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Fantasy Football IDP Draft Strategy, Rankings & Tiers (2024)

Draft strategy for individual defensive players (IDP) leagues depends wholly on the number of IDPs, how they score (tackles vs. big plays), how the IDPs score compared to the offensive players and what positions we are required to fill. Let’s dive into fantasy football draft strategy, advice, and rankings for IDP leagues.

2024 fantasy football draft kit

Fantasy Football IDP Draft Strategy

3/4 IDPs

If there are only three to four players, there will likely be one at each position and then one Flex if there’s a fourth. We can wait until very late if there are only three to four. The defensive line (DL) is the thinnest, but there’s more than enough to go around, and the waiver wire will be filled with options on a week-to-week basis, so the draft spots are less critical. The Flex player should be a linebacker (LB) or defensive back (DB) — the deepest positions.

6/7 IDPs

Now we’re getting somewhere. We need a little strategy here because we are getting to the point where depth will matter. The IDPs will still be behind the offensive players here, even if they score close to the same because the IDP positions are deeper. This part where depth will affect us is mainly the DL, but possibly some depth at LB. I’ll get more into the depth in the positional primers.

11 IDP Starters

We have to start considering position depth and making a plan with this depth. The DL needs to be attacked early. It’s the highest rotated position and guys that stay on the field are more challenging to find when the top 48 are starters and possibly 60 are on rosters. There are more LBs to pick from than DL, but the cliff is steep because the LBs typically stay on the field. The DBs are still deep, even if we split them into safety (S) and cornerbacks (CB). Safeties are more important to get than CBs, but there’s a ton of crossover at the positions.

dynasty rookie mock draft simulator

Positional Qualifications

Positions can widen depending on the platform you choose to play on. The most significant issue in positions is usually among DLs. Players like T.J. Watt, Micah Parsons, Khalil Mack and Matthew Judon are only LBs in some formats. This can be fixed by flipping to EDGE’ but that adds another layer if your league only wants the three positions of DL, LB and DB. Some formats will allow you to customize and some won’t, so ensure your league qualifications match your draft list to avoid a draft day mistake. Check out my 2024 IDP Draft Rankings.

Fantasy Football IDP Draft Rankings

Top 50 Overall

Rank Player POS Team GP Tk TkS TkA Sk FF FR Int PD
1 Foyesade Oluokun LB JAX 17 173 111 62 2.5 1 3 1 6
2 Zaire Franklin LB IND 16 179 107 72 1.5 2 0 0 6
3 Bobby Wagner LB WAS 17 183 96 87 3.5 0 1 0 3
4 Roquan Smith LB BAL 16 158 84 74 1.5 1 0 1 8
5 Fred Warner LB SF 17 132 82 50 2.5 4 0 4 11
6 T.J. Watt LB PIT 17 68 48 20 19 4 3 1 8
7 Maxx Crosby DL LV 17 90 55 35 14.5 2 1 0 2
8 Bobby Okereke DL NYG 17 149 92 57 2.5 4 0 2 10
9 Ernest Jones LB LAR 15 145 74 71 4.5 0 0 0 6
10 Myles Garrett DL CLE 16 42 33 9 14 4 1 0 3
11 Danielle Hunter DL HOU 17 83 54 29 16.5 4 0 0 2
12 Josh Allen DL JAX 17 66 43 23 17.5 2 0 1 1
13 Aidan Hutchinson DL DET 17 51 36 15 11.5 3 2 1 7
14 Brian Burns DL NYG 16 50 32 18 8 1 1 0 2
15 Terrel Bernard LB BUF 17 143 84 59 6.5 0 3 3 5
16 Alex Highsmith DL PIT 17 57 34 23 7 2 0 2 3
17 Will Anderson Jr. DL HOU 15 45 29 16 7 0 0 0 1
18 C.J. Mosley LB NYJ 17 152 81 71 0.5 2 1 1 7
19 Patrick Queen LB PIT 17 133 84 49 3.5 1 1 1 6
20 Robert Spillane LB LV 17 148 82 66 3.5 1 1 3 4
21 Quincy Williams LB NYJ 17 139 95 44 2 2 1 1 10
22 Micah Parsons LB DAL 17 64 36 28 14 1 1 0 2
23 Montez Sweat DL CHI 17 57 38 19 12.5 3 0 0 4
24 Jonathan Greenard DL MIN 15 52 36 16 12.5 1 0 0 2
25 Nick Bosa DL SF 17 53 34 19 10.5 2 1 0 4
26 Lavonte David LB TB 15 134 86 48 4.5 1 0 0 5
27 T.J. Edwards LB CHI 17 155 91 64 2.5 1 2 3 7
28 Antoine Winfield DB TB 17 122 76 46 6 6 4 3 12
29 Kyle Hamilton DB BAL 15 81 63 18 3 1 0 4 13
30 Derwin James DB LAC 16 125 86 39 2 0 2 1 7
31 Trey Hendrickson DL CIN 17 43 28 15 17.5 3 0 0 3
32 Christian Wilkins DL LV 17 65 38 27 9 1 2 0 2
33 Alex Singleton LB DEN 17 177 106 71 2 0 2 0 4
34 Logan Wilson LB CIN 17 135 78 57 1 3 0 4 9
35 Tremaine Edmunds LB CHI 15 113 69 44 0 1 1 4 7
36 Jaquan Brisker DB CHI 15 105 66 39 1 2 1 1 9
37 Jessie Bates DB ATL 17 132 89 43 0 3 0 6 11
38 Xavier McKinney DB GB 17 116 78 38 0.5 1 2 3 11
39 Julian Love DB SEA 17 123 85 38 0 2 1 4 10
40 Derrick Brown DL CAR 17 103 57 46 2 0 0 1 6
41 DeForest Buckner DL IND 17 81 45 36 8 2 1 0 7
42 Kayvon Thibodeaux DL NYG 17 50 26 24 11.5 3 1 0 4
43 Quay Walker LB GB 14 118 59 59 2.5 0 0 1 3
44 Nick Bolton LB KC 8 60 38 22 0 0 0 1 3
45 Josey Jewell LB CAR 16 108 60 48 3 2 3 0 3
46 Jordan Hicks LB CLE 13 107 61 46 1 1 2 1 5
47 Frankie Luvu LB WAS 17 125 66 59 5.5 2 0 0 5
48 Minkah Fitzpatrick DB PIT 10 64 43 21 0 0 0 0 3
49 Budda Baker DB ARI 12 87 58 29 0 0 0 0 0
50 Azeez Al-Shaair LB HOU 17 163 84 79 2 0 1 0 4

