Let’s get straight to the names that matter….And we’re done. I’m only kidding but there really isn’t much in the way of breakout sophomore DE’s for 2015. Lots of fantasy articles this time of year cheerlead for a few guys who “look great in camp.” I have to tell you, I look at the second year defensive ends and I don’t see it.
Unlike a lot of other positions, DE doesn’t change much year to year. These guys last close to a decade — forever in fantasy terms.
Take the case of Stephon Tuitt, a second round pick for the Steelers and the first defensive end off the NFL Draft board in 2014. There’s high hopes for him in Pittsburgh yet despite appearing in every game last season, he found the QB once — in Week 16 versus the Chiefs when he also forced a fumble. The guy is dynasty rosterable on talent alone but temper expectations that this guy will step in and produce for your squad.
Demarcus Lawrence is another big name out there but simply because he plays for the Cowboys with lots of other talent around him. He did appear in 6 games in 2014 after recovering from a broken foot but his 13.75 fantasy points didn’t even equal Tuitt’s one big game against Kansas City. Will the additions of Greg Hardy and Randy Gregory help him improve on his zero sacks or just cut into his playing time?
Kony Ealy is the only DE drafted in the first two rounds I haven’t mentioned yet and I have saved the best for last, in his case. He managed three sacks for the Panthers in 2014 — all in the second half of the season — and is worth taking a risk on that he might jump to the next level if he can put a full season together.
At 33.50 fantasy points, Ealy was the highest scoring rookie DE of 2014… ranking in at 94th among all DE’s. Fantasy Sharks does project him as a low end DE1 and there’s plenty of reason to believe that will happen.
The best you might hope for out of this class is stashing the low cost Taylor Hart types — a guy in the Philadelphia Eagles rotation who could develop into producing tons of grunt work for a D that’s on the field a lot. Viking’s 2014 third rounder Scott Crichton is another guy who could fill this role.
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