By Gary Davenport
Gary Davenport

We're in the home stretch of fantasy draft season. The first game of the 2020 NFL season is less than two weeks away, and just two more weekends of drafting remain-the busiest two weekends of the year.

The tension! The intrigue! The drama!
With boatloads of fantasy managers getting ready to draft over the next several days, many are finalizing draft preparation. And a big part of that is getting your hands on an updated set of player rankings.

Well, if you're getting ready for an IDP draft (because you're cool like that) you are in luck-because that's just what I'm about to peel off. As a matter of fact, in addition to those rankings this piece also features some general draft strategy and some potential value targets at each position.



The good news along the defensive line is that thanks to the emergence of young players like Nick Bosa of the San Francisco 49ers and Maxx Crosby of the Las Vegas Raiders, the pool of talent is deeper than it has been in recent years.

The bad news is that the defensive line remains the shallowest of the three main IDP positions, and there's a sizable difference both in production and consistency between elite options like Aaron Donald of the Los Angeles Rams and lower-end weekly starters.

It's not as necessary to be aggressive on the defensive line as it was in the past couple of years. But that doesn't mean it's not still a good idea. Spending one of your first two or three IDP picks on a top-eight defensive lineman is a good idea. And grabbing a pair of top-10 DL isn't a bad one-it can afford your squad a nice edge over the competition.

1). Myles Garrett - DE, CLE
2). Aaron Donald - DT, LAR
3). Danielle Hunter - DE, MIN
4). Joey Bosa - DE, LAC
5). Cameron Jordan - DE, NOS
6). Nick Bosa - DE, SFO
7). J.J. Watt - DE, HOU
8). Sam Hubbard - DE, CIN
9). Maxx Crosby - DE, LVR
10). Chase Young - DE, WAS
11). Cameron Heyward - DE, PIT
12). Calais Campbell - DE, BAL
13). Carlos Dunlap - DE, CIN
14). Yannick Ngakoue - DE, MIN
15). Josh Allen - DE, JAX
16). Chris Jones - DT, KCC
17). Justin Houston - DE, IND
18). Frank Clark - DE, KCC
19). Brian Burns - DE, CAR
20). Demarcus Lawrence - DE, DAL
21). Dante Fowler - DE, ATL
22). DeForest Buckner - DT, IND
23). Arik Armstead - DE, SFO
24). Akiem Hicks - DE, CHI
25). Melvin Ingram - DE, LAC
26). Trey Flowers - DE, DET
27). Everson Griffen - DE, DAL
28). Jonathan Allen - DT, WAS
29). Jurrell Casey - DE, DEN
30). Brandon Graham - DE, PHI
31). Dee Ford - DE, SFO
32). Derek Barnett - DE, PHI
33). Sheldon Richardson - DT, CLE
34). Geno Atkins - DT, CIN
35). Marcus Davenport - DE, NOS
36). Ryan Kerrigan - DE, WAS
37). Bruce Irvin - DE, SEA
38). Javon Kinlaw - DT, SF
39). Cllelin Ferrell - DE. LVR
40). Montez Sweat - DE, WAS
41). Mario Addison - DE, BUF
42). Kenny Clark - DT, GBP
43). Grady Jarrett - DT, ATL
44). Stephen Weatherly - DE, CAR
45). Ed Oliver - DT, BUF
46). Linval Joseph - DT, LAC
47). Olivier Vernon - DE, CLE
48). Jarran Reed - DT, SEA
49). Shaq Lawson - DE, MIA
50). Yetur Gross-Matos - DE, CAR





Cameron Jordan - DE, New Orleans Saints: Looking for elite DL production on a budget? Jordan is your man. The 31-year-old has averaged over 50 total tackles and 13 sacks the past three seasons and has two top-five fantasy finishes over that span.

Justin Houston - DE, Indianapolis Colts: Despite topping 10 sacks last year for the first time since 2014 and finishing inside the top-10 in fantasy points in his first year with the Colts, Houston is coming off draft boards well into DL2 territory. That's value.

Akiem Hicks - DE, Chicago Bears: Hicks missed 11 games in 2019 and has fallen into the latter stages of most IDP drafts. But in the two years prior Hicks averaged 50-plus tackles and eight sacks. Both seasons he ended the year as a top-20 defensive lineman.





In the overwhelming majority of IDP leagues, linebackers are the backbone of a successful defensive roster. They are both the highest-scoring and most consistent position on defense. They are, in effect, the running backs of IDP.

You can't have too many good ones.
The depth at linebacker is better than on the defensive line. There will be options available in the later rounds with the potential to become viable weekly starters. But it's still critical to build an IDP roster around a couple of consistent, dependable options at the position.

Assuming your IDP league starts at least two players at the position. At least two of your first three draft picks on defense should be linebackers. Once you have that core, you can either bang away at another higher-end option or wait for one of those upside options later on.

