The Atlanta Journal Consitution's D. Orlando Ledbetter reported Monday that the Falcons plan to play top pick Vic Beasley as a "Leo" DE. On Tuesday, he identified him as an OLB.
I'm not pointing that out to pick on the beat writer. Frankly, he might be right in using 2 positions to identify Beasley. But the situation highlights a key issue in valuing rookie IDPs for dynasty fantasy football drafting.
Will Beasley get a DL or LB designation in your league? And might that change over the course of his career? Well, you might be able to check your league site now to answer the 1st question. The 2nd, we're all guessing at this point. So factor that into your IDP drafting to whatever degree makes you comfortable.
I'm more willing to take a shot on Beasley's position uncertainty this year than I might be in other cases because I don't see a can't-miss LB or pass-rushing DE in the class. I do, however, see loads of pass-rushing upside in the 1st 2 players on this list -- each of whom will probably land among the top 30 D-linemen when our 2015 IDP rankings come out (assuming Beasley's a DL, of course).
I've tried to break up this list into tiers to give you an idea of where the relative drop-offs seem to be. Of course, player values will always differ by league and scoring system. Feel free email email@example.com with any questions.
1. Vic Beasley, DE, Falcons
2. Dante Fowler, DE, Jaguars
3. Eric Kendricks, ILB, Vikings
I think Beasley's explosiveness off the ball gives him the most sack upside in the class. He previewed that with 25 sacks and 44.5 tackles for loss over his final 2 years at Clemson. Fowler's not as explosive but looks pretty safe, especially as long as he's playing under HC Gus Bradley. Beasley and Fowler lead this board because it's tougher to find consistent DL producers in fantasy than consistent LBs. Stephone Anthony came off the NFL Draft board earlier, but Kendricks is the most well-rounded LB with size, athleticism and production. He tallied 10 sacks and 5 INTs in his UCLA career, along with 3 straight seasons of 105+ tackles (including 149 twice).
Of course, the relative value of all 3 of these guys will depend heavily on your league setup. If you only start 1 D-lineman, for example, then push Kendricks to the top of your board. Similarly, if you're set with quality young DL options but could use a new LB, then feel free to reach over Beasley and Fowler.