This column could be titled the kids are alright. Tier 1 consists of several neophytes while the two subsequent tiers are somewhat interchangeable.

Here are your 2020-21 Fantasy defensemen ranked by tiers:

Tier 1 – Top of the line

John Carlson, Roman Josi, Kris Letang, Victor Hedman, Miro Heiskanen, Erik Karlsson, Brent Burns, Cale Makar, Torey Krug, Shea Theodore, Quinn Hughes and Dougie Hamilton

Carlson took a major step forward in 2017-18 and got even better over the next two seasons, and Josi won the Norris Trophy last year, so this may be a 1A/1B situation. The only issue with Letang is his health, because when he's on the ice, he's a tremendous producer from the back line. Hedman showed in the playoffs just how dominant he can be, winning the Conn Smythe, while Heiskanen may have been Dallas' best player in the bubble.

Karlsson and Burns are Batman and Robin in San Jose. They both had down seasons in 2019-20, so I could see an argument for sliding each of them down this list. If the Sharks are going to return to the playoff race in 2020-21, a turn back of the clock for both of these blueliners will be required. Makar won the Calder Trophy last season, but he was matched very closely by Hughes, who along with Heiskanen form a trio of young blueliners who will be fighting over the Norris sooner rather than later.

Krug joined St. Louis this offseason, replacing Alex Pietrangelo, who went to Las Vegas. The former Bruin has tallied at least 24 power-play points while seeing at least 3:16 of ice time with the man advantage in each of the last four seasons as Boston's primary power-play quarterback, a role he should reprise for the Blues. Theodore, like Heiskanen, continued his ascent in the bubble, while Hamilton was on Norris pace before breaking his leg -- he remains Carolina's top blueliner.

Most of these top-tier blueliners are relatively interchangeable, and there are also several in the next few tiers that could move up the ladder, depending on personal preference. We saw Makar and Hughes take major steps forward last year, who will be next?

Tier 2A – Strong secondary options

Anthony DeAngelo, Keith Yandle, Thomas Chabot, Shea Weber, Alex Pietrangelo, Zach Werenski, Ryan Ellis, Charlie McAvoy, Tyson Barrie, John Klingberg, Rasmus Dahlin and Seth Jones

DeAngelo took a major step forward last season and should continue to do most of his damage on the man advantage in 2020-21. Yandle isn't exciting, but he's consistent, though he could slide down the list for managers who prefer higher-upside options. Chabot took a step back last year, but Ottawa should be slightly better this season and I expect a rebound of sorts. Injuries have been an issue for Weber in recent years, and he's also ceded some power-play duty to Jeff Petry over the past few seasons. His value is higher in leagues that reward hits and blocked shots.

If Pietrangelo ends up playing opposite Shea Theodore on Vegas' top power-play unit, he'll remain in this tier. If not, move him down. Werenski and Jones are like Karlsson and Burns, though this duo is often paired together by coach John Tortorella and seem to be on the ice every other shift. Josi gets all the publicity, but Ellis is pretty darn solid in his own right. If he continues to produce points at the same rate he did prior to his injury last year, a spike in production will be at hand this season.

McAvoy was solid last season, but with Torrey Krug gone and Zdeno Chara possibly out of the picture as well, Boston will have to rely on him even more going forward. Look for him to take a major leap in output. Barrie struggled mightily in Toronto, but his move to Edmonton should see him return back to Colorado-like production, as he'll be logging major minutes on the power play with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. Klingberg had a rough regular season but he rebounded in the postseason and should be the 1B to Heiskanen's 1A in Big D this year.

Tier 2B – Tried and true and young with upside

Drew Doughty, Neal Pionk, Rasmus Ristolainen, Ryan Suter, Mark Giordano, Morgan Rielly, Ryan Pulock, Jaccob Slavin, Jeff Petry, Ivan Provorov, Kevin Shattenkirk and Aaron Ekblad

Doughty's production has declined in each of the past two seasons, but he's still a half-point-per-game producer and should benefit from the influx of young talent in LA. How many people thought Pionk would outproduce Jacob Trouba last season? As Winnipeg's power-play quarterback, Pionk won't lack for chances to mirror his breakout performance in 2020-21. Ristolainen benefits from the addition of Taylor Hall and showed some signs of improving in his own zone under coach Ralph Krueger last year.

Suter has continued to quietly produce in Minnesota, and showed no signs of slippage last year, his fifteenth in the NHL. On the flipside, Giordano essentially went from the penthouse (Norris) to the outhouse, dropping from 74 to 31 points last season. I expect him to bounce back, which is why he appears in this tier. Rielly, like Giordano, struggled a bit last year, but I'm also predicting a bounce back for him in 2020-21.

