2015 fantasy football profiles and projections (DL 17-32)

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

Bye Week.............10

Liuget returned to the top 25 fantasy scoring defensive linemen for the second time in his young career in 2014. Liuget brought his playing weight down to a leaner 290 pounds during the offseason, and that could have been a factor in his increased disruption along the Chargers defensive line. The former Illinois product hasn't ever been an IDP stud, but he seems to be moving in the right direction. If Liuget can bring his sack totals up once again in 2015, he'll offer fantasy owners a safe option as a DL2.

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

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

Allen's first season with the Bears certainly wasn't up to his usual standards. The pass-rushing maven not only played through a herniated disc that cost him his first missed game since 2007, but lost a reported 18 pounds in one week as he battled pneumonia. With those ailments behind him, Allen will be motivated to make an impact in new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio's scheme to try and cement his status as a Hall of Fame candidate. Where Allen lines up in Fangio's 3-4 defense remains to be seen, but on a defense in desperate need of playmakers, one can assume Fangio will be finding ways to make Allen productive and get him after the quarterback. He offers nice DL2 value in the later rounds of IDP leagues.

Auction...............$4

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

Cox rebounded nicely after a disappointing 2013 campaign, setting a new career-high with 48 solo tackles. He'll have some new help defensively as the Eagles brought in linebacker Kiko Alonso via trade, and cornerbacks Byron Maxwell and Walter Thurmond via free agency. Cox has the talent to put up solid fantasy numbers as a defensive lineman, but he might need some more help with veteran pass-rusher Trent Cole now playing in Indianapolis. Still, when targeting a DL2 to round out a roster, fantasy owners can do worse than targeting someone like Cox who has youth and fantastic athleticism on his side.

Auction...............$4

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

After leading all NFL rookies in sacks last year, Ansah showed good growth in his sophomore year, nearly doubling his solo tackle numbers and only missing his rookie sack mark by a half a sack. It will be interesting to see how Ansah performs in Year 3, as Detroit watched both of their talented young defensive tackles -- Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley -- leave in free agency. The team did trade for Haloti Ngata to mitigate the damage, but Ngata is 31 years old and his best days might be in the rear view mirror. Still, Ansah is growing into his role as the team's primary pass-rusher, and could be set to make another statistical leap. Grab him as a DL2 and hope he continues to blossom on the field.

Auction...............$4

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

The 2014 season seemed to be one full of promise for Johnson, but Greg Hardy's year-long absence and a hip-flexor injury combined to force Johnson to post his lowest sack total since 2009. Johnson will be without Hardy again in 2015, as "The Kraken" signed with the Dallas Cowboys during free agency. The Panthers do have plenty of talent in their front seven, though, including all-star linebackers Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis, as well as Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short on the d-line. Johnson has lost a little of his fantasy luster from a few years back, but still represents a solid option as a No. 2 defensive lineman.

Auction...............$3

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

Morgan returned to fantasy relevance in 2014, playing his hybrid OLB/DE end role for Ray Horton's defense in Tennessee. Morgan tied his career-high with 6.5 sacks, while setting new marks for solo tackles with 43. More help has arrived for Morgan in the form of pass-rusher Brian Orakpo, freshly signed from the Washington Redskins this offseason. The presence of Orakpo should help lessen the amount of attention and double teams Morgan sees, which could help him wreak more havoc in opposing backfields. The former Georgia Tech product represents a nice, safe DL2 option in 2015.

Auction...............$3

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

Even though he missed one game serving a suspension, Dareus put together his finest pro season in 2014 -- just in time for a new contract, as well. Dareus posted a career-best 10 sacks, helping make up for his tackle numbers, which were down from the year before. New head coach Rex Ryan will bring a new fire to the Bills' already-stacked defense featuring standouts across the board, Dareus included. Ryan's interior linemen back with the Jets (Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson) thrived under his guidance, so fantasy owners can expect similar things from Dareus. He's a great DL2 to target in fantasy with potential to climb even higher up the statistical leaderboards.

Auction...............$3

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

Ware found new life in his first season in Denver, getting back on track with 10 sacks and two forced fumbles after a disappointing, injury-plagued final campaign in Dallas. The veteran pass-rusher and Von Miller worked well as a duo, notching a combined 24 sacks in 2014, a trend they'll look to continue in 2015. At 32 years old, Ware has certainly lost a bit of a step from his game-wrecking ways of a few years ago, but the Troy product can still contribute all across the board. He has managed to grab an interception in each of the last two years, and has posted at least 30-plus solo tackles in every year of his 10-year career except in 2013. He's a bigger name that some owners might reach on in fantasy, but his best role is as a backup defensive lineman in 2015.

