2013 Season Review: Defensive Ends

Quinn led all DE's last year for points scored - photo from wikipedia.org

After looking at the Defensive Tackle position, we now move into on of the most valuable positions in IDP Fantasy, the Defensive End. Just like in the real game, pass rushers can often be the difference between victory and defeat, especially using the Big-Play Heavy scoring system.

 

Top 5s:

Robert Quinn, STL 257.50 points

J.J. Watt, HOU 247.0 points

Greg Hardy, CAR 185.0 points

Chandler Jones, NE 180.0 points

Justin Tuck, NYG 178.00 points

Almost made it: Calais Campbell (ARI), Jared Allen (MIN), Muhammad Wilkerson (NYJ)

 

#

Name

Sys

T

TFL

As

Hit

Sck

FF(R)

PD

INT

TD

FPT

FPPG

1

Robert Quinn

4-3

50

23

7

21

19

7(2)

0

0

0

275.5

16.1

2

J.J. Watt

3-4

65

22

15

36

10.5

4(2)

7

0

0

247

15.4

3

Greg Hardy

4-3

40

18

20

25

16

1(0)

1

0

0

185

11.6

4

Chandler Jones

4-3

40

14

39

14

11.5

1(1)

0

0

1

180

11.3

5

Justin Tuck

4-3

41

15

22

12

11

2(0)

4

0

0

178

11.1

6

Calais Campbell

3-4

45

14

14

17

9.5

1(2)

6

0

0

165.5

10.3

7

Jared Allen

4-3

33

13

19

18

12

2(0)

6

0

0

163

10.2

8

M. Wilkerson

3-4

43

13

21

9

10.5

2(0)

3

1

0

163

10.2

9

Cameron Jordan

3-4

28

13

18

13

12.5

2(2)

5

0

0

158.5

9.9

10

Carlos Dunlap

4-3

39

8

29

20

7.5

4(1)

6

0

0

155

9.7

Stats Breakdown:

Sys: System, T: Tackle, TFL: Tackle For Loss, As: Assisted tackle, Hit: Hit on the QB, Sck: Sacked the QB, FF(R): Forced Fumbles (Recovered), PD: Pass Defended, INT: Interceptions, TD: Any defensive touchdown, FPT: Fantasy Points in Total, FPPG: Fantasy Points Per Game (On Average)

 

 

We have a new king of defensive ends, with Robert Quinn recording an incredible 19 sacks on the season. Of course, Watt is hot on his tail, despite recording 8.5 fewer sacks last year (equating to 45 points). Some young players have made a big mark last year, especially the likes of Hardy, Jones, Wilkerson, Cameron and Dunlap. All of those players are 25 or younger. Now would be an excellent time to be doing a dynasty IDP draft, but it’s important to see which player has sustainable production, and if any of them can get even better. Either way there are plenty of superb DE options outside of the top 2, Justin Tuck making a surprise appearance. You will notice that whilst this is a rankings based on total points, the Tackle For Loss stat is almost perfectly sorted. TFLs only give you 3 points (including the tackle point), but they indicate the disruptiveness of a DE and if he’s getting in the backfield on a regular basis then he’s going to be in and around the points regularly, especially if you award points for QB Hits. In that department there is only one king, Watt managed 36 hits on the QB last year, and awarding points for that stat keeps him in that elite category (just like in real life.) It’s interesting to note that Quinn and Watt both play in different systems, Quinn in a 4-3 and Watt a 3-4, so that top level of production can be achieved by both types of modern DE.

 

Disappointments:

Jason Pierre-Paul took huge steps backwards last season, and his 17-sack 2011 performance is so far in the rear-view that it looks like a small rodent (that can’t rush the passer effectively). In the 10 full games he played (injured in week 12 v Cowboys), JPP scored over 10 points twice (once in a game where a pick six accounted for 16 of his 19 points) and 5 or less points 6 times. JPP got 2 sacks on the year and taking away that pick six, he would have finished with the 72nd most points at DE. As it happens, his 69.50 points, and average of 6.3PPG made him a non-factor. JPP has declined dramatically since 2011, his Pass Rushing Grade on Pro Football Focus has fallen from 10.3 to -6 in that span, and his Run defence has dropped from 16.8 to 9.6. There is no detailed analysis into why JPP has regressed so sharply, and I intend to make this into an article at some point. Dion Jordan, the 3rd overall pick to the Dolphins, was expected by many (me included) to make a big splash in his rookie year, especially considering he was going to join a Defensive Line that boasted Cameron Wake as well as Jed Odrick, Randy Starks and Olivier Vernon, not a bad crowd to get yourself in amongst. However Jordan finished with 42.50 points, including just 2 sacks and 4 QB hits. Now you may think that Jordan is a huge bust, but looking at the snap stats, he only had 339 snaps on the season and his Pass Rush Productivity was at 9.2, 24th for 4-3 DEs (min. 25% snaps). He didn’t make much of a name for himself, but its way too early to write him off. I’ll be watching him eagerly this coming season as he could be a contender to be the next young DE stud, based on his talent.

JPP was truly awful last year. The biggest IDP bust for sure – photo from wikipedia.org

 

Overachievers:

Robert Quinn is the obvious answer here. I ranked him at DL27 (DE25) in preseason. Far too low, looking back, but most websites had him in the 15-20 range, with one site ranking him at 36. Whatever his ranking, Quinn blew the house down like a fox in a pig sty, winning honourable plaudits on the way. Is his production maintainable? I would say so, he sits atop of almost every pass-rushing metric out there, and let’s face it, you’re drafting him to hit the QB, not stop the run. I do think he will struggle to keep his #1 rank at DE this coming season, because Watt is so dominant. Either way you can bet he’s one of the first players drafted in IDP leagues. Justin Tuck’s career seemed to be winding down after he posted reduced sack numbers in 3 consecutive years before this season. He bounced back with 11 sacks this season, his tied second career highest total and highest since 2010. He posted 41 tackles and 15 Tackles For Loss on the way to a top 5 finish, helped by a phenomenal finish to the season scoring 118.5 points in his final 6 games (9.5 sacks in that period.) I would be wary of expecting these numbers next year, Tuck turns 31 in May and we aren’t even sure if he will remain with the Giants next year (though signs point to a return). Tuck will have been an excellent draft steal, but expect him to be overvalued next year. Those last 6 games really pumped up his numbers. Other players I was pleasantly surprised by were Tampa’s Adrian Clayborn, Miami’s Olivier Vernon and Minnesota’s Brian Robison.

 

Summary:

A big change in the top ten from last year (Only 3 returners) has made the top 10 DEs a whole lot younger. This group could be a new generation of dominant pass rushers and they have all made a big step up. QB Hits and TFLs are just as important as Sacks in terms of predicting future performance, as they show us how disruptive DEs are. The difference between a QB hit and a sack is 4 points, but in real-life terms it can be a matter of milliseconds. When drafting DEs you have to look for big sack totals, as relying on tackles and tackles for loss just doesn’t bring enough reward in terms of points. Every NFL team needs an effective pass rusher to lead their defensive line, and fantasy is no different. Owning a top DE is just as important as owning a

 

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