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HOLD THE LINE: Undervalued Defensive Linemen in IDP Leagues

There isn’t a trickier position in Individual Defensive Player Leagues to navigate than the defensive line. Sure, life is good if you draft Joey Bosa of the Los Angeles Chargers or Khalil Mack of the Oakland Raiders. We all hope it will be again with J.J. Watt of the Houston Texans.

But if you play in a 12-team (or larger) IDP league that requires two starters (or more), finding that second starter can tricky at times. Maybe you hit the linebacker position hard. Or snagged an elite defensive back. Or just got frozen out of a positional run.

Whatever the reason, sometimes you’re left sifting through a rather unappealing list of IDP draft targets on the defensive line late – wary that you’re looking for love in all the wrong places.

I rather shoehorned that in there. But when the song’s stuck in your head and you’re cursing me, you’ll know why I did it. I really am that big a jerk.

However, in early IDP mocks this summer there have actually been some values left later in drafts in IDP’s shallowest position. Each is at the very least great depth to have on the defensive line when the inevitable injury strikes or the bye weeks kick in. In a best case though, each has the potential to be even more than that.

And all were drafted outside the top 25 up front.

Mario Addison – DE, Carolina Panthers

Per Bryan Strickland of the Panthers website, Addison wasn’t pleased with Carolina being left off a list of the NFL’s 10-plus best defensive lines – even a little. “I don’t know what they’ve got against Carolina, but they never show us love, never. It’s been like that since I got here in 2012,” Addison tweeted. “They never give us props. Me and Pep had 11 sacks apiece. If that doesn’t say something, what does? Why aren’t we in there? It’s a joke. Not top eight? Not top 10? It’s ludicrous.”

Addison also said he’s intent on last year’s career season not being a one-shot deal – for him or the Carolina front as a whole. “Me being experienced now,” Addison said, “I remember when I was younger always finding a guy that was compatible to me and picking his brain. We have some young guys here that are just like me, so I was just trying to tell them some different ways you can get on a tackle and beat him.”

Addison not only posted a career-high in sacks last year, added 44 total tackles and finished as a top-15 fantasy lineman in Fantasy Sharks Default IDP Scoring. He also had at least half a sack in 12 of 16 games in 2018. Other than that though, he was a real bum.

Robert Quinn – DE, Los Angeles Rams

As Joe Schad reported for the Palm Beach Post, Dolphins defensive coordinator Matt Burke has been blown away by Quinn since he arrived in Miami. “He’s a unique athlete,” Burke said. “He bends probably as good as anybody I’ve ever been around. It’s weird to watch sometimes, to be honest with you. He comes off the corner and sometimes you think he’s actually rushing too high and gets past the quarterback, then he just turns his foot and plants it and bends it. His knee is about two feet off the ground and he can really hug it.  It’s pretty fun.”

End Charles Harris, himself a first-round pick by the Dolphins, was similarly impressed. “Rob, seeing him practice and seeing him going through cornering drills and stuff, it’s just like ‘Dang, how do you do it?’” Harris said. “It’s also motivating. For me, I look at it as I had the most bend on the team. Seeing him going through all of that is like, I’ve got to get my stuff together.”

Quinn reportedly didn’t take being traded very well, which may explain (at least partly) while all indications are he’s running around like his hair’s on fire in camp with his new team. This is a 28-year-old player who tallied a 46/10.5/5 stat line during his last healthy season as a 4-3 end (and 57/19/7 the year before – and yes, you read that right.).

If you pass on Robert Quinn as a DL3, you either don’t understand the format or you’re drinking and drafting. Passing on him outside the top 15 may or may not elicit a breathalyzer test.

Jabaal Sheard – DE, Indianapolis Colts

As Kevin Bowen reported for 1070 Radio in Indianapolis, Sheard was a bright spot for a bad Colts team in 2017. “Per Pro Football Focus,” he said, “Sheard had the 13th most pressures in the league last year (66) and was 4th in total run stops (30) among edge defenders. Those effective numbers, against the run and pass, are impressive and offer one of the few glimmers of hope from last year’s major defensive struggles.”

For his part, per the team’s website Sheard doesn’t want to hear it. “We finished as one of the worst teams in the league,” Sheard said. “No matter how you played individually, we’ve got to be better.” However, he’s also liking the new 4-3 front of coordinator Matt Eberflus.

“It’s about guys up front creating penetration and just making it (cleaner) for the linebackers,” Sheard says. “It’s not going to be your (Dwight) Freeney and (Robert) Mathis back in the day but hopefully we can work to that point where we get some pass rushers and get after the quarterback. We won’t be them, but hopefully something like them, being aggressive and getting after quarterbacks and running backs in the backfield.”

Sheard showed off his run-stopping ability last year, topping 50 total tackles for the third time in his career. If he can recapture the 7-9 sack upside he had with the New England Patriots, Sheard could function as a high-floor DL2 who is available cheap.

As the most proven end on the roster (and then some), the snaps will be there this year.

About Gary Davenport

A member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association and Pro Football Writers of America who resides in Columbus, Ohio, Gary has been featured on a number of fantasy websites and in nationally circulated publications. These publications include the USA Today Fantasy Football Preview and the magazines distributed by Fantasy Sports Publications Inc., for whom Gary is a both a contributing author and associate editor. Gary is an nine-time FSWA Award finalist and three-time winner who has been a finalist for that organization's Fantasy Football Writer of the Year award each of the last four years. He won the honor in 2017 and 2019. Gary also appears regularly on Sirius XM Radio (including live from Radio Row at Super Bowl XLIX) and over-the-air stations across the country. Gary was one of the co-founders of, and Head Writer at, Fantasy Football Oasis before joining Fantasy Sharks as an IDP Senior Staff Writer in 2011. He knows football. Or so he's heard.