With the 2016 fantasy season over and done with, I decided to look back at each defensive position and publish my top 20 players at each. Let’s focus on the defensive ends here! Also check out the defensive tackles here.
20. Muhammad Wilkerson, New York Jets – One of three NY Jets in this top 20, Wilkerson once again tackled well, but his sack totals dropped from 12 in 2015 to 4.5 in 2016.
19. Kyle Williams, Buffalo Bills – The 11-year man still has what it takes, at least in 2016, posting 64 combined tackles and 4.5 sacks for the Bills defense.
18. Mario Addison, Carolina Panthers – Addison started the 2016 season slowly, but then got hot, registering 8 sacks in his final 7 games played.
17. Sheldon Richardson, New York Jets – Richardson had a tumultuous 2016. Trade rumors, substance issues, and benchings aside, he still finished with 63 total tackles.
16. Frank Clark, Seattle Seahawks – Clark may have taken the reigns as the next star defender in Seattle. In his 2nd year, he popped for 47 tackles and 10 sacks.
15. Joey Bosa, San Diego/Los Angeles Chargers – Bosa dominated his rookie campaign. In fact, 17 TFLs and 10.5 sacks in 12 games are Watt type stats. 2017 should be fun for JB.
14. Cameron Wake, Miami Dolphins – Even at 34 years old, Wake can still get after the QB. He had 12 sacks and 5 forced fumbles during the 2016 season.
13. Cliff Avril, Seattle Seahawks – The pass rusher from Purdue had another double-digit sack season, totaling 11.5 in 2016 and 73 for his 9-year career.
12. DeForest Buckner, San Francisco 49ers – Buckner is the top rookie on the list with a great rookie campaign, tallying 74 tackles and 6 sacks in 15 games.
11. Leonard Williams, New York Jets – The 2nd year stud demonstrated why he was considered the top player in the 2015 draft, combining for 68 tackles and 7 sacks.
10. Akiem Hicks, Chicago Bears – Hicks had a breakout year for Chicago in 2016, producing career highs in tackles, TFLs, FF, sacks, and 2 pass defenses.
9. Brandon Graham, Philadelphia Eagles – Graham finally got to start all 16 games in 2016, and he proved to be a playmaker, totaling 59 tackles and contributing 5.5 sacks.
8. Carlos Dunlap, Cincinnati Bengals – Dunlap was a consistent producer for the Bengals this year, getting at least half a sack in 8 games, and a pass defense in 9 games.
7. Everson Griffen, Minnesota Vikings – The former Trojan had a stellar 2016 with 48 total tackles and 8 sacks. Griffen has averaged over 10 sacks per year since 2014.
6. Jason Pierre-Paul, New York Giants – JPP had monster games in weeks 11 & 12 (12 total tackles & 5.5 sacks). Outside of that, he was average early and got injured late.
5. Cameron Jordan, New Orleans Saints – Jordan’s sacks were down slightly, but his 40 solo tackles were a career high. All told, he was a top 5 DE in 2016.
4. Olivier Vernon, New York Giants – After signing a big contract to play for the Giants, Vernon lit up the stat sheet with 16 tackles for loss and 8 sacks.
3. Danielle Hunter, Minnesota Vikings – At 22 years old, Hunter put together 56 combined tackles and 12.5 sacks, making his long-term potential enormous.
2. Calais Campbell, Arizona Cardinals – Campbell’s 2016 was one of his best seasons. The veteran’s 8 sacks and 6 pass defenses were both 2nd best of his 9-year career.
1. Khalil Mack, Oakland Raiders – Mack had a fantastic year at DE. His 11 sacks, 9 takeaways (FRs, FFs, INTs) and 73 combined tackles add up to him being #1 in 2016.
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