Premium Content Sign Up

2023 Fantasy Football IDP: Defensive Back Rankings & Tiers

PXC57H London, UK. 21 October 2018. Derwin James (33) of the Chargers celebrates. Tennessee Titans at Los Angeles Chargers NFL game at Wembley Stadium, the second of the NFL London 2018 games. Final score - Chargers 20 Titans 19. Credit: Stephen Chung / Alamy Live News

• Roles that matter for IDP: Safety alignment and deployment continue to be key in opportunities for production, with many in Tier 1 representing the best of the bunch.

• Plenty of options to target late: With so many starting safeties in the NFL combined with volatile scoring, IDP managers can fade the position and still land quality options.

• Fantasy draft approaching? Use PFF’s AI-powered Live Draft Assistant to win the draft and dominate your 2023 fantasy football league.

Estimated Reading Time: 10 minutes

Breaking fantasy football rankings down into tiers helps fantasy managers better understand what separates each group and how to value each player.

Defensive backs in IDP fantasy football are among the more volatile producers, mostly due to lower tackle production and a reliance on unstable big plays. In order to circumvent that volatility, bet on players who have proven to be strong tacklers or, even better, get prime IDP usage (closer to the line of scrimmage) allowing for better tackle opportunities and creating more consistency on a weekly basis.

Be sure to check out the rankings page for updates.

Want to dominate your fantasy football league this year?
Check out PFF's fantasy tools below:

Fantasy Draft Kit | Fantasy Mock Draft Simulator |
Live Draft Assistant |
League Sync | Draft Rankings | Cheat Sheets

Live Draft Assistant

Subscribe Button

Preferred Scoring for 2023 IDP Fantasy Football Rankings
Position Solo TKLs Assists Sacks TFLs QB Hits PBUs
DE/DI 2.5 1.25 4 1 2 2
LB 1.5 0.75 4 1 1 2
CB/S 2 1 4 1 1 2

Tier 1: Role + Alignment + Skill = Top-Tier Production

1 Derwin James LAC
2 Kyle Hamilton BLT
3 Kamren Curl WAS
4 Budda Baker ARZ
5 Jaquan Brisker CHI
6 Kyle Dugger NE
7 Jalen Pitre HST
8 Grant Delpit CLV

The top defensive back tier consists of safeties with high production floors thanks to strong tackling ability and ideal deployments within their defenses.

Derwin James sees snaps all over the defense and is a threat to make a tackle no matter where he’s lined up. He is the only safety to repeat within the top five in tackles versus expected from season to season. As long as he’s healthy, he should be the best bet to do so again.

While Kyle Hamilton didn’t play a full-time role as a rookie, what he did on limited snaps was very encouraging for IDP purposes. With Chuck Clark getting traded to the New York Jets this offseason, Hamilton will step into an every-down role. Given his size and skill set, he should see plenty of snaps up near the line of scrimmage while continuing to blitz, which led him to two sacks last season, making him one of the higher-upside players at his position.

Grant Delpit may be a surprise name within this top tier, but his role in Jim Schwartz’s defense should lead to more usage in the box than he in prior years. When we last saw Schwartz as a defensive coordinator (2021 Eagles), he ran one of the highest rates of single-high coverages (66.4%) in the league, allowing one safety to play the majority of his snaps in the box while the other roamed deep. Juan Thornhill figures to play the deep role with the Cleveland Browns, which will allow Delpit to rotate down into prime tackle territory. After posting more than 100 total tackles in his first season as a starter in 2022, Delpit could hit a new career high if Schwartz continues to lean into his single-high deployment.

Jalen Pitre came out of the gate swinging as a rookie, posting nearly 150 total tackles and leading all defensive backs by a large margin. Pitre’s 38 tackles over expected in 2022 were also the most at his position. While some regression is expected in 2023 under a new coaching staff and defensive system, he should still be in a prime spot to clean up tackles from his safety spot in Houston.

Tier 2: Full-Time Starters to Feel Comfortable Starting Every Week


Unlimited Fantasy League Sync
Fantasy Start/Sit Line-Up Optimizer & Waiver Wire
WR-CB & OL-DL Matchups, PFF Player Grades, & Premium Stats 2.0 Tools
Nathan Jahnkes Rankings - #1 Most Accurate Last 70 Weeks
PFF Best Bets, Player Props, & Power Ranking Tools
NFL Mock Draft Sim with Trades & Draft Grades

Already have a subscription? Log In


Unlock the 2023 Fantasy Draft Kit, with League Sync, Live Draft Assistant, PFF Grades & Data Platform that powers all 32 Pro Teams

$31 Draft Kit Fee + $8.99/mo
$89.88/yr + FREE Draft Kit