2012 IDP Draft Rankings - Defensive Backs (Redraft)

I will continually update these rankings throughout the off-season to reflect changes in free agency, defensive schemes, defensive playing time, rookie draft selections, etc.

Drafting Philosophy:
Defensive backs have the most variability in point production from year-to-year. In other words, your top 20 defensive backs in 2012 could be quite different from your top 20 defensive backs in 2011 (especially in "big play leagues").

Much of this variability is because, many times, a defensive back's production is heavily tied to the performance of that specific team's front seven. Their production is also heavily tied to how they are used in the defensive scheme (especially safeties).

In addition, the defensive back position, more than any other position has the most substantial amount of fantasy producers on the waiver wire because many unexpected fantasy performers emerge from the defensive back throughout the season (e.g. George Wilson, Kam Chancellor).

With this being said, I find it hard to use one of my first defensive picks on a defensive back. In reality, there are very few "locks" at the fantasy DB position. Therefore, I usually try to grab a solid veteran fantasy producer like SS Roman Harper and get riskier at this position with my later picks. This strategy affords me the luxury of using higher draft picks on other defensive positions where their projected performance is more accurately predicated.

Scoring System:
Solo Tackle = 2 points
Assist = 1 point
Sack = 7 points
Interception = 7 points
Forced Fumble = 5 points
Fumble Recovery = 5 points

DSC = Possible Defensive Scheme Change
S = Sleeper/Undervalued Player
B = Bust/Overvalued Player
R = Injury Risk
RK = Rookie

Tier 1

George Wilson 1. SS George Wilson (BUF) - Wilson was perhaps my top sleeper pick heading into last year and boy did he pay dividends for me on multiple teams. Over a 13 game span, he racked up 106 total tackles, 4 INTs, and 2 FFs. Those are LB1 numbers out of your DB. The SS position in Buffalo has been a fantasy gold mine for several seasons and there is no reason to expect that it won't be again this season. Wilson is the clear cut #1 safety option in the majority of fantasy leagues. DSC

Eric Berry 2. SS Eric Berry (KC) - Berry has potentially the most upside of anyone on this list. He had a solid rookie season and their were definitely signs there that he could be a top 3-5 player at this position. However, he missed the entire 2011 season with an ACL tear and has lost a bit of that value and momentum he gained in the year before. I wouldn't worry about the injury a whole lot. He's going to be a great player in the NFL and perhaps even a better fantasy player.

Tyvon Branch 3. SS Tyvon Branch (OAK) - Branch has now strung together 3 consecutive seasons of 80+ solo tackles and further established himself as one of the premier fantasy DBs in the game. He's one of the more bankable options at a position with a lot of season-to-season variability and that's worth it's wait in gold itself. Expect 80-85 solos, 20-25 assists, and 3-5 big plays next season. DSC

Roman Harper 4. SS Roman Harper (NO) - Harper has had 5 straight seasons of DB1 type production and has immense big play upside with 7.5 sacks last season. He would be #1 on this list if not were the signings of Curtis Lofton and David Hawthorne which will surely tack away tackle opportunities. You also have that whole "Bountygate" thing which could mean a multi-game suspension for Harper. He still deserves to be taken as a DB1 but just don't expect 80-85+ solos.

Kam Chancellor 5. SS Kam Chancellor (SEA) - Kam Chance was a player I mentioned numerous times last preseason as a deep sleeper to target late in drafts. Thankfully he proved me right by finishing within the top 15 in many leagues. He plays like a linebacker within Seattle's scheme and has little competition for tackles within the front seven now that David Hawthorne is gone. Expect similar to slightly higher production from Chancellor this season.

Tier 2

Morgan Burnett 6. SS Morgan Burnett (GB) - Burnett was pretty darn high on my ingoing sleeper list last season and boy did he get off to a hot start. A mid-season injury really limited his tackling ability and caused him to be dropped in many shallower leagues. Once the injury healed however, he really ramped his production back up to closely mirror his first half split. His 2011 numbers don't really speak to his DB1 potential and therefore you may be able to sneak him past some less skillful fantasy leaguemmates.

Antoine Bethea 7. FS Antoine Bethea (IND) - Bethea continued his streak of top 15 finishes last season. Although his big plays were significantly down from previous years, he set a career high with 139 total tackles in part due to the Colts absurd tackle opportunity and generous scorekeeping. Expect more of the same from the 6th round pick out of Howard this season. Low-end DB1. DSC

Patrick Chung 8. SS Patrick Chung (NE) - Last season was extremely frustrating for Chung owners as he had a nagging injury that prevented him from playing a single snap after week 9. When he played, he was effective from a fantasy standpoint and was producing like the Chung of 2010. If he can stay healthy, Chung is going to produce similar to Rodney Harrison when he was wearing a Pats jersey. DSC

Charles Tillman 9. LCB Charles Tillman (CHI) - "Peanut" has been the most solid tackle producing corner in the NFL over the last several season and 2011 was no exception. Not only did he once again register 80+ solo tackles but he also had 2 defensive touchdowns. There aren't a lot of corners that can provide the consistency that Tillman does. He's a DB2+/CB1.

