If you play fantasy football, then you and every other owner like you are looking for any and every advantage you can get on your opponents. The days of studying month old magazines or just even winging it are in the past. Owners now days are searching and studying year round and even looking at the younger side of the game, in search of the next star. If you play in devy leagues (college players), then you already know what I’m talking about. That’s where this list comes in to play for you the fantasy owner. I put together my list of the twenty-five top devy defensive players that, you need to know and watch. As with any list or article, it can vary depending on what type of league you play in.
#1 DT Ed Oliver, Houston (JR)
In what is shaping up to be a really deep and quality class of interior defensive lineman, Oliver is the cream of the crop and best DT prospect since Ndamukong Suh. Pound for pound, he’s the most dominant IDP around. He’s been a monster at every level, even when facing elite competition and that translates well at the next level.
#2 LB Khalil Hodge, Buffalo (JR)
Not quite the pass rusher that another Khalil (Mack) was when he played for Buffalo, but Hodge is a tackling machine. If Hodge can repeat 150+ tackle season and show an improved pass rush ability, he will shoot to the top of draft boards.
#3 DE Nick Bosa, Ohio State (JR)
It’s always tough to follow in your successful big bro’s footsteps, but Nick has done a great job up to this point. While he’s cut from the same mold and has a similar skill set, he is looking to forge his path to stardom. One of the nations best pass rushers will benefit greatly from a big season.
#4 DT Christian Wilkins, Clemson (SR)
A star on a d-line full of stars for the Clemson Tigers. Depending on who you ask, there are mixed reviews on which one is the best. For me, Wilkins would have been a top 15 pick in this past draft. Has the versatility to play inside at DT or outside at DE and be great at either spot.
#5 LB Devin White, LSU (JR)
A fierce hitting, heat seeking rocket that has the speed to burn. A tackle monster that not only can rush the passer, but also hold his own in pass coverage. With another great season against the elite SEC, his stock will soar.
#6 DT Dexter Lawrence, Clemson (JR)
If Wilkins is 1A, then Lawrence is 1B and its that close. This interior beast will be a monster anchor for any team at the next level. Stats don’t always show how effective interior d-linemen are, but if you watch the tape, you will see.
#7 DT Raekwon Davis, Alabama (JR)
In a class that is loaded with d-lineman, Davis is among the top. He has a freakish combination of size, speed, and athleticism. He had a breakout season last year, as he led the Crimson Tide in sacks (8½) and finished fourth in the SEC. With stars such as Jonathan Allen and Da’Ron Payne going to NFL the past two seasons, it’s now time for Raekwon to shine. A big season could shoot him into the top half of next year’s draft.
#8 LB Porter Gustin, USC (SR)
He missed most of last season with a torn biceps and a foot injury, so now is the time to buy while his stock is down. At 6’5”/255 he has the perfect size and motor to play OLB at the next level. He’s already recorded fourteen sacks, in twenty-eight games at USC. He’ll be the defensive leader for the Trojans this year and could be a top 15 pick in next year’s draft.
#9 LB Shaquille Quarterman, Miami (JR)
A starter day one as a freshman and hasn’t looked back. He’s been the defensive leader for the Hurricanes, the last two seasons. He’s quick and aggressive and has the perfect size that you want in that MLB position. Checks off all the boxes at LB and will be a day one pick, in the next draft.
#10 DE Joe Jackson, Miami (JR)
While Jackson is still a raw prospect, he has a ton of potential. He’s not huge, but he’s long and athletic. He still needs to improve and polish his game for the jump to next level. He led Miami in sacks as a freshman. Has big pass rushing abilities and a solid 2018 season will drive his stock upward.
#11 LB Anfernee Jennings, Alabama (JR)
While his sack totals don’t reflect it, he has all the tools to be a terrific pass rusher. He applies pressure consistently and has the flexibility to stand up or play with a hand in the dirt. He injured his knee versus Clemson in the College Playoffs last season, so he has to show he’s healthy and continue the trend of being the next great Bama linebacker.
#12 DE Rashan Gary, Michigan (JR)
He has a very good blend of size and speed, with the versatility to kick inside to DT. He’s a very good pass rusher but needs to improve at finishing. Has good explosion off the snap and converts speed to power with ease. Gary needs to add more pass rush moves to his arsenal.
