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Individual Defensive Player (IDP) Tiered Rankings and Analysis

For our most avid fantasy football enthusiasts who look not to discriminate on the other side of the football for fantasy purposes, RotoBaller brings to you our 2018 Individual Defensive Player rankings.

While most leagues stick with a Team D/ST approach, you’ve sought to delve into player values a bit further by taking on an IDP league – you want to see players who are out there crunching tackles, chasing down the quarterback, and slapping the ball out of mid-air be rewarded for their efforts.

The RotoBaller IDP rankers will be updating this list throughout the course of the season as players roles change due to injury or performance, but let’s take a look at our rankings and tiers for Individual Defensive Players headed into the season.

Editor's Note: Get any full-season NFL Premium Pass for 50% off. Our exclusive In-Season Lineup Tools, Lineup Optimizer and over 150 days of Premium DFS Research. Sign Up Now!


IDP - Fantasy Football Defensive Player Rankings

Overall Tier Position Rank Position Player Name Team
1 1 LB Luke Kuechly CAR
1 2 LB Bobby Wagner SEA
1 3 LB Telvin Smith JAX
1 4 DL Joey Bosa LAC
1 5 LB C.J. Mosley BAL
2 6 DB Landon Collins NYG
2 7 LB Kwon Alexander TB
2 8 DL J.J. Watt HOU
2 9 LB Deion Jones ATL
2 10 LB Christian Kirksey CLE
2 11 DB Reshad Jones MIA
2 12 DB Keanu Neal ATL
3 13 DL Calais Campbell JAX
3 14 LB Lavonte David TB
3 15 LB Sean Lee DAL
3 16 DL Danielle Hunter MIN
3 17 LB Zach Brown WAS
3 18 DL Khalil Mack OAK
3 19 LB Alec Ogletree NYG
3 20 DL Jason Pierre-Paul TB
4 21 LB Benardrick McKinney HOU
4 22 DL Melvin Ingram LAC
4 23 LB Mark Barron LAR
4 24 DB Harrison Smith MIN
4 25 DL Carlos Dunlap CIN
4 26 LB Eric Kendricks MIN
4 27 LB Olivier Vernon NYG
4 28 DL Aaron Donald LAR
4 29 DL Cameron Jordan NO
4 30 DL Myles Garrett CLE
5 31 DL Everson Griffen MIN
5 32 LB Blake Martinez GB
5 33 LB Danny Trevathan CHI
5 34 DL Ezekiel Ansah DET
5 35 LB Deone Bucannon ARI
5 36 DB Karl Joseph OAK
5 37 LB Jatavis Brown LAC
5 38 LB Jadeveon Clowney HOU
5 39 LB Jarrad Davis DET
5 40 DL Trey Flowers NE
5 41 DL Leonard Williams NYJ
5 42 DB Morgan Burnett PIT
5 43 LB Vince Williams PIT
5 44 DB Jamal Adams NYJ
6 45 LB Vontaze Burfict CIN
6 46 DB Barry Church JAX
6 47 DL Brandon Graham PHI
6 48 LB K.J. Wright SEA
6 49 LB Joe Schobert CLE
6 50 DB Tony Jefferson BAL
6 51 DL Muhammad Wilkerson NYJ
6 52 DB Jordan Poyer BUF
6 53 LB Roquan Smith CHI
6 54 DL DeForest Buckner SF
6 55 DL Demarcus Lawrence DAL
6 56 DB Budda Baker ARI
6 57 LB Kiko Alonso MIA
6 58 DL Chandler Jones ARI
6 59 LB Raekwon McMillan MIA
6 60 DB Justin Simmons KC
7 61 LB Tremaine Edmunds BUF
7 62 DL Markus Golden ARI
7 63 LB Reuben Foster SF
7 64 LB Von Miller DEN
7 65 LB Anthony Hitchens KC
7 66 DB Kevin Byard TEN
7 67 DB Hasean Clinton-Dix GB
7 68 DB D.J. Swearinger WAS
7 69 DB Tyrann Mathieu HOU
7 70 DL Yannick Ngakoue JAX
7 71 DL Ndamukong Suh LAR
7 72 LB Rashaan Evans TEN
7 73 LB Wesley Woodyard TEN
7 74 DB Marshon Lattimore NO
7 75 LB Myles Jack JAX
7 76 LB Avery Williamson NYJ
7 77 LB Tahir Whitehead OAK
7 78 DL Jerry Hughes BUF
7 79 DB Micah Hyde BUF
7 80 LB Jordan Hicks KC
8 81 DB Eric Berry KC
8 82 DB Sean Davis PIT
8 83 LB Denzel Perryman LAC
8 84 LB Brandon Marshall DEN
8 85 DL Fletcher Cox PHI
8 86 DL Robert Quinn MIA
8 87 LB Mason Foster WAS
8 88 DL Vic Beasley ATL
8 89 DB Jaquiski Tartt SF
8 90 DL Akiem Hicks CHI
8 91 DB Derwin James LAC
8 92 DL Cameron Heyward PIT
8 93 LB Navorro Bowman SF
8 94 DL Jabaal Sheard IND
8 95 LB Preston Brown CIN
8 96 DB Eric Weddle BAL
8 97 DB Kyle Fuller CHI
8 98 LB Nigel Bradham PHI
8 99 DL Kawann Short CAR
8 100 LB Demario Davis NO
9 101 DL Nazair Jones DE
9 102 DL Vinny Curry DE
9 103 LB Jamie Collins S
9 104 DL Marcus Davenport LB
9 105 DL Frank Clark DE
9 106 LB De'Vondre Campbell LB
9 107 LB Antonio Morrison S
9 108 LB Darron Lee CB
9 109 DL Cameron Wake DE
9 110 LB Kyle Van Noy CB
10 111 DL Michael Bennett S
10 112 DL Mario Addison CB
10 113 DB Darius Slay S
10 114 DB John Johnson III S
10 115 DB Jahleel Addae S
10 116 DB John Johnson S
10 117 DB Andrew Sendejo S
10 118 LB Bradley Chubb CB
10 119 DB Lamarcus Joyner LB
10 120 DL Bruce Irvin LB

