Well folks, preseason games have come and gone, and we are inching ever closer to Week 1 of the NFL regular season. Even though these exhibition games don’t count toward teams’ win-loss records, they are far from meaningless for fantasy football managers. New coaches, new players, and a new year present a great deal of uncertainty for IDP rosters, but preseason games can give us a glimpse of what to expect for the next 18 weeks. Keeping a close eye on which players are playing, and perhaps more importantly who isn’t playing in preseason games allows us the opportunity to piece together how defensive coordinators plan to use our IDPs and helps us deduce just how large of a role they’ll have.

“But wait, I haven’t been watching these glorified practices! What am I supposed to do now?!” Don’t worry, my friend, I knew you’d be busy enjoying the last few weeks of summer, so I went ahead and paid all the attention for you! Take a look at my Top 100 Overall IDP Rankings below, and read further to see my biggest winner and biggest loser from Preseason 2021.

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Hello again to all the IDP degenerates out there! Like it or not, you have stumbled onto the third and final set of position rankings for the 2021 season: Defensive Backs. If you missed the first two articles, make sure to check out the rankings for Linebackers and Defensive Line/EDGE. 

These DB rankings will include both safeties and cornerbacks, but you’ll notice the list is overwhelmingly safety-heavy. Corners provide a rare instance in which being a great real-life player does not translate to fantasy production. If the defense boasts a shut-down corner, offenses are less likely to throw his way, meaning fewer opportunities for tackles, pass break-ups, or interceptions, aka fantasy points. Even those corners who are targeted are often inconsistent fantasy producers on a week to week basis, since much of their production depends on where the opposing quarterback chooses to throw the ball. Safeties, however, generally provide much more consistency on the stat sheet, and are therefore more reliable assets for your IDP lineups. Like linebackers, look for safeties who are 3-down players, and preferably those who spend a lot of time in the box assisting in run support. More time in the box means the player is closer to the action, and therefore more likely to achieve tackle numbers that a deep safety will not. 

As always, it is important to know your league’s lineup requirements and scoring settings before you draft. Some leagues split defensive backs into cornerbacks and safeties, requiring the you start one or more of each. Other leagues may lump them together, but give cornerback stats an added boost to bring their value closer to safeties. These leagues are far from the most common, but still worth mentioning before getting into the rankings. Now that we’re all up to speed, let’s dig in!

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Welcome back for IDP Rankings Round 2! This week we take at the players that keep your favorite quarterbacks up at night: defensive linemen/edge rushers. A strong pass rush is critical for a defense in today’s pass-happy NFL, and a well-timed sack on an important 3rd down can swing the momentum like few plays can.

For the sake of these rankings, defensive tackles, defensive ends, and 3-4 outside linebackers are included together. It is important to know your league’s scoring, however, understand these rankings properly. Many leagues include DT/DE/OLB players as one position (like I’ve done), while some lump outside linebackers with inside linebackers. If you play in one of the latter, a player like TJ Watt may lose some value when competing with top tacklers like Darius Leonard and Roquan Smith for a spot in your lineup. Meanwhile, you may encounter a league which requires you to start defensive tackles as an entirely different position than defensive end, which will make players such as Aaron Donald or DeForest Buckner that much more valuable.

Bottom line is this: knowing the scoring and positional requirements for your leagues is absolutely critical to understanding player values and leaving your IDP drafts with a championship caliber roster. Anyway, enough lallygagging, let’s take closer look at the DL/EDGE players for the 2021 season.

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With training camps starting up this week, it’s time to get defensive!

“Wait, defense??? You mean those nameless guys that try to stop my running backs and wide receivers from scoring fantasy points?”

Yes! Well, sort of… Believe it or not, there are those of us so depraved that we actually play in fantasy football leagues that include Individual Defensive Players (IDPs); With this first set of rankings, we’ll focus on the heart of those IDP rosters, the linebackers. With linebackers, much like running backs (perhaps even more so), you should focus on full-time players who rarely leave the field. Generally, more snaps = more opportunities to produce statistics, a.k.a. fantasy points. These rankings will reflect just that.

“Yeah, yeah, I get it. I should roster LBs who play a lot… not exactly rocket science, pal. Just tell me who they are! Name names!”

Wow, impatient much? Ok, ok, fine! Without further ado, here are the top 40 linebackers for 2021 redraft leagues. Enjoy!

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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.  

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Two weeks to go before the NFL season begins. Training camp coming to a close and position battles and injuries shaping the landscape. There are a few changes we need to pay attention to. Here are my updated LB rankings for your IDP drafts.  

Stock up

TJ Watt moves up from 11 to 8 as a lot of IDP leagues are starting to adjust their scoring systems and I think this helps Watt.  Look for Watt to dominate again this season and compete for the top spot in defensive player leagues.

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Joe Douglas traded the best player on his team.  The Jets, a perennial team of dysfunction, has found itself a worse team than it was less than 24 hours ago.  Did they get a good return for a player who was vocal about his displeasure and contract status? Absolutely. When comparing this trade to the Dolphins trade for Minkah Fitzpatrick, the Dolphins were absolutely ripped off by the Steelers. 

Jamal Adams and a fourth round pick go from the Jets to the Seahawks for Bradley McDougald, two first round picks and a third round pick. The Jets made out well and will have two first round picks in each of the next two drafts.  The Seahawks get a top 5 safety, who some consider the best safety in the league. So where does this leave Adams’ fantasy value? Stock DOWN is the forecast. 

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When looking at defensive back rankings you’ll notice a fair amount of variance. Scoring systems play a role, but attempting to predict how many passes a player will “defense” or intercept is far from a science. It is why the top of most IDP rankings are filled with safeties with high tackle profiles and not the highly touted cornerbacks. Here I’ll highlight players 26-50 after covering 1-25 last week.

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Defensive back rankings can be highly variable based upon your scoring system and even with that, there is a lot of year to year fluctuations especially at cornerback. If you read my DB drafting strategy article you know that my advice is to wait on drafting them.  Yes there are some elite players, but in general, the production from this position varies from week to week based upon who the player is going up against and what you expect the game flow to be. This is the most streamable position in IDP leagues, especially if the league separates out the safety and cornerback positions.  

The reliability of the linebacker position to get you points and the lack of depth at the defensive line position should lead you to drafting them first before going after defensive backs. The main exception is if you play in a very tackle heavy format where getting one the top safeties could be an advantage. Regardless, safeties remain the backbone of combined rankings as the volatility of corners on a week to week basis is what makes them streaming candidates.

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