Getting Defensive – Top IDP DBs


By Jacob Bourgeois; Twitter: @JacobBourgieFFB

This is the third in a three part series introducing the NFL’s top IDPs: week 1 was LBs, week 2 DLs, and today I’m covering Defensive Backs

DBs account for four main positions on the field: Cornerback, Nickelback, Free Safety, and Strong Safety.  Most of those positions are predicated on coverage skill, speed, and ball-tracking ability.  But Strong Safety is not like the others, this is a chess piece on the field that Defensive Coordinators use to dial up blitzes, disguise coverages, spy the QB, pick up underneath routes and generally play around the line of scrimmage.  The closer you are to the ball on the highest percentage of plays gives you the best chance at racking up tackles, TFLs, FFs, and Sacks.  Thus, the below top 30 DB List is full of Strong Safeties.

In addition to my ranks and notes, are each player’s age, position, draft pick and year, fantasy finishes in each of the last three seasons and average.  The fantasy finishes are from the unstoppable

P.S.  A note on cornerbacks:  the reason there is only one cornerback on this list is because of consistency.  It’s very hard to predict year to year stats at cornerback, but if you learn the algorithm you can unlock scoring potential.  Don’t spend a rookie draft pick on a top cornerback – here’s why.  The best cornerbacks are bad for fantasy because they generally don’t get many opportunities each game.  Less so their rookie year, but as they develop into top talents in the league you can trust that QBs and OCs will stay away.  What you want at the CB position are the guys that are good enough to play all the snaps and bad enough such that they’re second or third best on their team.  But players who fit this description either improve into CB1s or get replaced – so their value is fleeting.  The one cornerback on the list is Kenny Moore II (IND).  There are a few reasons he’s an outlier.  First and most importantly, Fantasy Points – he’s become a situation that we can’t ignore.  They added no one at CB in the draft or free agency and he starts across from Xavier Rhodes and Rock-Ya Sin, usually in the nickel – what winds up being like a 3rd safety in a lot of ways as usually covering the slot man, playing underneath.  And from this point he’s proven himself as a playmaker: multiple sacks each of the last three seasons, and a nice mix of TFLs, tackles, and passes defensed.  This was Logan Ryan’s path as well from corner to safety to 2019’s DB1 so just a note to follow the numbers – cornerbacks just have to prove it over a longer period for us to get interested.

Year’20’19’18Avg RankNotes
Jamal Adams (SEA) 25SS6201715.11413.814.3 1The DB1
Budda Baker (ARI) 25S36201713.614.112.913.5 2The DB2
Jeremy Chinn (CAR) 23SS64202012.512.5 3Played Linebacker almost as much as SS in 2020
Derwin James Jr. (LAC) 24SS1720188.612.210.4 4Coming off injuries – if he returns to form, he’s too low at 4.
Jabrill Peppers (NYG) 25SS25201711.212.68.310.7 5New York has been a great landing spot.  
Jessie Bates III (CIN) 24FS54201811.510.310.710.8 6Young and productive. Shawn Williams to ARI added clarity.
Jordan Poyer (BUF) 30SS218201312.311.412.312.0 7He’s still the alphadog on this defense.
Vonn Bell (CIN) 26SS61201610.613.48.710.9 8After a great 2019 – returned starting value in CIN.
Landon Collins (WAS) 27SS33201510.712.512.111.8 9Uncertainty of how they’ll line-up with both Curl and Collins.
John Johnson III (CLE) 25FS9120179.712.412.111.4 10Injuries and a new home have muddied things for JJ.  Great chance to re-emerge in CLE.
Keanu Neal (DAL) 25WLB17201611.211.2 11Rumor is DAL is converting him to LB, which is great for him if he keeps the DB tag.
Kamren Curl (WAS) 22FS21620209.99.9 12Underdog hunger – DB4 over second half
Justin Simmons (DEN) 27FS98201611.310.49.110.3 13Finally got the bag this offseason, will be heavily used behind a weak backer room.
Antoine Winfield Jr. (TB) 22SS4520209.79.7 14Decent rookie campaign, the team love him – has all the talent.  
Donovan Wilson (DAL) 26SS21320199.69.6 15DB2 over second half in average points – Neal adds a run stopper but at LB most likely.
Kevin Byard (TEN) 27FS64201610. 16An up 2020 after injuries to the backer group, he does it all for a D that needs to improve.
Logan Ryan (NYG) 30FS83201310.314.49.611.4 17Converting to safety/nickelback has prolonged his career only a year removed from DB1.
Harrison Smith (MIN) 32SS2920129.711.911.511.0 18Down 2020 needing to fall back more in coverge, SS should open things back up – but age.
Johnathan Abram (LV) 24SS2720199.99.9 19So-far underwhelming, but chalk it up to Gruden and the rookie season injury.
Minkah Fitzpatrick (PIT) 24FS1120189. 20Jack of all stats – lacking consistency in tackling only concern.
Tracy Walker (DET) 26FS8220188.513.110.8 21Down 2020 in a lost season for DET, playing more in coverage has taken him off the line.
Kenny Moore II (IND) 25CB275201711.111.110.310.8 22Only CB in my top 30, but this kid stays on the field and gets thrown at A LOT.
Taylor Rapp (LAR) 23SS6120197.710.79.2 23How he and Fuller share responsibilities is a question in wake of JJ. 
Justin Reid (HOU) 24FS68201810.48.410.19.6 24Returnd to form in 2020 on a team that needed playmakers.
Khari Willis (IND) 25SS1092019117.19.1 25Stepped into valuable SS role nicely.  Walker’s exit make open up opps as well.
Eddie Jackson (CHI) 27FS11220178.87.8119.2 26Dynamic playmaker who saw his best season under Vic Fangio, not a consisten producer.
Marcus Maye (NYJ) 28FS39201710.19.910.0 27Highly anticipated, but has been ruined by injuries – curious to see him under Selah.
Tyrann Mathieu (KC) 28FS6920139.39.810.69.9 28The honey badger should keep it going in KC, used more in coverage than we’d like.
D.J. Reed Jr. (SEA) 24CB/S142201811.111.1 29He won you some weeks when Jamal Adams was out.  Handcuff I want to tuck him away.
Malcolm Jenkins (NO) 33SS14200911.610.311.211.0 30The perrenial is at the bottom here for me because he has a ton of miles.