Tier 1

Luke Kuechly, Bobby Wagner, Telvin Smith, Joey Bosa, C.J. Mosley

Keuchly finds himself atop our consensus IDP rankings with his ability to cover the entire field from the middle linebacker position, while racking up tackles, intercepting passes, and recovering fumbles produced by an above average defensive line for the Carolina Panthers.  The speedy linebacker amassed 74 solo tackles along with 51 assisted in 2017 where he played all but one game through the season, and his biggest concern is not his ability to make big plays when he’s on the field, it’s his ability to stay on the field.  Keuchly has battled concussions throughout his career, but is one of (if not the), best at his position when he manages to stay healthy.  He’s got some of the best hands you will find for his position and will chip in an occasional interception or fumble recovery when the opportunity presents.

Bobby Wagner will be tasked with more as the Seahawks once-feared defense will be without many of their key components from years prior having lost All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman to free agency, All-Pro strong safety Kam Chancellor to injury, all while perennial Pro-Bowl free safety Earl Thomas is holding out in a contract dispute. Wagner has shown an ability to stay healthy in seasons prior, having played in at least 15 games in three of the last four seasons.  His speed and ability to read plays allow for him to produce tackles at a speedy clip, evidenced by last year when he collected 97 solo tackles along with 36 assisted.  While the Seahawks’ pass rush won’t be what it has been in years prior, it’s a safe bet that Wagner’s plate will be more than full in the 2018 season en route to great fantasy production from the linebacker position.

There isn’t much not to love about Telvin Smith’s 2018 outlook.  He’s a versatile middle linebacker playing behind the best defensive line in football, on the best defense in football.  He blitzes the quarterback, deflects and intercepts passes coming across the field, and has the ability to accumulate tackles at a rapid clip if the opposing running back or wide receiver are able to get past that monstrous defensive line.  Smith finished as a top 10 linebacker in 14 games in 2017, following up a 2016 season where he finished in the top five.  If he can stay healthy, he’s as close as they come to a lock for elite fantasy production.

The scariest aspect of Joey Bosa’s upside is that it’s safe to say we haven’t seen close to the best of it yet.  The elusive defensive end is our first ranked at his position in our IDP rankings following a season where he racked up 12.5 sacks along with 56 tackles to go along with them.  Playing in front of an elite secondary that only improved this offseason with the drafting of safety Derwin James, Bosa is sure to have extra time to get to the passer and increase an already double-digit number in sacks from 2017.  Look for him to continue to progress and provide elite fantasy production as a key cog in the Chargers defense.

CJ Mosley led the league with 97 solo tackles from the middle linebacker position, following a 2016 that was riddled with injuries and streaky production.  Mosley also possesses great hands for a middle linebacker, and is a threat to finish atop our rankings should he prove an ability to stay on the field.  The hard-hitting linebacker will again be a key component of a hard hitting Ravens defense, providing excellent fantasy production from the linebacker position.


