All of us IDP players have been messing with scoring formats to try and make all players on defense worth a start. Here are some cornerbacks who are now must starts.
Cornerbacks have always been overlooked in IDP leagues but it looks like that tide is turning. We have been tweaking scoring settings by making passes defended and interceptions worth much more in order to make cornerbacks relevant. Because of this there are cornerbacks who have become weekly IDP must starts even if your league does not force you to start cornerbacks. There are a few who have been putting up numbers higher than most safeties. For this article I will be using Mayhem D-League scoring which has been my home IDP league for going on our 9th year now and is one of the more intense scoring setups I have played. For reference here is the IDP scoring:
Lets take a look at some of the top cornerbacks so far this season that you should be rostering in your IDP lineups.
Carlton Davis Jr. – Tampa Bay Buccaneers
2020 Stats: 30 tackles (26 solo), 3 tackles for a loss, 11 passes defended, 3 interceptions with 39 return yards. (7 games)
Mayhem D-League Points: 131.48 (CB1/DB3)
Carlton Davis has been playing at an elite level for Tampa. We have seen vast improvement from Davis year to year and has turned into a true IDP asset. He went from 40 tackles and four passes defended his rookie season, up to 60 tackles, 19 passes defended, and an interception in his second year. This year he is on pace for over 20 passes defended and already has a career-high three interceptions. He is tasked with covering the team’s top receiving options and so far has been up to the task. Here you see him in tight coverage against Allen Robinson and makes a beautiful play on a back-shoulder throw to come up with the interception:
Carlton Davis with his 3rd pick of the year for the @Buccaneers!
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) October 9, 2020
He does a great job at the line of scrimmage staying square and turning his hips. Here he makes a great play forcing Davante Adams into running a more shallow route and comes up with the pass deflection that leads to an interception:
Carlton Davis did a good job of making the receiver work flat. Corners, you dictate the receivers route depth. Dont give ground which creates the space, stay square and then make a play on the ball. Great rep by Davis. pic.twitter.com/1lbicayAbL
— Crocky (@eric_crocker) October 18, 2020
Carlton Davis’ year to year improvement is evident in every snap that he takes. He also has the luxury of playing across from Jamel Dean who is no slouch in coverage himself who has 23 passes defended in his first 20 games. Carlton Davis can be fired up as one of the weekly IDP must starts.
Malcolm Butler – Tennessee Titans
2020 Stats: 41 tackles (37 solos), 1 tackle for a loss, 7 passes defended, 2 interceptions with 97 return yards. (6 Games)
Mayhem D-League Points: 130.64 (CB2/DB4)
Malcolm Butler is best known for his Super Bowl winning interception at the goal line against the Seahawks a few years back. IDP players remember him as one of the top IDP cornerbacks in the league. After Butler’s game-saving interception, he was benched and later signed with the Titans the following season. He started off hot for the Titans only to get torched early on in his stay with the team. The Titans have once again put faith back in Butler and he is back to looking like a #1 cornerback in real life and fantasy purposes. Since joining the Titans Butler has played in 31 games and has 142 tackles, 28 passes defended, and 7 interceptions. Butler does a great job reading a QB’s eyes as showcased here where he plays the route perfect:
— Zaza (@ZASports1) October 14, 2020
Butler showed some of his best work in that same game against the Bills, check out this stat line:
Malcolm Butler was put to the test against the Bills… He answered.
▫️5 receptions allowed
Josh Allen had a 27.5 passer rating when targeting Butler. pic.twitter.com/fmHugJ8VaE
— PFF TEN Titans (@PFF_Titans) October 15, 2020
Butler has true big-play potential on a nightly basis and is also averaging almost seven tackles per game from the cornerback position which is great for any DB. Fire him up as one of the top cornerback weekly IDP must starts.
Marlon Humphrey – Baltimore Ravens
2020 Stats: 36 tackles (30 solos), 2 tackles for a loss, 2.5 sacks, 5 passes defended, 1 interception, 4 forced fumbles, 4 QB hits, and 8 return yards. (6 Games)
Mayhem D-League Points: 129.16 (CB3/DB5)
Marlon Humphrey has made his name as being a playmaker. Sure his passes defended are not as high as some of the other cornerbacks in the league but adding in his 2.5 sacks and four forced fumbles to the mix skyrockets his value. His ability to force turnovers is uncanny and is used greatly in blitz packages. Watch here how active Humphrey’s hands are even after the reception is made. It is a little reminiscent of Charles Tillman back in the day. Watch this clip here where he made the game-winning forced fumble:
Marlon Humphrey is also the top-rated cornerback in zone coverage this season as evident from Pro Football Focus:
Highest-graded CBs in zone coverage:
1. Marlon Humphrey – 93.1
2. Jamel Dean – 91.6
3. Kyle Fuller – 88.4
4. Jaire Alexander – 86.7 pic.twitter.com/Lq1XlE81wK
— PFF (@PFF) October 30, 2020
Humphrey is averaging six tackles per game and is a true turnover machine. He is one of the weekly IDP must start as a DB in all leagues.
