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The EDGE Designation

One of the more frustrating aspects of IDP is when a defensive end gets re-designated to an outside linebacker. Last season, IDPers laughed endlessly when Ty Montgomery was re-designated from WR to RB and the non-IDP fantasy world nearly passed out from panic. Welcome to our world every year, when we never know if Khalil Mack will be a DE or an OLB, or we have to scramble when several players move from 4-3 teams to 3-4 teams. 

It might not seem like a big deal, but if a player like Mack is an OLB (and thus an “LB”), he can’t keep up with other LBs who stay back and rack up tackles like Luke Kuechly. It’s just not a fair comparison from a fantasy perspective. 

At some point, the idea was floated that – since literally the only difference between some players is that they either put their hand on the ground (DE) or they don’t (OLB) – perhaps we could group these types of players under one umbrella. Thus, the “EDGE” player was born. 

An EDGE player (more commonly known as an edge rusher) is any player who lines up outside the offensive tackles whose job it is to set the edge and/or go after the QB. These players generally rack up 5-15 sacks and 30-70 tackles per year. A 3-4 defense uses their OLBs for this job, but a 4-3 defense uses their DEs.

This season, ESPN has introduced the EDR as a position designation for an EDGE rusher. This is the first big step in seeing this designation become a reality for IDP leagues. And while there will be some bumps and bruises in the correct implementation of the EDGE designation, this is a good start.

 

Why is the EDGE designation important?

Perhaps this brief example will show why this designation can bring fantasy relevance to some great football players:

Top 5 DEs in 2016:

  1. Khalil Mack - 73 tackles, 11 sacks, 100.5 FP 
  2. Danielle Hunter - 54 tackles, 12.5 sacks, 79 FP
  3. Carlos Dunlap - 49 tackles, 8 sacks, 76.5 FP
  4. Olivier Vernon - 64 tackles, 8.5 sacks, 74 FP
  5. Calais Campbell - 53 tackles, 8 sacks, 73.5 FP

Top 5 OLBs (who would qualify as EDGE) in 2016:

  1. Von Miller - 78 tackles, 13.5 sacks, 106 FP
  2. Lorenzo Alexander - 64 tackles, 12.5 sacks, 96 FP 
  3. Vic Beasley* - 39 tackles, 15.5 sacks, 80.5 FP
  4. Chandler Jones - 49 tackles, 11 sacks, 80.5 FP
  5. Markus Golden - 51 tackles, 12.5 sacks, 80 FP

Top 5 LBs (who wouldn’t qualify for EDGE) in 2016:

  1. Kwon Alexander - 145 tackles, 3 sacks, 149.5 FP
  2. Zach Brown - 149 tackles, 4 sacks, 141 FP
  3. Bobby Wagner - 167 tackles, 4.5 sacks, 140 FP
  4. Alec Ogletree - 136 tackles, 0 sacks, 136 FP
  5. Christian Kirksey - 143 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 126 FP
*Beasley was listed on some sites as an OLB 

Takeaways:

  • Notice how similar the first two groups of players’ production is. That’s because they essentially fill the same role for their team. Non-EDGE LBs leave their counterparts in the dust.
  • Von Miller was buried as the #26 overall LB because he’s an OLB who is an edge rusher. Does Mr. Miller strike you as a 3rd rate LB?
  • Vic Beasley had an awesome season in 2016, right? Dude wreaked havoc on the way to a Super Bowl appearance. Beasley was listed on some sites at his old position of OLB. His numbers would have made him the #50 LB. Beasley wasn’t worth rostering in leagues that listed him as an OLB.
  • Gerald Hodges (82 FP) was a fill-in ILB for San Francisco and finished 14 spots ahead of Jadeveon Clowney (70 FP). I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to live in a world where Clowney and Miller are clawing for fantasy relevance with replacement level LBs.

If we take last year’s players and install the EDGE designation…

Top 10 EDGEs in 2016: 

  1. Von Miller - 78 tackles, 13.5 sacks, 106 FP 
  2. Khalil Mack - 73 tackles, 11 sacks, 100.5 FP
  3. Lorenzo Alexander - 64 tackles, 12.5 sacks, 96 FP
  4. Vic Beasley 39 tackles - 15.5 sacks, 80.5 FP
  5. Chandler Jones - 49 tackles, 11 sacks, 80.5 FP
  6. Markus Golden - 51 tackles, 12.5 sacks, 80 FP
  7. Danielle Hunter - 54 tackles, 12.5 sacks, 79 FP
  8. Carlos Dunlap - 49 tackles, 8 sacks, 76.5 FP
  9. Olivier Vernon - 64 tackles, 8.5 sacks, 74 FP
  10. Calais Campbell - 53 tackles, 8 sacks, 73.5 FP 

Now THAT looks like a top-10 list of dominant football players who belong together. See? We’re all about bringing folks together. Miller and Mack should be at the same cookout. A cookout where Jared Allen (DE) and DeMarcus Ware (OLB) should be the old men asleep in the Lay-Z-Boys while Dante Fowler (DE) and T.J. Watt (OLB) run around in the backyard.

I’m not really sure where that was going, but the point is: These guys all have the same job. And the implementation of the EDGE position in fantasy could prevent great football players like Miller and Clowney from wasting away on the waiver wire because they can’t compete with the tackling LBs.

Complications of EDGE

It’s not all sunshine and roses just yet. There’s an art to selecting which players are actually EDGE players. For example, not every OLB is an edge rusher. Thomas Davis is an OLB, but he’s certainly not an edge rusher (with rare exceptions depending on the play calling). A lot of DEs on 3-4 defenses aren’t edge rushers (that’s what their OLBs are for). Some linemen and linebackers bounce around a lot and sometimes play the edge, but other times rotate inside. It’s likely that it will take a few years to create a standard for selecting the group of players who truly belong in this category.

Also, if you wanted to add the EDGE (or EDR on espn.com) designation to your IDP league, do you eliminate a position? Or just add the EDGE? Replacing the DE or DL slot means you may lose out on the chance to use some monster DLs.

There are certainly some bugs to iron out (likely through trial and error), but at least there’s hope that some of the most exciting football players to watch can become fantasy relevant through this innovation.

Justin Varnes
IDP Analyst

Initially a subscriber to Fantasy Guru, Justin became the company’s IDP Analyst in 2015. He produces both preseason and in-season content geared towards IDPers, including weekly defensive player previews. Follow him on Twitter at @downwithIDP.

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