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2015 fantasy football profiles and projections (DL 1-16)

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Auction...............$16

Bye Week.............9

Year Tackles Sacks INTs Forced Fmbls Total TDs Fantasy Pts
2014 Statistics 59 20.5 1 4 5 173.90
2015 Projections 67 17.5 0 3 1 143.50

It's good to be the king. For the last three years, J.J. Watt has been the unquestioned lord of the defensive linemen, outscoring the next lineman by an average of 43 fantasy points (not counting Robert Quinn's 2013 season). Watt stuffs the stat sheet like no other big man, being the only one in NFL history to record multiple 20-plus sack seasons. His value has jumped since the team has started employing his talents on the offensive side of the ball, too. The defensive line position is the least lucrative in IDP formats, but Watt is the lone exception. He's worth taking several rounds earlier than his counterparts because of the massive advantage he gives a fantasy team on a week-to-week basis.

Auction...............$13

Bye Week.............11

Year Tackles Sacks INTs Forced Fmbls Total TDs Fantasy Pts
2014 Statistics 53 12.5 0 3 0 104.00
2015 Projections 54 10.5 0 2 0 96.50

Much to the delight of fantasy owners, Pierre-Paul rebounded from an injury-plagued 2013 season to the top of the fantasy mountain in 2014. Pierre-Paul notched double-digit sacks for the second time in his career, while also racking up over 60 combined tackles for the third time in four years. The South Florida product received the franchise tag from the Giants in the offseason, and will still be looking to secure a long-term contract extension (assuming one isn't reached before the season). Pierre-Paul is back to being one of the top fantasy options among defensive lineman after three top-five finishes in the last four years. Once Watt is off the board, Pierre-Paul should be one of the next names called.

Auction...............$12

Bye Week.............9

Year Tackles Sacks INTs Forced Fmbls Total TDs Fantasy Pts
2014 Statistics 48 7 1 1 0 74.00
2015 Projections 51 7 0 1 0 79.00

Campbell was robbed of a handful of games in 2014 due to a number of injuries (including a sprained MCL). However, Campbell proved his worth by once again posting top-12 fantasy numbers thanks to his ability to impact the game all over the field. Campbell made 2014 his fifth straight year with at least 45 solo tackles, and tossed in seven sacks, three pass breakups and an interception for good measure. The loss of defensive coordinator Todd Bowles is disappointing, but Campbell succeeded before Bowles arrived, and will succeed after. He's not likely to own the top spot among defensive lineman, but he's one of the position's most consistent producers and needs to be drafted as such.

Auction...............$10

Bye Week............4

Year Tackles Sacks INTs Forced Fmbls Total TDs Fantasy Pts
2014 Statistics 45 8 1 0 1 81.50
2015 Projections 43 6.5 0 1 0 81.50

Ninkovich might not be one of the most recognizable names to an average fan, but that's not the case among IDP fantasy players. Ninkovich has secured three top-five finishes since 2011, and hasn't finished outside the top 16 at his position since 2009 -- his first in New England. Ninkovich won't ever contest for a sack title, or make weekly highlight-reel plays, but what he will do is his job and stuff the stat sheet with tackles, sacks and pass breakups. He'll once again be a top defensive lineman option in 2015.

Auction...............$10

Bye Week.............6

Year Tackles Sacks INTs Forced Fmbls Total TDs Fantasy Pts
2014 Statistics 39 10.5 0 5 0 79.50
2015 Projections 45 16.5 0 4 0 103.00

One year after tying J.J. Watt for the highest fantasy point total in the league (116.50), Quinn came crashing back down to earth with a solid output of 79.50 points. While that seems like a massive drop in points (and it is), Quinn still finished fifth in scoring at his position. Quinn's dip in production was largely due to him posting almost 10 fewer sacks in 2014, but he still hit double digits (and that was with him not registering a sack until the sixth game of the season). Quinn remaining so productive even in a down year should give fantasy owners plenty of assurance to draft him among the top defensive linemen in 2015.

Auction...............$10

Bye Week.............5

Year Tackles Sacks INTs Forced Fmbls Total TDs Fantasy Pts
2014 Statistics 31 6 0 1 0 62.50
2015 Projections 39 8 0 2 0 75.50

Wilkerson had been an emerging IDP star in recent years, but a combination of injuries (turf toe, illness) and an in-game ejection conspired to slow him down in 2014. There's a lot to like about Wilkerson in 2015, as he will be back at full health, playing on one of the most talented defensive lines in football and playing for a new contract. Wilkerson has reached the final year of his rookie deal, and the team has already expressed a desire to keep him in the organization -- even though they selected the draft's top defensive lineman (Leonard Williams) in the first round this offseason. Talented linemen like Wilkerson can command quite a price tag if they keep their production up, so look for Wilkerson to do everything in his power to cash in on a mega deal. He's a prime bounce-back candidate in 2015.

