2022 Defensive Projections

Slatz did a write up about team values. You could probably read that if there was a website somewhere. I dunno. But he didn’t include defensive players in that, simply because MFL doesn’t have the data to properly do anything with them given our league settings. So I decided to see what I can do.

First step: find some defensive projections. I used Mike Clay from ESPN because a) he was the first person I found and b) he works for ESPN so at worst he’s fooled other people into thinking he’s competent. You can see his projections at this link.

That led to the first problem: his projections only include tackles, sacks and INTs, and we need other stats. I could have looked for another set of projections, but to be honest I couldn’t be bothered trying to find something else, so I just devised a workaround. Number 1, I just ignored TDs, safeties and INT/fumble return yards because they are hugely unpredictable and pretty rare. And then I came up with proxies for the others.

I used PFR’s stats from last season and eyeballed roughly what the average link between the stats was. For splitting up tackles to solo tackles and assisted tackles, I just used 0.66 points per tackle rather than 0.75. It tends to be about 1 assist for every 2 tackles, so that felt roughly ok. For TFLs, it seemed that the top tackling linebackers got a TFL roughly once every 10 tackles. So their TFL projection is tackles divided by 10. For safeties and cornerbacks its once every 20, for defensive ends and defensive tackles its one every 5. There’s a bit of inaccuracy for DEs and Dts there, cos they are more prone to get TFLs on sacks. Its particularly dodgy for sack specialists, who don’t rack up many run tackles. But whatever, this is inherently inaccurate for everyone. 

Passes defensed was just the same for everyone: interceptions times 3. Again, it might shortchange DEs and DTs who don’t get INTs but do bat passes, but I couldn’t see a way of giving a decent proxy. 

Fumbles was a bit tricky. I ended up going once per 50 tackles for linebackers, safeties and cornerbacks and once every 4 sacks for defensive ends and defensive tackles. But the most FF’s anyone got projected was 3.4 so its not a massive difference if its a bit off. And everyone gets treated the same, so whatever.

So have you got your pinch of salt? Cool, there’s more.

The other issue with the projections is that they are generally quite low – the max projection for INTs is 3.5 and the max projection for sacks is 13.1. But then those are quite unpredictable events and its not unusual for any single player to have a down year on them. So if you consider them sort of median outputs, its not too bad. And again, everyone is getting treated the same, so whatever. Plus I’m just trusting that this dude making the projections is competent.

And obviously the final caveat is that these are just 2022 stat projections and we’re in a dynasty league. Suck it. There’s nothing I can do about that, and if there’s anything that’s more foolish than trying to project defensive stats for the coming season, its trying to project defensive stats for the season after that. So these are purely 2022 projections.

I also only used any players on your current active roster. If you think your practice squad dude will save you, fine, factor that in when you read this. Same for your guy who is on IR. I calculated starting lineups based on the most total points for the season for a valid lineup, rather than any sort of attempt to pick lineup week to week or factor in the benefits of a bench. So again you can factor that in if you want.

So what does that give us? A bunch of numbers which are probably really inaccurate and borderline pointless. Lets go! Lets start with just total points.

TeamWhole RosterStarters Only
Dyna Hard2512.1141375.733
East Flanders1535.51101017.2810
The terrible columns on this chart are the fault of Chris Braithwaite

What does this tell us? Well first, East Flanders’ defence looks terrible. Bombermen’s defence is stacked. Kelkowski and Hurricanes have similar but different defences: great depth, but Kelkowski have a much better top end, while Hurricanes’ starters are only average. Tamworth’s is mildly interesting: 7th in total points, but 4th in starters. Probably meaning a good top end, but limited depth, so might struggle to play the matchups.

I was generally surprised at the lack of spread here. Based on starters, its only a couple of hundred points from first to 8th. But that might be a function of the projections being a bit low generally.

Anyway, lets look at different positions. First up, everyone’s favourite: DT.

Whole RosterStarters Only
Dyna Hard372.616214.24
East Flanders148.1910102.9110
The terrible columns on this chart are the fault of Chris Braithwaite

Bombermen are way way out in front, thanks to the existence of Aaron Donald (148.810), but they  also have Leonard Williams (114.260) as their second DT. Yes, they have 2 starters who are projected to outscore both of East Flanders’ starters. Their 3rd is Grady Jarrett (97.3) who isn’t too far away from doing the same.

