Dynasty DT rankings
Defensive tackle is one of the least appreciated positions in fantasy football. They tend to score low, they’re not exciting and you can usually replace them from the waiver wire. Sure some leagues have DT premiums but many more don’t even require you to start one.
People’s knowledge about them in a fantasy sense is also somewhat lacking in my experience. People pick up Vince Wilfork year after year because of his name value even though he is not usually a good option. People don’t consider differences in scheme much beyond the broadest terms. And We tend to think “starter” is still a real concept in the defensive interior whereas different teams have very different approaches towards how many snaps players get.
My aim here is to try and give you readers a good idea of which DTs are viable starters in 2016 and going forwards. It’s not much of an edge but in a game where plenty of matches are decided by a handful of points every little helps.
There are two main team philosophies to keep track of here:
Broadly speaking teams either ride their starters into the ground or use several bodies and try to keep them fresh, We’ll call that defensive tackle by committee. Or DTBC.
Starter-heavy: BAL, BUF, CAR, CIN, DAL, DEN, GB, JAX, KC, LA, MIA, MIN, NYJ, OAK, SF, TB, TEN, WAS
DTBC: ARI, ATLCHI, CLE, DET, HOU, IND, NE, NO, NYG, PHI, PIT, SD, SEA
Broadly speaking DTs on teams that play more 4 man fronts have more opportunities to be effective than those that play on 3-man fronts. Simply because they tend to have more license to rush the passer and have to play fewer 2-gap concepts.
4–3: ATL, BUF, CAR, CIN, DAL, DET, JAX, LA, MIA, MIN, NE, NO, NYG, OAK, SEA, TB, TEN
3–4: ARI, BAL, CHI, CLE, DEN, GB, HOU, KC, NYJ, PIT, SD, SF, TEN, WAS
Which leaves us with a set of teams that play a 4–3 front and tend to ride their starters harder: BUF, CAR, CIN, DAL, JAX, LA, MIA,MIN, OAK, TB, TEN.
This list includes players like Aaron Donald, Kawann Short, Geno Atkins, Ndamokung Suh, Gerald McCoy, Tyrone Crawford and Dan Williams. Without even looking at players it’s a good idea to grab DTs from them.
But dynasty planning requires more than that. So taking into account 2015 performance, defensive schemes, depth charts and projections this is my list of dynasty DTs:
1 Aaron Donald, LA
Just 24 and already one of the best players in the NFL let alone at the position. He will be a stud for years.
2 Fletcher Cox , PHI
Still just 25. Has the strength to play in the new 3–4 scheme in Philly and still be effective.
3 Kawann Short, CAR
Stunningly effective last year and should be in 2016 too. Heading for a big contract from someone in 12 months time.
4 Geno Atkins, CIN
Back to his best after a couple of years lost to injury. At 28 he’s a player for right now.
5 Ndamokung Suh,MIA
Contrary to popular belief had a very good year in 2015 — even if his ridiculous Dolphins contract means he can never be good value. He’s 29 but that contract means he’ll be around a while. Played 85% of snaps last year.
6 Gerald McCoy, TB.
Last year was worrying but he’s talented enough to bounce back to elite status.
7 Linval Joseph,MIN
Missed time last year but was still very effective. At 27 he’e entering his peak in a Mike Zimmer defense that could easily be top 5 for the next 2–3 years.
8 Ian Williams, SF
Medical issues abound but he gets plenty of opportunities tomake plays in SF. As a 49er he is liable to retire at any moment though.
9 Malcolm Brown, NE
Just 22 years old and already has a good season under Belichick. Poised for a very good career. Possibly my favourite player here over the next 5 years plus.
10 Brandon Williams, BAL
An underrated player who managed 727 snaps in 2015. Very much solidified as a key player in Baltimore.
11 Bennie Logan, PHI
Obviously the new scheme will tell but has the chance to continue making plays and is just 26.
12 Chris Baker, WAS
He’s probably on the slide a little but played so well in fantasy in 2015 he stays this high up for now.
13 Damon “Snacks” Harrison, NYG
That mega –contract from the Giants means he’ll be guaranteed snaps.
14 Marcell Dareus, BUF
Still just 26 and will likely be given more snaps and license to attack under the Ryan twins in 2016. A return to form is very possible.
15 Michael Brockers, LA
Very talented, 25 and playing next to Aaron Donald. What a great situation to wreak havoc.
16 Tyrone Crawford, DAL
Played 700 snaps in 2015 and is likely to play multiple games starting at DE in 2016. Still just 26 years old.
17 Star Lotulelei, CAR
Slightly overrated given his draft pedigree and distinctive name but still a good player. Heading for free agency in 2017 assuming the panthers keep Short instead.
18 Dontari Poe, KC
How is he still only 25? Extremely effective after fears of him being a combine warrior proved unfounded. Plays plenty of snaps at 34 DE on a stacked line.
19 Eddie Goldman, CHI
Very good in his rookie year and still 22. Poised for a long career as a steady nose under john Fox’s expert tutelage.
20 Sheldon Rankins, NO
Looks set to play plenty of 34 DE early in his career. Assuming the Saints D is cursed to be horrific he’ll get lots of opportunities to make plays.
21 Chris Jones, KC
A 21 year old rookie who PFF loved and will play lots of 34 DE next to 2 other good players? This is a gamble based on his youth but a good one.
22 Danny Shelton, CLE
Playing nose in Cleveland doesn’t help him but if he has lost weight and refocused himself he has the talent to move up this list fast.
23 Sharif Floyd,MIN
Played both DT spots last year but was a clear 2nd fiddle to Linval Joseph. Still a reliable option to stash.
24 Matt Ionnaidis, WAS
Will likely be eased into snaps but has the talent to play all along the Washington line
If you play in a league where more than 24 DTs are relevant more power to you. Go grab Andrew Billings, Dan Williams, Roy Miller and Nick Hayden. But no more notes from me.
Obviously this all depends on league scoring settings and positional eligibility but it should give you a rough framework to help avoid the standard DT mistakes.