The offensive side of Devy fantasy football gets plenty of love. Those defensive guys deserve credit, and the IDP side of Devy is constantly growing in fantasy football. Much like the offensive positions, it’s never too early to know the players for dynasty managers. The college football season is just a little over a month away. I wanted to give a breakdown of the defensive college players that should be on your rosters. This will be a three-part series breaking down all three positions for IDP fantasy football.
Will Anderson Jr, EDGE, Alabama
- 243 lbs
Anderson enters as the top DL in the 2023 draft class and is one of the best players overall. The Alabama pass rusher is coming off a monster sophomore season, and he started 15 games, recording 17.5 sacks. Anderson recorded 101 stops and 31 tackles for loss on his way to finishing fifth in the Heisman voting last season. The Crimson Tide are always loaded with talent, but Anderson is built differently. His 2021 season included the Bronco Nagurski Award, Consensus All-American, and SEC Defensive Player of the Year. Anderson is a very explosive athlete who uses his leverage and bends to destroy opposing offenses gameplans. It’s more than likely that only a quarterback or two will go ahead of Anderson in the 2023 NFL Draft. If not, he has a chance to be the first overall pick.
Nolan Smith, EDGE, Georgia
- 235 lbs
The Georgia Bulldogs had 15 players drafted in the 2022 NFL Draft. The Bulldogs never have a lack of talent, and 2022 will be no different. Smith is the next up at EDGE rusher for the Georgia defense. Nolan Smith comes in as the DL2 in this class after coming off 53 tackles, eight sacks and three forced fumbles last season. Smith is a former #1 recruit who looks very natural as a pass rusher. His explosiveness has been on display over his collegiate career. The Bulldogs’ defense gets a massive boost with him returning for his final season. Another strong season could see him selected in the top ten of the 2022 NFL Draft.
Myles Murphy, DL, Clemson
- 275 lbs
In his second season, Murphy was named Second Team All-ACC after leading the Tigers’ defense in both sacks and tackles for loss. Murphy has played in just 22 college games collecting 76 stops, 25 tackles for loss, 12 sacks, and five forced fumbles, according to sports-reference.com. The DL3 overall, Murphy has an NFL-ready frame and can play inside or outside at the next level. He is only two years removed from playing high school football and still developing as a talent. The young Clemson pass-rusher had remarkable consistency as a sophomore. Murphy collected at least three tackles in nine of ten games and recorded at least 0.5 tackles for loss in every game. The Clemson defensive line will return a talented group this year. It will come as no surprise if Murphy has another big year.
Andre Carter II, EDGE, Army
- 265 lbs
The Army Black Knights have not had a player selected in the top 100 of the NFL Draft since 1998. Carter is projected to be a first-round pick in the 2023 NFL draft after his record-setting season with 14.5 sacks. He set the school record, and only Alabama’s Anderson had more sacks last season. Carter played over 630 snaps last season, and his PFF grade (83.3) was 38th amongst 824 graded EDGE players in 2021. The Instincts and ability to set up blockers pre-snap are two of his biggest strengths. He is still developing as a complete pass rusher. He gets away with some of his unpolished skills due to his size and football IQ. If Carter puts together another season similar to 2021, he will undoubtedly be on many NFL teams’ radars entering the 2023 NFL draft.
Jalen Carter, DL, Georgia
- 310 lbs
Carter is the DL5 in this class and the first interior defensive lineman to make the list. The Georgia defensive tackle posted an 85.3 PFF grade last season, 24th among 861 interiors DL. Jalen Carter has drawn comparisons to former Alabama DT Daron Payne since 247sports.com scouted him as a five-star prospect out of Florida. The Georgia defensive line is stacked again this season. Carter looks to build on the three-sack season in 2021 in hopes of being a first-round pick like Jordan Davis was this year.
Bryan Bresee, DL, Clemson
- 300 lbs
Bresee is the product of Damascus, Maryland, and was the #1 overall prospect in the 2020 recruiting class. The Clemson defensive lineman has been often injured during his short time in college, including missing all but one game last season. Bresee has collected 5.5 sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss in just 15 games. It remains to be seen how effective he will be coming off a torn ACL last season, but his football instincts and size won’t be affected. If the Clemson lineman can stay on the field, he will turn the heads of NFL scouts and rise on draft boards. If both Bresee and Carter declare for the 2023 NFL draft, it will be a huge upgrade for IDP managers in DT-premium leagues.
