Whenever you see an overall ranking for IDP leagues, linebackers will dominate the list. Some will have the top 10-20 players be linebackers and that would be true if you only based the rankings on projected points, but draft strategy has to come into play. As in your offensive player part of the draft, position scarcity and tiers come into play. There is a large core of players in each of the three positions that don’t vary much, but the start of each of these cores varies greatly between positions.
Another factor that comes into play is your scoring system and that can’t be stressed enough. My rankings will be based on “balanced” leagues where tackles and big plays have relatively equal weight. In leagues which are “tackle heavy” defensive linemen and cornerbacks will move down the rankings slightly and linebackers and safeties up. In “big play” scoring systems, defensive ends, edge rushers/OLB and corners get a slight bump for sacks/interceptions/forced fumbles/passes defensed.
The Top 25
I’ll cover each position in more depth with the release of the positional rankings but let’s take a look at the top of each of them.
In 2018 Darius Leonard arrived on the IDP scene by week 3 of his rookie year. It was an easy waiver wire pickup after he was all over the field in week 2 against the Redskins with 15 solo tackles, a forced fumble, a sack, and a pass defensed. He ended up leading the league with 111 solo and 163 total tackles. He followed that up with another outstanding year in 2019 and despite missing three games, finished as the third linebacker in my home league and was the top scorer on a per game average. Leonard is a no brainer as the first defensive player off the board and there’s no reason to expect anything different this season.
Joe Schobert moves to Jacksonville after four years in Cleveland. I have him ranked a bit higher than most but there’s a reason he’s my number two. Jacksonville has taken a hit on the D-line losing Calais Campbell and a trade of Yannick Ngakoue is still a possibility. Being a team that is predicted to go 6-10 by Sports Illustrated, expect teams to run the ball when the Jags fall behind. With a defensive line that is not going to be as strong as last year, and offensives that will be running the ball, Schobert will have many opportunities to rack up tackles. Depending on how your draft goes, you may be able to get him at a decent price.
Danielle Hunter finished 4th in the league and second amongst linemen with 14.5 sacks. What makes Hunter the number one player is his unusually high tackle total for a defensive end. He finished first in D-line scoring despite being held out of the Vikings week 17 game. He trailed only Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh in total snaps and this isn’t expected to change. The only potential issue is Everson Griffen is a free agent and may not return to the Vikings. This may open up Hunter to more double teams and keep his sack totals a bit lower.
Second in my D-line rankings and 6th overall is Aaron Donald. Donald who has been the best interior lineman over the past few years was double teamed most of the time last season and this limited his scoring in IDP leagues. Despite this he finished as the 8th d-lineman in 2019. Donald will get his sacks but may see his tackle totals remain on the low side. In tackle heavy leagues he may fall a bit in the rankings, but you know what you’re getting here.
Each year, the top scorer at this position changes and it is nearly impossible to predict. Last year Logan Ryan was the top defensive back and unexpectedly did it from the corner position. In most leagues you will see safeties drafted first as their tackle totals will be the most consistent year to year. Jamal Adams is our pick here as the top defensive back. Adams finished 5th in DB fantasy scoring despite missing two games and was first in 2018. He is the leader of an up and coming Jets defense and will continue to be a force. As I mentioned in my intro piece and will cover more in depth with my DB rankings, this is the one position where you can play the waiver wire each week as once you get past the top 10 or so players, there isn’t much of a gap between the 11th and 36th player. If you don’t want to or don’t have the time to, Adams is the best bet at a plug and play.
Budda Baker is the epitome of a safety tackle machine. In leagues that are tackle heavy, he may outscore Adams. He had 104 solo and 147 total tackles in 2019 but he had no interceptions and only 6 passes defensed. In big play leagues, he may finish a little lower so again, your league’s scoring system will determine when you take Baker.
In the upcoming weeks I’ll be ranking my top 50 at each position and go over some strategies as to when to jump in your draft with an IDP pick, punting DBs, and drafting by position scarcity. Any questions/comments feel free to hit me up below or on twitter @gasdoc_spit.