If you have never taken part in an Individual Defensive Players league, or you simply like to mine gems in the later rounds on draft day, we have done the homework for you. We've got a handful of special players with big-time potential who might tip the scales in your favor.
Mincey getting more help
Jurrell Casey, Tennessee Titans
Casey played in all 16 games, of his rookie season in 2011 starting 15. Casey racked up 52 TKL (39 solo) with 2.5 sacks, one pass defended and a forced fumble with a recovery. Those statistics are nothing compared to what he can do.
Former NFL pass rusher and current Titans pass-rushing consultant Keith Millard recently compared Casey to former NFL standout Warren Sapp. Casey's 2011 camp was abbreviated, and Tennessee was recovering from losing sack-generating D-line coach Jim Washburn. Casey is known for his run stopping but with a full prep program should certainly add to his sack total this season while being turned loose in getting at the QB. Look for a big increase in tackles, too.
Lamarr Houston, Oakland Raiders
Houston took a step back in his sophomore NFL season. While his tackle numbers were up, his sack totals dropped from five in 2010 to just one in 2011. Houston is worth a roster spot in the final rounds on draft day due to his potential.
Oakland is incorporating more 3-4 alignments, though, which might complicate his sack upside, but he should have more chances to record tackles in those formations. Still, he has the athleticism to get to the QB from either setup. He will also face some slow-footed AFC West quarterbacks like the Kansas City Chiefs' Matt Cassel and the San Diego Chargers' Philip Rivers. Each of those teams has issues along their offensive lines, which might mean Houston can feast in divisional games.
Jeremy Mincey, Jacksonville Jaguars
Over the past two seasons, Mincey has racked up 13 sacks for the Jaguars. Fantasy owners who have done their homework might not even consider Mincey a true sleeper. However, he has not reached his ceiling, and the Jaguars will be focusing even more on the pass rush.
He is considered a clear-cut starter on a defensive line still trying to figure out its identity. That's good and bad news. Initially, he could face double-teams until someone else steps up. Look for Mincey to be more effective once rookie Andre Branch settles in and can help take pressure off Mincey. Once that happens, a double-digit sack total is not only within reach, it's likely.
Don't forget the 4-3 MLBs....
About Daniel Dobish
Daniel is a Hot Off the Wire Analyst who joined the KFFL staff in 2010. He is a veteran of the fantasy industry dating back to 1999, with stops at CBSSports.com, The Sports Forecaster, OPENSports.com and RotoExperts.com. His work has also appeared on NFL.com and Yahoo.com. Daniel was named the 2011 Fantasy Golf Writer of the Year, 2011 Fantasy Racing Writer of the Year, and he was nominated for the 2011 Fantasy Hockey Writer of the Year. Daniel lives in North Carolina with his wife and two sons.
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