2017 IDP Rankings - Defensive Backs (Redraft)

Listed below is a sample of my 2017 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 2017 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 2017 could be quite different from your top 20 defensive backs in 2016 (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. Additionally, the proliferation of nickel and dime sub packages have increased the number of defensive backs seeing 70%+ of the team's weekly snaps and made the position even more difficult to project from a fantasy perspective.

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 outside of the first couple of tiers. Therefore, I usually try to grab a solid veteran fantasy producer (like Antoine Bethea in recent years) to serve as my anchor player and round out the position with young, upside talent in high leverage roles. 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

Tier 1
1Landon Collins S - NYG (8)
Collins had one of the best fantasy seasons for a defensive back in recent memory, compiling 100 solo tackles, 25 assists, 4 sacks, 5 interceptions, 13 passes defended and a defensive touchdown to top things off. The Giants remain weaker than ever at the linebacker position, so Collins has a good shot at once again being the #1 fantasy defensive back in 2017.
2Reshad Jones S - MIA (11)
Jones had a year to remember in 2015 as he finished as fantasy's top overall IDP (a rare feat for a DB) and was having another DB1 season in 2016 before going on IR in October after labrum surgery. The Dolphins have improved their linebacking core in recent years with the additions of Kiko Alonso and Lawrence Timmons but there should still be enough opportunity for Jones to be a strong DB1 moving forward.
Tier 2
3Keanu Neal S - ATL (5)
Neal missed the first two weeks of his rookie season after undergoing a knee scope in August. However, he wasted no time in establishing himself as a DB1. Despite only playing full-time in 13 games, Neal still finished in the top 5 for fantasy points scored among defensive backs. He will, in all likelihood, improve upon his 2016 numbers and finish as a top three fantasy DB.
4Morgan Burnett S - GB (8)
Burnett's had some issues staying healthy in recent years, but has been a consistent DB1 when on the field. The Packers are fielding one of the weakest inside linebacking groups in the league, so expect the team to utilize Burnett in a sub package linebacker role. He set a career high in interceptions last year with three and chipped in nine pass deflections as well making him a viable big play threat at the position.
5Johnathan Cyprien S - TEN (8)
Cyprien has been one of the league’s premier run-defending safeties since entering the league in 2013 but has struggled in pass coverage and hasn't been much of a big play generator in the back half of the defense. Last year was his best all-around season however, scoring above average marks in every facet of his game and leading all defensive backs in total tackles. The move to Tennessee should keep his fantasy value consistent to past years. Cyprien should be drafted as a mid-range DB1.  
6Tony Jefferson S - BAL (10)
Jefferson had a career year with the Cardinals last season racking up nearly 100 total tackles and generating several big plays over 14 games. He's now with Baltimore and should be set up for similar stats on their defense. They have a gaping hole at inside linebacker and Jefferson will be relied upon to come into the box and stop the run. He's just 25 years old and entering his prime, so DB1 production should be well within reach.
7Barry Church S - JAC (8)
Church emerged on the fantasy scene back in 2013 with an impressive 100+ solo breakout performance. Dallas frequently utilized him in a run support role due to their weak front seven. This helped his tackle rate, so some may expect a drop in production with the move over to Jacksonville. Jonathan Cyprien was highly productive in that strong safety role however and the Jaguars defense should see a similar, if not higher, amount of field time than Dallas. We should expect more of the same from Church in 2017.
Tier 3
8Kenny Vaccaro S - NO (5)Target
The Saints' mess at linebacker the few years has allowed Vaccaro to assume more in-the-box duties. He was having a career year before getting suspended 4 games and judging by his career trajectory, he's well primed for another uptick in production in 2017.
9Jamal Adams S - NYJ (11)
The Jets used the sixth overall pick on Adams who should immediately become a starter in New York's secondary. David Harris is no longer with the team and Darron Lee underwhelmed as a rookie, so Adams should see a lot of tackle opportunity on a defense that is expected to spend a lot of time on the field. He's the favorite to lead all rookie secondary players in tackles. Production similar to Landon Collins in his rookie season is quite achievable.
10Harrison Smith S - MIN (9)
Smith's historical tackle rate doesn't quite stack up with the rest of the elite DB1 tier, but he typically makes that up through interceptions and sacks. I'm projecting him for a 75/25/2 stat line with a couple interceptions thrown in for good measure. This makes him a back-end DB1 option.

Like what you've read so far? Looking to dominate your 2017 Fantasy Football draft(s)? For $6.99 you can get complete access to The IDP Guru's comprehensive and exhaustive 
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Features:

- 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: June 27, 2017
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13 comments :

Darryle Moody said...

Ryan, I am in a 14 team ppr keeper league with IDPs. We can keep 4 players from last year's roster. I was planning on keeping Howard RB, S. Watkins WR, Paul Perkins RB and we must keep at least one IDP - Kwon Alexander. But now Watkins got traded leaving me with a decision to either replace watkins with Jamis Winston, Moncrief-WR or shock people with keeping another defensive guy - Keanu Neal - DB. I am #9 in the draft order. When it comes to getting the most value for that pick, who would you take?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Darryle Moody
I would only keep Kwon. Really hard to give advice on the second question without knowing the scoring system (e.g. how are IDPs valued relative to offensive players).

Harry H said...

Any suggestions on cb that could be moving to safety?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Harry H
Darius Butler is the first player that comes to mind. He's still classified as a CB in most leagues and he should be taking over for Clayton Geathers at safety. Sneaky value.

Harry H said...

Good stuff thanks!

Steve Simmons said...

Thanks for the excellent analysis, Ryan. I take it from your rankings that if you had a choice between Reshad Jones and Keanu Neal for a seasonal league, you'd go with Jones. Is that correct?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Steve Simmons
Yes, I like Jones better.

Bengalsfan said...

Who is a good SS going under the radar?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Bengalsfan
Jahleel Addae and Kevin Byard

Eric Hamilton said...

Idpguru, love the site. With burfict out 3 games I have a gap on defense. 2 points solo, 1 point assist.

How would you rank these for a three week filler:
Tony Jefferson, Darron Lee, hassan Reddick, Reggie Ragland, kamalei Correa, aj Klein

Any other sleepers you would recommend?

Black and Yellow said...

How do you feel about Jabrill Peppers?

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Black and Yellow
I think he can be a very productive fantasy DB1 (top tier). Although I was a bit disappointed that they played him so far off the line in preseason. I bumped him down a few slots because of that but still think he's worth drafting as a DB2-/DB3+.

Ryan Sitzmann said...

@Eric Hamilton
Lee, Jefferson, Correa, Klein, Reddick, Ragland

Nick Vigil is a good sleeper.

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