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Fantasy Football Defensive Linemen (DL)

Football Defensive Line

A defensive lineman is a player on the defense who plays on the line of scrimmage. They are responsible for rushing the quarterback and closing gaps near the line of scrimmage. Defensive linemen are a part of the Defense/Special Teams (D/ST) in leagues that use the standard scoring system and have their own position in Individual Defensive Player (IDP) scoring leagues. Read on to learn more about defensive linemen in fantasy football.

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Types of Defensive Linemen

The two types of defensive linemen are defensive tackles and defensive ends. There are typically two defensive ends and either one or two defensive tackles on the field during each snap.

Defensive Tackle

The defensive tackle is positioned on the inside of the defensive line and is responsible for stopping the run game and rushing the quarterback. In a 3-4 defensive scheme, there are three linemen and four linebackers. In this scheme, the lone defensive tackle is called the nose guard. When there are two tackles it is a 4-3 scheme, meaning there are four linemen and three linebackers, both are called defensive tackles.

Defensive End

Defensive ends are positioned on the outside on the line of scrimmage and are more geared towards rushing the running back. There is a left and right defensive end, but both are classified as defensive ends in fantasy football. Defensive ends are typically more fast and agile than defensive tackles, as they must quickly close in to the quarterback to prevent excessive time in the pocket.

Drafting Defensive Linemen

Neither the end nor the tackle have a particularly high fantasy value when compared to other defensive positions. They do not get a lot of tackles and the majority of their points come from sacks and tackles for a loss, which are few and far in between. Tackles are the most valuable form of scoring in individual defensive player fantasy leagues.

Drafting a defensive linemen in the early rounds of a draft is a risky play. Those rounds are usually better to take stud linebackers. However, if you can get one of the few elite talents, you shouldn’t pass on that opportunity. Guys like Aaron Donald and TJ Watt are superstars that definitely warrant a pick.


All defenders in IDP (individual defensive player) leagues receive the same amount of points for performing the same actions. However, defensive linemen, due to being on the line of scrimmage instead of the secondary, do not usually perform all those actions. Below is a chart showing some common ways defensive linemen earn points as well as how many points each action is worth.

ActionPoint value
Assisted tackle0.5
Tackle for loss3
Fumble forced2
Fumble recovered2

Since tackles are much more common than sacks, they are a more effective means of getting points. Defensive linemen that consistently get more tackles than their counterparts are highly valuable in IDP fantasy leagues. Keep in mind that different leagues or platforms may change the scoring values for the above actions.


What is a defensive lineman (DL) in fantasy football?

In fantasy football, a defensive lineman is any defensive player who plays on the line of scrimmage. The two subcategories of defensive linemen are defensive tackles and defensive ends. A defensive tackle positions themself towards the inside of the line and clogs up running lanes while a defensive end is positioned at the end of the line and focuses on rushing the quarterback and stopping outside runs.

Do defensive linemen have a high value in fantasy football?

No, defensive linemen do not generally have a high value in fantasy football. Both defensive tackles and defensive ends rarely get tackles and they make most of their points from sacks and tackles for a loss. However, some defensive linemen do get more tackles than their counterparts and have an unusually high value in IDP fantasy leagues.

What is the difference between a defensive tackle and a defensive end?

The main differences between a defensive tackle and a defensive end are 1) where they are positioned along the line of scrimmage and 2) what their main objective is. Defensive tackles are positioned towards the inside of the line and are thus more suited to disrupting the running lanes. Defensive ends, meanwhile, are positioned at the end of the line and are focused primarily on rushing the quarterback.

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