A list of the top defensive players to draft for the 2013 fantasy football season.
1. Luke Kuechly Carolina Panthers Linebacker
|2013 Projections||View Luke Kuechly's 2013 projected stats.|
Selected with the ninth overall pick out of Boston College – after he posted an absurd 532 tackles in 38 games – Kuechly lived up to every bit of the hype during his rookie season. Despite seeing fewer than 50 snaps in four games, Kuechly finished with double-digit tackles in 10 games and at least eight in three more. The result was 165 tackles (103 solo), one sack, two interceptions and three fumble recoveries, making Kuechly the choice for top overall IDP as no one at any other position separates himself from the pack by the same margin, and high-volume tacklers are always the most consistent point producers on the defensive side of the ball.
2. James Laurinaitis St. Louis Rams Linebacker
|2013 Projections||View James Laurinaitis's 2013 projected stats.|
Laurinaitis has been an IDP beast each of his four NFL seasons, and his owners will have every reason to expect a repeat for the fifth year in a row in 2013. The former Ohio State star posted 142 tackles for the second straight season in 2012, though he raised his solo tackle total from 105 to 117 in the process, which actually signals an improvement. Laurinaitis isn't just an elite source of tackle production, though, as he has recovered a fumble in each of his NFL seasons while totaling 8.5 sacks and seven interceptions in that span. There's a fair amount to be said regarding Laurinaitis' consistency, too, because he had six or more tackles in 13 games last year. Laurinaitis should continue to pile up tackles and make plays in a rising St. Louis defense. A highly talented defensive line of Robert Quinn, Chris Long, Michael Brockers and Kendall Langford should both open up lanes for Laurinaitis and keep offensive linemen preoccupied, leaving Laurinaitis free to pursue the ball.
3. Bobby Wagner Seattle Seahawks Linebacker
|2013 Projections||View Bobby Wagner's 2013 projected stats.|
If you're the gambling sort, you might want to rank Wagner ahead of James Laurinaitis and perhaps even on a plane similar to Luke Kuechly's. Like Kuechly, Wagner was a rookie last year who, despite possessing much less hype than the Carolina star, quickly established himself as one of the league’s most dominant defenders. Although he began the year in a two-down role, it didn't take long for Wagner to emerge as Seattle's top linebacker, and he finished with 139 tackles (86 solo), two sacks and three interceptions. Wagner is a highly disruptive player with exceptional speed, and he should continue to supplement his high tackle totals with impact plays in coverage and behind the line of scrimmage. And there's actually reason to suspect Wagner can improve on his stats in 2013. He posted those 139 tackles while playing just 849 snaps on defense, whereas Kuechly and Laurinaitis played 923 and 1,080, respectively. If Wagner can approach 1,000 snaps on defense, 160 tackles might come with them.
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