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2012 NFL Fantasy Football Rankings: Defensive Linemen


The 2012 NFL Fantasy Season is here. Mock drafts abound. Rookie round-ups are nearly complete. Bye week cheat sheets are everywhere. Positional rankings are popping up everywhere, which at Athlon Sports also includes Individual Defensive Players or IDPs

While the ever-important Athlon Sports 2012 Big Board, the most accurate consensus top 100 list of fantasy footballers on the web, includes the most common and used positions in fantasy football, IDPs are also a part of many leagues out there. So true to our word of providing you everything you need to get you ready for the upcoming fantasy football season, here are our IDP rankings for defensive linemen (DL).

Rankings are based on Athlon Sports standard scoring for IDPs:

Solo tackle = 1 pt
Tackle assist = 0.5 pts
Sack = 3.5 pts
Interception = 3.5 pts
Forced fumble/recovery = 2 pts
Defensive TD = 8 pts
Safety = 2 pts
Pass Defended = 0.5 pts
Blocked Kick = 4 pts

Athlon Sports Fantasy Football Positional Rankings: Defensive Linemen

Rank, Name, Position, Team (2011 Fantasy Points per Athlon Sports standard scoring)

1. Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, New York Giants (146.8 FP)
Pierre-Paul finished third at the position in sacks with 16.5. He delivered at least a half-sack in 12 of 16 games, including 6.5 over the first five weeks and six over the final four. He also led the position in tackles.

2. Jared Allen, DE, Minnesota Vikings (157.0 FP)
Allen not only flirted with the single-season sack record (finished with 22), but he also ranked as the sixth-best run-defender at the position, according to Pro Football Focus.

3. Justin Tuck, DE, New York Giants (53.0 FP)
Tuck got overshadowed last season by the first guy on this list and undercut by his own injuries. Remember, he was fantasy’s No. 1 D-lineman in 2008 and '10.

4. Trent Cole, DE, Philadelphia Eagles (84.0 FP)
Cole’s first season under D-line coach Jim Washburn might have seemed a bit disappointing, given the two games missed and big sack numbers for so many others. Along with the best per-game sack rate of his career, though, Cole ranked second in the league in Pro Football Focus’ pass-rushing productivity, which measures QB hits and pressures.

5. Julius Peppers, DE, Chicago Bears (93.5 FP)
 Peppers has gone for 10-plus sacks in three of the past four seasons, averaged more than four forced fumbles a year over that stretch, and deflected four or more passes in eight straight years.

6. Mario Williams, DE, Buffalo Bills (30.5 FP)
Welcome back to the line, Mario. Wade Phillips’ defense last year rendered Williams a linebacker in many IDP outfits, but Buffalo’s 4-3 base puts him at end. A line that boasts Marcell Dareus and Kyle Williams inside should also help limit double teams.

7. Jabaal Sheard, DE, Cleveland Browns (90.3 FP)
Sheard collected six of his 8.5 sacks over the final seven games, including three against division foes. The rookie also ranked fifth among 4-3 defensive ends in pressures for the season and second among linemen in forced fumbles.

8. Calais Campbell, DE, Arizona Cardinals (117.0 FP)
Campbell finally put it all together in his fourth season, ranking third among linemen in total tackles, posting a career high in sacks and ranking first at the position in total passes defensed.

9. Charles Johnson, DE, Carolina Panthers (72.5 FP)
Johnson dealt with a back injury last year and saw his playing time dip late in the season as the Panthers deployed more 3-4 alignments. Johnson was a top-10 lineman through the first half, though, with sacks in seven of eight games.

10. Elvis Dumervil, DE, Denver Broncos (72.3 FP)
From Weeks 9-16, Dumervil delivered at least a half-sack in every game. Dumervil’s 2009 sack high (17) came in a 3-4 base defense, but he spent a lot of time at end even then and has proven to be productive from that spot.

11. Jason Babin, DE, Philadelphia Eagles (107.5 FP)
Babin is the perfect fit for Washburn’s wide-9 end alignment and produced the league’s second-highest sack total (18) a year ago. The only question is whether Vinny Curry and Brandon Graham cut into Babin’s chances.

12. Cliff Avril, DE, Detroit Lions (110.5 FP)
Avril played all 16 games for the first time in 2011 and produced a career-high six forced fumbles. His speed is a killer, especially with all of the surrounding talent.

13. Chris Long, DE, St. Louis Rams (82.5 FP)
Long’s sacks have increased each of the past three years. According to Pro Football Focus, he led all 4-3 ends in QB pressures after ranking second in 2010. Luck could trim the sack total, but bet on a guy who gets to the quarterback so often.

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14. J.J. Watt, DE, Houston Texans (81.8 FP)
Pro Football Focus rated Watt fifth-best among 3-4 ends in pass-rushing and third-best against the run. After a solid-if-unspectacular fantasy regular season, the rookie shined in the playoffs — a sack and an interception against the Bengals and then 12 tackles and 2.5 sacks at Baltimore.

