LEGION -The Association‘s all defensive league, the Legion of Defense was overhauled this offseason with a major format realignment. The tiered division structure is gone, replaced with a stripped down two-division set up that teams are looking forward to. The 2018 LOD draft has come to a conclusion and the anticipation for the season is at its peak! Many different strategies were deployed, as we wait to see how it unfolds, let’s see what it looks like on paper shall we?
The New Most Important Position:
With the changes to Team DEF scoring, as the league adopted the AF Standard Team Defense Scoring set over AF Prevent. The importance of the position in the draft skyrocketed. 8 out of the 12 teams opted for a Team DEF in the first round. With only The Mighty Pats, Battering Rams, Gotta Big D efense, and the Chinese Bandits going in a different direction in round 1.
With regards to points under the new scoring settings, out of the 8 defenses drafted in round 1, only 6 of them were in the top 8 for def scoring last season under the new rules. In which where the Vikings and Texans were drafted brings great risk, as both can be called reaches. Under the new rules the Vikings were ranked 15th in points for Team Def last year, with the Texans finishing 21st in points, makes the 3rd and 7th overall selections at the top of the biggest reaches of the first round.
Team By Team Recap:
The Battering Rams had quite possibly the most unique drafting strategy of the draft. They seemed to want the strongest group of DBs in the league, and I for one think they accomplished that goal quite well. A.J Bouye as the 5th overall pick was quite the reach as he should have been available still around round 3. Last year’s top DB Darius Slay and Bouye’s partner in crime Jalen Ramsey round out what will be an elite core of DBs.
The Rams went with Team Defense in rounds 4 and 13, grabbing the Buffalo Bills and the Washington Redskins. They have average team defenses but the cost was low considering 8 defenses were picked round 1.
Ngakoue was a great value pick in the 3rd round, as the young DL had a breakout sophomore year and is looking for more this year. The Rams seemed to know something nobody else does with the selections of Geno Atkins and Gerald McCoy in the 8th and 10th rounds, though in the 14th round they found a steal in Preston Smith. The Rams linebacker decisions were questionable with Tahir Whitehead in the second round and Perryman in the 9th round. The redeeming factor for this group is the 6th round selection of Myles Jack. Projected Division Standing: 6th
After seeing the results of the draft for the Gates of Delirium, one question I would like to ask, who is Jordan Williams and why is he a 3rd round pick? Along with Williams, John Simon was picked in the 4th round who is a much better leader for this group if he can stay healthy. Michael Johnson was a nice value pick in the 10th round, Derek Wolfe doesn’t project to add much to the team.
GofD drafted much better when it came to their DB’s grabbing Veterans Malcolm Jenkins, Glover Quin and Damarious Randall in the middle rounds (5–7) finishing off their DB group in the 9th round with a steal in Casey Hayward.
CJ Mosley was a great pick in the second round, and they put together a good core of veteran linebackers despite only using an 8th, 12th, 14th, 15th and 16th round selection on the rest of their linebackers. Bucannon, Williamson, Davis, Barr, and Johnson are all experienced linebackers coming off of down years looking to cement their place on rosters.
The Lions Team Defense was a top 6 defense last year, so getting them at the 12th pick with 8 team defenses selected in the 1st round is good value. The Bengals defense looks to improve this year so should be a serviceable backup. Projected Division Standing: 5th
Roxteady took the popular approach, but they went with the Texans Team Def 7th overall. Only issue is, using the new scoring system they finished 21st overall last year in fantasy points. The Texans had so many injuries last season (on both side of the ball) so they are sure to produce more points this year than last, but by how much is the big question. Not grabbing a second team defense means he is all in on these Texans.
Speaking of Injured Texans, J.J Watt will always be great value in the second round. He has the tools to lead the league in points every year, but the last two years have been riddled with injuries for the Texan’s Star defender. If J.J says healthy, he, and 3rd round pick Melvin Ingram should pile up the sacks pretty well. Big issue is that if J.J goes down, Rox waited until the 11th, 14th and 16th rounds to get back ups for his DLs. Neither Deforest Buckner (14th) nor Dee Ford (16th) looks like steals or sleepers, also Linval Joseph (11th) is on a line with Griffen and Hunter whom have produced more than Joseph over the last 2 years.
