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Updated Fantasy Football IDP Rankings - Risers and Fallers

We are less than one week away from the beginning of the 2021 NFL season, and that means it’s time for us to put together our final preseason IDP Positional Rankings.

Injuries have been suffered, cuts made, trades executed, and depth charts announced. Now, we have tons of information about everyone we care about and many players we don't… and yet there’s still so much we don’t know!

Keeping in mind everything we do and do not know, the season will never wait for every roster and injury to settle itself. The NFL will push on, and so will we. That's why we are here with our final preseason list of IDP positional ranks. Below you'll find a comprehensive list of rankings based on each player's upside, downside, and the chaos that surrounds them.

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers received five total writing awards and 13 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, tops in the industry! Congrats to all the award winners and nominees including Best NFL Series, MLB Series, NBA Writer, PGA Writer and Player Notes writer of the year. Be sure to follow their analysis, rankings and advice all year long, and win big with RotoBaller! Read More!

 

Top-30 Fantasy Defensive Linemen for 2021

Rank Player Team
1 T.J. Watt Steelers
2 Myles Garrett Browns
3 Chase Young WFT
4 Joey Bosa Chargers
5 Danielle Hunter Vikings
6 Nick Bosa 49ers
7 Aaron Donald Rams
8 Brian Burns Panthers
9 Za’Darius Smith Packers
10 Khalil Mack Bears
11 Jason Pierre-Paul Buccaneers
12 Haason Reddick Panthers
13 Shaquil Barrett Buccaneers
14 Montez Sweat WFT
15 Deforest Buckner Colts
16 Jeffery Simmons Titans
17 Alex Highsmith Steelers
18 Quinnen Williams Jets
19 Bradley Chubb Broncos
20 Bud Dupree Titans
21 Harold Landry III Titans
22 Josh Allen Jaguars
23 Yannick Ngakoue Raiders
24 Kyle Van Noy Patriots
25 Brandon Graham Eagles
26 Cameron Jordan Saints
27 J.J. Watt Cardinals
28 Chandler Jones Cardinals
29 Leonard Floyd Rams
30 Chris Jones Chiefs

 

Biggest DL Riser of the Offseason

Alex Highsmith, Pittsburgh Steelers

As a third-round draft pick forced into action during his rookie year after Bud Dupree went down, Highsmith was impressive. He notched a pressure on 9.3% of his pass-rush snaps, which is a rate just slightly lower than Brian Burns, and he missed only 6.3% of his tackles. Highsmith now has a starting job all to himself, and he should face lots of one-on-one matchups as offenses focus on T.J. Watt, Cameron Hayward, Joe Schobert, Devin Bush Jr., and others.

With reports that Highsmith is maturing and looking like a veteran this offseason, it’s easy to imagine him making the same big plays that Dupree did when he was opposite Watt. Highsmith is also an LB with fantasy DL eligibility, which should help his tackle totals as well. With a solid tackle floor and pass-rush upside, consider the second-year starter to be a low-end DL2 in most drafts, but his upside is that of a DL1.

 

Biggest DL Faller of the Offseason

Trey Hendrickson, Cincinnati Bengals

Hendrickson was one of the biggest surprises in all of IDP last year when he tied for second in the NFL in sacks despite being drafted as a low-end DL4 in most fantasy formats. However, that big boom should be viewed in the proper context, as Hendrickson was surrounded by top-end talent (Marshon Lattimore, Cameron Jordan, Marcus Davenport, Chauncy Gardner-Johnson, etc.) that made his a lot job easier.

Conversely, Hendrickson’s new team (the Bengals) sported one of the thinnest cornerback and defensive line rooms in the NFL even before losing their two best players (Carl Lawson and William Jackson III) to free agency. With a tough slate of division opponents, a lack of support, and no noteworthy physical traits to rely on, Hendrickson could struggle mightily this year. His fantasy production should take a significant hit in 2021.

