There isn’t a position in IDP leagues where finding a value late in drafts can have a bigger impact than along the defensive front. The cold hard truth is that there aren’t enough dependable weekly starters for every owner in a 12-team league to field two starters – much less have any real depth to speak of.
In that respect, finding a player available late in drafts who has a solid chance at cracking the top 25 at the position can make all the difference in the world in IDP leagues. And that’s where Detroit Lions defensive end Devin Taylor comes in.
After piling up seven sacks in 565 snaps a year ago, the departure of veteran Jason Jones thrusts Taylor into a full-time role in 2016. Detroit defensive coordinator Teryl Austin told Tim Twentyman of the team’s website he’s hopeful Taylor is up to the task.
“Well, I would hope this is a year that he takes a step to be ready to be a full-time starter and to be a difference maker,” Austin said. “He really played well the second half of the year, but we had a lot of guys that did that.”
As Dave Birkett of The Detroit Free Press reported, Lions head coach Jim Caldwell echoed a similar refrain. “I think he’s capable (of having a bigger role),” Caldwell said. “I think, you look at him, he’s improved. He was a better player last year than he had been the previous year. He’s a better player that year than he was the year before that.”
Twentyman’s on board with the idea of Taylor taking a big step forward in his fourth NFL season. “He was somewhat of a raw prospect when the Lions took him in the fourth round of the 2013 draft,” Twentyman, “but he’s now come a long way in terms of how to use his hands, leverage and speed to his advantage over the last three years. At the end of last season we really saw a more complete package in Taylor.”
“Ansah is going to get a lot of attention on the other side,” Twentyman said, “and if Haloti Ngata is healthy and playing up to his ability, Taylor could see a lot of one-on-one blocks. Double-digit sacks should be the benchmark for Taylor this season.”
As Birkett pointed out, Taylor started out last season slowly, including a Week 2 benching. But the former batterymate of Jadeveon Clowney at South Carolina caught fire down the stretch. “He shined during the team’s 6-2 finish,” Birkett said, “posting 4.5 of his career-high seven sacks in the final six games. He was especially dominant in a Week 13 loss to the Green Bay Packers, when he had two sacks and forced a fumble but was called for a late facemask penalty that helped set up quarterback Aaron Rodgers‘ game-winning Hail Mary.”
For the record, that face-mask penalty was a fat bag of bogus.
The hype around Taylor, however, is not – and as Ryan Sitzmann of FootballGuys wrote, it extends to the IDP arena. “Taylor emerged as a serious pass-rushing threat last year,” Sitzmann said, “compiling seven sacks on a part-time basis. With 2015 starter Jason Jones now with Miami, Taylor will move into a near every-down role opposite Ezekiel Ansah. The increased snap count makes Taylor a good bet to reach double digit sacks this season, and he could provide DL2 value at a fraction of the cost.”
Taylor finished last season 37th among defensive linemen in Fantasy Sharks Default IDP Scoring, posting 35 tackles and a forced fumble to go along with those seven sacks. Assuming a 10-sack season, a small bump in tackle production and say one more forced fumble (which would appear a reasonable expectation) Taylor would have slotted just inside the top 15 in 2015.
Counting on such a finish in 2016 might well be pushing one’s luck. But with an average draft position outside the top 40 at the position in early IDP drafts at My Fantasy League fantasy owners aren’t really “counting on” anything. In fact, all Taylor has to do to justify that asking price is repeat his production from last year.
The stage is set for Taylor to do significantly more than that, making him a defensive lineman to very much keep in mind later in IDP drafts this summer.