With both vets and rookies, ROX’s Linebacker group is one of the more exciting groups to watch this year. Kwon Alexander and Preston Brown were excellent additions in the 4th and 5th round (respectively) followed by Jarrad Davis and Roquan Smith in the 8th and 9th rounds giving this group a lot of intrigue heading into the season.
With 3rd year safety Vonn Bell leading the DB’s this group doesn’t look stellar considering Earl Thomas is still on holdout, but7th round pick Darby missed the first half of last season and is looking to be a main producer for ROX throughout the year. Projected Division Standing: 4th
Sacks Fifth Avenue went with the Minnesota Vikings Defense 3rd overall, following with the Falcons defense in round 5. On Paper you could say this is the strongest 1 2 punch team defense combination in the league. But looking at last year’s points scored the Vikings defense is much better in real life than in the LOD this year, as their lack of plays on the ball (if it follows suit from last year) may leave 5th Ave with a lot of regret.
Elsewhere on the roster Keanu Neal and Tre White lead the DBs, which looks like a top 5 group in the league rounded out by Micah Hyde and Eddie Jackson. With the new wildcard spot for the Sacks Leader 5th Avenue is looking to make the playoffs the old fashion way, as the D-line looks to be at the bottom of the league which will limit their sack numbers. Wilkerson in the 4th round was quite a reach for a player who scored only 36.5 points last year, while not grabbing Graham until round 9 was a sign that they did not have the DL as a priority. The Linebackers led by 2nd round pick Martinez (which may have been another reach) is an overall stronger group with names like Marshall Alonso and McKinney. Projected Division Standing: 3rd
Picking 11th, the Chinese Bandits likely didn’t see any Team Defenses they wanted at that point in the draft, so they selected the number 2 IDP point scorer last season, Cam Jordan, which was followed up by Khalil Mack to solidify their 1-2 punch. The Bandits rounded off the D line with vets Markus Golden and Robert Quinn. The Bandits could have the strongest starting D line, but with less than stellar depth likely won’t be deploying more than 2 DLs per week, which could hurt their overall season sack numbers.
The Linebacker group is where all the depth is for the Bandits in which they picked Linebackers in rounds 5 through 9 (One more in round 13). Lavonte David highlights this group, but Alec Ogletree now with the Giants, may turn out to be the X factor for the Bandits. Rookies are hard to gauge for the Legion, and even though Tremaine Edmunds did feel like a reach in the 8th round, the rookie could be a really nice steal for the Bandits as well.
Not getting a DB until round 10, seems to be a strategy many teams deployed, and did leave the Bandits with one of the weaker groups in the League. Josh Jones picked in the 11th round is very intriguing considering what Mike Pettine has done with DBs in the past, it could be a nice steal. Even though the Bandits did not go for a team Defense in round 1, they have a strong Starter/Backup team going on with The Panthers (Round 3) and the Chiefs (Round 4). Projected Division Standing: 2nd
The Mighty Pats went with one of the biggest names right out of the gate, taking Luke Kuechly 2nd overall, bypassing their chance at a top team defense. While Keuchly wasn’t the highest points scorer for LB’s last year (Or even top 5), he has the ability every year to lead IDP’s in points. The linebacker group is quite solid through and through with Brown and Schobert coming in rounds 4 and 6.
It was risky waiting till the 4th round to select their top DL, but they could of done much worse than grabbing Griffen in the 4th round. Danielle Hunter in the 13th round could be the steal of the draft, even though he had a down year last year, 2 years ago he hit double digit sacks. JPP, Addison, and Suh round out the rest of the DLs. They are a stronger group that could end up being elite when the season is all said and done.
The Pats got another steal in the 3rd round where they picked up The Chargers a very strong team defense. Having the Broncos (9th round) as a backup is never a bad thing. Landon Collins being picked in round 2 is high for a DB, but the Pats may have grabbed the best DB at that spot. Projected Division Standing: 1st
The Los Angeles Rams at 4th overall pick weirdly seems like a steal, for BIGDOGINTEX, with their recent off season additions they very well could be on the same level as the Jags, maybe even better depending how they mesh with each other. Followed by the Cowboys in the 12th round, The Big Dogs should be very happy with the team defenses they drafted.
