Dynasty - Defense Rookie Rankings
If projecting offensive rookies is hard, doing so with defenders gets just about impossible as you move down the list.
Schemes get a ton more complicated in the pros than they were in college, and being out of position means someone else makes the tackle or nobody breaks up the pass. Size tends to matter a lot more but also isn’t predictive of success.
Perhaps most important is that opportunity matters even more for a fantasy defender’s value than it does on offense. A No. 3 receiver or a committee back can still produce lineup worthy numbers. Situational linebackers are virtually unusable. Only the rare third corner gets enough done on the field to be worth considering. Even rush specialists at end can be maddeningly inconsistent.
With this year’s list, I feel pretty good about the top six. I could even go as low as 19 and say I feel relatively confident. After that I might as well be throwing darts. Of course, I fancy myself a pretty decent darts player.
Here are some notes …
- -- To me, there’s James Laurinaitis and then there’s everyone else. Aaron Curry is easily second, but the former Buckeye did nothing but produce across the board in college. Now he gets to start in the middle for an innovative defensive head coach on a unit that will spend a lot of time on the field. He’s an IDP starter in any format (that includes tackles, of course) this season.
- -- Rey Maualuga has to take over in the middle for the Bengals at some point, right? They aren’t seriously going to leave him outside to keep a spot open for Dhani Jones. If the second-rounder isn’t manning the middle in Cincinnati by 2010, it’ll be surprising — especially as much as those coaches seem to like Rashad Jeanty.
- -- If you need (or even want) a defensive back, grab Louis Delmas or William Moore early. There’s a big gap after that.
- -- Gerald McRath and Jason Williams could rise quickly if aging veterans in front of them check out or get dumped after this season. Keith Bulluck and Keith Brooking (respectively) each seem to be approaching the end.
- -- Robert Ayers and Larry English aren’t likely to be starter-worthy as linebackers this season but could make themselves relevant in IDP leagues if they carry defensive-line eligibility. Considering Kamerion Winbley continues to be listed among linemen in many leagues, their owners could be in luck.
- -- Baltimore’s linebackers will be interesting to watch over the next couple of years. Terrell Suggs has yet to reach a multi-year deal with the team, which can’t just give him the franchise tag indefinitely. Jarret Johnson doesn’t bring enough pass pressure from the other side to be above replacing. Ray Lewis can’t have a whole lot longer, and the other inside spot is unsettled. Tavares Gooden seems like the favorite to win that last spot, but the other three starting linebacker roles could see turnover within at least the next three seasons. That’s why you’ll find four rookie Ravens ’backers on the list below. Paul Kruger seems destined to become what the team hoped Dan Cody would be.
2009 Dynasty Defensive Rankings
Rk Player Pos Team
1 James Laurinaitis MLB STL
2 Aaron Curry OLB SEA
3 Louis Delmas S DET
4 Rey Maualuga LB CIN
5 Brian Cushing OLB HOU