Continuing on from the top 5 linebackers under 25 article I wrote this week, it is now time to review the defensive backs under 25. It would be easy to assume you just pick the top scorers from last season. However, due to the rotational nature of the position, not to mention the susceptibility to injuries, means some of these names might be new to you or might be names you could easily have forgotten about.
Ultimately, when it comes to the defensive back position in Individual Defensive Position (IDP) leagues, it is trying to find players who are going to get you a lot of tackles, as well as be around the ball a lot. For example, if this was not a fantasy football article, Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner might be up there as the number 1 defensive back under 25. However, because he is so good, teams don’t throw the ball his way anywhere near as much. That means he does not have the same opportunity to make plays as the names on this list. “Sauce” ended up as the DB44 in fantasy football and he will do very well to end up as the DB44 again in 2023.
- Top 5 Linebackers Under 25
- Introduction to Best Ball Leagues
- Underdog Best Ball Strategy
- Erickson’s Best Ball Positional Primers
- Best Ball Roster Construction Strategy
Top 5 Defensive Backs Under 25
So without further ado, here are the top 5 defensive backs under 25 heading into 2023.
5. Jaquan Brisker (CHI): Age 23
Brisker has a great set of skills and is very versatile. He can lineup as a linebacker but tends to spend most of his time in the box. However, he can, and has lined up in several positions at safety and at times as a linebacker. Brisker managed 104 tackles in 2022, including 73 solo tackles, which helped propel him to DB11 in his rookie year.
There is also a great room for him to grow. Whilst he added 4 sacks, which is really impressive at the position, someone of Brisker’s talent should be adding more than 1 interception and 1 forced fumble. Now he has had a year, I would expect Brisker to add to these numbers in 2023. I am currently projecting Brisker to be a high-end DB2 in 2023. He currently presents enormous value at ADP due to his lack of name recognition and playing on a poor team. However, the talent and the opportunity are there for him to return great numbers in 2023.
4. Jeremy Chinn (CAR): Age 24
Chinn was runner-up in Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2020 to Chase Young. However, 2020 was still the high water mark for Chinn in terms of production in the league. That doesn’t mean he is trending in the wrong direction. It is purely that his first season was a sign of what he can produce, and that injuries and a lack of consistency on the coaching side have meant Chinn has stalled just a little bit.
Having said that, if Chinn plays 17 games, he is a lock for 100 tackles. He has shown his consistency in the box score, and in fantasy football. In 2020 he was the DB5 in PPG and in 2022 he was the DB9, tied with the next player on this list. In 2021, his “down year” he still ranked as the DB15 in IDP scoring. And whilst he might not threaten the top 5, having a player of Chinn’s consistency is vital to help you win championships. He should also be someone you can trade low for as he missed considerable time last year, and has seen a decline in his IDP points in the last two seasons. However, with a new coaching staff and renewed health, expect Chinn to bounce back in 2023.
3. Talanoa Hufanga (SF): Age 23
Hufanga was the IDP Waiver Wire darling last year. He went from being an undrafted IDP player to finishing as the DB3 on what was an incredible 49ers defensive unit. The former 5th-round pick out of USC only started 3 games in his rookie season and surprised everyone by being the day 1 starter for the 49ers. He also made it to the Pro Bowl and became a first-team All-Pro in 2022.
The two reasons he is not higher on this list are that he has so far only done it for one year in the league. It was an unbelievable year. However, there is likely to be some regression coming his way in 2023.
In fact, we saw regression towards the end of Hufanga’s season. He managed 4 games over 11 fantasy points in his first 5 weeks last season. However, he only managed to go over 11 fantasy points just 3 more times for the rest of the 2022 season. That’s not to say he is a bust. Far from it. But Hufanga will likely be over-drafted in terms of his potential value at the position in 2023 and I would personally look at Chinn or Winfield Jr. as a potentially better draft value in 2023.
2. Antoine Winfield Jr. (TB): Age 24
Winfield Jr. has just wrapped up his third season in the NFL and it was his most productive per game so far in his career. Despite missing 4 games with injuries, on a 17-game pace Winfield Jr. would have had been 5 sacks (he had 4), 84 solo tackles, and 105 combined tackles.
Winfield Jr. is the leader of the Buccaneers’ defensive back room and he knows how to hunt down the ball. Being on an aggressive Todd Bowles defense, Winfield Jr. will always have the opportunity to make plays, whether that is hitting the quarterback, or chasing down receivers in the open field.
Winfield Jr. would have been the DB9 on a points-per-game basis in 2022. However, because he missed 4 games in each of the last 2 years, he might not be on your league-mates’ radars. That would be a mistake. With Winfield Jr.’s experience and the coaching team behind him, if he remains healthy, he will likely finish as a DB1 in 2023.
1. Jalen Pitre (HOU): Age 23
Pitre, who used to cover out of the slot, and initially started as a strong safety, was unleashed at free safety by Lovie Smith. It was an inspired move that saw Pitre land 147 tackles, of which 99 of them were solo tackles. He also managed to grab 5 interceptions in what was a highly impressive rookie year.
Pitre finished well clear as the DB1 in 2022 and is already at the top of the rankings for 2023. This ball-hawking free safety looked like someone to watch in the Scouting Combine last year, especially with his highly impressive 6.74 3-cone drill. That is why the Texans selected him with the 37th pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Whilst Pitre only has one year of production, there is still some significant growth still to come in his numbers. A missed tackle rate of 11.4% means there are some things the new coaching staff will clean up and help Pitre to improve even more. There is room for Pitre to manage 100 solo tackles in 2023, especially with how bad this Texans team projects to be again this year. With plenty of time on defense, Pitre should be eyeing up the top spot again in 2023. He is a league winner at his position and should be snapped up early in drafts to ensure you get a real difference-maker on your team.
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Adam Murfet is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Murf, check out his archive and follow him @Murf_NFL.