I probably sound like a broken record year after year when you read my rookie DL write-ups but truth is, most rookie DEs just aren’t put into positions to help fantasy owners in year one…some take even longer if they ever have real fantasy value. Well this year, the way I’m describing the rookie DL class is by saying SHH! Yes, SHH. No, not the finger in front of my mouth Shh as in stay quiet…SHH as in STASH, HOLD and HOPE! Joey Bosa going to the Chargers’ as the 1st DL off the board was a quick and succinct gut punch to IDP owners and Bosa’s current IDP value. He’ll likely be listed as a LB in the Chargers 3-4 (I’m not buying the coach-speak) but if not, he’ll be an after thought in most leagues even if he does play 3-4 DE. Sorry, he’s a nice player, but he’s not J.J. Watt. Why SHH? Because even if Bosa or any other of his DL brethren that are reclassified as LBs, isn’t in a good scheme fit for IDP success today, it very well could happen sooner than you think with how teams change coaches and schemes. A player for everyone to research if you don’t remember him is Aaron Kampman. He ended up going from a good situation (DL) to a bad one (LB), same with Julius Peppers and even Jared Allen. Why does the dark side seem to win so often? If they can go good to bad, a stash, hold and hope could do the opposite. So, if you have a deep roster or DTS to take advantage of, get to SHHing.
Noah Spence – DE
6’2″ 251 Eastern Kentucky
Pick 8 Round 2 (39) Buccaneers
It seems like the Bucs have needed a pass rusher forever and a day…well, with Spence they got one. He’s likely the top-scoring rookie DL this year but at best he’s a later round pick.
Redraft: In redraft leagues I’d be willing to reach for him once 15ish DEs are off the board. At best you’re more than likely looking at higher DL2 type numbers for 2016.
Dynasty: Of course we all want to find the next J.J. Watt but players like Watt don’t come around often. Spence isn’t going to give you Watt-like production this year or likely ever but mining productive DEs in dynasty is a plus. I don’t like to rely on rookies in year 1 but if your team is strong enough he’s worth a mid to late 3rd round pick in most formats. Have a DTS? Then you can afford to pull the plug and draft him a bit earlier.
At this point, honestly, I could stop writing about the DL position because the rest are truly crap shoots that should be drafted late, if even at all. So, instead of looking for value this year what you should do, if you have a deep roster or a DTS (Developmental Taxi Squad), is SHH players like Shaq Lawson*, Joey Bosa, Emmanuel Ogbah, Kevin Dodd, and DeForest Buckner.
*If I was 100% sure that Shaq Lawson would play and be listed as a DE he’d be my no brainer #1 rookie DL to own, however, all signs point to him starting at OLB in 2016.
On the DT front there is a glut of rookies but what there isn’t is an Aaron Donald. And if there isn’t an Aaron Donald or a pre-injury Geno Atkins there’s absolutely no reason whatsoever to waste a stash spot on any of these rookie DTs.
Need further proof of how little impact you get from rookie DL? Only 8, yes EIGHT, rookie DL have finished in the top 100 in DL scoring between 2013-2015. Of those 8, only one finished as a DL1 and that wasn’t even Aaron Donald. Here are those 8 along with their ranking and year drafted:
2015, Leonard Williams, 37th
2015, Malcolm Brown, 46th
2014, Aaron Donald, 21st
2013, Sheldon Richardson, 12th
2013, Ziggy Ansah, 64th
2013, Star Lotulelei, 69th
2013, Kawann Short, 94th
2013, Bennie Logan, 97th
So when it comes to rookie DL this year, don’t invest heavily because beyond taking advantage of SHH it isn’t likely to pay off the way you had hoped.