Eric Weddle 10. FS Eric Weddle (SD) - Weddle is one of those IDPs that just finds way to score points. His tackle numbers were down last year, but he managed a whopping, career-high 7 INTs (previous high was 2). He's dependable and a centerpiece of the Chargers defense. I wouldn't expect 7 INTs necessarily again this season, but he'll find some way to crack the top 10.

Bernard Pollard 11. SS Bernard Pollard (BAL) - Pollard's career has been one of numerous ups and downs. The former 2nd round pick has already bounced between 3 teams in his 6 seasons in the league. He's a great run defender but struggles mightily in coverage situations (which makes him a great fantasy player). The Ravens signed him this past off-season and he broke into the starting lineup in week 6 averaging around 7 total tackles per game and he threw in a couple of sacks. If he can make it through an entire season as the starter, he has 75-80 solo/3-4 sack potential.

Tier 3

Jason McCourty 12. LCB Jason McCourty (TEN) - McCourty had a break out year as a fantasy CB. Some may think it's a fluke, but I don't. That CB position in Tennessee has been a lucrative one the last couple seasons as their corners are expected to play press coverage and be active in stopping the run. Cortland Finnegan leaving may mean less balls are thrown McCourty's way but he still should put up good enough numbers to warrant DB1 consideration and should be the first corner taken off the boards come draft day.

Mark Barron

13. SS Mark Barron (TB) - Barron isn't on the same level as an Eric Berry, but he was clearly the best safety in this year's shallow draft class. He will be the every down starter from day 1 in Tampa Bay and should see decent tackle opportunity behind a relatively inexperienced set of young linebackers. The Bucs will likely bring him up to help in run support quite a bit early translating to good tackle production. Expect solid DB2+ numbers out of the youngster. RK

Charles Woodson 14. CB/S Charles Woodson (GB) - Heading into his 15th season, Charles Woodson is still one of the most productive cornerbacks in the NFL. He's also managed to be fantasy relevant for a majority of his career (especially the last couple of seasons). He's not afraid to come up and play the run and teams are throwing at him a lot more than they use to which had lead to an increase in big plays. The possible move to safety will likely only help his value.

Tier 4

LaRon Landry

15. FS LaRon Landry (WAS) - There's no doubting Landry's immense talents. When he plays, he puts up studly production and is perhaps the best fantasy safety in the game. The problem is he's been injured a ton and the type of injuries he's sustained our ones that can linger a player's entire career. I'm not entirely sold that his Achilles' injury is healed, but the Jets will put him in positions to make big plays and the tackles will come naturally. He's worth a top 15 selection on his upside alone.

Jordan Babineaux 16. SS Jordan Babineaux (TEN) - Babineaux is the perfect example of a mediocre player in fantastic fantasy situation. He had 72 solo tackles a year ago and with Chris Hope gone to Atlanta, he could quite easily hit 80+ solos this season. He is in a mini positional battle with Robert Johnson, but I fully expect him to win the job. He doesn't have much big play upside, but his tackle production makes him a sneaky DB1 play in most leagues. S

Quintin Mikell 17. FS Quintin Mikell (STL) - 4 straight season of approximately 70 solo production and 2-3 INTs is quite solid for a fantasy DB. It's nice to snatch a reliable, consistent IDP like Mikell in the middle rounds of your draft to add some stability to your roster.

Dawan Landry 18. SS Dawan Landry (JAX) - DLandry has a solid year in his 1st season in a Jaguars uniform. He manages to put up solid numbers in spite of playing behind strong linebacking crews during his career. With this said, there's no reason to believe he won't post similar numbers this season as he did last season.

Troy Polamalu 19. SS Troy Polamalu (PIT) - I've always thought Polamalu to be overrated in fantasy terms as he's failed to register more than 64 solo tackles the last seven season. However, I've realized that he's just one of those players that finds ways to score points and he deserves a roster spot as your DB2. His tackle production has a chance to increase this season as veteran LB James Farrior is no longer with the team and therefore the Steelers may call on "Mr. Head & Shoulders" to play in the box more.

Jairus Byrd 20. FS Jarius Byrd (BUF) - Byrd has been quite the ballhawk since entering the league 3 years ago. I think the tackle numbers last season are a bit inflated and his true numbers probably fall within the 65 solo tackle range with 4-5 INTs a season.

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Last Updated: August 26, 2012
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@Brian said...

How do you think Brandon Flowers will do this year? James Harrison also? Both on my Dynasty league team, Thanks

Ryan Sitzmann said...

I'd grade Flowers as a DB4. I think he will probably get thrown at less this year with Carr gone which means he could see a dip in production.

I had my doubts about Harrison last year, but he proved me wrong. Worilds is waiting in the wings and it's only a matter of time before he takes over. I still see Harrison as a top 25 LB in big play leagues, however.

Ed said...

How do you think T.J. Ward is going to do this year. Any chance of a good bounce back year? Thanks.

Ryan Sitzmann said...

I actually have Ward ranked at #21. With Rubin and Jackson sucking up all the tackles in the middle, Ward is no longer a DB1, but I still think he can be a DB2 type that produces 70-75 solo tackles with possibly a sack or two.

jeff said...

