If you’ve read many of my articles here at Fantasy Sharks (and really, who hasn’t?) then you know that I usually advise exercising patience where drafting individual defensive players is concerned. It’s certainly nothing against elite fantasy options such as Houston Texans defensive end
J.J. Watt or Carolina Panthers linebacker
It’s not the player I have a problem with. It’s the price tag. The fourth-round pick that it takes to get Watt or the sixth-round pick required to select Kuechly are better spent on the offensive side of the ball in the vast majority of fantasy football leagues.
One of the main reasons that I advocate this strategy is simple. It’s much easier to get value on defense later in IDP drafts. You can wait, load up on offense, and still field a more-than-competitive squad.
Since many folks might believe that this is one of those “easier said than done” type of situations, I now present “The Undervalued IDP All-Stars,” a starting defensive lineup composed entirely of players who have slipped in fantasy drafts to this point in 2013.
For the sake of this exercise, we’ll assume a “lineup” consisting of two defensive linemen, three linebackers, two defensive backs and a “flex” spot, and scoring system similar to that being used in the
Fantasy Sharks IDP Mock Draft Challenge. Two bench players will be thrown in for good measure.
Average Draft Positions (ADP) courtesy of
My Fantasy League.
Greg Hardy, DE, Carolina (DL9):
I’m a proponent of investing in a high-end fantasy DL1, but if you get caught on the outside of a run at the position it’s still possible to get a player with considerable upside near the end of the top-10. Hardy finished 2012 as a top-5 defensive lineman on the heels of 61 tackles and 11 sacks, yet he’s available full five rounds after
Jason Pierre-Paul comes off the board. Sure, there’s some risk involved with drafting a player coming off one big year, but playing opposite
Charles Johnson keeps double teams off Hardy, and even if he backslides a bit in 2013, he’d still be good value in this spot.
Justin Smith, DE, San Francisco (DL27):
Every year in fantasy football there’s a bias against aging veterans, and this year one of the “victims” of that bias is
Justin Smith. Yes, Smith’s 2012 season was marred by a torn triceps, but that’s not the sort of injury one necessarily worries about lingering. Prior to last year, the 33-year-old had four straight top-20 finishes to his credit. Smith is a fine DL2, especially in tackle-heavy formats. His low asking price lets teams who go defensive lineman early address the linebacker position before grabbing their second lineman, and his steady tackle output is a great complement to a big play pass rusher.
LB1: D’Qwell Jackson, ILB, Cleveland (LB16):
Apparently, many fantasy drafters who were burned by Jackson last year are holding a grudge. Simply put, they need to get over it. Yes, Jackson was something of a disappointment in 2012 after finishing as fantasy football’s top linebacker in 2011. However, the arrival of Ray Horton and his aggressive 3-4 defense in Cleveland brings with it an excellent chance that Jackson will bounce back in a big way in 2013. Remember, this is the same scheme that turned Arizona’s
Daryl Washington into the top IDP linebacker a season ago. Top-5 upside for an LB2 price? I’ll take that action all day long, especially eight rounds after Kuechly is drafted.
London Fletcher, ILB, Washington (LB33):
For over a decade, Washington Redskins linebacker
London Fletcher has been an IDP rock, a player who hasn’t missed a game or recorded fewer than 125 total tackles since joining the Redskins in 2007. However, Fletcher’s 78 solos last year was his lowest total of the century, and at 38 years old the end of the road is near for Fletcher. With all that said, Fletcher hasn’t finished outside the Top 10 linebackers since 2007. Even if he slides towards the bottom of the Top 20 in 2013, he’d still represent both a solid fantasy LB2 and a bargain given his low-end IDP LB3 average draft position.
Russell Allen, OLB, Jacksonville (LB43):
Despite topping 100 solos in 2012 and finishing the season as a top-20 fantasy option, Jacksonville’s
Russell Allen isn’t getting a lot of love in drafts this year, with a draft slot in mid-level IDP LB4 territory. Granted, Allen’s big year was about as out-of-left-field as breakouts get, but the fact of the matter is Allen’s situation with the Jaguars hasn’t changed. The 27-year-old is still an every down player for a Jacksonville defense that’s going to be on the field a lot. As an LB3 Allen remains a fine option, especially when you consider that in only one game last year did the fifth-year pro record fewer than five tackles.