Elsewhere Sean Lee and Von Miller (2nd and 3rd round selections) highlight a linebacker group that is very top heavy. Eric Kendricks has average value in the 8th round, but don’t expect much from the bench in regards to 15th and 16th round choices of Kevin Minter and Manti Teo.
5th and 6th round selections of DB’s are very questionable here. Not because of the position, but because of the players selected. Josh Norman is a shutdown corner that does not get targeted very often, and the last thing I heard from Kam Chancellor is that he is retiring from football. Backups of Aqib Talib (9th round) and William Gay (13th round) were solid choices but will they be able to handle the expectations of a starters production level. The Big Dogs are also hoping for a lot of production from the Eagles D line, as their top 3 DL’s are all of the same team. Michael Bennett, Chris Long and Fletcher Cox selected in rounds 4, 7, and 10 respectfully. Projected Division Standing: 6th
Gotta Big D fence were the last team to secure a team defense waiting until the 5th round to nab the Patriots. A solid choice but I think their back up choice in the 11th round (Cardinals) may see around the same amount of starts as their 5th round selection so they probably should of waited longer since they were last to chose one xxanyway.
GBD’s Linebacker group was built to be the strongest in the Legion, with Linebackers being selected in the 1st (Bobby Wagner) 3rd (Deion Jones) and 4th (Wesley Woodyard) rounds. 3 vets coming off of solid years, should provide a nice spark of production. With the bench filled with players switching teams (Malcolm Smith, Christian Jones and Mychal Kendricks) there is a lot of potential from this group.
GBD picked solid DBs in the 6th 7th and 9th rounds, which looking back was the prime rounds to get quality DB’s. Jordan Poyer in the 6th round was likely a great value pick, though Tramon Williams and Davon House selections are surprising. I get it Mike Pettine’s DB’s normally show results but with so much hype around the Packers rookie and sophomore corners I do not know if those were the right Packer Db’s to get. Davon House is reportedly is on the bubble to get cut.
Is Calais Campbell (2nd round) enough? The Jaguars DL has been on the top of the leader board for DL’s since he was a Cardinal. With age and the emergence of Ngakoue will Campbell be able to continue being an elite option this year. GBD didn’t opt for another DL until the 10th round is Kawan Short which should hurt their overall sack numbers for sure. Projected Division Standing: 5th
With their 3 round pick, The Cavalry took Reshad Jones, who has been a consistent player the last 3 seasons, in the fact he has consistently been a top 5 Db, so even though its risky to be going with DB’stoo early (first 3 or 5 rounds). This one is the exception as he was 5th db off the board. 6th round pick Kevin Byard was 2nd last year in DB scoring which was a steal. Budda Baker has a lot of hype around him, looking for a breakout sophomore year, which justifies his 7th round selection. The Cavalry DB group looks to be very strong rounded off with Patrick Chung in the 14th round.
The linebacker group for the Cavalry has quite possibly the strongest starting trio of Telvin Smith (2nd round), Christian Kirksey (4th round), and Demario Davis (5th round) all three scoring in the top 25 for their position last year. Danny Trevathan picked up in the 8th round, had injuries last year looking to take the next step but he does play inside which may limit his use in the Legion. Team Defenses of the Eagles and Bears probably land them somewhere in the middle for the position.
In a league where DL’s rule, the Cavalry decided to look at every other postion, until the 9th and 10th rounds where they selected Trey Flowers (steal) and Damon Harrison (reach) respectively. Rounded out by the selections of Akiem Hicks (steal) and Jurell Casey, this DL group looks to be the one of weaker groups in the legion despite the savvy selections of Flowers and Hicks. Projected Division Standing: 4th
Suspension Freaks took advantage of one of the bigger surprises last year, the absolute emergence of the Saints Defense, which was 5th in scoring for team defense last year under this year’s format so as the 9th overall selection and 6th team Defense picked, I am sure the Freaks are happy with that pick.
