Dynasty League Football


2022 IDP Rookie Review: Edge Rushers

We provide a bumper breakdown of how every rookie edge rusher performed this season.

Kayvon Thibodeaux

It’s the time of year when I – and probably a lot of fantasy players – just want to reset from the grind of weekly waiver wire runs and lineup setting, and enjoy the pageantry of the NFL playoffs before going into draft prospect mode. Before turning the page to the 2023 rookies though, it makes sense to look back at the 2022 class and examine their dynasty futures after one season.

Consider the typical disclaimers: these rookies aren’t finished products, and we are often surprised by year-two breakouts. On the flip side, the trajectory of player development is not always positive. Sometimes in addition to off-season development, stagnation or regression, scheme and/or role changes, or player valuations can make a big difference in a player’s production and outlook. At the time of this writing, we have coaching turnover (head coach and/or defensive coordinator) in Arizona, Atlanta, Carolina, Cleveland, Denver, Houston, Indianapolis, Miami, Minnesota and New Orleans, and general manager changes in Arizona and Tennessee.

In short, I’m not hitching my reputation to these rankings looking the same post-2023.

For this rookie review series, I’ll start with the edge rushers, then move to interior linemen, linebackers, and finally safeties. We enjoyed a great rookie cornerback class in 2022, but corners simply don’t carry dynasty value from year-to-year, so I don’t pay them much mind when looking through a dynasty lens.

Before getting into the rankings and brief reviews, I think it makes sense to examine which metrics should be taken into account not just for rookies, but defensive linemen in general.

Statistically Speaking: How Do We Measure Effective Defensive Linemen?

Most defensive statistics are a bit subjective, and I realize that most people prefer the Pro Football Focus (PFF) data. But grades and other PFF metrics are not freely available, so most statistical credit in this article goes to Pro Football Reference (PFR) – which uses Sportradar data – for quarterback hits, tackles for loss, and missed tackles.

A lot of people have settled on PFF pressures (sacks, quarterback hits and hurries, combined) as the best measure of pass rush effectiveness, so I’ve included that number here. There’s some statistical variance in PFF and “official“ sack totals, as well as PFF’s quarterback hits and Sportradar quarterback knockdown totals – though they are similarly defined and not too far apart in season totals for individual players.

The big difference in PFF pressures and the pressure number you find freely on PFR lies in the number of hurries. PFF says its number is based on when a quarterback’s throw is affected, or he’s moved off his spot. PFR says its hurry metric is determined by the quarterback throwing the ball earlier than intended or being chased out of the pocket. Is there a difference? There must be, and PFF’s measurement is much more liberal. For example, Nick Bosa is credited with 41 hurries by PFF, and nine by Sportradar (via PFR). And before you rush to PFF’s side, consider PFF credits Jerry Hughes with 49 hurries, while Sportradar gives him seven. If you polled our good IDP population on which number is most accurate for Bosa, my assumption (and I hate assuming) is that most people would side with 41. And if you did the same for Hughes, most people would choose seven.

Before anyone gets upset I’m not knocking any site’s measurements, grades or scores. If PFF pressures or grades or pass rush win percentage rates are the cat’s meow for you, run with it. There are others too; last off-season, NFL.com’s Nick Shook used Next Gen Stats to develop a look at the top “disruptors“ from 2021, and that seems intriguing. I’m a bit of a simpleton when it comes to statistical metrics, and I side with what my eyes tell me makes a defensive lineman effective: making plays in the backfield. And for me, I like getting hands on the quarterback, or making a tackle that results in a loss of yards.

And that’s how I came up with the “plays in the backfield“ score. Apologies to anyone who already uses this metric; I haven’t seen it out there. It’s not my data. And perhaps it’s overly simplistic: quarterback hits plus tackles for loss, divided by snaps and multiplied by 100. It removes the subjectivity of sacks and the wide variance in what determines a hurry, and includes a measure for getting into the backfield to disrupt run plays. And, to boot, it’s freely available data on PFR.

If you want to see how this plays out at the edge position in 2022, the top ten (500 snaps minimum) looks like this:

  1. Nick Bosa, SF (8.98)
  2. Josh Sweat, PHI (6.47)
  3. Montez Sweat, WAS (5.75)
  4. Myles Garrett, CLE (5.39)
  5. Maxx Crosby, LV (5.25)
  6. Denico Autry, TEN (5.08)
  7. Za’Darius Smith, MIN (5.06)
  8. Carl Lawson, NYJ (4.98)
  9. Matthew Judon, NE (4.88)
  10. Trey Hendrickson, CIN (4.77)

Examples of players in the bottom ten (there are rookies among this group, and you’ll see them later in the article) include Carolina’s Yetur Gross-Matos (1.77), Atlanta’s Adetokunbo Ogundeji (0.73) and Chicago’s Al-Quadin Muhammad (0.66). I doubt anyone would be surprised by their inclusion.

If you just wanted to see rankings, sorry for the long explanation on why a “plays in the backfield“ score is included, and what it is.

One final note: I grouped defensive ends and outside linebackers. I’m in leagues that use “true position“ designations, and in leagues that have scoring systems that value outside linebackers, and in leagues where outside linebackers have little value. You’ll have to adjust what’s below based on your individual league setup.

Tier One: Elite Assets

We have a couple of edge rushers with elite potential in this class, but I’m not ready to include either of them with the likes of Micah Parsons, Nick Bosa, Maxx Crosby, Myles Garrett, T.J. Watt, Brian Burns, Jaelan Phillips, Josh Allen, Danielle Hunter and Rashan Gary.

Tier Two: Current or Future Fantasy Starters

The edges in this tier have weekly starting fantasy upside as Edge1s or Edge2s. Depending on your depth they may be matchup-based starts or sits, but they certainly have nice value as dynasty IDP assets.

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2022 IDP Rookie Review: Edge Rushers
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