It is time to get on top of your IDP players. Even if you don’t play in an IDP league (and why don’t you?), it is important to know the strength and weakness of each defenses.
Sometimes the ‘issues’ with a good cornerback is that if he is really good, offenses avoid them. But even the really good ones find ways to get noticed.
What you need to notice is how your fantasy league scores points. If it is tackle heavy, you will want to stay away from Josh Norman, joking, Norman is actually pretty okay in tackles. If your league values interceptions, maybe look to Kyle Fuller’s way.
Here are the top 30 cornerbacks for you to consider:
30. Marlon Humphrey, Baltimore Ravens
Let’s just forget his “misunderstanding” about a phone charger and an Uber driver…seriously. We will concentrate on his on field performance.
Pro Football Focus graded him out at 80.0 for the 2018 season. He was seventh best in the league for catch rate with a 52.5%.
2018 stats: 39 solo tackles, 5 assisted tackles, 2 interceptions, 15 passes defended, 1 forced fumble, 80 targets, 42 receptions allowed
29. Josh Norman, Washington Redskins
It may seem a bit high for a player who has seemingly underperformed his contract for the last three years, and surrendered eight touchdowns last season. But, stay with me. When targeted in off man coverage, Norman gave up a passer rating of 31.0, as compared to when he was targeted in press coverage when he gave up 135.6 passer rating. In man coverage in 2018 he was graded out 81.1 according to PFF.
2018 stats: 48 solo tackles, 9 assisted tackles, 3 interceptions, 73 targets, 49 receptions allowed, 3 forced fumbles, 5 pass deflections
28. Justin Coleman, Detroit Lions
Coleman is one of the best slot covers and now he is taking his talents down to Detroit from Seattle. So this is a wait and see on what coach, Matt Patricia, will do with him.
But like we said last season, he earned the fifth highest slot coverage grade of 81.8, while also ranking seventh in first downs allowed per target with 29.1%. How are you feeling about Patricia’s coaching ability?
2018 stats: 73 targets, 49 receptions allowed, 34 solo tackles, 2 assisted tackles, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble, 1 sack
27. Ronald Darby, Philadelphia Eagles
Darby missed the last six weeks, including post season with an ACL tear. Still, his stats confirm when healthy he is one of the best cornerbacks in the league. His ability to bounce back from the injury is the major concern.
2018 stats: 42 solo tackles, 4 assisted tackles, 71 targets, 44 receptions allowed, 1 interception
26. Johnathan Joseph, Houston Texans
Some people don’t age like us normal humans, enter, Johnathan Joseph. After eight years with the Texans, Joseph had his second best overall grade from Pro Football Focus for a single season at 80.8. Oh, he also had his third best coverage grade of his career, grading out at 81.1.
2018 stats: 52 solo tackles, 6 assisted tackles, 84 targets, 47 receptions allowed, 2 interceptions
25. Richard Sherman, San Francisco 49ers
Sherman is still feared. That is borne out by the fact that he was targeted once every 12.6 coverage snaps. According to PFF, that made him the most avoided corner in the NFL last season. Great for his ego, bad for your fantasy goals.
2018 stats: 32 solo tackles, 2 assisted tackles, 40 targets, 25 receptions, 1 sack
24. James Bradberry, Carolina Panthers
Bradberry earns a place on the list, but according to Next Generation Stats, his tenure is a bit shaky. His stats are bouncy. He ranked first in not allowing separation, while also giving up seven touchdowns. He had the third lowest catch rate while ranking 24th in yards allowed.
Which way the pendulum will swing this year is anybody’s guess.
2018 stats: 64 solo tackles, 2 assisted tackles, 101 targets, 58 receptions allowed, 1 interception, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble
23. Janoris Jenkins, New York Giants
Last season was the first time Jenkins played all 16 games in five years. He also managed to come within three tackles of matching his career best.
2018 stats: 59 solo tackles, 7 assisted tackles, 92 targets, 61 receptions allowed, 2 interceptions, 1 forced fumble, 15 passes defended
22. Trumaine Johnson, New York Jets
Johnson was on the field for 10 games last season after suffering from a quad injury. Yet, he managed to put up decent stats, but decent isn’t what his salary calls for.
But there is reason for optimism. His best season was with defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams, who will now be his defensive coordinator in New York.
2018 stats: 38 solo tackles, 1 assisted tackles, 61 targets, 40 receptions allowed, 4 interceptions, 5 passes defended, 1 forced fumble
21. Pierre Desir, Indianapolis Colts
While he is decent in red-zone coverage, Desir excels in run defense. Pro Football Focus graded him out at 91.3 in the red zone. He didn’t miss a tackle while having three stops inside the 20- yard line.
