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Published July 18, 2014

IDP fantasy football leagues can be a real treat for true fans of fantasy football. Not only do you get to play a whole different breed of fantasy football, but you also get to pay respect to the hard-hitting elite defenders of the NFL in the process.

In addition, you get to put your knowledge of the top IDP (Individual Defensive Players) fantasy football options to the test and compete against other fantasy owners to see who can put together the strongest squads. However, to get to that point, you first need to gear up each year and see which IDP fantasy football players need to be the top picks.

To help IDP fantasy owners do just that, we’ve ranked the top-10 IDP fantasy football options at each major position. Some leagues can get pretty specific, but we’re sticking with general roster settings to keep things wide open (DL, LB, DB):

Top 10 IDP Defensive Linemen

  1. J.J. Watt, DE, Houston Texans
  2. Robert Quinn, DE, St. Louis Rams
  3. Chandler Jones, DE, New England Patriots
  4. Ezekiel “Ziggy” Ansah, DE, Detroit Lions
  5. Greg Hardy, DE, Carolina Panthers
  6. Cameron Wake, DE, Miami Dolphins
  7. DeMarcus Ware, DE, Denver Broncos
  8. Mario Williams, DE, Buffalo Bills
  9. Cameron Jordan, DE, New Orleans Saints
  10. Rob Ninkovich, DE/LB, New England Patriots

Need an elite pass rusher in your IDP fantasy football league that does more than just get pressures or sacks? Check this list, and then check it again. There are still even more quality dual threat defensive ends and interior linemen, but these guys are without a doubt the cream of the crop as guys who can both get after the quarterback and also rack up some tackles while helping to stuff the run.

Watt and Quinn are the easy top-two choices, while youngster Ziggy Ansah is steadily on the rise. He won’t be in everyone’s top-five, but before the end of 2014, many will wish he had been. Hardy is another big name with elite talent, but he could drop a bit due to 2014 being a contract year, as well as his own off the field drama. Ninkovich rounds out the top-10 as a hybrid player that simply makes plays and racks up loads of tackles thanks to playing all over New England’s versatile scheme.

Top 10 IDP Linebackers

  1. Luke Kuechly, ILB, Carolina Panthers
  2. Lavonte David, OLB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  3. Patrick Willis, ILB, San Francisco 49ers
  4. Paul Posluszny, ILB, Jacksonville Jaguars
  5. Vontaze Burfict, OLB, Cincinnati Bengals
  6. Karlos Dansby, ILB, Cleveland Browns
  7. Bobby Wagner, ILB, Seattle Seahawks
  8. Derrick Johnson, ILB, Kansas City Chiefs
  9. James Laurinaitis, ILB, St. Louis Rams
  10. Brian Cushing, ILB, Houston Texans

Notice the lack of outside linebackers? That’s because most studly 3-4 outside linebackers are pure pass rushers that either don’t even fit their scheme all that well, or their best attribute is simply racking up sacks. That certainly still gives them value in IDP fantasy football leagues, but not nearly as much total value and upside as guys like you’ll see above.

Kuechly is probably the safest IDP linebacker of the bunch, as he’s stormed out to an insane two-year start, captaining the Carolina defense to the top of the league and racking up tackles along the way. You can make a case for Lavonte David for the top spot, especially now that defensive guru Lovie Smith will be coaching him, but Kuechly is the better player with better instincts. This list is strong from top to bottom, while the talented Cushing rounds it out at the bottom. He has the goods to finish high inside the top-five, but injuries make him a major risk.

Top 10 IDP Defensive Backs

  1. Harrison Smith, S, Minnesota Vikings
  2. Eric Berry, S, Kansas City Chiefs
  3. Eric Weddle, S, San Diego Chargers
  4. Earl Thomas, S, Seattle Seahawks
  5. T.J. Ward, S, Denver Broncos
  6. Bernard Pollard, S, Tennessee Titans
  7. Morgan Burnett, S, Green Bay Packers
  8. Mark Barron, S, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  9. Jonathan Cyprien, S, Jacksonville Jaguars
  10. Kenny Vacarro, S, New Orleans Saints

Safeties rule the defensive back position in IDP fantasy football leagues. Obviously that can change for leagues that specify safety positions or allow CB (cornerback) specific slots, but most leagues keep it a little more open with DB positions. The beauty of the DB position is it maintains flexibility and also leaves the door open for major fluctuation from year to year. With the change we see at the defensive back position in IDP leagues, it’s not crazy to think this top-10 ranking won’t come close to the final 2014 list. It’s a good place to start, however.

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