 

Top-30 Fantasy Linebackers for 2021

Rank Player Team
1 Darius Leonard Colts
2 Devin White Buccaneers
3 Roquan Smith Bears
4 Blake Martinez Giants
5 Bobby Wagner Seahawks
6 Fred Warner 49ers
7 Zach Cunningham Texans
8 Micah Parsons Cowboys
9 Foyesade Oluokun Falcons
10 Lavonte David Buccaneers
11 T.J. Watt Steelers
12 Zaven Collins Cardinals
13 Jayon Brown Titans
14 Eric Kendricks Vikings
15 Demario Davis Saints
16 Joe Schobert Steelers
17 Patrick Queen Ravens
18 Myles Jack Jaguars
19 Deion Jones Falcons
20 Isaiah Simmons Cardinals
21 Tremaine Edmunds Bills
22 Jordyn Brooks Seahawks
23 Jaylon Smith Cowboys
24 Jamin Davis WFT
25 Alex Singleton Eagles
26 Shaq Thompson Panthers
27 Kenneth Murray Jr. Chargers
28 Devin Bush Jr. Steelers
29 Dre Greenlaw 49ers
30-Tie Troy Reeder Rams
30-Tie Zack Baun Saints

 

Biggest Linebacker Riser of Offseason

Micah Parsons, Dallas Cowboys

We noted early this offseason that the crowded linebacker room in Dallas was loaded with fantasy confusion, which impacted our initial IDP rankings for everyone in that group. However, it now appears we have some clarity on that situation… at least when it comes to the uber-talented Micah Parsons.

Reports are that the former Penn State superstar has been blowing up Cowboys camp, and his pre-season run has been exclusively with starters. He’s even been pulled early (11 plays) in those pre-season matchups, which is a precaution most teams don’t exercise with rookies who haven't played competitive football since 2019. The Cowboys clearly view Parsons as a special player who doesn't need much offseason seasoning, and they want to make sure he’s healthy to start the season.

Given the treatment Dallas has given the rookie all offseason, Parsons shouldn’t be expected to share many snaps with Jaylon Smith or Leighton Vander Esch. Splitting snaps was the only concern we had about this prodigy’s fantasy potential, and with that threat removed, he should have a clear path to a top-10 fantasy LB finish in 2021.

 

Biggest Linebacker Faller of Offseason

Jaylon Smith, Dallas Cowboys

Jaylon Smith is a 26-year-old former Pro Bowler who finished third in the NFL in combined tackles last year. That is the resume of an IDP superstar. It’s also the resume of a guy whose employers recognize empty tackles when they see them.

Despite his pedigree, age, and athleticism, Smith is almost universally viewed as a player on the decline. While he still knows how to fill box scores with stats, his actual positive impact on games has dwindled for two straight seasons. That is why the Cowboys have been looking for ways out of Smith’s massive contract all offseason, and it’s why they have started a rookie (Parsons) and a converted safety (Keanu Neal) over him in their relevant preseason games.

With all of the doubts surrounding Smith’s role in Dallas, IDP managers should be very cautious about drafting him as a top-20 linebacker this year. While Smith still has the athleticism and profile to rack up tackles as a starter on a leaky defense, he may need to be traded or released before he puts up consistent fantasy stats again.

 

Sleeper Linebacker of 2021

Zack Baun, New Orleans Saints

I’ve written up Baun a few times this offseason, so I won’t bore you with a rehash of why he and Jeremy Chinn were my two favorite defenders in the 2020 NFL Draft. Suffice it to say, the former Wisconsin Badger has the versatility and motor to be a force as both a pass rusher and a run-stuffer if he is given a chance to start. The question was always a matter of will he get that chance?

Early this offseason, all indications were that Baun would not get his shot. The Saints had invested a premium draft pick in Ohio State’s Pete Werner, and they were talking the rookie up as a starter. Those fears surrounding Baun started to ebb, however, after he flashed during preseason action. Baun’s versatility popped on the preseason tape, and his early impact should be enough to earn him a featured role with a head coach who’s favored versatile assets in the past (see Taysom Hill and Alvin Kamara). IDP managers will want to invest a late-round pick in this high-upside option, even if his snaps are not yet guaranteed.

