This article is part of our IDP Analysis series.
ESPN announced a change to its IDP classification system, changing the Defensive End position to Defensive Edge, allowing the term to include 3-4 outside linebackers instead of just 4-3 defensive ends. It's a change that dramatically boosts the IDP utility of 3-4 outside linebackers, and their addition to the pool substantially increases the depth of the 'DE' position.
In past years, numerous double-digit sack artists would go unowned in IDP leagues because of their LB classification, an IDP position where they have to compete with off-ball linebackers with triple-digit tackle totals. In this new classification, those days might be gone. A defender with 50 tackles and 12 sacks is useless as an IDP linebacker, but they would suffice as a DL1 in past years. At least a few 3-4 outside linebackers are even candidates to finish the year as the top scorer in the new DE category.
Here are some of the standout 3-4 outside linebackers who are now available for your DL slot in ESPN leagues, listed in generally descending order of anticipated IDP utility.
T.J. Watt, PIT
Still not 26 until October, Watt's NFL trajectory leaves room for more growth yet despite posting 27.5 sacks over the last two years. That detail alone makes him a candidate to place first among DE IDPs, yet he also stands out in this group for his tackle production. Last year's total of 55 tackles might prove less indicative than the 68 tackles Watt posted in 2018 – on 50