Auction...............$9

Bye Week.............8

Year Tackles Sacks INTs Forced Fmbls Total TDs Fantasy Pts
2014 Statistics 28 13 0 0 1 65.00
2015 Projections 44 17 0 3 0 102.00

Not that he needed one, but Williams found a bit of a career re-birth in Buffalo. He has notched at least 10.5 sacks in each of his three years with the team, including a career-high 14.5 in 2014. Part of that is due to him playing with one of the most talented front sevens in all of football, boasting Pro Bowl ability across the board. Williams should be excited to play under new head coach Rex Ryan, who loves finding mismatches to put his pass-rushers in advantageous situations. Williams' tackle numbers are down a tad from his prime days in Houston, but the added sacks are more than making up for those. Williams should be a lock to record double-digit sacks once again in 2015, which makes him a safe option to target as a DL1 in IDP leagues this fall.

Auction...............$8

Bye Week.............5

Year Tackles Sacks INTs Forced Fmbls Total TDs Fantasy Pts
2014 Statistics 42 8 0 1 0 72.00
2015 Projections 36 6.5 0 1 0 71.50

Even though Richardson finished a spot lower in 2014 fantasy scoring than he did in 2013, his most recent campaign should be viewed as a success. That's because in 2013, Richardson's totals were boosted by two offensive touchdowns on gimmick run plays. He didn't score a single touchdown in 2014, yet nearly replicated the same amount of fantasy production. Richardson evolved as a pass-rusher last season, more than doubling his sack output from his rookie season while also recording a safety, too. Playing alongside Muhammad Wilkerson and Damon Harrison certainly helps his cause, as that trio form one of the stoutest defensive lines in the NFL that just got better with incoming rookie Leonard Williams. The arrival of new defensive-minded head coach Todd Bowles shouldn't change too much for Richardson and company, as Bowles had helped Calais Campbell achieve great success in Arizona. Richardson is a young, talented option to target in the middle of the DL1 tier.

Auction...............$8

Bye Week.............5

Year Tackles Sacks INTs Forced Fmbls Total TDs Fantasy Pts
2014 Statistics 39 12 0 1 1 84.50
2015 Projections 39 14.5 0 1 0 85.50

Griffen turned fantasy heads when he jumped all the way up to a third-place finish in fantasy scoring last season, but Vikings fans will tell you this was bound to happen sooner rather than later. Griffen had been slowly making more and more big plays for the team, and in 2014 it all came together for the former USC product under the guidance of head coach Mike Zimmer. Griffen was always consistent and a superstar at times in 2014, notching at least one sack in nine games, while posting seven or more fantasy points five times. The Vikings defensive unit seems to be one on the rise under Zimmer and defensive coordinator George Edwards, so Griffen will be a name worth calling as a starting IDP defensive lineman. He can likely be grabbed a little later and could far exceed his draft stock.

Auction...............$7

Bye Week.............6

Year Tackles Sacks INTs Forced Fmbls Total TDs Fantasy Pts
2014 Statistics 37 9 0 2 0 65.00
2015 Projections 54 12.5 0 4 0 99.50

The 2014 Defensive Rookie of the Year was a revelation for the Rams, notching nine sacks as a defensive tackle, only 1.5 fewer sacks than pass-rushing specialist Robert Quinn. When it comes to defensive linemen, disruption is production, and there weren't many guys coming from the inside who were more disruptive than Donald. Despite his smaller stature -- 6-foot-1, 285 pounds -- Donald is a force to be reckoned with and routinely wrecked opposing offensive game plans. The addition of Nick Fairley to an already stout defensive line that now boasts five first-round draft picks will only help Donald in his sophomore campaign. Look for the Pittsburgh product to pick up right where he left off once the 2015 season rolls around.

Auction...............$7

Bye Week.............11

Year Tackles Sacks INTs Forced Fmbls Total TDs Fantasy Pts
2014 Statistics 31 7.5 1 0 0 64.50
2015 Projections 27 8.5 0 2 0 67.00

Jordan got off to a slow start in 2014, with only one sack in the first six games, and was never able to fully recover. This was a disappointment for fantasy owners who likely drafted him hoping he'd build on his 12.5-sack, Pro Bowl season in 2013. The Saints have made a flurry of trades this offseason in the hope of retooling their defense. The result was draft picks used on inside linebacker Stephone Anthony and pass-rusher Hau'oli Kikaha, both of whom should help Jordan get back on track in 2015. Jordan is a talented playmaker working under a savvy defensive coordinator and will merit borderline DL1 consideration in fantasy this fall.

