle numbers make him a serviceable DT1 or high-end DT2.
12) Sione Pouha, New York Jets – Most 3-4 nose tackles are just space-cloggers, but as the 325-pounder’s 58 stops and top five fantasy finish a year ago shows he’s more than capable of making some IDP noise of his own.
13) Gerald McCoy, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – After missing 10 games a season ago it’s put up or shut-up time for the third overall pick, making McCoy an interesting risk/reward pick for IDP owners looking for top 5 potential on the cheap should McCoy fulfill his considerable potential.
14) Randy Starks, Miami Dolphins – The Dolphins switch to the 4-3 defense means that Starks will kick inside after playing end in the 3-4, and while that move carries with it some risk Starks has shown the ability to be a productive IDP asset in the past.
15) Vince Wilfork, New England Patriots – Wilfork finished last season as the fourth-ranked defensive tackle, but any real sort of big play backslide could cause his fantasy production to drop a bit.
16) Domata Peko, Cincinnati Bengals – The seventh-year veteran joined teammate Geno Atkins as top 10 fantasy defensive tackles in 2011, but the arrival of rookie Devon Still in the Queen City may eat into Peko’s snap count in 2011.
17) Fletcher Cox, Philadelphia Eagles – The highest ranked rookie on this list, the disruptive youngster from Mississippi State may struggle with some growing pains but has considerable IDP upside.
18) Desmond Bryant, Oakland Raiders – Bryant played well last year, accruing 35 tackles and five sacks, but his present classification as a DE on MyFantasyLeague.com clouds his IDP value as a DT for the time being at least.
19) Antonio Garay, San Diego Chargers – The 32-year-old posted IDP DT1 numbers in both 2010 and 2011, but given his age and role as a 3-4 nose tackle there’s considerable risk involved in expecting a repeat of those stats. That said if you can get him here and he does it would represent an excellent value selection.
20) Henry Melton, Chicago Bears – The fifth-year pro’s seven sacks last year certainly look nice at first glance, but Melton managed only 24 tackles in 2011, making him very much a feast or famine IDP option.
21) Nick Fairley, Detroit Lions – Although Fairley played sparingly as a rookie he’d likely be much higher on this list were it not for the suspension he’ll probably face after offseason arrests for marijuana possession and DUI.
22) Tyson Alualu, Jacksonville Jaguars – Alualu has posted solid if unspectacular numbers in his first two NFL seasons, and a third-year bump would raise his stock considerably from its current level as a middling IDP DT2.
23) Brandon Mebane, Seattle Seahawks – Mebane finished the 2011 campaign as a low-end IDP DT1 on the heels of a career-high 56 tackles, but chasing career-year stats can be a recipe for IDP disappointment.
24) Chris Canty, New York Giants – The eighth-year veteran posted career highs with 47 tackles and four sacks a season ago, but even those numbers placed Canty as no more than a high-end DT2, with a backslide this year a real possibility.
25) Michael Brockers, St. Louis Rams – The 322-pound rookie is an immensely talented youngster who should see plenty of early playing time, but he’s also something of a “project” type that carries substantial risk in redraft IDP leagues this season.
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