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DE: JJ Watt Houston (11800 RedraftHero Salary)
Watt will once again be the most targeted player in IDP this year, and his week 1 matchup makes him worth the high price. The Texans host the Chiefs in week one, who allowed the 7th most sacks in 2014 either due to a poor offensive line or lack of wide receiver weapons. This high-run offense will allow Watt to rack up tackles, while also giving him plenty of time for sacks. Watt’s versatility in several categories is what makes him so dangerous in DFS, as he led all defensive ends last year in tackles, sacks, and fumbles recovered.
DE: Everson Griffen Minnesota (6000 RedraftHero Salary)
Griffin had the best year of his career in 2014, registering highs in both tackles (39) and sacks (12). He should be a threat for sacks in week 1 this year going up against the 49ers, whose offensive line allowed the 3rd most sacks in the league last season. They lost a key piece in their running game to free agency in Frank Gore, and their heavy losses on defense means they will likely be playing from behind and forced to rely on their passing game more. All these signs point to a big game from Griffin and the Vikings defense.
DT: Gerald McCoy Tampa Bay (4000 RedraftHero Salary)
McCoy finished last season tied for third in the NFL in sacks for DTs with Ndamukong Suh (8.5), and should be able to get to the QB with his week 1 matchup against Tennessee. The Titans o-line allowed the 5th most sacks a year ago, and McCoy should get a few opportunities against them with rookie QB Marcus Mariota likely making his first start. Their inexperience at quarterback also means they will likely try to focus on the run game, increasing McCoy’s value as a run stopper and tackler.
LB: CJ Mosley Baltimore (5600 RedraftHero Salary)
Mosley had a great season last year finishing in the top 10 for tackles, and his matchup against a good offense in the Denver Broncos should allow for plenty of tackles from the Ravens LB. The Broncos are expected to rely more on the run this season as well with the emergence of CJ Anderson and the aging Peyton Manning. Mosley is also fairly versatile for a linebacker, with 8 passes defended and 2 picks last season, adding a forced fumble and fumble recovery each.
LB: Navarro Bowman San Francisco (7500 RedraftHero Salary)
The 49ers defense will suffer on defense this season after losing several key pieces to injuries and retirement, meaning Bowman will be left to carry the load. With several inexperienced players around him, the 6th year LB should get plenty of opportunities for tackles throughout the season. Bowman goes against the Minnesota Vikings in week 1, who will likely rely on Adrian Peterson a lot in his return to action from a suspension. Look for Bowman to rack up the tackles and points in IDP. Bowman should be viewed as a solid option in cash games due to his high floor (limited over defensive playmakers leading to an insane amount of tackle opportunities).
LB: Alec Ogletree St Louis (6400 RedraftHero Salary)
Seattle had the strongest run game from last season and should be a heavy favorite in this game. Expect a lot of running the ball from the Seahawks and lots of chances at tackles for Ogletree. He was able to crack the top 10 last year in tackles while adding 2 interceptions and 4 forced fumbles on the season. The high powered offense of Seattle should put Ogletree towards the top of the tackles list to start out the year.
CB: Jason McCourty Tennessee (4900 RedraftHero Salary)
Tampa Bay threw the second most interceptions last season in the league, and a rookie QB in Jameis Winston may mean that trend will continue into week 1. McCourty led all cornerbacks last season in tackles, and his value for tackles should be increased by the Buccaneers expected reliance on the run game with their inexperienced passing attack. He also has the potential for points in other areas, as he registered 3 interceptions, 1 forced fumble and 2 fumble recoveries in 2014.
CB: Corey Graham Buffalo (6300 RedraftHero Salary)
Indianapolis made several big moves on offense this offseason, which will give opposing secondaries a lot of chances at tackles in IDP this year. Graham has seen some practice time at safety for the strong Bills defense in camp this year, but should start the year with CB eligibility in fantasy. Getting some playing time at safety means he should see a lot of playing time and get even more chances at both tackles and interceptions than most other CB only options in IDP.
S: Morgan Burnett Green Bay (7400 RedraftHero Salary)
Burnett was top 5 in tackles in the league last year, and first among safeties. His ability to get tackles will make him a consistent fantasy play, but his matchup against the Bears offense means he will also have a shot at interceptions. Chicago threw the 3rd most picks last year, and will likely need to throw the ball a lot against the Packers, as their poor defense will have a hard time stopping the powerful offense of Green Bay.
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