2022 Fantasy Football IDP Rookie Defensive Linemen

by Andrew Barton
2022 Fantasy Football Key Offseason Moves

Welcome to my 2022 Fantasy Football IDP Rookie Defensive Linemen!

Every year come draft day there are two positions that often produce some of the biggest headlines. Quarterbacks and defensive linemen. There is no denying the hype around star pass rushers like Myles Garrett or Nick Bosa. This year’s rookie class does not disappoint with some highly touted players getting ready to bring down everyone’s favorite quarterbacks.

While linebackers remain the most valuable position in any given IDP league, these rookie defensive linemen could very well make a big impact and finish as high-end scorers at their position.

Given that most IDP leagues have their own unique scoring format, I used ESPN and Fantasy Pros default settings as a reference when regarding players’ Fantasy points.

2022 Fantasy Football IDP Rookie Defensive Linemen

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Aidan Hutchinson, DE, Detroit Lions

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Aidan Hutchinson spent his 2020 season recovering from a fracture in his leg that required surgery. Prior to his injury and the COVID pandemic he had been a solid sophomore who showed flashes of upside. Thankfully, once healthy the Michigan star dominated college football to the tune of 14 sacks, 16.5 tackles for loss, and two forced fumbles.

Hutchinson is a technically sound player who can likely play in any defensive front scheme. He has great hands that not only help him move linemen out of his way but ensure he is able to wrap up and bring down ball carriers. Lastly, he plays with a high motor. Hutchinson’s hustle is never in question whether he is rushing the passer, dropping into coverage, or pursuing a running back. In some cases, desire can outproduce raw athletic ability and I believe that is the case with Hutchinson.

While he wasn’t overly impressive in the 40-yard dash or vertical jump, Hutchinson led all defensive ends in both the 3-cone and 20-yard shuttle at the combine. At the end of the day, he plays with great lateral quickness and knows how to bull rush blockers along the edge. With the Lions ranking last in quarterback knockdowns and close to last in overall quarterback pressures, Hutchinson is the perfect blend of talent and opportunity. I believe Hutchinson will outperform the highest scoring rookie defensive linemen from 2021 Gregory Rousseau. 50 total tackles, 7 sacks, and a few forced fumbles are not out of the question.

Travon Walker, DE, Jacksonville Jaguars

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Hutchinson was considered by me and others to be the safest prospect along the defensive line. Instead of banking on the relatively high floor of the Michigan standout, the Jaguars decided to go all in on outstanding athletic potential. Statistically speaking Hutchinson practically doubled the number of sacks, tackles, and tackles for loss that Walker had. But, after a dominant combine performance, Walker finds himself in the spotlight as the number one overall pick.

His average numbers may be tied to the fact he played alongside four other first-round picks. It could also mean that Walker simply isn’t the most refined player at this stage of his career. While I do believe Walker will have a good career given his athletic gifts; I am unsure if he can truly take over games at the line of scrimmage.

I see a player who will routinely match his college production. With that said his college numbers aren't eye-popping at roughly 40 tackles and six sacks across 13 games at Georgia. Not necessarily bad production, just not the standard of the top pick in the draft.

Kayvon Thibodeaux, DE, New York Giants

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The Giants may have landed the best player in this year’s draft with the fifth pick in Kayvon Thibodeaux. That is how many, including myself, view the passer rusher out of Oregon. When his game is on, he can dominate opposing teams as he did against UCLA when he posted 9 total tackles, two sacks, and a forced fumble. Unfortunately, the biggest concern for Thibodeaux isn’t related to his ability but his effort on the field.

On paper, Thibodeaux may present a great mix of both Hutchinson and Walker. He has put up great stats in all of his collegiate seasons and there is still a possibility he has not maxed out his potential. Whereas Hutchinson would be my pick to be the most IDP-ready during their rookie season, Kayvon Thibodeaux may end up having the best career of the three pash rushers taken in the top five.

Overall, if the Oregon standout simply relies upon his great first step, overwhelming strength, and lateral quickness he may follow a similar career path to Jadeveon Clowney. After all during his three consecutive Pro-Bowl seasons from 2016-2018, Clowney would average out as the 10th overall defensive lineman in IDP scoring. If Thibodeaux can play with consistent intensity finishing as a top 10 defensive lineman should become the norm for a player with his potential.

George Karlaftis, DE, Kansas City Chiefs

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We have covered the three of the biggest names that were called on draft night. George Karlaftis, although a first-round pick, is likely a much bigger mystery to many. Admittedly there are question marks around the Greek-born lineman out of Purdue.

First, there will be those concerned with the drop-off in stats from his surprisingly strong freshman season to his final year in the Big 10. After missing much of his sophomore year due to a leg injury, Karlaftis suffered a notable drop-off in tackles, tackles for loss, and sacks. In IDP formats defensive linemen need to maintain solid sack numbers to make up for the lower tackle totals they put up. Dipping under 40 total tackles and not even hitting five sacks in his last year of college play doesn’t hold up great under the NFL microscope.

Regardless, I believe there is some sleeper potential here. Karlaftis looks poised to start alongside Frank Clark who will likely draw attention away from the rookie. Although Karlaftis isn’t the most agile pass rusher he plays hard and has the size to compete at the NFL level. He also has shown a solid IQ in regards to reading and stopping the run which could translate to decent tackle numbers. There is concern about his overall speed and if he will be able to seal the edge and contain quicker running backs and mobile quarterbacks.

Overall, I think the Purdue product has the toughness to make an impact along the line. He may take a year or two to firmly solidify his role but in a few years, he could put up numbers similar to Arik Armstead or Derek Wolfe.

Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, not everyone can be Aaron Donald. Yet, having top-tier linemen can be what separates teams in an IDP league. There will be a learning curve for many of the rookies listed above. They will no longer simply be bigger and faster than the competition. Thankfully, I feel confident that in a few years at least one or two of these players will likely anchor your defense in the trenches. Don’t hesitate to grab them in a dynasty league and reap the rewards for years to come.

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