I’m not big on overall lists because I think they devolve too quickly to matter, but as you can see from mine, I have 16 LBs and 11 DLs before my first DB. Antoine Winfield is better than my ranking, but I only have 10 DBs in my top 50. I don’t have to be the first to the cupboard for IDPs, but I prioritize DL and firmly believe I can’t let myself fall behind in the LB arms race. Flex spots are almost always LBs, but if depth is concerning, DB is the lake with endless fish. I think understanding the positional depth is more important for IDP because not every draft will be as chalky as offense-only drafts, as scoring isn’t as uniform for IDP. As long as you stay on top of positional runs and understand when to wait, you’ll have no problem putting together a solid defensive side of the ball.

Fantasy Football IDP Draft Strategy: DL Primer

The most rotated players in football are DLs, and that can make it tricky to rely on big performances on a week-to-week basis from even the highest-ranked players at the position. The rankings I have are for Tackle-Based scoring. I still want the DL that gets the most sacks because a good game can turn the tide of your matchup. Sacks have also been increasing recently, making more DL viable options weekly. By adding one game to the season, the total number of players with 10+ sacks went from 10 in 2020 to 17 in 21, followed by 19 in 22 and 24 last season.

Players With 10+ Sacks DL AVG 10+ PPG DL AVG 7.5+ PPG
2020 – 10 8 26
2021 – 17 11 33
2022 – 19 14 42
2023 – 24 11 42

Total Sacks

Year Sacks Sacks/Week
2023 1,410 83
2022 1,297 72
2021 1,229 72
2020 1,135 71

Many factors contribute to the increased sack totals, including rules being shifted toward passing, offensive line (OL) injuries due to the extra game, Sam Howell never getting rid of the ball and many more. I did find it interesting that with so many more sacks in 2023, we had fewer 10+ fantasy points per game (PPG)) scorers and the same amount of 7.5+ PPG scorers. I thought it was probably due to the increased rotation, but surprisingly, there wasn’t as much growth as expected.

1,000 Snaps 750+ Snaps 500+ Snaps
2023 – 2 46 131
2022 – 1 43 128
2021 – 1 42 132
2020 – 2 34 124

I take from this that there are usually 10-ish dependable DLs; after that, there’s a big tier of DLs. That’s how I see it myself, and I’ll break down the tiers below.

Tier 1

T.J. Watt, Maxx Crosby, Myles Garrett, Danielle Hunter, Josh Allen, Aidan Hutchinson, Brian Burns, Micah Parsons, Alex Highsmith, Will Anderson, Montez Sweat, Jonathan Greenard, Nick Bosa

Player Team GP Tk TkS TkA Sk FF FR Int PD
T.J. Watt PIT 17 68 48 20 19 4 3 1 8
Maxx Crosby LV 17 90 55 35 14.5 2 1 0 2
Myles Garrett CLE 16 42 33 9 14 4 1 0 3
Danielle Hunter HOU 17 83 54 29 16.5 4 0 0 2
Josh Allen JAX 17 66 43 23 17.5 2 0 1 1
Aidan Hutchinson DET 17 51 36 15 11.5 3 2 1 7
Brian Burns NYG 16 50 32 18 8 1 1 0 2
Alex Highsmith PIT 17 57 34 23 7 2 0 2 3
Will Anderson Jr. HOU 15 45 29 16 7 0 0 0 1
Montez Sweat CHI 17 57 38 19 12.5 3 0 0 4
Jonathan Greenard MIN 15 52 36 16 12.5 1 0 0 2
Nick Bosa SF 17 53 34 19 10.5 2 1 0 4

 

I want two of the players from my first tier as my starters, and luckily, there are enough to go around this season. I’m not higher on Crosby according to rankings because he’s at the tippy top, but with the Raiders adding Christian Wilkins and kicking Tyree Wilson inside, I think this could be his best season. Burns and Hunter had a large separation in scoring last season, but I feel Hunter might come back to the pack a little after finishing as the DL1. Burns has a better crew around him in New York to help boost his production. Sweat performed way better with Washington (12.5 PPG) than Chicago (8.2 PPG), but with the offensive additions for Chicago, I think there will be more opportunities to take down the QB. Bosa is higher on most lists, but the missed tackle percentage, his higher pass-rush win rate with fewer sacks and the loss of Arik Armstead gives me pause. Greenard might only have one season of big production, but I believe he will produce again, as the Vikings had the highest blitz percentage and added Dallas Turner to the line.

