10 Rookie Defensive Backs to Target in 2018 IDP Leagues
This year's DB class featured some tremendous talent. Teams are targeting more of these Safety/Linebacker hybrids and there were plenty who fit the bill. However, some of the top talents were drafted into crowded DB rooms. The top safeties were drafted high, though, so I'm fairly confident in their playing time for the upcoming season.
Of all the IDP positions, defensive back is the one you can wait the longest on. Even if you don’t land one of the top guys, you can count on a few defensive backs to emerge throughout the season. As the NFL becomes more pass-happy, corners and safeties are recording more tackles and defended passes.
If you're in a dynasty league or you're looking for more information on the rookies discussed below, you should definitely check out all the content from our friends at Dynasty League Football.
Below, I'm going to let you in on which backs to target for IDP success in both redraft and dynasty leagues.
Denzel Ward, CB, Cleveland Browns
The Browns threw us a curveball Corey Kluber would be proud of, taking Ward over Bradley Chubb with the fourth overall pick. With the lack of solid corners in Cleveland, it's actually a nice landing spot.
Ward played alongside elite corner Marcus Lattimore and Gareon Conley in 2016, however, his star shined bright in 2017. He was targeted 57 times last season and allowed a QB rating under 60, resulting in two interceptions and 15 defended passes.
Ward will need to target the ball more at the next level, but he's aggressive in man coverage, and he can play zone if called upon to do so. His 4.3 speed will allow him to keep up with speedy WRs on the outside. He'll also be able to recover well if beat initially. Ward is a true ballhawk that will get his hands in to make the play.
The Browns rookie DB should be one of the top corners taken in CB-premium leagues, not only in dynasty leagues, but in redraft leagues as well. As a rookie, he's going to be tested often by opposing QBs, so 80 targets isn't out of the question, especially if he's assigned to top receivers.
Derwin James, SS, Los Angeles Chargers
I had James as my top DB heading into the draft, but that will now depend on how he's used by the Chargers.
James had a solid 2017 season, recording 84 tackles and a 10.6 percent tackle rate. He was also solid in coverage, allowing just 46 percent of balls thrown his way to be caught. He was utilized in blitz packages, as he received 111 pass-rush snaps and he compiled seven sacks during his FSU career, which was an underrated aspect of his game.
His versatility to play all positions on defense is going to keep him on the field. He's best utilized as an in-the-box type safety, where he can get moving downhill to make plays. He's also really good in the open field and won't get beat by opposing ball-carriers. He'll also get receivers and running backs to the sideline and won't allow inside movement.
This could be one of those situations, at least in redraft, where you want to wait as long as possible to see the role he carves out for himself. He could play more ILB or near the line of scrimmage to cover deficiencies at linebacker. For dynasty purposes, I don't have a problem targeting him as the top safety.