2018 stats: 60 solo tackles, 15 assisted tackles, 71 targets, 42 receptions, 1 interception, 2 forced fumbles
20. Donte Jackson, Carolina Panthers
Jackson was the only Panthers defensive player to score points last season. YA! He also led all cornerbacks with 15 missed tackles last season. Still, at the end of the season, Pro Football Focus graded him out at 65, above average.
2018 stats: 69 solo tackles, 8 assisted tackles, 73 targets, 52 receptions allowed, 4 interceptions, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble
19. Marcus Peters, Los Angeles Rams
Is the 20 spot too high for a man who gave up over 100 yards on four separate games? Well, if you went by the first half of the season, it is a definite yes, where he graded out 58. But if you go from weeks 10 to 17, Pro Football Focus graded him out at 76.4.
So you want him to be aggressive…with some sense. Can we get a little of that this year?
2018 stats: 39 solo tackles, 5 assisted tackles, 75 targets, 51 receptions allowed, 3 interceptions
18. Desmond Trufant, Atlanta Falcons
If you are going deep, Trufant is the man you want. Last season on 12 deep passes, he only allowed 2 catches. According to PFF, he had a deep coverage grade of 72.3.
2018 stats: 57 solo tackles, 3 assisted tackles, 89 targets, 55 receptions allowed, 1 sack
17. Tre Davious White, Buffalo Bills
According to Sports Info Solutions, White shadowed the oppositions’ number one receiver in seven of the 16 games he started. Of the seven targets, he allowed four receptions for 46 yards.
White had the third lowest passer rating when targeted. And that was still a down year from his rookie season.
2018 stats: 48 solo tackles, 4 assisted tackles, 52 targets, 30 receptions allowed, 2 interceptions
16. Bryce Callahan, Denver Broncos
Callahan suffered a broken foot in Week 14 last season. That didn’t stop him from earning an 81.4 overall grade from Pro Football Focus. Mainly, because when covering the slot he allowed .69 yards per coverage snap and a passer rating of 78.9.
And although he too will be in a new system, going from Chicago to Denver, his defensive coordinator is now his head coach. All should be well.
2018 stats: 39 solo tackles, 4 assisted tackles, 2 sacks, 52 targets, 39 receptions allowed, 2 interceptions, 8 passes defended
15. Casey Hayward Jr., Los Angeles Chargers
His lack of viable fantasy stats has him just under the top 15. The fact that he is playing on one of the best secondaries in the league is a reason to consider him. If all are good, opposing offenses have to target somebody.
2018 stats: 40 solo tackles, 3 assisted tackles, 56 targets, 32 receptions allowed
14. A.J. Bouye, Jacksonville Jaguars
Half of one (if not the best) cornerback duo in the NFL, had a less than stellar 2018 season, even though Pro Football Focus has both rated in top ten of cornerback ratings.
Put some of last season blame on the offense, the defense spent a lot…so much…time on the field, that they eventually wore down. Bouye still managed to finish the year with a 75.7 grade according to PFF.
2018 stats: 49 solo tackles, 4 assisted tackles, 61 targets, 41 receptions allowed, 1 interception
13. Jason McCourty, New England Patriots
And herein lies the competition for best cornerback grouping in the NFL. The ineptness of the Los Angeles Rams’ offense in Super Bowl LIII, notwithstanding, McCourty in the slot solidified an already stellar defensive backfield.
Pro Football Focus ranked McCourty as the third best slot cornerback in the NFL. Probably because he was third in slot coverage grade, with an 86.7 and third in first downs allowed per slot targets coming in with a 24.3%.
2018 stats: 61 total tackles, 5 assisted tackles, 90 targets, 53 receptions allowed, 1 forced fumble, 1 interception
12. Aqib Talib, Los Angeles Rams
The man is a difference maker. Traded from the Denver Broncos to the Los Angeles Rams, he is now part of one of the better secondaries in the NFL (I know I said that before but seriously name the top three secondaries…I’ll wait).
Anyway, last season, Talib showed his value but not showing up. He was injured in week three and didn’t return until December. When he was out, the Rams allowed an average of 30.8 points per game. They also gave up the second most yards per reception. When he returned in week 13, all got better. They allowed 18.3 points per game, while giving up 10.4 yards per completion.
2018 stats: 20 solo tackles, 3 assisted tackles, 31 targets, 20 receptions allowed, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble
11. Desmond King, Los Angeles Chargers
He just doesn’t do cornerback. King averaged 13.8 yards per punt return with on touchdown last season. And his talents extend to limiting yards after catch, so don’t be turned off by the number of receptions allowed, he takes care of it on the back end.
2018 stats: 52 total tackles, 9 assisted tackles, 78 targets, 59 receptions allowed, 10 passes defended, 3 interceptions
10. Byron Jones, Dallas Cowboys
After playing safety for three years for the Cowboys, Jones was moved to cornerback in 2018. It proved advantageous for all.