Tier 2

Trey Hendrickson, Christian Wilkins, Derrick Brown, DeForest Buckner, Kayvon Thibodeaux, Carl Granderson, Zach Sieler

Player Team GP Tk TkS TkA Sk FF FR Int PD
Trey Hendrickson CIN 17 43 28 15 17.5 3 0 0 3
Christian Wilkins LV 17 65 38 27 9 1 2 0 2
Derrick Brown CAR 17 103 57 46 2 0 0 1 6
DeForest Buckner IND 17 81 45 36 8 2 1 0 7
Kayvon Thibodeaux NYG 17 50 26 24 11.5 3 1 0 4
Carl Granderson NO 17 78 44 34 8.5 1 1 0 1
Zach Sieler MIA 17 63 32 31 10 1 2 1 4

The numbers showed us before that we should probably see a deeper list for Tier 2. The separator from two to three is just a touch of trustability. Hendrickson is perhaps the man with the most variables, but the 17.5 sacks from last season are too good to pass up. I’m a buyer on the breakouts we saw from Thibodeaux and Granderson in 2023, and I believe there could be more room for productivity. The defensive tackles (DT) here all had high tackle totals last season. Brown is the only player on this list who won’t get sacks, but he’s also the only DL with over 100 tackles last season. These guys are dependable.

Tier 3

Jonathon Cooper, Jermaine Johnson, George Karlaftis, Boye Mafe, Quinnen Williams, Ed Oliver, Christian Barmore, Jeffery Simmons, Justin Madubuike, Malcolm Koonce, Sam Hubbard, Kwity Paye, Greg Rousseau, D.J. Wonnum

Player Team GP Tk TkS TkA Sk FF FR Int PD
Jon Cooper DEN 17 72 44 28 8.5 1 2 1 2
Jermaine Johnson NYJ 17 55 36 19 7.5 1 1 1 7
George Karlaftis KC 16 47 29 18 10.5 1 0 0 3
Boye Mafe SEA 16 52 35 17 9 1 2 0 6
Quinnen Williams NYJ 17 62 39 23 5.5 1 1 1 3
Ed Oliver BUF 16 51 34 17 9.5 1 0 1 3
Christian Barmore NE 17 64 39 25 8.5 1 0 0 6
Jeffery Simmons TEN 12 44 30 14 5.5 1 1 0 1
Justin Madubuike BAL 17 56 38 18 13 2 0 0 0
Malcolm Koonce LV 17 43 32 11 8 3 0 0 0
Sam Hubbard CIN 15 58 38 20 6 0 2 0 0
Kwity Paye IND 16 52 31 21 8.5 2 2 0 0
Gregory Rousseau BUF 16 42 30 12 5 1 1 0 4
D.J. Wonnum CAR 15 62 33 29 8 0 1 0 6

This group makes it ok to wait if you miss drafting two from Tier 1. The Tier 2 players are safer, but I expect this group to be around the same scoring range. Seven of the eight EDGE rushers in this group (Cooper, Johnson, Karlaftis, Mafe, Koonce Paye, Rousseau, Wonnum) are 26 or younger and have had at least 7.5 sacks. I expect them to be in the neighborhood of 55-65 tackles. Hubbard doesn’t have a ton of upside, but he’s still on the right side of 30, playing on a strong OL and behind an offense that can put up points. The five DTs have a blueprint similar to those in Tier 2 but have small nitpicks. For Oliver, Barmore and Madubuike, my worry is repeating their breakout season. Williams took a step back in 2023 but is still the best of the bunch, and Simmons is coming off an injury. This tier is still very good, but the consistency and range of outcomes are slightly wider.

Tier 4

DeMarcus Lawrence, Jadeveon Clowney, Travon Walker, Chris Jones, Laiatu Latu, Jared Verse, Dallas Turner, Joey Bosa, Jaelan Phillips, Bradley Chubb, Leonard Williams, Dexter Lawrence, Kobie Turner, Derrick Barnes

Player Team GP Tk TkS TkA Sk FF FR Int PD
DeMarcus Lawrence DAL 17 50 29 21 4 1 0 0 6
Jadeveon Clowney CAR 17 43 24 19 9.5 2 1 0 5
Travon Walker JAX 17 52 27 25 10 0 1 0 2
Chris Jones KC 16 30 20 10 10.5 0 0 0 4
Laiatu Latu IND 12 49 28 21 13 2 0 2 2
Jared Verse LAR 13 41 23 18 9 1 1 0 3
Dallas Turner MIN 14 53 28 25 10 2 0 0 1
Joey Bosa LAC 9 20 14 6 6.5 1 1 0 1
Jaelan Phillips MIA 8 43 28 15 6.5 0 0 1 2
Bradley Chubb MIA 16 73 45 28 11 6 2 0 2
Leonard Williams, SEA 18 62 37 25 5.5 0 0 0 2
Dexter Lawrence NYG 16 53 32 21 4.5 0 0 0 2
Kobie Turner LAR 17 57 29 28 9 0 0 0 2
Derrick Barnes DET 16 81 42 39 1 1 0 0 0

