As we rapidly approach the start of the NFL season, we are being inundated with reports out of camp. Leonard Fournette released. Fred Warner with COVID. Derwin James with a knee injury. Yannick Ngakoue traded to the Vikings. My typing skills are trying to keep up. This is the last of the rankings updates, top 50 defensive backs for 2020 IDP leagues, with just a week or so before opening day.
If you’ve followed my series on strategies and early-season rankings, you’ll know that defensive back rankings are dominated by strong safeties at the top of the board. Corner is the most easily streamed position in IDP leagues and that has been my recommendation with this position. There weren’t a ton of changes in the rankings, but two big names have been affected by trade, Jamal Adams, and by injury, Derwin James.
Derwin James is the major player here. His knee injury, which is reportedly a tear of his meniscus, has not been updated. If the injury is one where the cartilage cannot be repaired, and it’s just a “clean up”, he could return in 3 to 4 weeks (similar to Joe Mixon in 2018). If it’s a tear that can be repaired, he could miss most of the season. For this reason, I am dropping him off my top 50 list. He’ll be a good waiver pick up later in the season, but with the expectation of missing a good portion of the season, he’s undraftable now ( and dropable in the leagues you and I already have him in).
EDIT: Updated expectation is that James will be out 6-8 MONTHS. This will turn out to be either a meniscus repair or an articular cartilage clean-up/repair. (articular cartilage is the cartilage that covers the bone. Once that is “torn”, it is considered arthritis with bare bone showing). If articular, this is not good for his long term outlook.
Xavier McKinney of the Giants broke the 5th Metacarpal in his foot. These injuries can vary in the amount of time it will take to return. McKinney falls off the radar for this reason just like James. This is the same injury as Deebo Samuel who is supposedly nearing a return after surgery in mid-June. That’s 9+ weeks already…
Marcus Maye moves up the draft board as he is expected to take on Jamal Adams’ role in the Jets defense. If Maye can step in and perform, he could end up in the top 25 when the year is over. The player the Jets acquired in the Adams trade, Bradley McDougald, will man the deep safety position for the Jets. With the Jets’ poor offensive expectations, McDougald will see plenty of action. He’s a low-end safety at this point.
Jamal Adams moves down slightly on my board from 1 to 5 (now 4 with James’ injury). I wrote my thoughts about his value after the trade here https://football.razzball.com/the-docs-stock-report-jamal-adams
Logan Ryan signed with the Giants while I was editing this piece. I plugged him in at 48 since it sounds like he may be playing safety to fill in for McKinney. Ryan’s season last year was off the charts and is not repeatable. He’s worth a flier in deeper leagues but don’t draft him too early expecting last year’s numbers. If he were that good, why did it take so long for him to sign? It could have been the money, but teams paid up for other defensive backs in the off-season.
2020 has been a crazy year. Keep an eye on the news and expect the unexpected.