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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