15. Haloti Ngata, DT, Baltimore Ravens (89.0 FP)
Ngata ranked third among linemen in assists last year, giving him a second straight top-nine tackle total among the big guys. The versatile Raven has also deflected four passes or more in three of the past four seasons and he picked off two passes back in 2008.

16. Aldon Smith, DE/LB, San Francisco 49ers (93.0 FP)
If you can use Smith as a lineman, count yourself lucky.  Smith’s 14 sacks in 2011 were the second-best rookie total ever. Stat regression might well occur, but more playing time should balance it out.

17. Osi Umenyiora, DE, New York Giants (56.5 FP)
Injuries limited the veteran to just nine regular-season games, but he finished three of them with two sacks apiece. He added 3.5 more over four playoff contests. When on the field, he’s one of the position’s best.

18. Jeremy Mincey, DE, Jacksonville Jaguars (90.5 FP)
Mincey returns to the Jaguars after a top-10 fantasy season in his first full year as a starter. Mincey finished just three games last year with fewer than two combined sacks, hits and pressures.

19. Justin Smith, DE, San Francisco 49ers (86.8 FP)
Smith’s 2011 fantasy numbers likely fell short of his 2010 numbers in your league. Smith’s 2010 was inflated by three multi-sack games. Including the playoffs, he delivered sacks in eight different games last year.

20. Carlos Dunlap, DE, Cincinnati Bengals (44.3 FP)
Dunlap is determined to start at left end this time and has set his sights on double-digit sacks. His performance in two shortened seasons indicates that is well within reach.

21. Mathias Kiwanuka, DE/LB, New York Giants (93.8 FP)
He played nearly one-third of his snaps on the line last year despite starting at strongside linebacker. The standup post elevates the tackle total by DL standards.

22. Ndamukong Suh, DT, Detroit Lions (49.5 FP)
A phenomenal rookie season for Suh set expectations up to be crushed in Year 2. If Suh proves his shoulder is healthy, though, and his attitude under control, the Lions will be hard-pressed to find someone better.

23. Cameron Wake, DE/LB, Miami Dolphins (70.8 FP)
Wake didn’t make it as a 4-3 end his first time around. That led to his stint in the CFL. He has been awesome as a 3-4 outside linebacker since returning, though, and was among the position’s best in run defense last year.

24. Chris Clemons, DE, Seattle Seahawks (89.5 FP)
Clemons had a career-high 51 total stops last year, which tied him for 22nd among linemen. He also added his second straight double-digit sack total.

25. Kamerion Wimbley, DE, Tennessee Titans (87.0 FP)
A move from Oakland to Tennessee turns Wimbley into a full-time end for the first time in his career. Wimbley has never matched the 11 sacks of his rookie season in Cleveland, but his numbers play better up front.

26. Adrian Clayborn, DE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (67.8 FP)
Clayborn compiled 7.5 sacks as a rookie, including a five-game stretch in the second half with at least a half-sack each week. He also tied Jason Pierre-Paul for 12th among 4-3 defensive ends in Pro Football Focus’ pass-rush ratings last year.

27. Ahtyba Rubin, DE, Cleveland Browns (87.0 FP)
Rubin has finished his two seasons as a starter ranked first and second among defensive linemen in total tackles. Last year included at least four total stops in all but three games and also brought out a pass-rushing flair.

28. Robert Quinn, DE, St. Louis Rams (44.0 FP)
Considering that Quinn spent 2010 out of football, his pro debut was pretty impressive. The first-round pick got onto the field for nearly as many pass-rushing situations as veteran James Hall, who he is expected to replace in the starting lineup this season.

29. Matt Shaughnessy, DE, Oakland Raiders (10.0 FP)
Shaughnessy offers better value when the Raiders use him as an end in a 4-3 rather than in a 3-4. He plays the run well and brings pass-rush upside, which makes him worth an IDP shot at this point.

30. Shea McClellin, DE, Chicago Bears (Rookie, DNP in the NFL in '11)
Going to Chicago’s 4-3 defensive scheme boosts McClellin's  fantasy outlook, as the rookie appears to have a clear path to starting at left end, opposite Julius Peppers. Combine that with the tutelage of D-line coaching great Rod Marinelli, and the talented, versatile McClellin could quickly emerge as a pass-rushing threat for the Bears.

— Published on June 18, 2012

Athlon Sports 2012 NFL Fantasy Content:

Athlon Sports Big Board: Top 150

2012 Fantasy Football Mock Draft I

2012 Bye Week Cheat Sheet

Athlon Sports Fantasy Positional Rankings: QBs

Athlon Sports Fantasy Positional Rankings: RBs
Athlon Sports Fantasy Positional Rankings: WRs
Athlon Sports Fantasy Positional Rankings: TEs
Athlon Sports Fantasy Positional Rankings: LBs
Athlon Sports Fantasy Positional Rankings: DBs
Athlon Sports Fantasy Positional Rankings: IDP Top 75

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