2019 IDP Rankings - Defensive Backs (Redraft)

Listed below is a sample of my 2018 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 2019 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 2019 could be quite different from your top 20 defensive backs in 2018 (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 = 1.5 points
Assist = 0.75 points
Tackles for Loss = 2 points
Sack = 4 points
Interception = 5 points
Forced Fumble = 4 points
Fumble Recovery = 4 points
Pass Deflection = 1.5 point
Defensive TD = 6 points
Safeties = 2 points

Tier 1
1Derwin James S - LAC (12), +2 vs. ECR 
James had an outstanding rookie season and many felt he was snubbed for DROY. The Chargers didn't do much to improve their linebacking crew so James will once again have an easy pathway to DB1 numbers. Look for the Chargers to continue utilizing him in a pass-rushing role as well which should allow him to register 2-4 sacks a year. He's the perfect combination of a young player with upside while still having a high/safe floor.

2Jamal Adams S - NYJ (4), -1 vs. ECR 
An argument could be make that Adams should be the #1 DB taken off the board in this year's fantasy drafts and I wouldn't have much of an argument against that. He had more tackles and the same amount of sacks as Derwin James. I just believe James has more room to grow his upside given he's younger, has less competition for tackles, and is more of a big play threat. They are 1A and 1B in my eyes.

3Landon Collins S - WAS (10), -1 vs. ECR 
Target
After a monster sophomore campaign, Collins' numbers have fallen over the last two seasons as injury and ineffective usage have limited his opportunities. I believe the move to Washington will go a long way in rejuvenating his production as he will play behind one of the league's more suspect linebacking cores and, given his contract and the scheme, he's bound to be more of a focal point of the defense. Most will have Collins ranked at the bottom of this tier so he should present some good value for owners willing to take a little bit of a leap of faith.

4John Johnson S - LAR (9), +1 vs. ECR 
Johnson took a big step forward in his second year with the Rams, registering 115 total tackles which was 2nd among all DBs and good enough for a top 5 fantasy finish at the position. He flashed nice big play ability as well with 4 interceptions and remains a solid DB1 anchor for fantasy owners heading into the 2019 season.

5Keanu Neal S - ATL (9), -1 vs. ECR 
Neal made an immediate impact on Atlanta's defense upon being drafted 17th overall in 2016 draft and quickly became one of the focal points of Dan Quinn's defense. However, his 2018 season was a complete wash as he torn his ACL in the opening game of the year and was put on season-ending IR. Given Neal's explosive style of play, there is some concern if the injury will at all limit his potential moving forward. I'm not overly worried about it, but it's a situation I will definitely keep an eye on throughout OTAs and training camp to make sure nothing is amiss.

6Budda Baker S - ARI (12), +1 vs. ECR 
Target
After a very promising end to his rookie season, there was some concern surrounding Baker's fantasy value in 2018 given his position switch from safety to nickel cornerback. However, the youngster rose to the occasion and lead all CB-eligible players with 80 solo tackles and chipped in two sacks to boot. Baker will be moving back to strong safety in 2019 and should be able to build upon last year's numbers behind a relatively weak set of linebackers. He should be a good player to target in this year's drafts.

Tier 2
7Harrison Smith S - MIN (12), -1 vs. ECR 
Smith has only surpassed 100 total tackles once in his career and that was during his rookie season back in 2011. But that hasn't prevented him from being a year-in and year-out Top 10 DB as he's consistently been one of the best big play producers in the league. He should, once again, be relied on for 85+ tackles and several big plays.

8Bradley McDougald S - SEA (11), +10 vs. ECR 
As the Seahawks defense continues to age and they lose key pieces of their defense, more opportunities become available to the back end of their defense. To this point, McDougald has shown flashes of DB1 potential; however, he hasn't fully seized on the opportunity. This said, he did finish at a top 15-20 DB last year despite being limited in a few games due to injury. I believe he has the profile/skills to take the leap into the DB2+ category this year if his health stands up.

9Justin Reid S - HOU (10), +5 vs. ECR 
After becoming a full-time player in Week 5, Reid was one of the better fantasy DBs in the league and wound up finishing as a top 10-15 player at the position overall. In watching his game film, he looks like a player on the rise and someone that always seems to be around the ball/making plays. The safety position in Houston hasn't really been a productive one from a tackle standpoint in several years, but I think Reid is good enough to eclipse 70+ solos and is enough of a ballhawk to have DB1 upside.

10Shawn Williams S - CIN (9), +6 vs. ECR 



After several seasons existing as a DB4/streaming type option in most leagues, Williams' production exploded in 2018. He was the #1 fantasy DB in many balanced scoring formats, bringing a balance of tackle production (107) and big plays (5 interceptions). Based on his historical stats, it's fair to assume we will see some regression in tackle stats but probably not as much as people may think as the Bengals front seven has gotten weaker in recent years. He likely won't find his way onto many of my teams at his likely ADP, but I'd be content with him a low-end DB1+/top of the line DB2.

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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: July 14, 2019
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