Pulock is one of my favorite young blueliners in the league. He took a small step forward last year and should continue that rise this season. Slavin ably replaced Dougie Hamilton while he was sidelined last year, so look for coach Rod Brind'Amour to give him every chance to repeat that effort during the upcoming campaign. Petry quietly produced at a high level last campaign, leading Montreal d-men in assists and points. Provorov is the clear No. 1 d-man in Philly and has just begun to scratch the surface of his potential. Shattenkirk washed the bad taste left from his Rangers stint out of his mouth last year, winning a cup in Tampa and parlaying that into a three-year deal out West. Ekblad had another strong season in 2019-20, setting career highs in assists and points. If his shooting percentage regresses to his mean, a 50-point pace is certainly attainable.

Tier 3 – Solid depth pieces

Adam Fox, Mikhail Sergachev, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Jared Spurgeon, Samuel Girard, Darnell Nurse, Josh Morrissey, Mattias Ekholm, Duncan Keith, Damon Severson, Colton Parayko and Jakob Chychrun

A handful of vets along with a few younger blueliners make up this tier. Most fall into that comfortable, "nice to have" area, so they could slip in your drafts. If so, grab one or two of them late and reap the benefits.

Fox was brilliant as a rookie last season. If Anthony DeAngelo's ice time on the man advantage declines, Fox could see a bump in production thanks to an increased role on the power play. With Kevin Shattenkirk now in Anaheim and Ryan McDonagh not being a threat on the power play, look for Sergachev to increase his point production this season. OEL was rumored to be on the trading block all offseason, but he'll back in the maelstrom known as the Coyotes in 2020-21. His numbers dropped last season and Jakob Chychrun has begun to emerge, but for now, OEL's still the top dog in the desert.

Spurgeon doesn't wow but he's solid and should produce at a 40-point pace again while Girard's production will be dependent on how Ryan Graves is deployed and whether Bowen Byram makes the leap to the NHL. Nurse now has Barrie to battle for power-play duties, but he should still see enough ice time on the man advantage to benefit from the wealth of offensive talent in Edmonton.

Morrissey saw his ice time rise last season and is expected to once again skate on the top pair in all situations in 2020-21. Look for a slight rise in output from him this year. Ekholm is steady, but often lost among the other d-men in Nashville. A return to his 2018-19 output will nonetheless remain a possibility. Keith has been around seemingly forever but he is still the top man on Chicago's blueline. Severson far outproduced P.K. Subban in New Jersey last season, a situation that could be repeated this year. Parayko is a better real-life than Fantasy blueliner, but he's still an asset in most leagues, and Chychrun is on the ascent in Arizona.

Tier 4 – Late picks with upside

Cam Fowler, Dmitry Orlov, Erik Gustafsson, Alexander Edler, Matt Grzelcyk, Matt Dumba, Alex Goligoski, Sean Walker, Filip Hronek, Devon Toews, Nate Schmidt and Vince Dunn

There's some upside in this bunch. Those looking for potential breakouts should focus on Grzlecyk, Walker and Hronek from this tier. One or two of those skaters could slide in your drafts.

Fowler loses value with Shattenkirk joining the Ducks. Orlov was on his usual 30-plus point pace last season -- he'll remain a high-floor, low-upside pick. Gustafsson took a major step backward last year, but could get resurrected in Philly, where he should see lots of power-play time. Edler mans the second power-play unit in Vancouver and is close to a lock for 30-plus points over the course of a full campaign.

Grzlecyk would be the primary beneficiary if Zdeno Chara fails to return to Boston and Dumba is what he is, a fifth or sixth d-man on your Fantasy team. Goligoksi continues to produce, but will cede more time to Chychrun in 2020-21. Walker quietly tallied 24 points last year while seeing a significant increase in ice time from the previous campaign.

Detroit will get back to the top eventually under the guidance of general manager Steve Yzerman, but progress will be slow. Hronek notched 10 of his 31 points on the power play last season and will remain the Red Wings' best blueliner until Moritz Seider is ready. Toews, acquired from the Islanders, should be productive this year, but Colorado has Bowen Byram looming. Schmidt goes from Vegas to Vancouver, where he should produce similarly, and Dunn should continue to quarterback the Blues' second power-play unit.

Tier 5 – Youngsters and Bounce-Back Candidates

Erik Brannstrom, Adam Boqvist, P.K. Subban. John Marino and Justin Schultz

Vets and kids alike in this tier. If you're looking for a youngster with solid upside or a potential rebound, here's a few names to consider.