I don’t want to pick out of this group for a starter. We get into some very wide variables here. Lawrence and Clowney are aging and coming off a down season, but their Pro Football Focus (PFF) grades are still high, so I expect a bit of a bounce-back season. Bosa, Phillips and Chubb have the highest ceiling but are coming off big-time injuries. Jones, Williams, Larence and Turner are all very good players who will provide some big games but are better real players than fantasy players. Barnes is a tweener who mainly plays LB, but Jack Campbell will push for more snaps this season. The rookies — Latu, Verse and Turner — are decent gambles but playing time is promised to none. These guys will likely be matchup-dependent during the season, but there’s enough there to like any of them as bench players.

More Upside plays

Chop Robinson, Yaya Diaby, Dorance Armstrong, Bryce Huff, Will McDonald, Harrison Phillips, Byron Young, A.J. Epenesa, Chris Braswell, Calijah Kancey, Lukas Van Ness, Adisa Isaac, Austin Booker, Bralen Trice, Byron Murphy

Player Team GP Tk TkS TkA Sk FF FR Int PD
Chop Robinson MIA 10 15 12 3 4 2 1 0 1
Yaya Diaby TB 17 38 25 13 7.5 1 2 0 0
Dorance Armstrong WAS 17 38 20 18 7.5 0 0 0 1
Bryce Huff PHI 17 29 19 10 10 0 0 0 1
Will McDonald NYJ 15 14 9 5 3 1 1 0 0
Harrison Phillips MIN 17 92 44 48 3 0 0 0 2
Byron Young LAR 17 61 42 19 8 2 1 0 0
A.J. Epenesa BUF 15 20 9 11 6.5 1 1 2 8
Chris Braswell TB 14 42 16 26 8 3 0 1 1
Calijah Kancey TB 14 26 19 7 4 0 0 0 1
Lukas Van Ness GB 17 32 24 8 4 0 0 0 1
Adisa Isaac BAL 13 37 23 14 7.5 1 1 0 0
Austin Booker CHI 12 56 40 16 8 2 0 0 1
Bralen Trice ATL 15 49 30 19 7 1 1 0 2
Byron Murphy SEA 14 29 13 16 5 0 0 0 0

2024 Dynasty Fantasy Football Guide

Fantasy Football IDP Draft Strategy: LB Primer

There’s way less to break down among the LBs than the DL. This position is the most dependable IDP asset because they pile up tackles. Sixteen LBs had over 1,000 snaps last season, and 52 averaged 10+ PPG. The LB position is an arms race, but because of the lack of rotation, there’s a much larger drop-off in production when we move beyond the top 60-ish LBs that are getting the majority of their team’s LB snaps. We don’t even need the LBs to be the most talented because a tackle at the line and a tackle seven yards downfield all count the same for fantasy.

Tier 1

Foyesade Oluokun, Zaire Franklin, Bobby Wagner, Roquan Smith, Fred Warner, T.J. Watt, Bobby Okereke, Ernest Jones, Terrel Bernard, C.J. Mosley

Player Team GP Tk TkS TkA Sk FF FR Int PD
Foyesade Oluokun JAX 17 173 111 62 2.5 1 3 1 6
Zaire Franklin IND 16 179 107 72 1.5 2 0 0 6
Bobby Wagner WAS 17 183 96 87 3.5 0 1 0 3
Roquan Smith BAL 16 158 84 74 1.5 1 0 1 8
Fred Warner SF 17 132 82 50 2.5 4 0 4 11
T.J. Watt PIT 17 68 48 20 19 4 3 1 8
Bobby Okereke NYG 17 149 92 57 2.5 4 0 2 10
Ernest Jones LAR 15 145 74 71 4.5 0 0 0 6
Terrel Bernard BUF 17 143 84 59 6.5 0 3 3 5
C.J. Mosley NYJ 17 152 81 71 0.5 2 1 1 7

We don’t have to get the LBs with the most talent, but they are the most dependable! Oluokun has been the top scoring LB the past two seasons, Smith was top-five in PPG from 2019-22, Wagner has been one of the best LBs since entering the NFL in 2012, and Mosley since 2014. Franklin has assembled two monster seasons since getting the snaps with the Colts (LB6 and LB4 overall). Warner might have to do even more this season while Dre Greenlaw is down, which could mean some monster totals early. The Giants didn’t add a free agent LB or draft one next to Okereke, but they improved the DL, which could open things up for him. Jones and Bernard had breakout seasons in 23, and I’m buying on them. Watt might only qualify at LB, but the sack totals put him in Tier 1, although he will be more hit or miss than the rest, depending on getting to the quarterback. To me, this is the can’t-miss group of LBs