Brian Poole – New York Jets
2020 Stats: 38 tackles (32 solos), 2 tackles for a loss, 1 sack, 6 passes defended, 2 interceptions, 1 QB hit, and 15 return yards. (7 Games)
Mayhem D-League Points: 126.90 (CB4/DB6)
There has not been much to be happy about if you are a Jets fan. One bright spot on the team has been nickel corner, Brian Poole. He has been fantastic playing out of the slot and has turned in some great performances when not much greatness has been seen at the Meadowlands. Poole has great defensive awareness, watch him react here coming off of his man after the pass deflection and make the one-handed pick-six:
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) November 24, 2019
Brian Poole is a fantastic tackler and finisher. He hits with ferocity and malicious intent but makes sure that the tackle is finished all the way through. Watch these few examples of some of Poole’s best tackles, one on his own teammate:
Brian Poole with two MONSTER hits against the Chiefs. 😤
Tag a friend! pic.twitter.com/4iEx6pCvUQ
— Hotlanta Highlights (@HotlantaHlights) August 21, 2018
Brian Poole. WHAT A HIT.pic.twitter.com/IrcfXIHHHX
— LeadingNFL (@LeadingNFL) July 28, 2019
Poole has been a top 10 DB performer easy this year and even last year. Poole has become one of the surprising defensive back IDP must starts.
James Bradberry – New York Giants
2020 Stats: 25 tackles (20 solos), 11 passes defended, 3 interceptions, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, and 19 return yards. (7 Games)
Mayhem D-League Points: 120.38 (CB6/DB9)
James Bradberry has always been a fantastic corner dating back to his time with the Carolina Panthers but has finally received recognition this year being in a bigger media market with the Giants. He has 11 career receptions in five seasons and is on pace to break his career-high of passes defended of 15. Bradberry already has 11 in seven games in 2020. He also has been a sound tackler having no less than 59 tackles in a season which was his rookie season. Bradberry has made a living this year off covering the team’s top receiving targets. Watch here what he did in coverage against Allen Robinson:
James Bradberry was targeted six times on Sunday by Trubisky:
1. Incomplete pass
2. Pass breakup
4. Pass breakup
5. Bradberry PBU, caught by Julian Love for INT
6. Bradberry INT on 50/50 ball to Allen Robinson
— David Solow (@GiantsAlliance) September 23, 2020
Here you see Bradberry stay with the play, make the pick, and keep his feet in bounds to prevent the touchdown and force the turnover:
James Bradberry leaps for the end zone INT! His third of the season. #TogetherBlue
— NFL (@NFL) October 23, 2020
James Bradberry is a true lockdown corner and teammate Logan Ryan tells him every day in practice that he is the top cornerback in the league. His pass deflection numbers and interception numbers making him one of the surprise weekly IDP must starts.
Mike Hilton – Pittsburgh Steelers
2020 Stats: 29 tackles (27 solos), 5 tackles for a loss, 3 sacks, 3 passes defended, 1 interception, 1 fumble recovery, and 16 total return yards. (4 games)
Mayhem D-League Points: 109.22 (CB9/DB16)
Mike Hilton is the most surprising of the bunch by far on this list. You say CB9/DB16 is not really that great right? Wrong, he is that high on the list after playing in only four games due to injury. The Steelers deploy Hilton all over the formation and he makes up for the team that is super thin at the linebacker position. He is also used beautifully as a blitzer. Hilton has always been terrific at blitzing, watch this clip here dating back to 2017 where he had three sacks in a game and how quickly he comes off the edge with perfect snap timing:
— Steelers Depot 🎄 (@Steelersdepot) September 22, 2020
He does a great job reading running backs out of the backfield and picking up the screen game. Watch how quickly he comes downhill here:
There is no slot corner that is better working downhill than Mike Hilton. Great reaction, avoids the block, makes the TFL. Makes it look easy. pic.twitter.com/vQSqDB4gSR
— Nick Farabaugh (@FarabaughFB) October 5, 2020
His coverage skills are excellent as well. He can cover in the slot as well as play on the outside and the Steelers play him all over. Watch this game from 2019 against the Browns:
Mike Hilton earned the 3rd highest coverage grade among CBs with 5+ targets this week
The stare-down at the end of this pass-breakup was cold-blooded 😵 pic.twitter.com/ITc0uRv4CO
— Connor Price (@PFF_ConnorPrice) October 1, 2019
Mike Hilton is on pace for Logan Ryan 2019 type numbers. Hilton is a playmaking machine that can get you points in a variety of ways and is one of the top weekly IDP must starts at the DB position.
With scoring changing in IDP leagues and people trying to incorporate cornerbacks more into their leagues, cornerbacks are starting to become a premium. Sure the most common strategy with cornerbacks is to stream weekly, and my man Johny The Greek writes a weekly article with the best advice on this strategy. With the way things are shifting though, there are some cornerbacks now who are weekly must starts even if your league does not have a designated CB position. This list is some top options that can be huge contributors to your IDP squads.