Also, I’ve just noticed that East Flanders’ score is actually too high. One of their starters, Marlon Davidson (48.530) has gone on to IR, so he’ll be replaced by Levi Onwuzurike (45.280). I didn’t adjust that because I didn’t want to and it doesn’t make much difference. Pete, sign some DTs mate.

Right, that’s all I’ve got to say about DTs because its DTs, who cares? Definitely not Pete. Lets look at DEs. A caveat here: due to the flex rules, some people start 3 and some people start 2, so its useful to read this table with the LB table in mind. 

Whole RosterStarters Only
Dyna Hard741.902262.236
East Flanders425.047328.491
The terrible columns on this chart are the fault of Chris Braithwaite

A lot of deviation between starters and the whole roster here. Bombermen again have great depth (5 players projected to score over 100), but also has good LBs so only starts 2 here. Similar with Dyna Hard. All 6 of their DEs are projected to score over 115, but they also have good LBs so should only start 2. If they can play matchups well they could score very highly here. But they won’t, because they are both idiots. 

Yes, you are reading that right. After his terrible DTs, East Flanders are #1 in starters for DEs. They are due to start 3, Brian Burns (122.210), Odafe Oweh (108.220 and Bradley Chubb (98.060). Kelkowski is only expected to start 2 DEs, Joey Bosa and TJ Watt, and that leaves Josh Allen (127.270) and Marcus Davenport (127.580) on the bench. Their low overall rating is really due to them only rostering 5 DEs when most of us roster more, but 4 of those have top quality projections.

Losers are an odd one: I have them starting 3 DEs because their LBs are quite bad. But two of those DEs (Chase Young and Kayvon Thibodeaux) are carrying injuries. Young is on IR for the first 3 weeks and Thibodeaux is just carrying a knock. They’ll probably need to rely on LBs a bit early on.

And you can find out how good an idea that is in our next section. Spoilers: its probably not a great idea. 

Whole RosterStarters Only
Dyna Hard809.184486.362
East Flanders290.3010185.0010
The terrible columns on this chart are the fault of Chris Braithwaite

A lot of variance here in total points, but not so much in starter points. East Flanders and Losers only start 2 LBs, which helps to explain their poor rating here, but then again they start 2 LBs because they don’t have a lot of good ones on their roster. 

Apart from them, everyone is within 60 points in terms of starters, even with wild deviations in total points for the whole roster. That probably means that Champions and Tamworth are lacking depth, while the Hurricanes have lots of it. Although it doesn’t help Tamworth that Kamu Grugier-Hill is projected for only 16 points, which seems a little low. But he is a very shit player. So we’ll see. Anyway, they have Micah Parsons and his 154.600 points to help out.

The Sadness meanwhile have great depth and but only mediocre starters. Although that’s really a function of the logjam of points at the top – they are only 32 points off the top spot, but are in 6th. As well as 2 elite starters projected to score more than 160 points (CJ Mosley and Cole Holcomb) they have 3 more guys projected to score more than 120 points (Willie Gay, Dre Greenlaw and Josey Jewell), two top rookies from this year (Quay Walker and Devin Lloyd) and a top rookie from last year (Zaven Collins). Feels like this is going to be a strength for a while. Hurricanes are in a similar position (3 guys projected to score 150+, 2 projected to score 140+, 2 more projected to score 115+).

The Losers’ number is both artificially high and artificially low. Artificially high, because Deion Jones and Christian Harris are both on NFL IR now, but not yet on MFL IR – if they were I wouldn’t have counted them. But artificially low because they only have 5 LBs and everyone else has more. To waivers!

Worth noting that the Brees also get a slight boost here. I counted Blake Martinez (cut by the Giants and projected for 159 points) because he got cut after I started writing this up and I couldn’t be arsed changing it. Without him, they drop to 8th both for overall roster and for starters. I don’t think he’s signed elsewhere yet.

And now onto the area where no one cares about strength, CB.