Auction...............$6

Bye Week.............5

Year Tackles Sacks INTs Forced Fmbls Total TDs Fantasy Pts
2014 Statistics 44 8.5 0 0 0 68.00
2015 Projections 32 7 0 2 0 59.50

Suh made history this offseason when he signed a deal with the Miami Dolphins that made him the highest paid defensive player in NFL history. That doesn't directly impact his fantasy value, although it was good to see Suh return to the top of the defensive lineman heap in 2014 as he battled to make that payday. Suh will have the benefit of playing alongside Cameron Wake in a talented defensive line now that he's swimming with the 'Fins. It'll be interesting to see if Suh plays with the same fire he had last season now that he has cashed in on a mega deal. Either way, Suh is the most dominant interior defensive lineman in the NFL and will find a way to make plenty of plays. He's a solid top-end DL2 candidate who has the potential and ability to outplay his fantasy draft status.

Auction...............$6

Bye Week.............4

Year Tackles Sacks INTs Forced Fmbls Total TDs Fantasy Pts
2014 Statistics 40 11.5 0 1 1 94.50
2015 Projections 33 6.5 0 2 0 69.50

Jones was one of 2013's breakout IDP stars, jumping all the way from a 28th-place finish in 2012 to third place, setting up massive expectations for 2014 and beyond. Sadly, a hip injury cost Jones six full games in 2014, as well as most of his bend and explosiveness around the edge, severely limiting his fantasy output. Jones has also been recovering from an unspecified offseason surgery, though he appears to be on track to return to top form for the Patriots this fall. At only 25 years old, Jones remains a young, talented fantasy prospect who should have no problem making his way back toward the top-10 fantasy scorers at his position in 2015.

Auction...............$5

Bye Week.............5

Year Tackles Sacks INTs Forced Fmbls Total TDs Fantasy Pts
2014 Statistics 31 11.5 0 3 0 67.50
2015 Projections 33 6.5 0 2 0 69.50

While Wake was able to notch double-digit sacks again after dipping to 8.5 a season ago, fantasy owners were likely frustrated by the games where Wake didn't even seem to be on the field. There were six occurences of Wake posting two fantasy points or fewer in 2014, though that could change with Ndamukong Suh now in the fold. Wake was overwhelmed at times by all of the extra attention paid to him with the Dolphins lacking another real threat on the defensive line. With Suh now commanding double teams on most downs, look for Wake to push his sack totals into the double digits again while possibly stuffing out the stat sheet as a whole with Suh forcing more plays Wake's direction.

Auction...............$5

Bye Week.............7

Year Tackles Sacks INTs Forced Fmbls Total TDs Fantasy Pts
2014 Statistics 40 8 0 2 0 79.00
2015 Projections 41 11 0 3 0 86.00

Dunlap rewarded fantasy owners who believed his 2013 breakout wasn't a fluke by finishing sixth in fantasy scoring at the position in 2014 -- two spots higher than the year before. Dunlap improved upon the career-bests he set the previous year in sacks (eight), tackles (40) and assisted tackles (26). He's now grown into one of the anchors of the Cincinnati defense, and a playmaker the team will rely upon going forward. Michael Johnson has returned to Cincinnati after a disappointing run in Tampa Bay, so that could help Dunlap as Johnson's most productive seasons were with the Bengals. Dunlap has now firmly planted himself in the top half of defensive linemen for IDP formats, and should be drafted as such this fall.

Auction...............$5

Bye Week.............9

Year Tackles Sacks INTs Forced Fmbls Total TDs Fantasy Pts
2014 Statistics 45 5 0 0 0 67.50
2015 Projections 43 8 0 1 0 78.00

While Casey's sack numbers dropped in 2014, he proved why the Titans rewarded him with a rich new contract by still finishing in the top 15 at his position. It'd be great to see Casey bring his sack total back up toward the 10.5 he posted in 2013, and the addition of Brian Orakpo in free agency could help immensely. Now, Casey will have Orakpo and Derek Morgan to occupy outside defenders as he terrorizes the middle of opponents' offensive lines. Even if Casey's sack numbers stay in the single digits, he has proven that he can still be a week-to-week contributor in fantasy by consistently posting solid tackle numbers. Grab him as a very capable DL2 who could easily become a starter if need be.

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