 

Top-30 Fantasy Defensive Backs for 2021

Rank Player Team
1 Budda Baker Cardinals
2 Jamal Adams Seahawks
3 Derwin James Chargers
4 Jordan Poyer Bills
5 Jeremy Chinn Panthers
6 Jessie Bates III Bengals
7 Antoine Winfield Jr. Buccaneers
8 Landon Collins WFT
9 Vonn Bell Bengals
10 Jabrill Peppers Giants
11 John Johnson III Browns
12 Justin Simmons Broncos
13 Kamren Curl WFT
14 Khari Willis Colts
15 Harrison Smith Vikings
16 Marlon Humphrey Ravens
17 Daniel Sorensen Chiefs
18 Trevon Moehrig Raiders
19 Darnell Savage Jr. Packers
20 Marcus Maye Jets
21 Carlton Davis Buccaneers
22 Kevin Byard Titans
23 Rayshawn Jenkins Jaguars
24 Chuck Clark Ravens
25 Richie Grant Falcons
26 Justin Reid Texans
27 Keanu Neal Cowboys
28 Donovan Wilson Cowboys
29 Kyle Dugger Patriots
30 Jamien Sherwood Jets

 

Biggest DB Wildcards

Keanu Neal, Dallas Cowboys
Jamien Sherwood, New York Jets

Last year, we told you that Jeremy Chinn was an elite fantasy asset because he was an NFL linebacker with fantasy eligibility at DB. Both Keanu Neal and Jamien Sherwood fit that same role this year, as newly minted linebackers who maintain DB eligibility on some fantasy websites.

Both Neal and Sherwood project as versatile coverage linebackers that their coaches (Dan Quinn and Robert Saleh) will try to utilize in a variety of ways. They should both have ample opportunity to clean up on tackles on running downs while getting action both in the pass rush and in coverage. Defenders who have stepped into similar roles/situations over the past few years include Chinn, Dre Greenlaw, and Kyle Dugger.

 

Biggest Fantasy DB Faller of Offseason

Kamren Curl, Washington Football Team

There’s still a lot of hope surrounding Curl and his long-term fantasy prospects. We’ve covered his strengths repeatedly, as an underrated athlete who cleaned up on fantasy stats while filling in for Landon Collins last year. As a matter of fact, Curl looked like the better and more rounded safety when compared to the version of Collins that Washington has paid for so far.

Unfortunately for Curl and his fantasy managers, Collins is back, and the Washington coaching staff values him as a defensive leader despite his limitations in coverage. Collins is earmarked to take back the role he ceded to Curl last year, and all reports indicate that Collins’ return has saddled Curl with the dreaded "position-less" designation for Ron Rivera and company. Curl is obviously talented enough to contribute as a multi-positional player who fills in all over the field. Still, it's tough to rely on consistent fantasy production from a guy who could play nickel corner some snaps and deep safety on others. That possible inconsistent usage makes Curl a DB2 this year, rather than the DB1 he was last.



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Kyler Murray - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL Injury News, Draft Targets

Must-Have Fantasy Football Players To Draft - Ellis' Essential NFL Picks for 2022

It’s flag-planting season! Just like last year, I’m coming at you with my essential fantasy football players to draft in 2022. Last season was definitely a mixed bag with standouts like Ja’Marr Chase and the Rams passing attack, but also hot takes on Calvin Ridley and Lamar Jackson. Whoops. This season, I’m hoping to be... Read More


D.J. Moore - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL Injury News, DFS Lineup Picks

7 Bold Predictions for the 2022 Fantasy Football Season

Everyone likes bold predictions. Whether that’s because they like glancing at unexpected, but technically possible outcomes or because they like getting worked up over the absurdity of the bold predictions, I have no idea. If I were a betting man, which I am, I lean towards the latter. With that mindset, I fully embrace the... Read More


kenneth gainwell fantasy football rankings news NFL DFS lineup picks

Kenneth Gainwell - 2022 Fantasy Football Draft Sleeper and Undervalued Running Back

There is a ton of hype surrounding the Philadelphia Eagles entering the 2022 season, especially on the offensive side of the ball. The Eagles acquired A.J. Brown via trade from the Tennessee Titans in the offseason, leading many to believe that we'll see a breakout season from Jalen Hurts at the quarterback position. Besides Hurts,... Read More