Fantasy football draft season is in full swing. NFL preseason games are right around the corner. Fifty-three-man rosters are becoming clearer with each passing day. And with that comes clarity as to which individual defensive players (IDPs) will be worthy of rostering in fantasy football for the 2021 season.
As such, we ranked 250 IDPs using true position designations. If an edge rusher is listed as a linebacker on the fantasy platform you play on, then move them down the list by a few dozen spots, as their scoring tends to be less so in those cases. For these rankings, however, true position allows for each edge player to be valued equally to one another, and their value likely increases in doing so, depending on league scoring rules.
Stay updated on PFF's fantasy football rankings ahead of the 2021 NFL campaign, as they will be adjusted based on breaking news, injuries and more leading into the season.
Preferred scoring for these rankings
|Position||Solo tackles||Assists||Sacks||Tackles for loss||QB hits||Pass breakups|
1. EDGE MYLES GARRETT, CLEVELAND BROWNS
A number of players are chomping at the bit to unseat Aaron Donald as the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, and Garrett may just be the one to do it in 2021.
The top-end talent scarcity is going to put more defensive line players at the top of these rankings, while linebackers — who stand to be more replaceable in-season and are less reliant on talent to produce IDP-relevant numbers — will come a bit after them.
Garrett enters 2021 fully healthy and coming off three straight seasons of double-digit sacks totals and back-to-back seasons of 90.0-plus PFF pass-rush grades. The Browns have greatly improved their secondary, which figures to give one of the NFL's best pass rushers more time to get home and build on his impressive totals from years' past, having put up 22 sacks on just over 1,200 snaps since 2019 — sixth-most in the NFL over that span. All five players above Garrett on that list have played at least 350 snaps more than him.
A full season of a healthy Myles Garrett is going to equal the best edge rusher in football for 2021.
2. EDGE T.J. WATT, PITTSBURGH STEELERS
No defensive player has landed more sacks (29.5) in the past two seasons than Watt. He has also managed over 50 total tackles in each of his NFL seasons. His most impressive stat from last year could be that he led the league in tackles for loss (23) — five more than the next closest player (Roquan Smith).
Watt is still in his prime and has the added benefit of playing on a team where he will see a large majority of snaps while also cleaning up sacks thanks to the Pittsburgh defense’s ability to generate pressure via blitzing. The Steelers have blitzed at the fourth-highest rate (39.9%) over the past two seasons, and as a result, Watt is tied for first among edge rushers in sacks off a blitz (15.5) since 2019.
Expect Watt’s elite level of play and ideal situation to continue in 2021.