2021 IDP Rookie Rankings: Individual defensive players for dynasty fantasy football

The most exciting time of the year for dynasty fantasy football managers is the rookie draft. Managers should be aware of every position’s depth, especially in an Individual Defensive Player (IDP) league. The criteria to consider are high-caliber players, future starters, and overall depth relative to particular positions. Below, you’ll find my complete rankings for IDP fantasy league players in your 2021 rookie drafts.

Throughout the article, I’ll provide my reasoning and rationale for the top 10 dynasty options at each IDP fantasy position group: DL, LB, and DB. The deepest defensive positions in this class are edge defenders and cornerbacks. In most cases, I’m assuming a balanced scoring system (three points for big plays like sacks and interceptions, one point per tackle).

Without further ado, let’s dive into the IDP rookie rankings! I’m here to help — shoot me a message on Twitter (@EricNMoody) with any questions.

2021 IDP Rookie Rankings | Defensive Line

Who are the top 10 defensive linemen in the 2021 IDP rookie rankings?

Kwity Paye leads the weakest position group of the entire 2021 NFL Draft class

1) Kwity Paye, DE, Indianapolis Colts
2) Jaelan Phillips, DE, Miami Dolphins
3) Odafe Oweh, DE, Baltimore Ravens
4) Azeez Ojulari, DE, New York Giants
5) Gregory Rousseau, DE, Buffalo Bills

Kwity Paye has a clear path to be the Colts’ starter in Week 1. He worked with the starters at defensive end during the team’s offseason workouts and will likely start along with Tyquan Lewis.

Jaelan Phillips lands on a Dolphins team that provides him with one of the best opportunities among all defensive ends in this class. He accumulated 8 sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss last season at the University of Miami.

Odafe Oweh landed on a Ravens team with a robust history of developing edge rushers. So it’s possible he steps right in and fills the void left by edge rusher Matt Judon.

Azeez Ojulari’s draft stock plummeted due to medical concerns, but he has all of the tools to make an immediate impact at the NFL level. Ojulari has been the Giants’ biggest offseason standout.

Gregory Rousseau has all the physical tools and pass-rushing skills to play a high number of snaps as a rookie. After all, the Bills’ two edge rushers are up there in age. Rousseau doesn’t have as much experience as other prospects, but he has natural instincts and desirable physical traits you want in an edge rusher.

Levi Onwuzurike is the first true defensive tackle for IDP leagues

6) Levi Onwuzurike, DT, Detroit Lions
7) Dayo Odeyingbo, DE, Indianapolis Colts
8) Payton Turner, DE, New Orleans Saints
9) Joe Tryon, DE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
10) Carlos Basham Jr., DE, Buffalo Bills

Levi Onwuzurike didn’t have eye-popping numbers at Washington, but he’ll have an opportunity to become the interior presence the Lions have lacked these past few seasons. Onwuzurike excels in run defense with great play strength, hand placement, and block recognition.

Dayo Odeyingbo, who’s coming off of a torn Achilles, plans to play in 2021. The Colts’ director of scouting Morocco Brown compared his skill set and athleticism to former Giants third-round pick Justin Tuck.

The Saints found a viable replacement for Trey Hendrickson in Payton Turner. He has a clear path to IDP success in New Orleans.

Joe Tryon accumulated 61 tackles, 9 sacks, and 2 passes defensed in three seasons at Washington. He opted out of the 2020 college season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Tryon will immediately see snaps in the rotation as a rookie.

Carlos Basham is a first-round talent who the Bills were able to select in Round 2. He should immediately enhance Buffalo’s pass-rush unit.

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2021 IDP Rookie Rankings | Linebacker

Who are the top linebackers in our IDP rookie rankings for 2021?

Micah Parsons leads an LB class that was strong at the top with adequate depth throughout the draft

1) Micah Parsons, LB, Dallas Cowboys
2) Jamin Davis, LB, Washington Football Team
3) Zaven Collins, LB, Arizona Cardinals
4) Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Cleveland Browns
5) Pete Werner, LB, New Orleans Saints

Dallas’ defense was one of the worst in the NFL in 2020. Therefore, Micah Parsons is a rare talent who should immediately slot in as an every-down player with the Cowboys. Dallas struggled to apply pressure to opposing quarterbacks last season. I believe we will see Parsons rush the passer quite a bit this season.

Jamin Davis finished last season with 102 total tackles. He is expected to be an instant contributor in Washington defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio’s defense. Davis had 100+ tackles in his only season as a consistent starter. He has the play speed and agility to do it all.

Zaven Collins should slide right into Arizona’s MIKE linebacker role and excel as a rookie.

Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah’s skill set is perfect for the NFL. He has the potential to finish the season as the Defensive Rookie of the Year.

Pete Werner is the fourth player since 2016 that the Saints have drafted out of Ohio State. He should compete for a starting role in Year 1 as Demario Davis is the only returning starter for the Saints at linebacker. Werner totaled 185 tackles (111 solo), 16 tackles for a loss, 13 passes defensed, 4 forced fumbles, and 4 sacks in four seasons at Ohio State.