Tier 2

Patrick Queen, Robert Spillane, Quincy Williams, Micah Parsons, Lavonte David, T.J. Edwards, Alex Singleton, Logan Wilson, Tremaine Edmunds, Quay Walker, Nick Bolton, Josey Jewell, Jordan Hicks, Frankie Luvu, Azeez Al-Shaair, Eric Kendricks, Devin White

Player Team GP Tk TkS TkA Sk FF FR Int PD
Patrick Queen PIT 17 133 84 49 3.5 1 1 1 6
Robert Spillane LV 17 148 82 66 3.5 1 1 3 4
Quincy Williams NYJ 17 139 95 44 2 2 1 1 10
Micah Parsons DAL 17 64 36 28 14 1 1 0 2
Lavonte David TB 15 134 86 48 4.5 1 0 0 5
T.J. Edwards CHI 17 155 91 64 2.5 1 2 3 7
Alex Singleton DEN 17 177 106 71 2 0 2 0 4
Logan Wilson CIN 17 135 78 57 1 3 0 4 9
Tremaine Edmunds CHI 15 113 69 44 0 1 1 4 7
Quay Walker GB 14 118 59 59 2.5 0 0 1 3
Nick Bolton KC 8 60 38 22 0 0 0 1 3
Josey Jewell CAR 16 108 60 48 3 2 3 0 3
Jordan Hicks CLE 13 107 61 46 1 1 2 1 5
Frankie Luvu WAS 17 125 66 59 5.5 2 0 0 5
Azeez Al-Shaair HOU 17 163 84 79 2 0 1 0 4
Eric Kendricks DAL 15 117 79 38 3.5 1 0 0 6
Devin White PHI 14 83 49 34 2.5 0 0 2 6

This is the tier I’ll wait for and take the one (or more) that falls. Tier 2 also allows us to reach for that second DL first because we know that LB2 is extremely deep. David, Williams, Edwards and Singleton averaged 14.5+ points. That was the line for LB1 production in 12-man leagues last season. The rest of the LBs in Tier 2 are 100% snap guys, meaning I expect them to play 100% of the snaps in most of their games. Jewell wasn’t that guy in Denver, but he will be in Carolina. Queen, Hicks, Luvu, Al-Shaair, Kendricks and White are all in new places and are taking over as the LB1 in most cases.

Luvu is the only one in this group who isn’t taking the first LB spot on their new team (Bobby Wagner is), but Luvu belongs here because the Commanders desperately need pass-rush help. Luvu led all LBs in PFF’s pass-rush grade last season. Spillane, Wilson and Edmunds are all coming off LB2 seasons, and I expect more of the same. Bolton dealt with ankle, wrist and abdomen issues last season but was the overall LB5 in 2022. Walker can be one of the best LBs in the league, but this is a make-or-break season, and new Rookie LB Edgerrin Cooper is breathing down his neck. There’s a lot of stability in Tier 2.

Tier 3

Kyzir White, Troy Andersen, Kenneth Murray, Jordyn Brooks, Devin Lloyd, Edgerrin Cooper, Kaden Elliss, Blake Cashman, Alex Anzalone, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Christian Harris, Jerome Baker

Player Team GP Tk TkS TkA Sk FF FR Int PD
Kyzir White ARI 11 90 53 37 2 0 0 1 3
Troy Andersen ATL 2 19 7 12 0.5 0 0 0 0
Kenneth Murray TEN 15 107 79 28 3 0 0 1 4
Jordyn Brooks MIA 16 111 62 49 4.5 1 1 1 4
Devin Lloyd JAX 15 127 75 52 0 0 2 0 7
Edgerrin Cooper GB 12 84 45 39 8 2 1 0 2
Kaden Elliss ATL 17 122 82 40 4 0 0 0 3
Blake Cashman MIN 14 106 56 50 2 0 1 1 5
Alex Anzalone DET 16 129 85 44 3 0 1 0 6
Ja’Whaun Bentley NE 16 114 55 59 4.5 1 0 0 3
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah CLE 16 101 72 29 3.5 1 0 2 6
Christian Harris HOU 16 101 65 36 2 1 0 0 7
Jerome Baker SEA 13 78 51 27 1.5 0 0 2 3

Tier 3 is where we start seeing the better LB2s and the LB1s with some questions. Andersen was the industry’s favorite sleeper last season. Andersen is now coming off a torn pec, and Nate Landman played well while replacing him, but Andersen still has enormous upside. Baker has no competition moving to Seattle but hasn’t participated in organized team activities (OTA) and isn’t expected to until training camp. Murray, Brooks and Cashman are all on the move to new teams but are taking over the LB1 spot for the Titans, Dolphins, and Vikings.

I was ready to write off Anzalone after the Lions drafted Jack Campbell last season, but he responded by putting up his best season. Bentley is the last true LB1 in this tier but lacks exciting upside. He’s here if you have already taken risks and need a high-floor type of player. Cooper is the opposite of Bentley; he’s a rookie who has to earn the job, but he could rise to an LB1 in Green Bay if Walker doesn’t take the next step. Owusu-Koramoah was 16th in PPG last season for the Browns but will have to contend with Jordan Hicks for tackles now. Lloyd and Harris have shown flashes of brilliance but are behind veterans on their teams, which caps their upside unless there’s an injury. Elliss is a dart I like because I believe he’ll be used a lot like Ernest Jones was in Raheem Morris’ defense, but nothing is guaranteed with a new coaching staff. This tier is still very talented with what I call the ‘yeah-buts’ after you talk them up.

