I have covered my top 10 rankings for linebackers and defensive lineman, now it is time for the defensive backs. Here is my conclusion of IDP positional rankings for 2020.
The defensive back position is likely the deepest IDP position on the defensive side of fantasy football. There are a group of guys who are elite and worth the earlier picks, though it is a position I normally wait on for scraps. Check out my ADP value picks article here showing some of the talent you can get late in drafts. For a full list, check out idpguys.org here, for full ADP and you can see the overall draft position of defensive backs. With that said, here is my top 10 defensive back rankings for 2020.
1) Derwin James – Los Angeles Chargers
2019 Stats: 34 tackles (23 solo), 3 tackles for a loss and 1 pass defended (5 games)
Last year people were soured after selecting Derwin James early when he missed the first 11 games of the season with injury after a huge rookie season. The injury did not look to hinder James at all as he averaged just under 7 tackles per game when he returned. James is an elite prospect, tackling in run support like a linebacker and covering like a top tier corner. James is what any general manager looks for and is an ideal IDP prospect and leads the top 10 defensive back rankings.
2) Jamal Adams – New York Jets
2019 Stats: 75 tackles (61 solo), 10 tackles for a loss, 6.5 sacks, 7 passes defended, 1 interception, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, 2 touchdowns (14 games)
Jamal Adams has been a top two safety since he entered the league in 2017. He has averaged about 91 tackles, 9 tackles for a loss, 4 sacks, 8 passes defended almost 1 interception, and 2 forced fumbles per season since joining the NFL. Last season he even set a career high in sacks and tackles for a loss while also missing two games. The one thing that worries me about Adams is his request for a trade. The team who has shown the most interest is the Baltimore Ravens. the Ravens defense sees the least amount of time on the field of any team in the NFL. If that trade happens, Adams may slip a bit but until then he is still number two on my top 10 defensive back rankings.
3) Jordan Poyer – Buffalo Bills
2019 Stats: 107 tackles (71 solo), 4 tackles for a loss, 1 sack, 3 passes defended, 2 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles and 3 fumble recoveries
Jordan Poyer continues to be one of the most underappreciated IDP assets out there. Since he grabbed the starting gig with the Bills in 2017 he has been a beast. He has averaged 100 tackles, 5.5 for a loss, 1.5 sacks, 7 passes defended, 3.5 interceptions, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery since he became the starter. That easily puts him in the top five defensive backs every year, yet is being drafted as the DB8 on idpguys.org ADP . That is still high, but I am much higher on Poyer than most and I have him on most of my teams.
4) Landon Collins – Washington Redskins
2019 Stats: 117 tackles (78 solo), 9 tackles for a loss, 1 sack, 4 passes defended and 2 forced fumbles
Landon Collins started his career as one of, if not the best, fantasy safeties in the NFL. His last two seasons, however, have been a slight disappointment to his standards. During his first three seasons he had 8 interceptions, 4 sacks and 28 passes defended. Over his last two he has zero interceptions to go with 1 sack and 8 passes defended, a big decrease in production.
In 2019 he finished with the second most tackles of his career missing his career high by only 8 tackles. This proves to me that Collins is still in elite company and the defense has just gotten more opportunistic. They added Chase Young in the draft to bolster their pass rush, putting more pressure on quarterbacks and forcing more mistakes and more play-making opportunity for Collins.
5) Budda Baker– Arizona Cardinals
2019 Stats: 147 tackles (104 solo), 7 tackles for a loss, 0.5 sack, 6 passes defended, 1 forced fumble and a fumble recovery
Yes, Budda Baker has dropped to #5 in my top 10 defensive back rankings. Before you go ahead and sign me up for the firing squad, hear me out. Budda Baker is an amazing talent and is among the best defensive backs in the league. He has 323 total tackles in 43 games (36 starts), an average of 7.5 tackles per game. Though this is great, he does not add a ton of other stats to his line other than tackles. He only has 3.5 sacks, 14 passes defended, and zero interceptions over those same 43 games.