Tier 2

Landon Collins, Kwon Alexander, J.J. Watt, Deion Jones, Christian Kirksey, Reshad Jones, Keanu Neal

Landon Collins is probably the safest player you can take at the safety position, with his big-play ability complemented by his ability to rack up triple-digit tackles.  He came back down to Earth a bit in 2017 following a 2016 where he led his position with 100 solo tackles, but still finished as a top 5 option despite missing a few games due to injury.  Look for another consistent season of production out of Collins in a defense that will be relied upon more heavily where the team will be scoring more points on the offensive side of the ball.

It’s tough to rank Alexander above or below where we have him at going into 2018.  After a strong 2016, the Buccaneers linebacker missed 4 games in 2017 which accounted for a dip in production from a fantasy perspective.  With a healthy Lavonte David, along with a vastly improved defensive line, it’s possible we could see Alexander’s production stay about where it was in 2017 give or take, however said production would still allow for top 10 numbers from his position which is where we recommend he be drafted.

J.J. Watt is hands-down one of the best players in football when he can stay on the field.  You’re probably noticing it become a bit of a trend that the top players at their respective positions generally can only be halted from a production standpoint by injury, and this has most certainly been the case for the All-Pro defensive end.  Having played just eight games in the last two years, you’re going to have to be willing to gamble on Watt returning to full form in 2018, but should that gamble pay off, you’ve got the makings of the best at his position.

Deion Jones and Christian Kirksey both go into the 2018 season with high expectation coming off seasons where they each accumulated 130+ tackles as the key cog in their respective defenses.  It’s also worth noting that each notched double digit tackles for loss from the middle linebacker position which will only add to their fantasy value.  It would be a surprise to nobody if either of these two linebackers finished in the top five for their position with their ability to stuff the stat sheet with solid fantasy production.

Similarly to Jones and Kirksey, Reshad Jones and Keanu Neal find themselves in roles that are strikingly similar to one another as well.  Jones finished as the number one defensive back for fantasy purposes last year, while Neal finished within the top five, both finishing with 70+ solo tackles while manning the safety position and accounting for a high volume of passes defended.  Jones could see a slight dip in production with the arrival of rookie Minkah Fitzpatrick, but expect the productivity to remain similar to 2017 for both of these high flying safeties.


Tier 3

Calais Campbell, Lavonte David, Sean Lee, Danielle Hunter, Zach Brown, Khalil Mack, Alec Ogletree, Jason Pierre-Paul

What’s most interesting about tier 3 is that we have a cluster of players that account for similar production on the field, but also similar battles to stay on it.  Taking a look first at the defensive lineman in tier 3, Calais Campbell was one of the bigger surprises in 2017 where at age 32 he produced one of his most productive fantasy seasons to date.  Danielle Hunter and Khalil Mack are the younger faces in this crowd, and while Hunter just received his big payday from the Vikings as Mack awaits his from the Raiders, it’s a safe bet that both of these quarterback nightmares will account for double-digit sack totals as well as double-digit tackles for loss.  Jason Pierre-Paul joins the Tampa Bay defense which also added Vita Vea and Vinny Curry to their defensive line arsenal, so that should allow for Pierre-Paul to see more one-on-one matchups with offensive lineman to pad his sack totals in 2018.  The Buccaneers will lean heavily on their front seven this season, so expect Pierre-Paul to be a big part of any success they have on that side of the ball.

If Lavonte David and Sean Lee could stay on the field, they’d most definitely be in the conversation for tier one type of production the problem is they both struggle to.  Both linebackers have accounted for triple-digit tackle totals in their respective careers, and if they manage to stay healthy, which at this point is a big if, they are likely to serve as their respective defenses biggest contributors with their ability to cover the entire field.  Alec Ogletree was a top three defensive player for fantasy purposes in 2016, and while he regressed in 2017, Ogletree joins a Giants defense that is starved for a player with his type of ability to accumulate tackles at a high clip.  Look for him to continue to stuff the stat sheet in his new uniform.


Tier 4

Benardrick McKinney, Melvin Ingram, Mark Barron, Harrison Smith, Carlos Dunlap, Eric Kendricks, Olivier Vernon, Aaron Donald, Cameron Jordan, Myles Garrett

What stands out most about tier four is that there is only one defensive back in the group (Harrison Smith) which indicates a likelihood that plenty of value can be found at the position later in your IDP drafts.  That being said, Harrison Smith is a ball hawk and makes tackles all over the field in a defense that seemingly churns out fantasy production so he certainly should not be overlooked in the right range of value.  McKinney and Ingram are two players that should see a slight dip in production with their respective defenses being back at full health, but while this is the case, it’s still a safe bet to take that both should see their fair share of opportunities to accumulate tackles and/or get after the quarterback.  Of all the defensive lineman in this cluster, the one that sticks out as having the highest ceiling is Browns' second-year phenom Myles Garrett. Garrett progressed quickly as a rookie, and heads into the 2018 season poised for double-digit sacks as well as tackles for loss with his innate ability to work his way around opposing offensive lines and get to the quarterback.


