2020 IDP Rankings - Defensive Backs (Redraft)

Listed below is a sample of my 2020 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 2020 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 2020 could be quite different from your top 20 defensive backs in 2019 (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 (10), +0 vs. ECR 
Despite missing the first 12 games of his sophomore season due to injury, it's evident based on his rookie year performance that James is a bonafide DB1 stud. The Chargers have struggled for years to have a reliable every down presence at the linebacker position and although they addressed that need in this year's draft, James will still have plenty of opportunity to fill that run-stopping void. Additionally, the team loves to use him to blitz the quarterback which should lead to above average sack production. He's an all-category contributor and will be the top DB off the board in a lot of fantasy leagues.

2Budda Baker S - ARI (8), +1 vs. ECR 
Baker broke on to the IDP scene midway through his rookie season and his never looked back. Despite a change in defensive coordinator and role, he's continued to get better production-wise each year he's been in the league, topping out at a league-leading 148 total tackles last year (18 more than the next nearest DB). The only nit on Baker is that he's yet to register an interception in his three-year career. That said, he'd still be in the #1 spot for me if not for the addition of rookie phenom Isaiah Simmons who I expect to leach a fair amount of tackle opportunity away from the secondary players in Arizona. He's still 1B to Derwin James, however.

3Jamal Adams S - SEA (6), -1 vs. ECR 
Although he's the least productive tackle producer in the first tier of defensive backs , Adams makes up for it with his ridiculous sack stats (6.5 last year). After expressing much desire to get out of New York, Adams was finally traded in late July. His tackle upside may take a hit playing behind Bobby Wagner, but other strong safeties have had DB1 value in this role historically and Adams is a top-caliber talent. So I still expect him to find a way to maintain top 5 DB value.

4Landon Collins S - WAS (8), +0 vs. ECR 
Collins arrival in Washington seemed to help his fantasy production after his numbers stalled out a bit during his last couple seasons with the Giants. In 2019, he finished third amongst all safeties in total tackles with 116 and spent a lot of time "up in the box" as evidenced by his 9 tackles for loss. The team did little to improve their linebacking crew this off-season, so Collins will once again have linebacker-type tackle opportunity and I'm expecting a rise in production now that he has a full year under his belt in this new defensive system.

5John Johnson S - LAR (9), +1 vs. ECR 
Johnson was on his way to another DB1 season before going down with a season-ending shoulder injury in Week 6. With Cory Littleton and Eric Weddle both gone, Johnson will have more opportunity than ever to rack up tackles in bunches. The addition of Jalen Ramsey should also open to the door for more big-play opportunities for the former third round pick out of Boston College who had four interceptions in his last full season in 2018.

Tier 2

6Jordan Poyer S - BUF (11), -1 vs. ECR 
Compared to the rest of the guys near him in the rankings, Poyer doesn't seem to get as much "love" from the NFL community. Perhaps it's because he was a 7th round pick who plays in one of the league's smallest markets. However, he's finished as a Top 10 DB in back-to-back seasons and deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as the Harrison Smith's and Keanu Neal's of the IDP world. He doesn't dominate in any one category, but is an above average contributor in pretty much every category and is one of those players who finds a way to score a healthy amount of points week in and week out.

7Keanu Neal S - ATL (10), +2 vs. ECR 
When healthy, Neal has proven that he deserves to be in the top tier of fantasy DBs. However, he hasn't been healthy since 2017. In fact, he's only played in four games the last two seasons. That fact makes it risky to spend that much draft capital on a player that's suffered back-to-back Achilles' injuries, particularly with a shortened off-season. He's only 24 years old though and his upside dictates he's still worth a selection in the top of the second tier of DBs.

8Tracy Walker S - DET (5), -1 vs. ECR 
Walker was the league's best tackling safety behind Budda Baker last year. Despite only starting 12 games, he still racked up 82 solo tackles and outstandingly didn't have one below average tackle game in 2019. He didn't do much in other categories, but if you gravitate towards dependable and consistent tackle producers, you won't do much better than Walker.

9Harrison Smith S - MIN (7), -1 vs. ECR 
Smith is one of the few safeties that's consistently managed to produce Top 10-15 numbers largely based on big play production (he's only topped 90 total tackles twice in his nine-year career). Big play reliance is something that typically turns me off to a player but Smith's long track record in the space shows us we can count on him to produce. Additionally, the Vikings defense has some of the best continuity in the league which helps protect his value as well.

10Taylor Rapp S - LAR (9), +1 vs. ECR 
Rapp became one of fantasy's top tackle-producing safeties after John Johnson went down with an injury. With Eric Weddle now gone, Rapp will be the surefire starter at strong safety and will likely slide into a linebacker role in certain passing situations given the lack of talent at the position for the Rams. DB1 John Johnson's presence is the only reason why Rapp isn't ranked higher.

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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 1, 2020
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