As we enter the final week of the fantasy football season, many owners are turning their eyes toward 2019. Before waiver wires close for the offseason, the following are stashes at defensive end for 2019.
Arden Key – Oakland Raiders
The Oakland Raiders pass rush has been extremely poor this season. They rank last in the league in sacks with only 12. The next lowest is the Miami Dolphins with 24. This largely has to do with trading star edge rusher Khalil Mack away. However, there may be hope in the future.
The Raiders have relied on rookies to carry their pass rush this season. While rookie defensive end Arden Key has not tallied a prolific stats, he has shown flashes of potential and improvement throughout the season. On the season, Key has 27 tackles, three tackles for loss, one sack, and 10 quarterback hits. Again, while not prolific, Key and rookie defensive tackles Maurice Hurst and P.J. Hall have had to learn on the fly with minimal help.
Arden Key nearly forces the fumble. Big play regardless. pic.twitter.com/UKOTILFQqm
— Evan Groat (@Egroat5) December 9, 2018
The hope for the Raiders lies in what Key and others were able to do in college. As a sophomore in 2016, Key dominated the SEC, producing 11 sacks, 12.5 tackles for loss, three passes defended and two forced fumbles. While his 2017 was a disappointment, largely due to off-field issues, Key demonstrated what he can do. Key was a first-round talent taken in the third round.
Another source of hope is the Raiders current record. The Raiders currently own the second pick in the NFL draft next season. In a draft full of top end defensive line talent, the Raiders really have no choice but to go edge rusher with their first pick. If the Raiders are able to grab someone like Nick Bosa, Josh Allen, or Clelin Ferrell, Key’s 2019 season looks a lot better. With potential help coming for Key to take away some of the attention, he is a stash for 2019.
B.J. Hill – New York Giants
New York Giants rookie defensive end B.J. Hill has had an under-the-radar good season in 2018. Playing significant snaps since week 1, Hill has recorded 45 tackles, six tackles for loss, five sacks, and two passes defended on the season. This includes a three-sack performance in week 13 against the Chicago Bears. Hill has also been graded as a top-five rookie on the defensive interior by PFF.
— PFF NY Giants (@PFF_Giants) December 5, 2018
It seems as though Hill has cemented his role as a starting defensive end for the Giants. Starting in week 7, Hill has played in 56% or more of the Giants defensive snaps in every game. Already a solid producer as a rookie, Hill’s future looks bright. Stash him for 2019.
Da’Shawn Hand – Detroit Lions
Speaking of PFF grades, Detroit Lions rookie defensive end Da’Shawn Hand has been the highest graded rookie on the defensive interior in 2018. While he does not have prolific stats, that Hand has done his job up front for the Lions. A major part of the interior defensive line’s job is to take up space and plug holes and Hand has done that well.
Da'Shawn Hand's rookie season is over, but it's likely that he'll hold onto the top spot in our rookie grades on the defensive interior. pic.twitter.com/9YY04QIqZG
— PFF (@PFF) December 21, 2018
Hand has productive against both the run and the pass. He had the highest pass-rushing grade and run defense grade among rookies on the defensive interior through week 12.
#Packers O-line does an incredible job at holding up for scramble plays but they have struggled
– Da'Shawn Hand gets hit with a double team by Linsley and Lane Taylor
– Linsley peels off which leaves Taylor one on one
– Hand feels Taylor leaning which makes Taylor go off balance pic.twitter.com/c47yip7T0S
— Coul Scouting (@c_jscouting) October 9, 2018
Da'Shawn Hand making Mason pay for letting his base get too wide & lounging into contact. Wrecks this double team & forces the RB to bounce: pic.twitter.com/fT9y8eSML5
— Brandon Thorn (@BrandonThornNFL) September 28, 2018
Unfortunately, Hand suffered a knee injury in week 14 and was placed on IR. However, Hand should be ready for next season. Again, while he has not been a prolific stats producer, he has been fantastic this season. The stats will come. And thus, he is a stash.
Marcus Davenport – New Orleans Saints
The New Orleans Saints took a huge risk dealing a 2019 first-round pick to move up in the first round of the 2018 NFL draft to pick defensive end Marcus Davenport. It may have paid off. While Davenport has been on the field for less than 50% of the Saints defensive snaps, he has been an absolute terror when he is on the field. On the season, Davenport has 18 tackles, five tackles for loss, four sacks, one forced fumble, and two passes defended.
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) October 9, 2018
There is a reason the Saints took a risk on Davenport. He was an absolute monster in college. PFF ranked Davenport as the third-best edge rushing prospect in the 2018 NFL draft. At the University of Texas-San Antonio, Davenport started for three seasons and racked up 184 tackles, 37.5 tackles for loss, 21.5 sacks, eight passes defended, and six forced fumbles. While against softer competition, Davenport still had an extremely productive college career.
UTSA DE 93 Marcus Davenport. He’s raw but there’s a lot to work with here! pic.twitter.com/BA5fO5Sp3K
— Todd McShay (@McShay13) January 26, 2018
Davenport has been productive in the pass-rush as well as against the run, helping the Saints allow the fewest rushing yards per game this season. He has been graded as the top rookie defensive end by PFF at times this season. Davenport has been playing behind Alex Okafor this season. Okafor, however, has only a $750,000 dead cap hit next season, making him easily cuttable. If Okafor is cut, Davenport likely sees an uptick in snap share and therefore will likely be more productive in 2019. Take a risk and stash him.
Search: Does Marcus Davenport belong in the NFL?
Result: 👇 pic.twitter.com/I3lTwYDOMP
— UTSA Football 🏈 (@UTSAFTBL) September 30, 2018
— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) October 29, 2018
Sam Hubbard – Cincinnati Bengals
Another defensive end having a quietly productive season. Cincinnati Bengals rookie Sam Hubbard has been increasingly more effective as the season has worn on. On the season, Hubbard has 34 tackles, seven tackles for loss, six sacks, one forced fumble, and two passes defended. Since week 8, Hubbard has five sacks, likely because Hubbard is getting used to the speed of the NFL game.
Hubbard should continue to improve into the 2019 season. He also may see more snaps. Michael Johnson’s contract is up after the 2018 season. Johnson is listed as a starting defensive end for the Bengals across from Carlos Dunlap. If the Bengals choose to not bring Johnson back, which is highly likely, that leaves a starting position open. Hubbard has performed well as a rookie and has a good chance to be a starter in 2019.
These defensive ends have a chance to have productive or breakout seasons in 2019. Most if not all are likely available on the waiver wire. Take a risk and pick them for the chance at an uptick in value or cheap production.