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 tackle for 2019.
Davon Godchaux – Miami Dolphins
Miami Dolphins second-year defensive tackle was a favorite of multiple IDP Guys writers. I personally said he was an unsung hero of IDP and would have a breakout campaign in 2018. The “IDP Tipster” (@HBogart27) also called for Godchaux’s breakout before the 2018 season. Unfortunately, we were wrong.
Of course, we were only wrong in terms of traditional stats. Godchaux only has 36 tackles in 14 games. He does have four tackles for loss and produced his first sack in his NFL career as well. While not gaudy numbers, Godchaux has nevertheless been a force in his second season, specifically against the run. Much of an interior defenders job is to plug holes along the line. So, while he has not been a stat stuffer, Godchaux has been more the proficient at his job.
— PFF MIA Dolphins (@PFF_Dolphins) November 25, 2018
Former Dolphins defensive tackles Jordan Phillips was cut in the middle of the season due to the emergence of Godchaux. This has led to Godchaux playing the most snaps of the Dolphins defensive tackles. While that has not led to higher production in 2018, we have reason to believe that Godchaux’s prolific production in college with an increased snap share will eventually lead to a breakout season. Thus, we stash him.
Denico Autry – Indianapolis Colts
This one is a little bit unorthodox. Indianapolis Colts defensive tackle Denico Autry is in his fifth season. Most “stash” candidates are one or two years into their careers. However, Autry is coming out of relative obscurity over his first four seasons to have a breakout season in 2018. On the season, Autry has 34 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, nine sacks, and two forced fumbles, all career highs. On the sacks, Autry has nearly matched the 10.5 sacks combined from his previous three seasons.
DENICO AUTRY WITH THE SACK! pic.twitter.com/DqgkFzupnw
— Indianapolis Colts (@Colts) December 16, 2018
Autry signed a three year, $17.8M contract in the 2018 offseason. While $0 dead cap hit next season, the Colts will likely bring back Autry based on his production this season. Autry has been a starter at defensive tackles from the get-go, playing below 62% of the Colts defensive snaps in one game this season. Autry has also been this productive while missing four games. If the Colts bring back Autry as their starting defensive tackle next season, he is likely in for another productive year.
Vita Vea – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie defensive tackle Vita Vea’s career started out rough. Vea missed the first three games of the season with a calf injury suffered in training camp. Even after making his debut, Vea combined for only three tackles in his first seven games. Then something clicked for the rookie.
Since week 12, Vea has combined for 18 tackles, three tackles for loss, one sack, and two quarterback hits. This includes a nine-tackle effort in week 15 against the Baltimore Ravens.
— AllThingsBucs (@AllThingsTBbucs) November 25, 2018
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) December 21, 2018
Vea is beginning to show what many expected of him coming out of college. At Washington, Vea was a disruptive force on the interior of the line. In his three seasons, Vea accumulated 99 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks, five passes defended, and two forced fumbles. Vea was extremely productive against both the run and the pass. PFF graded Vea as the second-best interior defender behind someone else on this list in Maurice Hurst. Vea
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) April 27, 2018
Finally rounding into form, Vea should carry this momentum into 2019. Stash him.
Maurice Hurst – Oakland Raiders
Rookie defensive tackles Maurice Hurst is one of the players the Oakland Raiders are hoping help replace the hole left by Khalil Mack. Things have not gone quite as planned. The Raiders have the worst pass rush in the league, only producing 12 sacks. It is not for lack of trying on Hurst’s part. Hurst is responsible for 1/3rd of the Raiders sacks. On the season, Hurst has 31 tackles, three tackles for loss, four sacks, three passes defended, and one forced fumble. Hurst has been productive despite minimal help from the rest of the Raiders pass rush.
— PFF OAK Raiders (@PFF_Raiders) December 13, 2018
This should come as no surprise to those who followed Hurst in college. At Michigan, Hurst was a monster both against the pass and the run, but particularly as a pass rusher. Hurst started three seasons at Michigan, Hurst racked up 130 tackles, 32 tackles for loss, 13.5 sacks, three passes defended and two forced fumbles. Hurst ranked as the top pass rusher among interior defenders in the 2018 NFL draft. PFF ranked him as their top overall interior defender in the 2018 draft. A first-round talent, Hurst dropped to the Raiders in the fifth round due to a heart condition. This may have been the steal of the draft.
First up is Michigan's Maurice Hurst (6'2, 285). Has 56 tackles with 12.5 TFLs, 1 FF, 1 PBU & 5 sacks. Big body, although lacks the length & total frame @ 3-tech. Elite off ball quickness ,though. Beats opposing OL in backfield before they are out of their stance. Late 1st grade. pic.twitter.com/XXspZUPlmG
— Jake Burns (@jake_burns18) December 28, 2017
Hurst has been productive as a rookie despite little to no help from the rest of the Raiders defensive line and pass rush. The Raiders are poised to pick high in a draft stacked with defensive line talent. If the Raiders choose someone like Nick Bosa to help their pass rush, Hurst may be in for an even better year in 2019.
Dalvin Tomlinson – New York Giants
Dalvin Tomlinson, the second-year defensive tackle for the New York Giants, is part of the reason that star run-stopper Damon “Snacks” Harrison was expendable. In 2017, Tomlinson produced 50 tackles, one tackle for loss, and one sack. Thus far in 2018, Tomlinson has 51 tackles and three tackles for loss. While this is not the 70 or more tackles you can expect from Harrison, Tomlinson has still been productive. He also is a lot cheaper than Harrison. Tomlinson has just over a $1M cap hit in the next three season. Meanwhile, Harrison was due to make $7M in 2019 and $9.25M in 2020. O, and he is 30 where Tomlinson is 25.
Since transitioning to more of a NT role in Week 8, Dalvin Tomlinson has become one of the best DIs in the NFL. Since the change, he ranks as the 9th best DI with an Overall Grade of 80.5 (min 141 snaps).#GiantsPride pic.twitter.com/ErdvdU5Md2
— Matt Stopsky (@PFF_Stopsky) November 29, 2018
Tomlinson was the highest graded rookie interior defender in 2017. He followed that up in 2018 with another spectacular year. Since Harrison was traded after week 7 and Tomlinson moved to nose tackle, he has been graded as the ninth best interior defender by PFF.
The highest graded rookie interior defenders from the 2017 season! pic.twitter.com/Pe67EoiqVH
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) February 14, 2018
3. DI Dalvin Tomlinson
— Matt Stopsky (@PFF_Stopsky) December 19, 2018
With Harrison gone, it seems that Tomlinson was able to move to a more natural position, and he has excelled. Going into 2019, Tomlinson should be starting at nose tackle for the Giants. Harrison was a prolific run stopper at nose tackle. Is Tomlison next in line? Take a risk to find out.
These defensive tackles 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.