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Just like with offensive fantasy players, a good player in Individual Defensive Players (IDP) fantasy leagues can be classified by his consistency to put up solid numbers week in and week out. We all love big plays like sacks and interceptions, but when it all comes down to it, the biggest part of IDP leagues is a player's ability to record solid tackle numbers. Sexy categories like interceptions and forced fumbles are just an added bonus, as championship-caliber IDP fantasy teams are built from the ground up through the tackles column. In the world of fantasy (regardless of offense-only leagues or IDP), consistency is key - let's take a look at the consistent IDP fantasy producers from the 2007 season, and subsequently, those players who can be dubbed true fantasy all-stars.
DL: Kelly Gregg, BAL - The league leader among interior defensive linemen for Total Tackles (73), and also ranking 2nd overall among all defensive linemen only behind NY Jets DE Kenyon Coleman, Gregg had a truly amazing season. Though he started off the season fairly slow, once Week 4 came around, Gregg hit stride and never looked back. Seven times over the course of the fantasy season, Gregg found himself ranked in the Top 5 among interior defensive linemen for Total Tackles, and had 5 or more TT in nine of fifteen contests.
Honorable Mention: Pat Williams, MIN
DL: Darnell Dockett, ARI - Though Dockett may not have the most impressive Total Tackles numbers among interior defensive linemen, he still ranked in the Top 5 at the position for the category on three occasions. He had a few down weeks, which leaves room for some skepticism as to why he is listed as one of the elite fantasy football defensive linemen, however, what Dockett lacked in Total Tackles, he surely made up with in Sacks. Dockett led all interior defensive linemen with 8.0 Sacks over the course of the fantasy season, and also tallied 2 Forced Fumbles to boot.
Honorable Mention: Haloti Ngata, BAL
DL: Justin Smith, CIN - Smith was one of the lone bright spots on a porous Cincinnati defense in '07. Ranking 4th overall among defensive linemen in Total Tackles, Smith found himself among the Top 5 defensive ends in the category during four different weeks. Though his Sack numbers took a noticeable dip (only 2.0 this season), his consistency as a tackler causes him to be listed as one of fantasy football's elite. Smith had only four games throughout the season which could be classified as "poor" performances in terms of fantasy output. Nevertheless, in the games in which he was not racking up Total Tackles, Smith typically pulled through with a Sack or Pass Deflection.
Honorable Mention: Trent Cole, PHI
DL: Marques Douglas, SF - Twice this season, Douglas ranked as the top tackler among defensive ends in a given week. His numbers tailed off a bit at the end of the season, which almost goes against the encompassing theme of consistency, yet what Douglas did between Weeks 2-11 cannot be overlooked. In that span, Douglas recorded 56 Total Tackles (an average of just over 6 TT per game), and tallied 7+ Total Tackles in four contests. He finished the fantasy season with the most Solo Tackles of any defensive lineman (55), and also ranked 5th overall at the DL position in Total Tackles (70).
Honorable Mention: Jared Allen, KC
NOTE : It is very apparent just how valuable DT Albert Haynesworth is to the Tennessee Titans. Battling a nagging hamstring injury for a good portion of the season, the Titans lost three of the four games in which Haynesworth was sidelined for. Prorated over the course of a 15-game schedule, if Haynesworth was healthy for the entire year, he potentially could have led all interior defensive linemen in Sacks and ranked in the Top 10 for Total Tackles.
Seattle DE Patrick Kerney leads all defensive linemen with 14.5 Sacks through Week 16, and has tallied 5 Forced Fumbles to boot. Yet, his tackle numbers were not very impressive (61 Total Tackles), and when Kerney was "off", he was "very off". His numbers are bit skewed because of phenomenal performances against Chicago, St. Louis and Arizona in Weeks 11, 12 and 14 respectively. In that span, Kerney recorded 9.0 of his 14.5 Sacks and 19 Total Tackles.
NY Jets DE Kenyon Coleman, the league-leader in Total Tackles among defensive linemen (81), was fairly consistent in terms of recording tackles throughout the season. However, he was sidelined for a game (vs. Miami in Week 13) and his numbers in the sexy categories were nearly nonexistent (1.5 Sacks, no Forced Fumbles, no Pass Deflections).
LB: Patrick Willis, SF - For the second straight year, an impressive rookie linebacker takes title of IDP king (in '06, it was Houston's DeMeco Ryans). There should be no doubt that once year-end awards come rolling around, Willis will be crowned the league's Defensive Rookie of the Year... and rightfully so. His propensity to make plays and record great tackle numbers (162 Total Tackles through Week 16) not only shows his effectiveness on the field, but also translated well into fantasy football. In nine of fifteen games this year, Willis tallied double-digit Total Tackles, ranking him in the Top 5 during five different weeks and leading the league in back-to-back weeks. He may not provide in the sexy categories (only 3.0 Sacks and no Interceptions on the year), but he surely makes up for it with his outrageous tackle numbers.
Honorable Mention: London Fletcher, WAS
LB: D.J. Williams, DEN - On a Denver defense that surely disappointed a lot of people this season, Williams was one of the few bright spots on this unit. At fantasy season's end, the fourth-year linebacker proved to be one of the most consistent IDP starters in the league. Williams recorded 7+ Total Tackles in an impressive thirteen contests this season, and four times he tallied double-digit tackle numbers. His 2 Forced Fumbles on the year were attractive... (Read the full article here: 2007 All-Fantasy IDP Team)