2016 IDP Rankings - Defensive Backs (Redraft)

Listed below is a sample of my 2016 Defensive Back Rankings for IDP Redraft Leagues. I will update these sample rankings periodically during the off-season to reflect changes in free agency, defensive schemes, playing time, draft selections, etc. However, keep in mind that the information listed here is just a small sample of a much larger set of rankings and descriptions that are accessible through purchasing my 2016 IDP Fantasy Football Draft Guide.

Drafting Philosophy:
Defensive backs have the most variability in point production from year-to-year. In other words, your top 20 defensive backs in 2016 could be quite different from your top 20 defensive backs in 2015 (especially in "big play leagues").

Much of this variability is because defensive back production is often dependent on the performance of the team's front seven. Their production is also heavily tied to how they are used in the defensive scheme (especially safeties).

The defensive back position, more than any other position, typically has top-notch fantasy producers available on the waiver wire. This is due to the relatively large amount of DBs that unexpectedly emerge as viable fantasy options throughout the course of the season (e.g. Rashad Johnson).

This 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 FS Antoine Bethea or CB Jason McCourty 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 predicted.

Scoring System:
Solo Tackle = 1 point
Assist = 0.5 point
Sack = 3 points
Interception = 4 points
Forced Fumble = 2 points
Fumble Recovery = 2 points
Pass Deflection = 1 point
Defensive TD = 6 points

S = Sleeper/Undervalued Player
B = Bust/Overvalued Player
R = Injury Risk

Tier 1
1. SS Reshad Jones (MIA) - With 136 total tackles,  5 interceptions,  and 2 sacks,  Jones had one of the best performances by a defensive back in recent memory and was the TOP scoring IDP (over every linebacker by a fairly wide margin). The arrival of Kiko Alonso may put a slight damper on his production,  but I'm not convinced he's fully healthy and will have the same range as he did before. That said, Jones is the clear-cut first defensive back off the board.

Tier 2

. FS Corey Graham (BUF) - Graham was part of the resurgence of the DB fantasy field and lit the world on fire with 95 solo tackles and 32 assists. He hadn't done much in his previous nine seasons in the league, so there's a risk he could bust. But the conditions are ripe again for another great year and defensive backs are fickle anyway,  so he's worth a selection at this draft slot.

. SS Landon Collins (NYG) - Collins got off to an OK start during his rookie season, but really started to hit his stride down the stretch compiling nearly seven solo tackles a game during the last third of the year. The Giants continue to have one of the weakest linebacking crews in the league, so Collins will see plenty of tackle opportunity. He could very well be a tackling machine this year.

. SS Morgan Burnett (GB) - As long as Green Bay's front seven continues to be fairly weak, Burnett will maintain a good share of his fantasy value. Additionally, he's been serving as the team's dime linebacker. If that holds true into the regular season, he should be well primed for a top 5 DB season.

Tier 3

. FS Eric Weddle (BAL) - After nine years in San Diego,  Weddle will be taking his services to Baltimore. The Ravens haven't historically produced many great fantasy DBs but Weddle has been ultra consistent throughout his career. So I trust that he can still produce top 10 DB numbers.

6. FS Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix (GB) - HC-D continued to progress in his second season and as long as Green Bay's front seven continues to be weak,  he should still be one of the more solid DB2+/DB1- options. A healthy Morgan Burnett may take away some share but there is enough to go around for the both of them.

. FS Harrison Smith (MIN) -
A hamstring injury derailed Smith's production towards the backend of the year. However  up until that point,  he had only eclipsed five solo tackles twice all year. With Minnesota's defense improving significantly I fear the opportunity just won't be there for him. That said, he's likely to be over drafted this year and is someone I wouldn't reach for as an elite DB1.

8. CB/S Tyrann Mathieu (ARZ) - If not for a late-season ACL injury,  Mathieu would fall into the top four elite DB tier. Apparently he heals like "Wolverine" and is way ahead of schedule in his rehab. If all goes to plan,  he should be ready for the start of the season and could provide owners with good value if he falls into the DB2+ range.

9. S Malcolm Jenkins (PHI) - Jenkins bested his previous career high in solo tackles last year by a whopping 26. The Eagles linebacking crew was decimated by injury which allowed a lot of tackle opportunity to flow into the secondary. With Jordan Hicks and Mychal Kendricks back healthy, Jenkins' numbers are likely to return down into the 70-75 solo tackle range.

10. S Kenny Vaccaro (NO) - Vaccaro's production during the first two years of his career were seen as a disappointment. He seemed to right the ship in year three with a top 15 finish at his position, surpassing 100 total tackles and notching 3 sacks. His in-the-box playing style should continue to boost his numbers and keep him in the top 10-15 DBs.

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- Updated in real-time
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Questions, comments, or concerns with any of these rankings? If so, please let me know by posting a comment below or emailing me at theidpguru@idpguru.com. You can also hit me up on Twitter

Last Updated: August 25, 2016
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Adam1234 said...