#13 DE Montez Sweat, Mississippi State (SR)
He went from a Michigan St transfer to the SEC leader in sacks (10½) last season for the Bulldogs. He has very good burst and speed, along with good use of hands and arm length. Could play as an OLB in 3-4 schemes.
#14 FS Marvel Tell, USC (SR)
Tell has a pro-ready size, to go along with a good combination of size and speed. He can play both the free and strong safety positions. Reacts good to offenses, can cover the entire field with ease and has ball-hawking abilities. A solid senior year with drive his stock up.
#15 DE Zach Allen, Boston College (SR)
Allen was overlooked with Harold Landry on the team last season, but he’s the better of the two. He has the ideal size of a 3-4 defensive end. Highly active player, who can do a little of everything. Finished second on the team last season with 100 tackles and should lead in that category this year. A potential top 10 pick, when on his game.
#16 DE Clelin Ferrell, Clemson (SO)
One of the younger players on this list but just as talented as any. He’s very quick and athletic for his size and is a tremendous pass rusher, to be so young. He had 9½ sacks last season as a Freshman. With this being such a deep d-line class, he will most likely be a 2020 draftee.
#17 LB Joe Giles-Harris, Duke (JR)
He has above-average speed and a very good change of direction abilities. Giles-Harris has been a tackling machine, during his two seasons as a Blue Devil. He sheds off blocks extremely well and reads offenses well. As he becomes the star of the defense, his numbers will continue to improve.
#18 DE Austin Bryant, Clemson (JR)
Here is yet another d-lineman from the star-studded Clemson Tiger d-line. While he may be the fourth of this group on this list, he is just as talented. Has very good speed and closes quickly in the backfield. The question is, will he come out or stay for another year, with such a deep draft class?
#19 CB Andraez “Greedy” Williams, LSU (SO)
All you need to know is he dominated at the highest level in the best conference (SEC) in college football. Not only that, he did it as a freshman. His nickname Greedy is a perfect fit for the ball-hawking corner, who led the SEC in picks (6) and finished fourth in the country.
#20 DE Sutton Smith, Northern Illinois (JR)
One of the nation’s best pass rushers last season, as he led the country in QB pressures, along with 15 sacks. He’s a bit undersized to be a DE, according to some, but whether he plays defensive end or outside linebacker, he’s a force to be reckoned with.
#21 LB Devin Bush, Michigan (JR)
He has an amazing pursuit speed and fills the stat box routinely each week. He can do everything you want and need your linebacker to do. He’ll be a key piece to the Wolverine’s success and a strong season could catapult his stock into top ten range.
#22 CB Clifton Duck, Appalachian State (JR)
The kid doesn’t get the national attention he deserves, but he is one of the best players in the country. He is a ball-hawking corner who’s not afraid to tackle. In his twenty-six starts, he has 107 tackles, 11 interceptions, and 25 pass breakups. He’s the real deal folks!
#23 LB T.J. Edwards, Wisconsin (SR)
A big, strong and athletic linebacker, which plugs up the middle for the Badgers defense. He shows good discipline, gap awareness and is rarely out of position. He is as good in coverage as he is at stuffing the run. A solid all-around player and his stock will climb with another good year.
#24 LB Jeffrey Allison, Fresno State (JR)
This kid is a tackling machine and has an excellent range from sideline to sideline. Has a knack for making plays all over the field and fills the stat box. Still a somewhat raw prospect, but has a lot of potential.
#25 CB Julian Love, Notre Dame (JR)
He plays corner now for the Irish, but he could make a move to free safety at the next level. He’s a very good tackler, with blazing speed. He has homerun ability, on any type of return. Could be a four-year college guy, but a great season this year could change that.
Now that you’ve read my list, you are a much more prepared fantasy owner and ready to use what you’ve learned to improve your team(s). A prepared owner is a good owner, and a good owner is a winner. If you’ve not had your draft yet be sure to check out our IDP Rookie Roundup which is free! Just another way to get the advantage over your league mates. Thanks for reading my article and be sure to check out the rest of my articles.