The Cardinals were busy this offseason adding talent to the defense. In the draft they added “unicorn” Isaiah Simmons with the 8th overall pick, who should be used all over the defense. They also added De’Vondre Campbell to the linebacker corps, who accumulated 129 tackles last year. That should take a chunk of tackles away from Baker. Last season, outside of Jordan Hicks, the Cardinals were void of any real tackle talent. With the additions of Simmons and Campbell to go along with the lack of overall playmaking from Baker, he drops to #5.
6) Tracy Walker – Detroit Lions
2019 Stats: 103 tackles (82 solo), 6 tackles for a loss, 8 passes defended, 1 interception and a forced fumble
Walker broke out in a huge way in 2019 and proved to be to be a top 10 safety in the NFL. His position with the team did not change much either. They added Jamie Collins who is an upgrade at linebacker but he should not be a high volume tackler. Tracy Walker should continue to put up big tackle numbers, especially with the loss of Tavon Wilson. Walker showed in 2019 that he can be a premier tackler and adds great coverage ability. 2020 should be much of the same for Walker.
7) John Johnson III – Los Angeles Rams
2019 Stats: 51 tackles (24 solo), 2 tackles for a loss, 2 passes defended and 2 interceptions (6 games)
John Johnson III broke out it a big way in 2018 with 119 tackles, 3 for a loss, 11 passes defended and 4 interceptions. He was following that up with a similar campaign in 2019 averaging 8.5 tackles per game and coming up with 2 interceptions over a six game span. With the state of the Rams linebacker corps, putting up those numbers is yet again a possibility. The one reason why I think his numbers will regress slightly is his safety running mate Taylor Rapp. Rapp took over for Johnson after he went on IR last year and totaled 100 tackles, 3 for a loss, 8 passes defended, 2 interceptions and a touchdown. Rapp and Johnson will form one of the better safety tandems in the league, though they may hinder each others fantasy value.
8) Jessie Bates III – Cincinnati Bengals
2019 Stats: 100 tackles (71 solo), 9 passes defended, 3 interceptions, 1 forced fumble and a fumble recovery
Jessie Bates III has been splendid since he entered the league in 2018. He has put up two straight seasons with at least 100 tackles, 7 passes defended and 3 interceptions. Shawn Williams and Bates have formed one of the best safety duos since 2018. Unfortunately they added Vonn Bell to the group who had 89 tackles of his own in 2019. The Bengals could possibly run more three safety sets putting Bell in the box due to the state of their linebacker corps though one of the three safeties will likely be the odd man out. Williams being the elder will likely be that guy. Either way, Bates playing more of the free safety on the team while still being on his rookie deal should keep his every down role a lock.
9) Justin Simmons – Denver Broncos
2019 Stats: 93 tackles (65 solo), 2 tackles for a loss, 15 passes defended, 4 interceptions and a fumble recovery
Justin was always good in coverage having 11 interceptions in four NFL seasons but this past year he really stepped up. He came up with four interceptions and also accumulated 15 passes defended. To go along with the coverage skills has been a constant improvement in tackling. He has averaged 95 tackles per season over the last two seasons and the Broncos have not done much to add any tackle soaking presence on the defense. Simmons should continue to produce and stay in the top 10 defensive back rankings.
10) Kevin Byard – Tennessee Titans
2019 Stats: 84 tackles (60 solo), 2 tackles for a loss, 9 passes defended and 5 interceptions
Kevin Byard has been one of the leaders in interceptions in the league since 2017. In the three seasons from 2017-2019 he has 261 tackles, 33 passes defended and 17 interceptions. Though he plays strictly free safety, Byard still has had no less than 84 tackles in a season over that span. The Titans posses a very good defense at all levels and the pass rush has improved adding Vic Beasley to the mix which should open up Byard for some extra interception opportunities. I look for Byard to continue to produce at a high level.
That concludes my position top 10 rankings leading up to the 2020 NFL season. To check out my top 10 defensive lineman rankings click here. To check out my top 10 linebacker rankings click here. For now, cheers until the season and lets have some fun.