Round 2-5 the Freaks went strictly for sack numbers grabbing 4 DL’s off the hop in Joey Bosa, Carlos Dunlap, Myles Garrett and Bradley Chubb. Bosa and Dunlap were great value picks, though the choices of Garrett and Chubb were risky, could pay off greatly for the Freaks. The Freaks must be looking directly at the Sacks wild card as a backup plan in case the overall point numbers do not align well. Frank Clark in the 9th round was another nice grab.
Rounds 6-8 selections Justin Houston, Jaylon Smith, and Bruce Irvin highlight this stronger linebacker group followed by 11th-13th round choices of Bud Dupree, Barkevious Mingo and Randy Gregory which seem like a weaker bench troupe for the Freaks. Aside from 10th round selection Jamal Adams the Freaks are not looking to get much production from the backfield with the cause of the Minnesota miracle set to be the other starter (Marcus Williams). Projected Division Standing: 3rd
Drafting from 10th overall Insane Clowney Posse selected the Baltimore Ravens team defense (Number 2 in fantasy scoring among the position last year) as the 7th defense picked overall which could be a nice steal in the first round. Like the Suspension Freaks, the Clowns went straight for the DL position from Round 2-5 selecting Demarcus Lawrence, “Mascot” Jadeveon Clowney, Cameron Heyward, and Ezekiel Ansah. 3 of those names were in the top 10 for DL scoring last year, with all 4 of them in the top 25 for IDP scoring last year. The Clowns get good value going for 4 proven pass rushers while they seemingly push for the Sack wildcard as well.
In rounds 6-8 The Clowns addressed their linebacker positions with some interesting picks to say the least. Round 6 Selection Vince William flew under the radar but put up top 25 LB numbers last year. Also joining Williams on that list is 8th round choice Clay Matthews, 12th rounder T.J Watt, and Kyle Van Noy as in the final round. That leaves 2 linebackers not on that list, Rookie Haason Reddick (14th Round) and Vic Beasley (round 7). Beasley led all linebackers 2 years ago, but last year was hampered by injuries combined with inconsistent play makes this pick seem like a reach.
Waiting until the 9th/10th rounds to select their starting DB duo, they could have done much worse with the choices of Marshon Lattimore and Harrison Smith. The selection of Lattimore comes with much risk as he is coming off a huge rookie year and therefore should see fewer targets his way this year, even though he was 6th for DB fantasy scoring last year. The Clowns will be relying on their DB duo for at least the first 4 weeks until 13th round pick Jimmy Smith gets off of his suspension. Projected Division Standing: 2
In a move that defined the whole pace of the draft the Sleeper Agents went with the Jags Defense 1st overall which would set off 8 team defenses being picked in the first round; looking back on how the 1st round went it was the perfect selection. What made the selection of the Jags even better was the 2nd and 3rd round pair of steals coming in the form of last year’s 1st and 6th DL’s in terms of points last year Chandler Jones and Aaron Donald (keep in mind that last year top 6 DL’s were the top 6 IDP players in the league last year). For those who didn’t pick a team defense and a DL in the first 2 rounds you just let the Sleeper Agents get an elite trio. When you get obvious back to back steals for the 24th and 25th overall selections you know somebody messed up real bad. Not quite steals, but the Agents continued to get good value from their DL selections in the 7th and 8th rounds with Cam Wake and Malik Jackson.
The Sleeper agents lived up to their name and snagged 2 linebackers in the 4th/5th round that everybody was sleeping on; Ryan Kerrigan and Terrell Suggs. Last year’s number 1 and number 2 linebackers in terms of fantasy points. While previous years stats don’t mean everything, they make this roster a seemingly very dangerous one. Going on this trend the Sleeper Agents have last year’s 3rd and 7th highest point getters for the DB position in Eric Weddle and Marcus Peters (6th and 9th rounds). In the back half of the draft the Sleeper agents cooled off a little bit, but with savvy picks like Dante Fowler (14th round) and Nick Perry (15th round) this is not a top heavy team. Projected Division Standing: 1st
All analysis aside, upsets can happen on any given Sunday, but the one thing that’s certain is this: for the first time in 8 seasons, the Legion of Defense returns 100% of the prior season teams, a brigade of battle tested veterans of the format, and with the new divisiosn vs division alignment of the league, 2018 is going to be an exciting battle to the finish.