In recent years, the Wild Card Round of the NFL playoffs has become known for upsets and unexpected endings and the first round of the 2020 playoffs didn’t disappoint in that regard.
There were some games that followed the script—the No. 2 seed in the NFC (the New Orleans Saints) cruised in their first game against the Chicago Bears, while the same seed in the AFC bracket (the Buffalo Bills) got past the Indianapolis Colts.
But of the six games on Wild Card weekend, the higher seed won just twice. The lowest seeded division champions in both conferences were bounced at home. The third-seeded Seahawks were stunned in Seattle by a Los Angeles Rams team with a banged-up quarterback. And the Pittsburgh Steelers (who started the 2020 campaign with 11 straight wins) were shocked at Heinz Field by the rival Cleveland Browns in a contest where the Browns raced out to a 28-0 first quarter lead in part because of a bizarre start to the game.
It got worse from there.
Wild Card weekend also featured some impressive individual performance on the defensive side of the ball. Rams tackle Aaron Donald notched a pair of first-half sacks before his day was ended by a rib injury. Seattle linebacker Bobby Wagner piled up a jaw-dropping 16 total tackles and added a sack in the loss to the Rams. Chicago Bears safety Tashaun Gipson racked up 8 tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble against the Saints.
Of course, of those players only Donald will even be playing in the Divisional Round—which could present issues for fantasy managers in IDP playoff leagues like the The Football Isn’t Over Yet IDP Invitational.
As has been the case the past few years here at Fantasy Sharks, in order to help you in the final quest for fantasy glory this season, I’ll be publishing IDP rankings each week during the 2020-2021 playoffs. These rankings assume a league format where teams start two defensive linemen, two linebackers, two defensive backs and a couple “flex” spots.
They also assume a “one/two and done” format where players are concerned. In other words, while the entire pool of individual defensive players is available, each player can only be used once (or twice, in this particular format). So, while matchup and talent are still the primary considerations, it’s also important to identify which teams are going to be eliminated in a given week and try to use those players where possible.
Otherwise, by the time we get to Super Bowl LV, IDP managers won’t have anyone left to slot in starting lineups.
With those caveats in mind (and a deeper pool of talent thanks to the extra postseason teams this year) here’s a look at the top 10 defensive linemen, linebackers, and defensive backs for the Divisional Round.
- Aaron Donald – DT, Los Angeles Rams (at GBP)
- Myles Garrett – DE, Cleveland Browns (at KCC)
- Jason Pierre-Paul – DE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (at NOS)
- Cameron Jordan – DE. New Orleans Saints (vs. TBB)
- Chris Jones – DT, Kansas City Chiefs (at CLE)
- Calais Campbell – DE, Baltimore Ravens (at BUF)
- Mario Addison – DE, Buffalo Bills (vs. BAL)
- Frank Clark – DE, Kansas City Chiefs (vs. CLE)
- Kenny Clark – DT, Green Bay Packers (vs. LAR)
- Sheldon Richardson – DT, Cleveland Browns (at KCC)
- Devin White – ILB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (at NOS)
- Lavonte David – ILB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (at NOS)
- Tremaine Edmunds – ILB. Buffalo Bills (vs. BUF)
- Demario Davis — OLB, New Orleans Saints (vs. TBB)
- Krys Barnes – ILB, Green Bay Packers (vs. LAR)
- Matt Milano – OLB, Buffalo Bills (vs. BAL)
- Patrick Queen – ILB, Baltimore Ravens (at BUF)
- Troy Reeder – ILB, Los Angeles Rams (at GBP)
- B.J. Goodson – ILB, Cleveland Browns (at KCC)
- Za’Darius Smith – OLB, Green Bay Packers (vs. LAR)
- Jordan Poyer – S, Buffalo Bills (vs. BAL)
- Antoine Winfield Jr. – S, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (at NOS)
- Malcolm Jenkins – S, New Orleans Saints (vs. TBB)
- John Johnson – S, Los Angeles Rams (at GBP)
- Adrian Amos – S, Green Bay Packers (vs. LAR)
- Tyrann Mathieu – S, Kansas City Chiefs (vs. CLE)
- Karl Joseph – S, Cleveland Browns (at KCC)
- Terrance Mitchell – CB, Cleveland Browns (at KCC)
- Chuck Clark – S, Baltimore Ravens (at BUF)
- Troy Hill – CB, Los Angeles Rams (at GBP)