Antoine Bethea still worth a pick? he's wayyyyy down the rankings in the NFL.com draft and I'll be looking to him as usual, but is he still worth it?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

I think so. All signs are still pointing to him starting at SS and as long as that still holds true, he's going to have DB2+/DB1- value on that defense.

Adam1234 said...

@Ryan Sitzmann

playing in an IDP league, 3 DL, 3 LB and 3 DB - hoping I can get him, Morgan Burnett and Harrison Smith as they're a fair way down the NFL.com draft rankings

reckon Smith and Burnett will still post DB1 value?

Darryle Moody said...

Ryan, I'm in a 14 team keeper league with IDPs. Had a bad draft because of storms and internet going in and out. The computer picked some bad DBs for me so I had to replace them. Players pool has been picked over badly for Safties (Need 2) but found an article about Geathers of Ind and Campbell of Clev as possible sleepers having to come up form run support. What is your thought on those 2 guys and how bad is Geather's injury. Some other DBs in our players pool are: Bethea, McDougald, Adams, Mcdonald, Mitchell, Conte, S. Davis, Gibson, M. Gilchrist, M. Thomas, R. Bush, Lowry, D. Bush, Byrd, A. Willians, S. Williams. Any of them better in your opinion? Thanks Ryan!

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Darryle Moody
I like both of those guys a lot. Campbell is likely the better value as he's going a decent chunk later in drafts. I like Bethea as a top 15 DB as long as he continues to start. Those are the three I'd focus on.

Ryan Sitzmann said...

I think Burnett is the more likely candidate to post DB1 stats. I'm not high on Smith as others but he brings consistency to a position that is historically inconsistent.

Darryle Moody said...

Ryan, Keanu Neal has just been put out on waivers in our league. Is he an upgrade in your opinion over Safeties Geathers & Campbell? Thanks Ryan!

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Darryle Moody
I think they are all in the same tier. I really like Campbell more and more. That defense is going to be on the field a lot and teams are going to run a lot against them. I would stick with what you have as it's a lateral move at best IMO.

Adam1234 said...

need a backup DB to Burnett/Weddle/Bethea, who out of Jason McCourty, TJ McDonald or Michael Griffin would be the best bet?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

I like McCourty. As solid as they come for CBs. McDonald has more tackle competition and I think his 2014 season may have been an aberration.

Adam1234 said...

@Ryan Sitzmann

so McCourty over Michael Griffin also?

Harry H said...

Any sleeper CB that you recommend?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Harry H
CB is by far the hardest IDP position to predict. And I'd be lying if I said I had any sure fire sleepers. However, if I had to roster cornerbacks guys like Buster Skrine, Vernon Hargreaves, Jason McCourty, Jalen Ramsey, and James Bradberry would be on my list.

In terms of sleeper DTs, Linval Joseph is a nice pick in tackle-heavy leagues. Kyle Williams as well. Otherwise, more obvious guys are Geno Atkins and Gerald McCoy in big-play leagues.

Pippen said...

Is Karl Joseph going to be the next Deone Buccannon of 2015?

Pippen said...

Is Karl Joseph going to be the next Deone Buccannon of 2015?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

They aren't really comparable players or situations. Bucannon is playing linebacker on a defense with little tackle competition at the position. Joseph profiles more as a Charles Woodson-type. I haven't been overly impressed in the preseason but he still has time to grow. I wouldn't be too concerned, but I wouldn't be surprised if he gets off to a slow start.

Pippen said...

@Ryan Sitzmann
Thanks Ryan...always helpful.

Nick Beckman said...

Yahoo leagues list Deone Bucannon & Mark Barron as Safety/Linebackers (which is correct, as they're two of a small grouping of hybrid players in the NFL). Does the fact that they'll hopefully get LB production and can start in a DB slot give them a bump in the rankings when drafting? Would Bucannon creep into the DB top 10 with said eligibility?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Nick Beckman
I actually wouldn't consider Barron a hybrid anymore. He plays nearly all his snaps at WLB. Bucannon is a hybrid and is a top 3-5 DB with that eligibility. Barron is top 10 DB.

BMCD said...

HI Ryan...Great job on the DG again this year. I have Collins, Hicks, Laurinaitis, Heeney & Zachary Brown for LBs. Thinking of picking up Martinez for Z Brown. Also starting Collins, Hicks, but should I go w/Laurinatis or Heeney? What would you recommend for these two moves. Thanks...BMCD

BMCD said...

At DB, I have L Collins, M Adams, K Neal (IR), & S Williams Cin. With Neal on IR, I can pick up Hall or Tartt. Which one would you recommend? Starting Collins, but should I start Adams or Williams this week. Thanks...BMCD.

Ryan Sitzmann said...

I'd pick up Martinez for Brown. And I'd actually start Martinez over Heeney or James L.

Pick up Hall, assuming that's DeAngelo. And I'd actually start him.

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