Tier 4

Ivan Pace, Demario Davis, Micah McFadden, Divine Deablo, Germaine Pratt, E.J. Speed, Willie Gay, Tyrel Dodson, Jahlani Tavai, David Long, Matt Milano, Pete Werner, Junior Colson, Jack Campbell, Khalil Mack, Cody Barton, Matthew Judon, Trenton Simpson, Denzel Perryman, Harold Landry, Drue Tranquill

Player Team GP Tk TkS TkA Sk FF FR Int PD
Ivan Pace MIN 17 102 63 39 2.5 1 1 1 2
Demario Davis NO 17 121 74 47 6.5 1 1 0 4
Micah McFadden NYG 16 101 63 38 1 0 4 1 5
Divine Deablo LV 15 106 65 41 1 0 1 0 2
Germaine Pratt CIN 17 118 63 55 2 2 0 2 3
E.J. Speed IND 16 102 78 24 1 3 0 0 4
Willie Gay NO 16 58 44 14 1 1 3 1 4
Tyrel Dodson SEA 17 74 57 17 2.5 1 1 0 2
Jahlani Tavai NE 17 110 65 45 1 2 0 2 5
David Long MIA 17 113 64 49 1 1 0 0 1
Matt Milano BUF 5 30 18 12 0 1 0 2 2
Pete Werner NO 16 93 60 33 0.5 0 2 1 1
Junior Colson LAC 15 95 51 44 0 0 0 0 2
Jack Campbell DET 17 95 52 43 2 0 0 0 1
Khalil Mack LAC 17 74 57 17 17 5 0 0 10
Cody Barton DEN 13 121 67 54 0 0 1 1 1
Matthew Judon NE 4 13 10 3 4 0 0 0 0
Trenton Simpson BAL 15 13 10 3 1 0 1 0 0
Denzel Perryman LAC 12 76 45 31 0.5 0 0 0 3
Harold Landry TEN 17 69 45 24 10.5 0 0 0 0
Drue Tranquill KC 16 79 54 25 4.5 2 0 0 1

This is the last group I want to pull from, and we have many of the same types of LB2s capped by LB1s. I would file most of this group in that category; injuries can boost them, but these are mainly bench LBs and matchup-dependent. Colson is a great shot on a rookie. He comes in with familiarity of the system and will likely call plays. Campbell is a pure upside play because Anzalone and Barnes played so well last season, and playing time can go many different ways in Detroit. Mack had an awesome 2023, but 45% of his points came in three games. I think we’ll see him return to Earth harshly. The price rises swiftly for EDGE Rushers like Mack, Judon and Landry, if they qualify at DL, but consistency keeps them low if they do not. Dodson and Simpson are upside plays stepping into their first full-time starting jobs. The remaining LBs will play on most snaps and have the ability to have a nice spike week.

Playing Time Hopefuls

 Leo Chenal, Nate Landman, Payton Wilson, Cedric Gray, DeMarvion Overshown, Dorian Williams, Chad Muma, JD Bertrand

Player Team GP Tk TkS TkA Sk FF FR Int PD
Leo Chenal KC 17 65 40 25 3 0 0 0 1
Nate Landman ATL 16 110 66 44 2 3 0 1 3
Payton Wilson PIT 12 138 69 69 6 1 2 3 6
Cedric Gray TEN 12 121 64 57 5 2 2 1 4
DeMarvion Overshown DAL 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Dorian Williams BUF 17 40 25 15 0 0 0 0 1
Chad Muma JAX 17 15 8 7 0 0 0 0 2
JD Bertrand ATL 12 76 41 35 2.5 1 0 0 5

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Fantasy Football IDP Draft Strategy: DB Primer

Wait, wait, wait. That should be the thought process when we are drafting DBs. There are so many DBs as most teams have gone to another DB on the field over a third LB. Thirty-three DBs played 1,000+ snaps and 103 played 750+. The DB position provided only 39 10+ PPG averages, but over 110 averaged 7.5+. With scoring going so deep, we can make bigger tiers and wait longer to invest during drafts.

I usually have two DLs and two LBs before my first DB unless I scoop an insane deal on one. That has happened more often recently in my experience. It’s not enough to be commonplace, but you could end up in a game of DB chicken. Some leagues will split S and CB, which can add a layer of difficulty, but I would prioritize S and let CB fall. If your league is big-play scoring, S and CB are closer to even. Safety had more tackles and sacks, but CBs led big in defensive touchdowns, pass break ups (PBU), and tackles for loss (TFL). In general, we want to prioritize strong safety (SS), free safety (FS) and CB — in that order.

