2022 Positional Tracker: Defensive Linemen


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2022 Positional Tracker: Defensive Linemen

The Fantasy Points staff is covering every major offensive transaction from the 2022 off-season in our Off-season Tracker articles. We broke down all the important free agency signings and trades from a fantasy perspective in articles sorted by position. The articles are ordered by players changing teams ("New Homes") and by players sticking with their 2021 teams ("Staying Put"). The players are also ordered by their potential fantasy impact for the 2022 season in each section. Be sure to also check out Graham Barfield’s “Fantasy Fallout” pieces on the biggest transactions of the off-season.

New Homes

Chandler Jones (LV, 31) — Jones moves back to DE as he heads to Las Vegas on a three-year contract worth $51 million.

Fantasy Points: Traditional IDP leaguers, rejoice! Jones has been one of the most dominant edge rushers in recent years, including his 41-tackle/11-sack 2021 campaign. Much of his dominance - including double-digit sacks in every full season of his career - has been wasted as an OLB, but Jones should be a DE again like his early days as a Patriot. At 31, Jones isn’t likely to hit that 13-17 sack range of his prime years, but he’s still playing at a high level and should get plenty of help playing across from Maxx Crosby.

Von Miller (Buf, 32) — Miller signed a six-year, $120 million contract with the Super Bowl-hopeful Bills.

Fantasy Points: Traditional IDP leaguers, rejoice (err, again)! Miller is finally DL-eligible as he moves to the stacked Bills defense and likely will be listed as a DE instead of the OLB he’s been his whole career. He’s 32, but he was on pace for double-digit sacks again last year once he moved to the Rams, including an impressive playoff run. The downside is that he will likely be in a heavy D-line rotation, as that has been the successful Buffalo D model during their recent run. That will limit Miller’s tackle floor, but a 35-40 tackle/8-10 sack season is within his grasp.

Haason Reddick (Phi, 28) — The Eagles make a splash, landing one of the top pass rushers with a three-year contract worth $45 million ($30 million guaranteed).

Fantasy Points: Reddick is the brightest star in a trend of converting WILL/SAM LBs into EDGE players. Granted, Bill Belichick has been doing this for years (Rob Ninkovich comes to mind), but no one foresaw the failed off-ball LB Reddick turning in two dominant edge-rushing seasons in a row. Reddick posted 131 tackles and 23.5 sacks over the last two seasons and will join one of the more talented and deep D-lines in the game. The Eagles hadn’t been able to find their next Brandon Graham. They’re hoping they just did in Reddick.

Jacob Martin (NYJ, 27) — Martin heads to the Meadowlands on a three-year deal worth $13.5 million.

Fantasy Points: Martin’s peripherals indicate he’s got considerable upside. He had just 4 sacks last season in his first year as a starter, but he had 24 pressures. That means he should have had closer to 6-8 sacks. Robert Saleh’s defense is more of an attacking defense and should give Martin more opportunities for sacks and big plays (particularly playing next to Quinnen Williams). If Martin can eclipse if 698 snaps from last year, he could end up a solid DL2.

Za’Darius Smith (Min, 30) — Smith spurns his previous two teams to sign with the Minnesota Vikings (for three years, $42 million.

Fantasy Points: Smith brings his double-digit sack prowess to a re-tooled Minnesota D-line after almost signing with his first team (Baltimore) and almost signing with his last team (Green Bay). Playing opposite Danielle Hunter boosts the production of even average edge rushers, much less a player averaging 13 sacks per season his first two years with the Packers (Smith played just 1 game last season due to injury). Smith also carries significant tackle production, posting between 45 and 55 tackles in his last three healthy seasons. Assuming Minnesota remains a 4-3 defense, this will be the first time Smith will receive DL-eligibility in traditional leagues, shooting him up the DL boards heading into 2022.

Chase Winovich (Cle, 26) — The Patriots traded Winovich to the Browns for LB Mack Wilson.

Fantasy Points: Just 26, Winovich has the potential for a breakthrough on a new team. New England’s defense is one of the harder to adapt to, and Winovich had been nothing more than a role player for them. After registering 48 tackles and 5.5 sacks on 58% usage in 2020, Winovich backslid into Bill Belichick’s doghouse in 2021. He played just 113 snaps (14%) and didn’t register a sack. Now with a chance to play a ton more snaps - and doing it while offenses focus exclusively on Myles Garrett - Winovich will get a chance to show he belongs in the NFL (and in your lineups). Whether he cashes in on that chance remains to be seen.

Yannick Ngakoue (Ind, 27) — The Raiders traded Ngakoue to the Colts for CB Rock Ya-Sin.

Fantasy Points: Remember when Ngakoue was playing hardball with Jacksonville because they wouldn’t pony up a lucrative new deal? Well, for once, the Jags were right. Ngakoue heads to his fifth team in three years and is now just a 7-9 sack guy with almost no tackle floor. Playing next to DeForest Buckner should help some, but he’s played next to some studs on Baltimore, Minnesota, and Las Vegas and it didn’t seem to make much of a difference.

