The fantasy football season is upon us, and IDP rankings are locked and loaded. IDP leagues can operate differently, varying from the amount of players you need to roster, but it could also have strict position requirements. Linebackers have generally scored the most fantasy points per game, while defensive backs and defensive lineman need a bit more help to be consistent on a weekly basis. Of course there are a few exceptions like Aaron Donald. As your browse the top 50, you will notice there are far more linebackers compared to other positions. They just give you that consistent weekly performance, so if you don’t have position requirements, and just need to roster defensive players, linebacker is where you want to look.
Now if your league has position requirements, you can get aggressive on drafting the other positions. Landing a Jamal Adams or Aaron Donald will give you a clear cut advantage, but there are also guys that will emerge late. Linebacker is always deep and you can find studs later on. Defensive backs and defensive lineman dry up pretty quick. Defensive backs are just tough to predict on a weekly basis.
IDP leagues bring a further importance to the waiver wire, as things are always changing. This was a very good rookie class for the defensive side, and there will be names that are IDP viable right off the bat. Any news over the next few months will result in updates to the rankings, be sure to stay tuned.
||Pass Deflections||Interceptions||Forced Fumbles||Fumble Recoveries|
|7||Leighton Vander Esch||LB||DAL||8||107.1||39.5||2.1||9.7||2.6||0.0||0.0|
There are a handful of lineman that you can take early. J.J. Watt is one of them, who finally had a healthy season. After playing just seven games between, 2016 and 2017, he had 16 sacks in 2018 and 47 tackles. Scoring over 140 fantasy points, he averaged about nine per game. Houston has a good pass-rush again, and their secondary should be improved from last season. Watt is one of the two-three names that I like taking at DL early. Aaron Donald is the other. He led all defensive lineman in fantasy points last season, and averaged 9.3 fantasy points per game. Donald is an absolute monster in the middle for Los Angeles, and I expect nothing short of what is projected above.
We move to the next tier of defensive lineman, as Calais Campbell has been a reliable lineman in his career. Even at an older age, he is still getting it done. Projecting him for over ten sacks and 45 tackles puts him up with some other familiar names. He is perfectly in the mix of guys like Danielle Hunter, Cameron Jordan, and Joey Bosa. All project for over ten sacks, and Campbell is one who can generate a few more tackles as well. Campbell was 7th in DL scoring last season. Hunter was a solid performer, and no surprise to see a few Vikings players within the top 50.
Dee Ford, Bradley Chubb, and Demarcus Lawrence are a few other names that didn’t make the cut, but were just on the edge. Myles Garrett is someone I expect to take an even higher jump this season. Projecting him for 14 sacks, he could easily push being a top five scorer among other defensive lineman. He was able to cross the 100 fantasy point mark last year, and was near names like Jordan, Chubb, and DeForest Buckner. If you miss out on those top names, don’t sweat it. There are plenty of guys that can generate sacks this season. I have about 18 projected for over double-digits.
Darius Leonard was the leading IDP scorer last season, scoring 198 fantasy points. He averaged 13.2 per game. Leonard had 112 tackles, seven sacks, and four forced fumbles. The Colts hit on Leonard in the draft, and he comes in as the number one option. You can argue the rankings for the top 5-7 linebackers in various ways, as they produce very similar numbers. Leonard projects to score the most fantasy points among all defenders this season, and then things get interesting. Cory Littleton was a stud averaging ten fantasy points per game last season with the Rams. He had 91 tackles, and also 13 pass deflections.
As you can see the linebackers tackle numbers provide a safe floor on a weekly basis. Leighton Vander Esch projects to be one of the leading tacklers for Dallas, and even if he doesn’t do much else you know the floor is there each week. Deion Jones and Bobby Wagner are two of the top tier linebackers to consider. You might be wondering why Khalil Mack is sort of low for being a stud, and while he projects for over ten sacks this season, his tackles are somewhat limited. He is a great IDP play, but name value hypes him a bit. He was only LB16 in scoring last season.
There are two rookie linebackers to talk about for the upcoming year. One of them is Devin Bush out of Michigan. Pittsburgh wanted him bad, trading up to get him. The only knock is that Bush is on the smaller side. Bush will jump into a strong role and has a lot of potential to produce in year one. Tampa Bay’s Devin White is the other one, who they landed out of LSU. Love the potential in year one for him to get going. He projects to be inside the top 20 in tackles among linebackers and around the top ten in overall fantasy points.
Defensive backs can get a little bit tricky, mainly because they are the least consistent on a weekly basis. Finding guys that play close to the line and generate tackles is a big plus. Jamal Adams was the leading scorer tied with Shawn Williams out of Cincinnati last season. Both averaged over eight points per game in fantasy scoring. Derwin James was another draft hit for the Chargers, with three interceptions, 3.5 sacks, and 76 tackles. Adams and James both project really well for this year. Landon Collins and Justin Reid both project well, and are in new locations for the 2019 season. Both should be top five scorers come the end of the year.
Towards the end of the rankings, you can find Harrison Smith, Budda Baker, and Jordan Poyer as strong options. Poyer was the number 6 scorer in terms of defensive backs last season. Smith was still a top 15 scorer, but we saw others take a step forward. He is one of the best safeties in the game, and averaged 7.2 fantasy points per game. If you are looking past these names, Tyrann Mathieu is in Kansas City. He has had an up and down career, but is one that can produce over 100 fantasy points yet again. Kevin Byard is a stud out in Tennessee, who projects to be a potential top five defensive back. He projects to lead all defensive backs in interceptions,
These players all can fluctuate in terms of production, which is why it is the third defensive position out of the three to avoid if you don’t have any restrictions. Adams, Collins, Reid, and James will be the guys highly sought after, but the second tier can be just as good costing you less.
As mentioned, we had a highly touted draft class for defensive players this offseason. We saw Nick Bosa go to San Francisco, where he is going to be an every down defensive end. He hasn’t cracked the top 50 yet, but Bosa has the chance to join his brother in being an IDP stud. Staying in the Bay Area, Clelin Ferrell was drafted in the top five to Oakland. While it was a reach, Ferrell is an athletic end who will get snaps in Oakland. There are safer options, but keep an eye out for his name. Ed Oliver is one of the more exciting defensive tackles who is going to jump into a good Buffalo defense. Oliver is another year one playmaker. Chase Winovich and Jerry Tillery are two overlooked names when it comes to IDP, as Tillery will plug the middle of a good Chargers line.
There was concern for Montez Sweat’s injury during the draft, which caused him to fall to Washington. Now if he is healthy, Sweat is going to be an outside rusher that can produce right away. Washington had a strong draft, and Sweat has big upside in fantasy and in real life. Quinnen Williams and Josh Allen are going to be solid guys long term, but Allen is going to have a tough time generating fantasy production behind a few names. Williams is likely going to be a better real life player. There are other surrounding Jets options that will generate IDP points.
Jonathan Abram is the most enticing defensive back in terms of fantasy out of this draft class. He is a fast and strong safety who should be playing all over the field. This linebacker core is also poor, putting Abram in a good spot. He was one to just miss the top 50 rankings already. Darnell Savage and Juan Thornhill both should see big roles in Green Bay and Kansas City. Depending on how they are used, there is potential.
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