1). Darius Leonard - OLB, IND
2). Bobby Wagner - ILB, SEA
3). Blake Martinez - ILB, NYG
4). Cory Littleton - ILB, LVR
5). Jaylon Smith - ILB, DAL
6). Joe Schobert - ILB, JAX
7). Devin White - ILB, TBB
8). Fred Warner - ILB, SFO
9). Roquan Smith - ILB, CHI
10). Jordan Hicks - ILB, ARZ
11). Leighton Vander Esch - OLB, DAL
12). Lavonte David - OLB, TBB
13). Zach Cunningham - ILB, HOU
14). Shaq Thompson - ILB, CAR
15). Devin Bush - ILB, PIT
16). Deion Jones - ILB, ATL
17). Demario Davis - OLB, NOS
18). Jayon Brown - ILB, TEN
19). Christian Kirksey - ILB, GBP
20). Tremaine Edmunds - ILB, BUF
21). Patrick Queen - ILB, BAL
22). Eric Kendricks - ILB, MIN
23). T.J. Watt - OLB, PIT
24). Isaiah Simmons - ILB, ARZ
25). Danny Trevathan - ILB, CHI
26). Rashaan Evans - ILB, TEN
27). Khalil Mack - OLB, CKI
28). Kenneth Murray - ILB, LAC
29). Alexander Johnson - ILB, DEN
30). Nick Kwiatkoski - OLB, LVR J
31). Avery Williamson - ILB, NYJ
32). Matt Milano - OLB, BUF
33). Chandler Jones - OLB, ARZ
34). Tahir Whitehead - ILB, CAR
35). Todd Davis - ILB, DEN
36). Jamie Collins - OLB, DET
37). K.J. Wright - OLB, SEA
38). Micah Kiser - ILB, LAR
39). Thomas Davis - ILB, WAS
40). Germaine Pratt - OLB, CIN
41). Kwon Alexander - OLB, SFO
42). Myles Jack - OLB, JAX
43). Jerome Baker - OLB, MIA
44). Sione Takitaki - ILB, CLE
45). Logan Wilson - ILB, CIN
46). Shaquil Barrett - OLB, TBB
47). Benardrick McKinney - ILB, HOU
48). B.J. Goodson - ILB, CLE
49). Nathan Gerry - OLB, PHI
50). William Gay Jr. - ILB, KCC





Leighton Vander Esch - ILB, Dallas Cowboys: After missing seven games with a neck injury in 2019, Vander Esch is dropping in many drafts. But as the youngster showed with his 102-solo rookie year, when he's healthy Vander Esch possesses top-10 fantasy upside.

Danny Trevathan - ILB, Chicago Bears: Like Vander Esch, Trevathan's draft stock is down after he missed seven games with a nasty elbow injury. However, as recently as the 2018 season Trevathan topped 100 total tackles and finished inside LB2 territory in many IDP scoring systems.

Micah Kiser - ILB, Los Angeles Rams: Kiser is an afterthought in as many IDP drafts as not after missing the entire 2019 season. But the third-year pro has the inside track to be a three-down starter (and the leading tackler) for the Rams in 2020. There's real "sleeper" potential here.





The defensive back spot is two things in fantasy football. The first is deep-easily the deepest position in IDP. In even deeper IDP leagues, there will likely be viable matchup plays available on the waiver wire into the regular season.

The second is unpredictable. There are a few elite defensive backs who have demonstrated the ability to be consistent producers over multiple seasons. But for the most part, the top 10 defensive backs at the beginning of a season and the top 10 at the end are two vastly different lists.

Given those truths, the wisest course of action with defensive backs is patience. Avail yourself of the depth on the back end, load up on defensive linemen and linebackers and target upside plays in the later rounds.

That way, if they don't pan out, the loss of draft capital is minimal.

1). Jamal Adams - S, SEA
2). John Johnson - S, LAR
3). Derwin James - S, LAC
4). Landon Collins - S, WAS
5). Budda Baker - S, ARZ
6). Jordan Poyer - S, BUF
7). Keanu Neal - S, ATL
8). Jessie Bates III - S, CIN
9). Tracy Walker - S, DET
10). Malcolm Jenkins - S, NOS
11). Jabrill Peppers - S, NYG
12). Taylor Rapp - S, LAR
13). Minkah Fitzpatrick - S, PIT
14). Justin Simmons - S, DEN
15). Harrison Smith - S, MIN
16). Tyrann Mathieu - S, KCC
17). Kevin Byard - S, TEN
18). Johnathan Abram - S, LVR
19). Vonn Bell - S, CIN
20). Justin Reid - S, HOU
21). Karl Joseph - S, CLE
22). Terrell Edmunds - S, PIT
23). Chuck Clark - S, BAL
24). Damarious Randall - S, LVR
25). Kareem Jackson - S, DEN
26). Adrian Amos - S, GBP
27). Eddie Jackson - S, CHI
28). Jeremy Chinn - S, CAR
29). Ha Clinton-Dix - S, DAL
30). Kyle Fuller - CB, CHI
31). Ronnie Harrison - S, JAX
32). Adrian Phillips - S, NEP
33). Shawn Williams - S, CIN
34). Antoine Winfield Jr. - S, TBB
35). Khari Willis - S, IND
36). Bradley McDougald - S, NYJ
37). Quinton Dunbar - CB, SEA
38). Justin Evans - S, TBB
39). Marshon Lattimore - CB, NOS
40). Sean Davis - S, WAS
41). Quandre Diggs - S, SEA
42). Jaquiski Tartt - S, SFO
43). Kenny Moore II - CB, IND
44). James Bradberry - CB, NYG
45). Eric Rowe - S, MIA
46). Micah Hyde - S, BUF
47). Marcus Peters - CB, BAL
48). Jalen Mills - S, PHI
49). Donte Jackson - CB, CAR
50). Darnell Savage - S, GBP






Jessie Bates - S, Cincinnati Bengals: Despite hitting 100 tackles in both of his seasons in the NFL and finishing as a top-10 defensive back both times, Bates is falling in drafts in 2020. The arrival of Vonn Bell shouldn't affect Bates' role-he's being undervalued in IDP drafts this summer.

Chuck Clark - S, Baltimore Ravens: With Earl Thomas no longer in Baltimore, Clark is now the leader of the Ravens safeties. Given the uncertainties surrounding the inside linebackers in Charm City in 2020, that could mean quite a few tackle opportunities for the fourth-year pro this season.

Adrian Phillips - S, New England Patriots: When Phillips first joined the Patriots, the veteran safety appeared slated for a rotational role. Now, after several personnel losses and that many more player opt-outs, it's possible he could wind up leading New England in tackles in 2020.