Others Changing Teams

Randy Gregory (Den, 30) — It’s a five-year contract worth $70 million with $28 million guaranteed for Gregory, but he’s moving to OLB and has been an inconsistent player for fantasy so far.

Harrison Phillips (Min, 26) — Phillips inks a three-year contract worth $19.5 million and should play more snaps in Minnesota than the heavily-rotating Buffalo D-line he came from.

Al-Quadin Muhammad (Chi, 28) — The former Colt inks a 2-year contract worth $10 million after DT Larry Ogunjobi failed his physical.

Dante Fowler (Dal, 28) — Fowler signs a 1-year deal with Dallas. He had one impact season back in 2019 but his otherwise disappointing career would normally make him an afterthought. However, color me intrigued that he’s going to a strong D-line and will be DL-eligible again.

Shelby Harris (Sea, 31) — Denver traded Harris to Seattle as part of the Russell Wilson deal.

Matt Ioannidis (Car, 28) — The former Washingtonian moves to a D-line that might let him play more snaps, signing a 1-year contract worth $5.9 million.

Jarran Reed (GB, 30) — The Packers add the “tons of potential” DT Reed on a 1-year contract worth $7 million.

Foley Fatukasi (Jax, 27) — Jacksonville signed Fatukasi to a three-year contract worth $30 million with $20 million guaranteed.

Sebastian Joseph-Day (LAC, 27) — The former Ram stays in Los Angeles but changes jerseys due to a 3-year contract worth $24 million from the Chargers.

Quinton Jefferson (Sea, 29) — Reunites with the Seahawks for two years, $9.5 million.

Austin Johnson (LAC, 28) — Signed with the Los Angeles Chargers for two years, $14 million.

Uchenna Nwosu (Sea, 26) — Nwosu (two years, $20 million) has some upside on a rebuilt Seahawks D-line.

Kerry Hyder (SF, 31) — Hyder returns to San Fran on a 1-year contract worth $1.5 million with $750,000 in sack incentives.

Adren Key (Jax, 26) — Key moves to Jacksonville for a 1-year contract worth $3 million ($1.5 million base and signing bonus).

Solomon Thomas (NYJ, 26) — Thomas is now a J-E-T, signing a 1-year contract worth $2.25 million with $1.91 million guaranteed.

Staying Put

Harold Landry III (Ten, 26) — Landry re-signed with Tennessee for five years, $87.5 million.

Fantasy Points: For the first few seasons, Landry had been toying with us. Flashing either his high tackles or his big plays, he was not quite useful as an LB, nor as an EDGE. But 2021 saw him put it all together. With 12 sacks and 75 tackles, he was a monster EDGE and simultaneously a solid LB2. The Titans will hope to have a repeat of this hybrid production for the next few years, and we would like nothing more than to see that as well.

Emmanuel Ogbah (Mia, 29) — Miami keeps one of its better pass rushers on a four-year contract worth $65 million with $32 million guaranteed.

Fantasy Points: After a non-eventful start to his career in KC as a role player, Ogbah found his legs when he moved to Miami two years ago. Since then, he’s posted almost identical seasons of 9 sacks and 41 tackles (42 in 2020). Ogbah has a decent tackle floor, but his big plays have turned him into a valuable fantasy asset. Ogbah’s 9 sacks last season paired nicely with his 12 PD and 9 TFL.

Charles Harris (Det, 27) — Detroit retains Harris on a two-year contract worth $14 million.

Fantasy Points: It took five seasons and three teams, but Harris finally funneled his first-round skillset into meaningful production as a Lion. After failing to break 25 tackles or 4 sacks in any prior season, Harris posted 65 tackles and 7.5 sacks in 2021. As a DL, that’s top-30 production. Now, the Lions have to hope this wasn’t a fluke.

Others Staying Home

B.J. Hill (Cin, 27) — Hill re-signed with the Bengals for 3 years, $30 million.

Derek Barnett (Phi, 27) — Oh ye of never more than 6.5 sacks in a season has re-signed on a two-year contract worth $14 million with $5.5 million guaranteed.

Maliek Collins (Hou, 27) — Collins stays in Houston with a two-year contract worth $17 million with $8.5 million guaranteed.

Fletcher Cox (Phi, 32) — The career Eagle stays in Philly on 1-year contract worth $14 million.

William Gholston (TB, 31) — 1-year contract worth $4.5 million with $3 million guaranteed.

Justin has been holding down the IDP fort for John Hansen and the crew since 2015. In addition to projections and articles, he also hosts an all-IDP podcast called “The IDP Corner,” where he is joined by his fellow FantasyPoints IDP contributor Thomas Simons, along with other special guests.