Whole RosterStarters Only
East Flanders344.484187.824
Dyna Hard223.788169.349
The terrible columns on this chart are the fault of Chris Braithwaite

There’s not too much to say here because its CBs and they are barely worth projecting. Tamworth and Bombermen only roster 2 CBs, which hurts their overall points, but they are middle of the pack in terms of starter points. From first to last is a gap of about 50 points. I imagine the gap will be far bigger come season’s end, and it’ll be really interesting to see how the CB position works this year now that streaming isn’t viable. But other than that, I’ve got nothing to say here.

Last but (because of the existence of CBs) not least, safeties.

Whole RosterStarters Only
Dyna Hard364.648243.603
East Flanders327.509223.128
The terrible columns on this chart are the fault of Chris Braithwaite

As with CB and LB, there isn’t much separation between starters (Brees aside), with only about 45 points separating first and last. That is a function of the projections. There are 24 safeties on rosters who are projected to score over 100, but none projected to score over 130.

The Brees have none of those 24 safeties. Their scores was so bad I had to go back and check I didn’t miss someone. And I didn’t. Kyle Dugger (85.360) is their only safety projected to score more than 31 points. Talanoa Hufanga (30.380) and Daniel Sorensen (6.1) don’t have good projections. To be fair, they do have a couple of decent prospects on the taxi squad (Nick Cross and Camryn Bynum), but I couldn’t be arsed going back and checking what they are projected for, because they are on the taxi squad. Maybe move one of them up guys?

By way of comparison, Champions have 4 safeties projected to score over 116 points: Vonn Bell, Jonathan Abram, Jeremy Chinn and Derwin James. And they have two decent rookie prospects in Jaquan Brisker and Jalen Pitre. Its an embarrassment of riches. Tamworth have a similar set of riches – all 4 of their safeties are projected to score more than 118.

Right, we started with the overall position, so lets go back to that from a slightly different perspective: ranks. Rather than just using total points again, I ordered this by giving points for your rank in each position. So first in DTs gets you 10 points, last gets you 1. And then you get a rank based on how many points you got. So here is everyone’s ranks for their entire roster.

Dyna Hard6=62488
East Flanders101071049

At the top, there’s different ways of getting there. Kelkowski has a super balanced roster, ranking at least average at every position. Hurricanes are similar, with only one weakness, but slightly higher highs than Kelkowski (admittedly at CB and S, which might not matter as much). Meanwhile, the Bombermen are spectacular at DT and DE, good at LB and mediocre/bad at CB and safety. Do those weaknesses matter? They are also the only team that is top in 2 spots. Brees are similarly great at DT and safety, then mediocre/bad at the other spots.

There’s not much to say about the rest, other than pointing out the shining spot of LB on the Sadness’s defence and safeties for the Champions.

Now its the same thing, but just with starters.

Dyna Hard346293
East Flanders91011048

Kelkowski’s defence looks even better here, with their starters ranking in the top 3 at every spot. With their combination of depth everywhere and quality starters they look tough to beat. The Bombermen are similar to how they looked overall, although LB moves into elite territory and DE moves down slightly. Again, they are the only team who rank top at top positions, but at a different two from total points. Dyna Hard are the big winners in this table, jumping from 6th for overall roster to 3rd for starters. This probably reflects a lack of depth and a good chance they fall apart with a couple of injuries at key positions.

There’s a lovely three-way tie at 5th. Tamworth get there through overall mediocrity, Hurricanes have a combination of mediocrity and CBs, and the Champions are just dragged there kicking and screaming by their safeties. There are many ways to be average.

If you liked, you could do some weighting of the positions by importance. But that’s subjective. But if I did I’d probably weight DE and LB a bit more heavily and CB a bit less. So Bombermen would probably do a bit better.

So there you go. A lot of information about defences, which overall says that Bombermen and Kelkowski have good defences, East Flanders and Losers don’t and that projecting defensive stats is probably pointless anyway.

You can probably find the spreadsheet I created to do this at this link, if I’ve set it up right. You can probably find some errors too, as I did it all manually as I have no spreadsheet skill.

Chris Braithwaite

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