Auction...............$2

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

The best players can take their game to another level when their team needs them the most, and that's what Heyward did for the Steelers in 2014. Needing a boost to help them battle into the playoffs, Heyward notched 3.5 sacks over the final four weeks of the year, setting a new career-high of 7.5 sacks in the process. The Steelers lost talented OLB Jason Worilds this offseason, as he unexpectedly retired to pursue other interests, and are hoping rookie Bud Dupree can fill the void Worilds left as a pass-rusher. Heyward isn't a likely candidate to suddenly vault into the top 10 at his position, but he can be a steady contributor or a solid bye-week fill-in.

Auction...............$3

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

Houston was one of the top names in free agency last season, and signed a five-year $35 million deal with the Bears as a result. His season came to an end in Week 8 after he tore his ACL celebrating his only sack of the year, but even before that this once promising IDP star had struggled mightily. The Bears have added more pieces on defense that could help Houston get back to form, but he'll have an uphill battle already recovering from a serious knee injury. He could be worth a late-round flier in case he starts wreaking havoc like it's 2013, but the odds of that just aren't very likely this season.

Auction...............$2

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

Williams enters 2015 as one of the top rookie prospects to target in IDP circles, as he figures to be a Day 1 contributor for the New York Jets. Given Williams' ability, it would have been nice to see him land on a team where he could be the top lineman. However, working alongside Sheldon Richardson and Muhammad Wilkerson could prove beneficial. During his time at USC, Williams was a disruptive force up the middle for the Trojans, notching seven sacks and 48 solo tackles in his senior season. The level of competition will obviously be stiffer and he could endure some growing pains at the NFL level, but Williams is worth a shot as a DL2 who could end up way out-performing his draft status.

Auction...............$2

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

A 37th-place finish among defensive lineman might not seem fitting for McCoy, one of the most talented (and highest paid) young defensive linemen in the league. But when you consider that he lost four games to a broken hand and played through most of the season with that ailment, well, then that finish looks a little bit better. McCoy's 13 tackles for loss were the fourth-most among interior defensive linemen, as were his 8.5 sacks. The Oklahoma product will be counted on once again to anchor the Bucs defensive front, and should offer nice value -- as well as bounce-back potential -- as a late-round DL2.

Auction...............$1

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

A left ankle injury in the season opener ended up costing Long a total of 11 games, as it required surgery. As a result, Long wasn't really able to contribute much in fantasy. He appeared in Weeks 13 to 17, notching one sack, five solo tackles and one fumble recovery. Once again at full health, Long will return to a defensive line that has gotten even more talented and dangerous since he left, with the emergence of Aaron Donald last season and arrival of Nick Fairley this offseason. Long will have some appeal as DL2, since he averaged 11 sacks per year from 2011 to 2013.

Auction...............$1

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

Marks burst onto the fantasy scene in 2014 with a 27th-place finish at his position thanks to an impressive 8.5 sacks (a new career-high). He jumps off of the game film for the Jaguars defense, consistently causing disruption in the backfield and making plays. The Jaguars are still in the midst of a rebuild, but head coach Gus Bradley seems to have things headed in the right direction. The arrival of Jared Odrick should help Marks cause even more pain to opposing offenses in 2015, making him a nice option as a backup DL.

Auction...............$1

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

Daniels hasn't been much of a fantasy commodity to this point in his career, but the fourth-year defensive end for the Packers has been a force on the field. He'll be playing for a new contract this season, and has been getting better with each year in the league. He has posted 12 sacks over the last two years while also seeing his tackle numbers grow by leaps and bounds as he plays more snaps. Consider him an excellent speculative target to grab as a backup defensive lineman, as he'll be motivated to cash in with a lucrative new contract extension in Green Bay or elsewhere after 2015.

Auction...............$1

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

Off-field issues might have forced Randy Gregory deep into the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft, but the Dallas Cowboys feel they got a winner when Gregory fell into their laps back in May. Desperate for defensive difference-makers, Dallas will be counting on Gregory to be an immediate force both against the run and pass. Mini-camp heat exhaustion aside, Gregory has the talent, opportunity and drive to be a fantasy force in Year 1. It'll all just depend if he's able to put it together on the field. He's a high-upside DL2 for his rookie season and nothing more.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.
Gamepass_vert_web_r

See all the Action

Replay every game all season.