Tier 1

Antoine Winfield, Kyle Hamilton, Derwin James, Jaquan Brisker, Jessie Bates, Xavier McKinney, Julian Love, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Budda Baker

Player Team GP Tk TkS TkA Sk Int FF FR PD
Antoine Winfield TB 17 122 76 46 6 3 6 4 12
Kyle Hamilton BAL 15 81 63 18 3 4 1 0 13
Derwin James LAC 16 125 86 39 2 1 0 2 7
Jaquan Brisker CHI 15 105 66 39 1 1 2 1 9
Jessie Bates ATL 17 132 89 43 0 6 3 0 11
Xavier McKinney GB 17 116 78 38 0.5 3 1 2 11
Julian Love SEA 17 123 85 38 0 4 2 1 10
Minkah Fitzpatrick PIT 10 64 43 21 0 0 0 0 3
Budda Baker ARI 12 87 58 29 0 0 0 0 0

This is a deep tier to start. If I were to break it up, I might put Winfield by himself in a tier and have the other eight in Tier 2. Winfield had career-highs in tackles, sacks, interceptions, forced fumbles, fumbles recovered and pass break ups. Winfield could be in line for more tackles with the experience of Devin White gone in front of him. James, Baker and Bates have all been inside the top three DB average scoring. Love joins James, Baker and Bates in having 120+ tackles in this tier. Hamilton had three sacks and four picks in his first season as a full-time starter, and there is still much room for growth. I love McKinney going to Green Bay, playing with an offense that scores points will allow him to go after the ball more. The same can be said about division mate Brisker, with the Bears’ offense looking dangerous. Fitzpatrick gutted through injuries last season to a disappointing finish on injured reserve (IR) but still offers every avenue to scoring, from tackles to big plays. These are the DBs I have the most trust in.

Tier 2

Kyle Dugger, Brian Branch, Kamren Curl, Julian Blackmon, Kevin Byard, Camryn Bynum, Reed Blankenship, Kenny Moore, Devon Witherspoon, Nate Hobbs, Josh Metellus, Jevon Holland

Player Team GP Tk TkS TkA Sk Int FF FR PD
Kyle Dugger NE 17 109 71 38 1.5 2 1 0 7
Brian Branch DET 15 74 50 24 1 3 1 0 13
Kamren Curl LAR 16 115 74 41 1 0 1 1 5
Julian Blackmon IND 15 88 65 23 0 4 0 2 8
Kevin Byard CHI 16 122 80 42 0 1 0 1 3
Camryn Bynum MIN 17 137 94 43 0.5 2 3 0 9
Reed Blankenship PHI 15 113 79 34 0 3 0 1 11
Kenny Moore IND 16 93 68 25 1.5 3 0 0 6
Devon Witherspoon SEA 14 79 56 23 3 1 1 0 16
Nate Hobbs LV 13 86 59 27 1 1 1 0 7
Josh Metellus MIN 17 116 78 38 2.5 1 4 1 5
Jevon Holland MIA 12 74 52 22 0 1 3 1 4

So many from this group are likely to reach 100+ tackles. Dugger, Curl, Byard, Bynum, Blankenship and Metellus made that mark last season. Moore, Witherspoon and Hobbs are the only CBs I trust starting over some still-really dependable safeties in the next tier. I trust these CBs because they will tackle and can make plays on the ball. Branch and Holland represent the playmakers of this group; they can both tackle and will go after the ball and make a big play to produce a spike week.

Tier 3

Jalen Pitre, Justin Reid, Jalen Thompson, Grant Delpit, Jordan Poyer, Donovan Wilson, Tyler Nubin, Jordan Whitehead, Jeremy Chinn, Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, Alohi Gilman, Tyrique Stevenson, Trent McDuffie, Paulson Adebo, Harrison Smith, Jabrill Peppers, Trevon Moehrig, Kerby Joseph, Taron Johnson, DaRon Bland, Julius Brents, Rayshawn Jenkins, Jimmie Ward, Geno Stone, Tyrann Mathieu, Talanoa Hufanga

Player Team GP Tk TkS TkA Sk Int FF FR PD
Jalen Pitre HOU 15 84 58 26 0 0 1 1 5
Justin Reid KC 16 95 74 21 3 1 1 0 7
Jalen Thompson ARI 15 78 59 19 1 4 1 0 9
Grant Delpit CLE 13 80 63 17 1.5 1 0 1 3
Jordan Poyer MIA 16 101 67 34 1 0 0 0 4
Donovan Wilson DAL 15 88 55 33 0 2 1 2 3
Tyler Nubin NYG 12 53 34 19 1 5 1 1 4
Jordan Whitehead TB 17 97 65 32 0.5 4 0 0 9
Jeremy Chinn WAS 12 30 18 12 1 0 0 0 1
Chauncey Gardner-Johnson PHI 3 17 16 1 0 1 0 0 3
Alohi Gilman LAC 14 73 49 24 0 2 3 2 10
Tyrique Stevenson CHI 16 86 65 21 0 4 1 0 16
Trent McDuffie KC 16 80 60 20 3 0 5 0 7
Paulson Adebo NO 15 76 60 16 0 4 2 2 18
Harrison Smith MIN 17 93 60 33 3 0 3 0 3
Jabrill Peppers NE 15 78 52 26 1 2 1 1 8
Trevon Moehrig LV 17 83 65 18 2 3 0 0 8
Kerby Joseph DET 15 82 69 13 0 4 0 0 11
Taron Johnson BUF 17 98 72 26 1 0 3 1 8
DaRon Bland DAL 17 69 53 16 0 9 0 0 15
Julius Brents IND 9 43 30 13 0 1 1 1 6
Rayshawn Jenkins SEA 17 101 66 35 1 2 0 0 9
Jimmie Ward HOU 10 50 33 17 0 1 1 0 3
Geno Stone CIN 17 68 44 24 0 7 0 0 9
Tyrann Mathieu NO 17 75 50 25 0 4 0 0 9
Talanoa Hufanga SF 10 52 39 13 0 3 0 0 3