Hi Guys, will you publish projections? My league is much more heavy on tackles that big plays.

Ryan Sitzmann said...

We probably won't be publishing projections this season, but we do try and call out IDPs whose value changes drastically depending on the scoring system (e.g. DeMarcus Ware).

Anonymous said...

What do u expect out of Alterraun Verner and Jimmy Smith this year? Both guys moving into starting positions, one guy already proven in the nfl as a tackle machine and one guy already proven while in college as a solid tackle producer. These two are joining Winfield and Tramon Williams as my other cb's on my roster. What do u think of that postion as a whole for me?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

I like Verner A LOT this year and think he could be this year's Jason McCourty. Jimmy Smith is a little bit more of a question mark, but I definitely think he's worth a flyer as your 4th CB.

Anonymous said...

What should we expect from Terrell Thomas this season? What is a best/worst case scenario?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

Worst case scenario is he missed the entire/majority of the 2012 season. Best case scenario is he returns early mid-season and puts up DB2- numbers.

Anonymous said...

What do you think of safety Michael Griffin going forward? Do you think the loss of Finnegan will impact him positively or negatively?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

I don't really seeing it having much of an effect either way. I think Verner will step in and amass just as many tackles as Finnegan did, if not more. I've never been a big Griffin fan personally. I think his 2010 performance was a fluke as the Titans received an extraordinary amount of tackle opportunity and pretty much everyone on their defense racked up a ton of tackles. With McCarthy in front of him, I just don't see much tackle upside and I'm not one to draft DBs based on big play upside. I consider him a DB4+/DB3- at best.

Anonymous said...

How do you see William Moore producing this year? I remember you were high on him as a sleeper last year but he dealth with injuries as usual. Any chance of a breakout season?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

I've cooled on Moore a bit this last season. With Stephen Nicholas playing solid, all every down football in front of him, he's chances for tackles aren't the greatest. Injuries and inconsistent play are concerns as well. I'd consider him a DB4 flyer at this point.

brentdeo said...

about to make a trade for george wilson. have you heard anything that would keep me from making that trade or is everything good with wilson? i could get kam chancellor also but i think i like wilson better. do you agree?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

I still like Wilson as a top 5 DB. The improvement of the front seven may cut down a bit on his tackle opportunity but the Bills strong safety position has been a very fruitful one in Buffalo for the last several seasons. Wilson and Chancellor are neck and neck and neither one has a unique advantage over the other in the end.

Anonymous said...

What would your top 10 DBs look like if a Pass Defended was the same amount of pts as a Solo Tackle?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

Since most players don't have much more than 15 or so PDs, it's kind of an indifferent stat especially since the deviation between players is very small. The only bump I would really give a player off the top of head would be Polamalu as he had 13 PDs and the next closest safety only had 9. But once again, that's a minimal difference.

Anonymous said...

Do you see any value in Taylor Mays or Reggie Nelson this year?

Juggernaut said...

IDP Guru, I am in a very competitive 14 team league. I have 3 DB spots to fill and currently have Harrison Smith & Quinten Mikell filling 2 of those spots. I need one more solid DB so I was wondering if you would rank the following players that are out in our players pool and also rank Harrison Smith and Q. Mikell in with them as well:

Players Pool: Babineaus, Verner, coleman (Phil), K. Rhodes, A. Winfield, Huff (OAK), K. Phillips, & Darian Steweart; my 2 smith and mikell


Ryan Sitzmann said...

I think both can have value. I like Nelson a little bit more than Mays as he's more proven and will have more blitz opportunities. Mays is definitely worth watching in tackle-heavy leagues. He did suffer a concussion in the preseason however and is in a mini battle for his job right now. I think he wins it and can put up Roy Williams type tackle numbers if he plays effectively enough to stay on the field.

Ryan Sitzmann said...

Babineaux, Mikell, Stewart, Winfield, Verner, Coleman, Rhodes, Huff, Smith

I don't see a ton of value for Smith. The Vikings system isn't set up well for great fantasy production from their safeties IMO. Babineaux and Stewart are both in position battles so that definitely makes them riskier selections. Winfield has age and injury history going against him. I like Verner a lot this year, but he's a CB and their production tends to be unstable year to year.

Ultimately, Babineaux-Verner/Coleman can all be argued to be in the same tier. I would select based upon your risk tolerance. Or wait until the dust settles with the position battles and then go after Babineaux or Stewart if they end up winning the job.

Anonymous said...

What do you think of Yeremiah Bell with the Jets? He is consistently a good tackler with over 80 solos the last 4 years. Will he have that type of production with the Jets?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

I think Bell should be taken in the 20-25 range. He should have pretty good tackle opportunity playing behind the Jets linebackers. A lot of his value is depending on how healthy LaRon Landry is however. If Landry is healthy, he will likely steal away a good amount of tackles.

Anonymous said...

week 1 would u start A.Winfeld or R.Barber at CB

Ryan Sitzmann said...

I'd go with Winfield.

P.S. - In the future, please list the opposing team matchups :)

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