Zach Harrison, DE, Ohio State
- 268 lbs
Harrison is a long-armed athlete who will test very well at the NFL combine next year. Harrison plays with good leverage and can bring a beautiful bull rush off the snap. He has produced just 7.5 sacks and 16 tackles for loss in his first three seasons in Columbus. Harrison will be looking to join former Ohio State EDGE rushers Chase Young, Joey, and Nick Bosa as high NFL draft picks.
Harrison returned for his senior season to make one last push to solidify himself as a potential day one or early day two selection. He will need a breakout season to keep the young guys behind him off the field. Harrison is very talented, and if he can find a way to produce more consistently, he will again be on the radar of IDP managers this season.
BJ Ojulari, EDGE, LSU
- 244 lbs
The LSU Tigers are no strangers to producing solid NFL talent and future IDP stars in fantasy football leagues. Ojulari is looking to join that long list of players who have made that transition from LSU to the NFL. Ojulari has collected 11 sacks in his first 20 college games while also making 70 stops and 17 tackles for loss. According to PFF, he has posted back-to-back season grades of 73.0 or higher. He continues improving his game and will likely make a huge impact this season.
The former four-star recruit is explosive and has the power to move blockers where he wants to find the ball carrier and make the tackle. I love how he tracks down the ball even when the play isn’t to his side. Dynasty managers will get more excited as this season goes on to eventually get Ojulari on their rosters in next season’s rookie draft.
Isaiah Foskey, DL, Notre Dame
- 260 lbs
Foskey is a very interesting prospect. He was recruited to play both TE and DL by colleges when he was still in high school. His size and explosiveness are things that NFL scouts and dynasty managers will be talking about all season. The Notre Dame pass rusher started all 13 games last season for the Irish. He registered 52 stops, 9.5 tackles for loss, ten sacks, and an eye-popping six forced fumbles. Foskey led the Irish in sacks last season, and he’s still learning how to play the position. He has a great chance with another strong season to be a first-round pick in next year’s NFL draft. The Notre Dame EDGE will look to continue to improve, especially against the run, so he can make his case as a complete player before he enters the 2023 NFL draft.
Zion Tupuola-Fetui, EDGE, Washington
- 260 lbs
The Washington Huskies defense gets a giant boost in 2022 with their best pass rusher Zion Tupuola-Fetui returning. ZTF will return for his fifth year at Washington after battling injuries over the past two seasons. The Hawaii native was named All-Pac-12 First Team after leading the conference in both sacks and forced fumbles in 2020. ZTF collected eight sacks in his last two seasons, brings a great understanding of leverage, and is at his best when using his power to bull rush offensive linemen. If Tupuola-Fetui can return to full health this year, he will be a fun player to watch and scout as next year’s draft approaches.
Brenton Cox, DL, Florida
- 253 lbs
Cox has been a welcome addition to the Florida Gators’ defense since transferring from Georgia in 2020. The former five-star recruit from Stockbridge, Georgia, has posted back-to-back 40+ tackle seasons and double-digit sacks in each of those seasons. In 2021, he posted a career-high eight sacks, including a four-sack performance against Florida State. Brenton Cox has finished top six in the SEC in tackles for loss in 2020 and 2021. He has finished with a PFF grade over 77 in back-to-back seasons and has shown no signs of slowing down. The Florida Gators’ pass rusher will need to show improvement to make him a household name at the next level. His lack of athleticism compared to others in this class could see him fall a bit in the draft.
Xavier Thomas, DE, Clemson
- 270 lbs
Thomas was once the number one defensive end in the 2018 recruiting class. He’s struggled with injuries and inconsistent play as a rotational lineman for the Clemson Tigers. Thomas has committed to the team and agreed to return for his senior season to improve his draft stock. Thomas has collected 13 sacks over his career with the Tigers and is looking to make a big impact this season, playing with a very talented defensive front.
The Clemson pass-rusher owns the third-highest career pass rush win rate (16.6%) among all Clemson defenders. His 73.8 PFF season grade ranked 226 out of 824 EDGE defenders last season. The two parts of his game that stick out the most are his explosion and his timing of the snap. Thomas routinely uses both of these to make a play in the backfield. Although he’s playing on a talented defense this season, if he can post a career year and stay healthy, he will be a player that IDP managers will be very intrigued by once his draft capital and landing spots are decided.
There you have it, IDP Nerds, my top 12 IDP Devy defensive lineman for the 2022 season. The rankings here will change as the season goes, but these are the top guys I am most confident in as of now. As I’ve said before, it’s never too early to start knowing the prospects that you will have a chance to add to your dynasty rosters. For those who play in IDP Devy leagues with scoring, all of these players should be household names in your leagues. Please keep a lookout in the coming weeks for the top linebackers and defensive backs as I finish up this series before the college football season starts.
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