This tier is the difference-maker for the entire position; it allows us to wait for DB and draft the other positions first. Pitre is a perfect example of Tier 3 and DBs in general. Pitre led all DBs in scoring in 2022; a new coach and staff came into Houston, and he dropped to the 50s in total and average scoring in 2023. Bland was a DB1 last season, but nine interceptions don’t seem repeatable. We also had Adebo, Gardner-Johnson, Delpit and Reid score in the DB2 range on average, with Reid, Jenkins, and Johnson as DB2s in total scoring. If we look back to 2022, Delpit and Wilson checked in as DB1s in total scoring. Flipping back to 2021, we can count Smith, Poyer, Thompson and Chinn as DB1s in total scoring. Nubin is a rookie stud who should come in and take over McKinney’s spot in New York. Nubin has DB1 upside. 

Whitehead, McDuffie and Stone are looking to build off career-best scoring seasons in 2023, and I like their chances to improve. Stevenson and Brents had very solid rookie seasons and can move toward the trusted CBs I have in Tier 2 with another solid showing. When I see them involved in training camp, Joseph and Hufanga will jump into Tier 2, if they are truly ready and back to full speed. Ward and Mathieu are crusty vets who offer a solid floor for this tier. Big-time upside is available throughout this tier, but expectations should spike weeks with a lower floor than the previous tiers, making this one a little less stable but still reliable and very deep.

Upside DBs

Cole Bishop, Trevon Diggs, Christian Gonzalez, Derek Stingley, Terrion Arnold, Quinyon Mitchell, Cooper DeJean, Max Melton, Mike Sainristil, Deonte Banks, Dax Hill, Javon Bullard

Player Team GP Tk TkS TkA Sk Int FF FR PD
Cole Bishop BUF 11 60 35 25 3 2 1 2 4
Trevon Diggs DAL 2 4 4 0 0 1 1 0 3
Christian Gonzalez NE 4 17 14 3 1 1 0 0 3
Derek Stingley HOU 11 39 28 11 0 5 0 0 13
Terrion Arnold DET 14 63 40 23 1 5 1 0 12
Quinyon Mitchell PHI 13 42 32 9 0 1 0 0 18
Cooper DeJean PHI 10 41 26 15 0 2 0 0 5
Max Melton ARI 12 32 21 11 1 3 1 0 6
Mike Sainristil WAS 15 44 26 18 1 6 2 0 6
Deonte Banks NYG 15 64 53 11 0 2 0 0 11
Dax Hill CIN 17 110 72 38 1.5 2 0 0 11
Javon Bullard GB 12 56 39 17 0 2 0 0 5

High Floor CBs

Deommodore Lenoir, Darius Slay, Roger McCreary, Jalen Ramsey, Rasul Douglas, Cam Taylor-Britt, Kendall Fuller, Benjamin St-Juste, Alontae Taylor, Mike Hilton, Byron Murphy

Player Team GP Tk TkS TkA Sk Int FF FR PD
Deommodore Lenoir SF 17 84 58 26 0 3 0 0 10
Darius Slay PHI 12 57 48 9 0 2 0 0 14
Roger McCreary TEN 15 86 62 24 2 1 1 0 6
Jalen Ramsey MIA 10 22 18 4 0 3 0 0 5
Rasul Douglas BUF 16 61 47 14 1 5 0 3 14
Cam Taylor-Britt CIN 12 50 40 10 0 4 1 0 11
Kendall Fuller MIA 15 79 55 24 0 2 0 2 9
Benjamin St-Juste WAS 16 67 52 15 1 1 2 0 17
Alontae Taylor NO 17 75 56 19 1 2 1 0 14
Mike Hilton CIN 17 84 64 20 2 2 0 1 8
Byron Murphy MIN 14 57 43 14 0 3 1 1 13

High Snap% Safeties

Xavier Woods, Jordan Fuller, Marcus Epps, Chuck Clark, DeShon Elliott, Antonio Johnson, Amani Hooker, Brandon Jones, Malik Hooker, Darrick Forrest, Ji’Ayir Brown

Player Team GP Tk TkS TkA Sk Int FF FR PD
Xavier Woods CAR 14 61 39 22 0 2 0 1 7
Jordan Fuller CAR 17 94 61 33 0 3 3 0 8
Marcus Epps LV 17 66 41 25 0 0 1 1 3
Chuck Clark NYJ 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
DeShon Elliott PIT 15 82 53 29 0 1 0 1 7
Antonio Johnson JAX 13 17 13 4 1 2 1 0 3
Amani Hooker TEN 13 85 69 16 0 1 0 1 7
Brandon Jones DEN 16 48 36 12 0 2 1 1 4
Malik Hooker DAL 16 50 27 23 0 1 1 1 3
Darrick Forrest WAS 5 29 18 11 0 0 0 0 0
Ji’Ayir Brown SF 15 35 22 13 0 2 0 0 4

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