Nick Bolton leads a tier of intriguing linebackers

6) Nick Bolton, LB, Kansas City Chiefs
7) Baron Browning, LB, Denver Broncos
8) Derrick Barnes, LB, Detroit Lions
9) Jabril Cox, LB, Dallas Cowboys
10) Ernest Jones, LB, Los Angeles Rams

Nick Bolton has good instincts, downhill speed, and the physicality you want in a linebacker. He is likely to open the season as the starter next to Anthony Hitchens.

Baron Browning provides the Broncos with a player who could play inside or outside LB due to his athleticism. He is a versatile threat who terrorizes offenses up all over the field. The Broncos have significantly increased their blitzes every season under Vic Fangio, and Browing can be a weapon for Denver in 2021.

Derrick Barnes finds himself in an excellent landing spot with the Lions ripe with opportunity. Detroit no longer has Jarrad Davis on the roster, and the only other linebackers they have are Jahlani Tavai, Jamie Collins, and Jalen Reeves-Maybin. As a result, Barnes will be competing for a three-down role.

The Cowboys found a phenomenal value with their fourth-round selection of Jabril Cox. He should see the field early and often in Dallas.

Ernest Jones will play a high number of snaps as a rookie in the Rams’ defensive scheme and could have 100+ tackles in 2021.

2021 IDP Rookie Rankings | Defensive Backs

Target safeties over cornerbacks, as they have more opportunity to pile up stats and score fantasy points.

Jevon Holland accents a strong, deep DB class that includes prospects for nearly every style of coverage

1) Jevon Holland, S, Miami Dolphins
2) Richie Grant, S, Atlanta Falcons
3) Divine Deablo, S, Las Vegas Raiders
4) Andre Cisco, S, Jacksonville Jaguars
5) Trevon Moehrig, S, Las Vegas Raiders

Holland was the first safety selected in the 2021 NFL Draft and is one of the most versatile defensive backs in the class. The Dolphins found a star in Jevon Holland. He was a draft-day steal for Miami out of Oregon.

Richie Grant profiles well as a starting safety in Falcons defensive coordinator Dean Pees’ scheme. He can do it all. The Falcons selection of Grant was one of my favorite picks in this year’s draft.

The Raiders got another winner in Divine Deablo. The linebacker-safety hybrid could fill multiple roles for Las Vegas next season. Deablo’s upside in IDP is intriguing when you consider his size and physicality.

Andre Cisco was super productive in his three seasons at Syracuse. The Jaguars, meanwhile, had the worst safety play in the NFL in 2020. Cisco can fill that void immediately. He played in 24 games at Syracuse, recording 136 total tackles (94 solo) and 13 interceptions. Did you know his 13 interceptions were the most in the country from 2018 to 2020?

Trevon Moehrig was one of the most valued prospects in this draft class. The prototypical safety for today’s NFL can tackle and cover, and thus, should be an instant contributor for Las Vegas in 2021.

Hamsah Nasirildeen’s upside in IDP is intriguing when you consider his size, length, and versatility

6) Hamsah Nasirildeen, S, New York Jets
7) Jaycee Horn, CB, Carolina Panthers
8) Talanoa Hufanga, S, San Francisco 49ers
9) Paulson Adebo, CB, New Orleans Saints
10) Jamar Johnson, S, Denver Broncos

Hamsah Nasirildeen is an excellent tackler and solid in coverage. He’ll have an opportunity to open the 2021 season in the starting lineup.

The Panthers were the best possible fit for Jaycee Horn. He has the potential to positively impact Carolina’s press coverage in 2021. In addition, the Panthers were looking to add physicality to the secondary, and Horn fills that void with his rare combination of speed and size.

Talanoa Hufanga is known for his aggressive playstyle. He’ll also bring versatility to the 49ers’ defense, which is excellent for Hufanga’s fantasy value.

The Saints had a pressing need at cornerback. They addressed that need by selecting Paulson Adebo in Round 3. He doesn’t profile as a Week 1 starter, but Adebo has the potential to become a key component of the Saints’ defense down the road.

Jamar Johnson has real potential to become a significant producer on the Broncos’ defense. The chance to make an impact is there, considering the lack of talent behind Denver’s starting safeties.

Want more fantasy football analysis and news?

Be sure to follow us on Twitter (@PFN365) to stay current with all things around the NFL and the upcoming 2021 fantasy football season beyond sleepers. Also, continue to visit Pro Football Network for NFL news and in-depth analysis while also visiting our fantasy football section for more coverage and up-to-date rankings.

Eric is a Senior Fantasy Analyst for Pro Football Network and a member of the FSWA (Fantasy Sports Writers Association). You can read more of his work here and follow Eric on Twitter @EricNMoody.

Eric Moody is a Senior Fantasy Analyst for Pro Football Network and a member of the FSWA (Fantasy Sports Writers Association). He is also the co-host of the In The Mood for Fantasy Football podcast. You can read more of his work here and follow Eric on Twitter @EricNMoody.

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