A list of the top defensive players to draft for the 2016 fantasy football season.
1. Luke Kuechly Carolina Panthers Linebacker
|2016 Projections||View Luke Kuechly's 2016 projected stats.|
Kuechly has safely established legendary status and will be the consensus top-ranked linebacker for the foreseeable future. This is for good reason, as Kuechly has 592 career tackles (371 solo), seven sacks and 11 interceptions in 61 regular-season games (four seasons), with another 57 tackles (24 solo), two sacks, three interceptions and two touchdowns in six playoff games – numbers that combine to project to 155 tackles, two sacks and three picks over a 16-game schedule. With the league's best DT rotation giving him space to roam, Kuechly will continue to dominate.
2. NaVorro Bowman San Francisco 49ers Linebacker
|2016 Projections||View NaVorro Bowman's 2016 projected stats.|
Great as Kuechly is, there's a strong case to be made for Bowman as the top-ranked LB. He made an emphatically triumphant 2015 return from the gruesome knee injury suffered in the 2013 playoffs, logging a career-high 154 tackles (116 solo) while playing all 16 games. The reason to think he can match Kuechly this year is simple: coach Chip Kelly's arrival means the 49ers will log more snaps due to his uptempo offense. Bowman did already play a career-high 1,101 snaps last year, ranking ninth among NFL defenders, but Kelly's Eagles had two players around 1,200.
3. Lavonte David Tampa Bay Buccaneers Linebacker
|2016 Projections||View Lavonte David's 2016 projected stats.|
Few players in the league carry the quality guarantee that David does, as he's produced at an elite level with remarkable consistency in his four NFL seasons. His lowest tackle total in that span was 139 as a rookie, peaking with 147 in 2015. Het active both as a pass rusher and in coverage, totaling 13 sacks and nine interceptions in 62 games. With 32 career passes defended, David could see his interception rate increase if the Tampa pass rush improves. The additions of DEs Robert Ayers (free agency) and Noah Spence (second-round pick) give hope on that front.
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