Jones was the eighth most avoided cornerback in the 2018 NFL season. He gave up a receptions once every 16.5 cover snaps, eighth best in the cornerback group. He also played the most defensive snaps of any Cowboy in 2018.
2018 stats: 59 solo tackles, 8 assisted tackles, 69 targets, 37 receptions allowed, 14 pass deflection.
9. Xavien Howard, Miami Dolphins
Here is all you need to know about Howard; he tied for the league lead in interceptions, even though he missed the final four games.
Oh, and he signed a record setting $76.5 million extension with the Dolphins.
2018 stats: 28 solo tackles, 3 assisted tackles, 57 targets, 29 receptions allowed, 12 passes defended, 7 interceptions.
8. Darius Slay, Detroit Lions
Honestly, this will probably be the only “top cornerback” list where you will see Slay’s name. Doesn’t make it wrong.
Yes, his PFF grade took a dramatic spiral downward last season, going from 80.6 to 75.0. But the question should be, why a man so consistent had such a bad fall off last season?
Blame it on the slot. According to PFF, when he was moved form outside coverage to corner, he had a coverage grade of 46.0. He allowed receptions on 10 passes out of 18 thrown his way for 125 yards, four first downs and three touchdowns. Get the man to the outside and a rebound year is all but guaranteed.
2018 stats: 40 tackles, 2 assisted tackles, 86 targets, 45 receptions allowed, 3 interceptions
7. Marshon Lattimore, New Orleans Saints
Lattimore will only be in his third NFL season and it feels like a lot longer. He has not allowed a passer rating over 69, when thrown into his primary coverage. And his primary coverage consists of the number one wide receivers for the opposition.
2018 stats: 54 solo tackles, 4 assisted tackles, 77 targets, 51 receptions allowed, 4 forced fumbles, 2 interceptions
6. Chris Harris Jr., Denver Broncos
Caveat, Harris might be moved to outside coverage with the acquisition of Callahan. What the hell, although, he excels in the slot he will also be a top 10 coverage guy, if moved. Everyone knows of his prowess in the slot. He is one of the top two slot corners (was if he is moved).
And since this is most likely his last season in Denver, look for him to ball to land that next contract.
2018 stats: 43 tackles, 7 assisted tackles, 63 targets, 40 receptions allowed, 1 sack, 3 interceptions
5. Denzel Ward, Cleveland Browns
There is the problem of concussions that plague Ward, but when healthy, he is the very definition of a shut down corner. According to PFF, only Stephon Gilmore was better on man coverage than Ward, and it wasn’t by much. Gilmore graded out 89.2 and Ward 87.6.
2018 stats: 50 solo tackles, 4 assisted tackles, 82 targets, 44 receptions allowed, 11 passes defended, 1 forced fumble, 3 interceptions
4. Jalen Ramsey, Jacksonville Jaguars
It isn’t often that the talk is backed up with the walk, unless you are talking about Ramsey. Ramsey and the Jaguars’ defense had an off season last year. For Ramsey, that is allowing two touchdowns on the 53 receptions he allowed in his area.
Ramsey is aggressive and that will either pay or get played. More often than not, with Ramsey, it is pay day. Speaking of which, never count out a man who is betting on himself.
2018 stats: 61 solo tackles, 4 assisted tackles, 97 targets, 53 receptions, 3 interceptions
3. Patrick Peterson, Arizona Cardinals
Ah, so much here…yes, he will be suspended for the first six games of the season. And last season was a downer for him and the Cardinals organization as a whole, but let’s discuss that.
Without a doubt, Peterson is one of, if not, the best man coverage cornerback in the league. Last season, the Cardinals’ defense played man coverage on just 28.4% of their snaps. Just let that sink in for a minute. You employ the best man coverage corner in the league and you play man coverage the third lowest amount in the league. Ah yeah.
2018 stats: 47 tackles, 3 assisted tackles, 52 targets, 30 receptions allowed, 1 sack, 2 interceptions
2. Kyle Fuller, Chicago Bears
There was only one other cornerback targeted more than Fuller last season. Opposing quarterbacks had a passer rating of 69.2 against him. He did allow four touchdowns and 819 yards, but he was targeted over 100 times. What gives?
1. Stephone Gilmore, New England Patriots
Should we ask Jared Goff’s assessment, or go right to the stats?
The Patriots played 56.8% of their snaps in man coverage. Lucky for them, they have a cornerback who excels in man coverage. Last season, opposing quarterbacks completed 42% of their attempts when throwing his way. He had the second highest total of pass break-ups with 20, and opposing quarterbacks has an average passer rating of 65.2.
We are not even mentioning the Super Bowl.
2018 stats: 44 solo tackles, 2 assisted tackles, 2 forced fumbles, 1 sack, 90 targets, 42 receptions allowed, 2 interceptions