The next segment of my IDP breakouts this season looks at the defensive ends, and it will look like a broken record – because this list features only second-year players. The defensive end position isn’t as deep as linebacker and dependent on your league’s scoring setting, DE could be the most important position to build your IDP unit around.
Many will say, including me, that LBs are the foundation of a good roster. Although that may be true, there are far more elite LBs than there are DEs. In this piece, I’ll give you a couple who have the upside to flirt with being elite DEs in IDP.
Let’s get this party started.
[am4show have=’g1;’ guest_error=’sub_message’ user_error=’sub_message’ ]
DEREK BARNETT, PHI
Barnett seems like an obvious choice as a breakout candidate and rightfully so. He’s earned it. He saw 43% (506) of the snaps in his rookie season and provided 24 quarterback pressures and delivered seven sacks. Barnett was mainly a nickel pass rusher as nearly 75% of his snaps were pass rushing situations and we should look forward to an increased role this season.
Barnett finished as the DE49 last season. Will he make the leap into the top 25? That’s his ceiling – but the cards have to go in his favor. The Eagles will still rotate their defensive line, but they lost Vinny Curry and Chris Long is another year older. They also brought in Michael Bennett from the Seahawks and drafted Josh Sweat from FSU, so we have to temper the breakout a little. To put it in perspective, Brandon Graham finished DE14 last season and led the team in snaps with 662. Curry leaves 525 snaps behind and although Bennett will be 32, he never played less than 80% of the snaps with the Seahawks.
With the stellar play on the field though, I have no doubt Barnett will make it tough for the coaches to take him off. Let’s say his snap count increases by 100, which would give him about 600 snaps. In that case, yes; he can absolutely make his way into the top 25 given he’s productive. The arrow is pointing up for Barnett in dynasty leagues and this might be the last time you can acquire him for a decent price.
TARELL BASHAM, IND
Be on the lookout for Basham this season with the Colts moving back to a 4-3 defensive scheme. He played out of position in his rookie year as an outside linebacker and had almost no value in IDP leagues. Now that he has the DE tag, he will make an appearance on the IDP landscape.
Basham was drafted in the third round of the 2017 draft from Ohio University. He tallied 24.5 tackles for loss and 15 sacks over his last two seasons there and added 71 QB Pressures. Basham stood out on film because of his motor and bull rush. He has to improve in other areas but has upside if he can rack up around 60% of the snaps.
Basham only saw 220 snaps in his rookie year but his role will increase this season and he’ll have a good chance to lock down a starting DE spot opposite Jabaal Sheard. The Colts did draft Kemoko Turay and Tyquan Lewis but the first is a situational pass rusher and the latter is better on early downs. Basham will have every opportunity in camp. His main competition is John Simon but there’s a possibility we’ll see him move back to LB and take care of the SAM position.
Basham makes for a good depth piece in deep leagues and there’s a good chance he’s sitting on your waiver wire. If you have someone you’re on the fence about, flipping him for Basham could pay off.
TAKKARIST MCKINLEY, ATL
The 26th overall pick in the 2017 draft, McKinley made his presence felt in limited snaps during his rookie campaign. He saw roughly 40% of the snaps (including the playoffs) and generated 31 QB pressures. For good measure, in both playoff games, he saw 50% of the snaps.
It’s no surprise McKinley would showcase flashes of getting after the QB. In his last season at UCLA, he recorded 61 tackles, 18 TFL, and ten sacks. I believe this production will match in the NFL sooner than later.
There’s no denying his ability to get after the QB and he’s pegged to start opposite Vic Beasley this season. I’d want to see McKinley’s snaps jump to about 60% but I have no doubt if it’s around 55%, he’d still put together a solid season and improve on his 26-tackle, six-sack rookie campaign. I will not be surprised if he gets at least nine sacks in 2018. McKinley can make his mark.
I would want McKinley as my DE3 heading into the season. He’ll become more than a bye-week filler and should be available to acquire on the cheap side in trades. You could even get him as a throw-in in some packaged deals. As long as his shoulder issues are minor and won’t hinder his production, the time to buy is now.
CHARLES HARRIS, MIA
Let’s face it. The Dolphins are going to have a tough time replacing Cameron Wake once he hangs it up but drafting Harris 22nd overall in the 2017 draft was a start. Harris produced 16 sacks and 30 TFLs in his last two years at Missouri. And although he only put together 19 tackles and two sacks in situational action as a rookie, the arrow is pointing up.
Harris played 496 snaps as a rookie and generated 32 QB pressures. Although it only resulted in two sacks, we know he can get to the quarterback and in due time, the sacks will pile up. Wake is still there but expected to take a lesser role this season (he played 610 snaps last year). William Hayes is still on board, and he’s solid against the run. Lastly, the Dolphins traded for Robert Quinn this off-season and he’ll go back to the DE position. It looks crowded, but Harris has all the opportunity in the world to lock down one DE position. I’m expecting Quinn to start on the other side.
Let’s say Wake and Harris switch snap counts this season and Harris plays in 600+ snaps. That will bode well for the youngster and will be his chance to provide more QB pressures and turn them into sacks. If that is the case, I’m penciling in Harris for at least ten sacks this season. It’s a big jump from two but it can be done, especially if the Dolphins get creative on the defensive line.
The IDP community seems to be on the fence on Harris but I’m here to tell you that you’ll be getting a rising DE along with high upside if you’re able to buy cheap.
JORDAN WILLIS, CIN
Entering his second season, Willis is expected to enter training camp as a starting end with Carlos Dunlap and see an increased role. Willis tested well at the Combine, especially in the three-cone drill (95 percentile) and posted a 4.5-second 40-yard dash. He was also solid against the run as he made 18 stops and posted a positive 5.4 grade from PFF in college.
The Bengals have made some defensive adjustments as well that will help Willis. Firstly, Carl Lawson made the move back to LB (however, I won’t rule him out getting snaps at DE because he’s turning into a disruptive pass rusher). Secondly, they drafted Sam Hubbard out of Ohio State. He might look like a threat to the job, but Dunlap becomes a free agent after this season – something to keep an eye out on.
Willis played the most among the defensive line against the run, saw a total of 360 snaps (31%) and added 11 QB pressures. I expect him to improve big time in both sacks and pressures as he produced 20 sacks and 31.5 TFL his last two seasons at Kansas State University. His focus during camp will be to work on improving pass rushing moves. It’ll be hard for the Bengals to take him off the field once he becomes consistent there.
Willis is definitely on the rise. His role will be increased and he will be close to becoming a relevant DE IDP on a weekly basis. His upside in dynasty is a top-20 DE. If he puts it all together, he has a shot at replicating Dunlap and sneaking into the top-15 discussion one step at a time.
- IDP Rookie Review: Week Two - September 21, 2019
- IDP Linebacker Breakout Candidates - July 24, 2019
- New Faces, New Places: IDP Linebackers - March 17, 2019