Tier 5

Everson Griffin, Blake Martinez, Danny Trevathan, Ezekiel Ansah, Deone Buchannan, Karl Joseph, Jatavis Brown, Jadeveon Clowney, Jarrad Davis, Trey Flowers, Leonard Williams, Morgan Burnett, Vince Williams, Jamal Adams

Blake Martinez and Deone Buchannan both provided fantastic fantasy production in 2017, and while their numbers aren’t likely to be up to par with some of the players in earlier tiers, there’s certainly a good amount of value to be found here in tier five.  Trey Flowers has been slipping down IDP drafts despite being possibly the only real threat on the New England defensive line to get after the quarterback, so take advantage where you can.  Pump the breaks a bit on Jadeveon Clowney: he’s one of the sexier names in this tier that is likely to see a dip in production with a healthy J.J. Watt on the other side of the line.


Tier 6

Vontaze Burfict, Barry Church, Brandon Graham, K.J. Wright, Joe Schobert, Tony Jefferson, Muhammad Wilkerson, Jordan Poyer, Roquan Smith, DeForest Buckner, Demarcus Lawrence, Budda Baker, Kiko Alonso, Chandler Jones, Raekwon McMillan, Justin Simmons

Tier six is loaded with players that could easily find themselves not only atop of rankings at their respective positions, but atop of IDP rankings as a whole.  Roquan Smith was a player that our consensus rankings had the largest variance on, with some ranking him outside of the top 50 and others ranking him inside the top 20.  If he can sustain anything near the production he saw at the collegiate level, Smith will prove to be a steal in your IDP drafts as a key cog in the Bears’ defense.  The same can be said for Raekwon McMillan, who missed his rookie season due to injury for Miami.  At the defensive line position, the player that sticks out most is DeForest Buckner. San Francisco invested heavily in Buckner’s ability to get after the quarterback taking him in the top 10 in 2016.  The 24-year-old is a threat for double-digit sacks and tackles for loss in a defense that added All-Pro Richard Sherman to their defensive backfield which should translate to more time for Buckner to get after the quarterback.


Tier 7

Tremaine Edmunds, Markus Golden, Reuben Foster, Von Miller, Anthony Hitchens, Kevin Byard, HaHa Clinton-Dix, D.J. Swearinger, Tyrann Mathieu, Yannick Ngakoue, Ndamukong Suh, Rashaan Evans, Wesley Woodyard, Marshon Lattimore, Myles Jack, Avery Williamson, Tahir Whitehead, Jerry Hughes, Micah Hyde, Jordan Hicks

As was previously mentioned, here we find where the value lies at the defensive back position.  Tier seven contains six defensive backs, including one that plays the cornerback position in Marshon Lattimore.  Kevin Byard had his best season last year, but it’s safe to expect some regression there where the numbers he put up were through the roof.  All that being said, the name that pops out most in Tier 7 is Reuben Foster.  Foster’s name was most mentioned in the offseason due to some off-field troubles, but on the field he’ll be relied upon as a huge part of the 49ers defensive front seven.  He’s a threat for triple-digit tackles in 2108.  Both rookie linebackers are threats for big seasons as well in Tremaine Edmunds and Rashaan Evans.  Look for Edmunds to hit the ground running a bit quicker than Evans however, as he’s being inserted in a defense with far more significant needs than that of Evans in Tennessee.


Tier 8

Eric Berry, Sean Davis, Denzel Perryman, Brandon Marshall, Fletcher Cox, Robert Quinn, Mason Foster, Vic Beasley, Jaquiski Tartt, Akiem Hicks, Derwin James, Cameron Heyward, Navorro Bowman, Jabaal Sheard, Preston Brown, Eric Weddle, Kyle Fuller, Nigel Bradham, Kawaan Short, Demario Davis

Derwin James is another player in our rankings that saw quite a large variance in the way he was ranked.  He and teammate Denzel Perryman are both steals at their respective ADPs in a defense that certainly doesn’t lack firepower.  Vic Beasley is a threat for double-digit sacks every time he touches the field, as is Robert Quinn.  Quinn is a player that stands to benefit, not be hindered, from the additions to the Rams defensive line which could lead to an increased number of sacks in 2018.


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