Bashaud Breeland needs a hug. Maybe a good psychotherapist.
With Josh Norman playing exclusively of the left side of the defensive formation for the Washington Redskins, so far this season opposing teams have (stunner) simply lined up their star receivers on the right side — across from Breeland. In Week 1, Antonio Brown of the Pittsburgh Steelers took Breeland behind the woodshed. Last week, it was Dez Bryant of the Dallas Cowboys. Sunday, it will be Odell Beckham of the New York Giants.
According to Pro Football Focus, through two weeks Breeland has been targeted 15 times. 11 of those passes have been completed. And in news that should surprise absolutely no one, entering Week 3 no cornerback in the NFL had more tackles or fantasy points in Fantasy Sharks Default IDP Scoring than the third-year pro.
There’s a reason why Breeland was my No. 1 fantasy cornerback for 2016 even before the Redskins signed Norman. He has everything IDP owners want. He’s a strong tackler in space who’s just good enough in coverage to keep his job — but not so good that opposing quarterbacks think twice about targeting him. And now, thanks to the Washington coaching staff, Breeland enters each week with a bulls-eye on his back.
Sadly, not every IDP squad can have a Bashaud Breeland. But by looking for players who share his qualities and factoring in favorable matchups it might just be possible to find a disposable facsimile on your league’s waiver wire.
And with that in mind, here are some streaming options for fantasy owners in CB-required IDP leagues in Week 3.
James Bradberry, Carolina Panthers (vs. MIN)
Bradberry was thrown into the fire as a rookie as a starter for the defending NFC champions. And after allowing only one catch and notching an interception last week against the San Francisco 49ers, Bradberry drew the praise of middle linebacker Luke Kuechly according to ESPN’s David Newton.
“He looked really good [against the 49ers],” Kuechly said. “He did what he was supposed to do. He made a great play on the ball at the end of the game. I think James can be a really good player.”
Bradberry has played well, but he’s also embodied the “rookie corner rule” in IDP — the Cliffs Notes version of which is that rookie starters at the position get targeted a ton. Sure enough, just like Breeland Bradberry has been thrown at 15 times this season, and that isn’t going to change with Sam Bradford, Stefon Diggs and the suddenly pass-happy Minnesota Vikings coming to town.
Brandon Flowers, San Diego Chargers (at IND)
Per Rotowire, Flowers is off to quite the start so far in 2016 after a five-solo effort against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 2. “Flowers was near the top of the tackle totals,” they said, “as once again the Chargers jumped out to an early lead, forcing their opponent to move the ball quickly through the air. Flowers has racked up an impressive amount of tackles (13 solo) through two weeks, but that number figures to level out as the Chargers find themselves in closer contests.”
Through two weeks, Flowers also ranks inside the top 20 at his position in fantasy points despite not having tallied any big plays so far this season. The folks at Rotowire may well be right about the 30-year-old’s tackle totals leveling off at some point. But this week, the Chargers face an injury-ravaged Indianapolis Colts defense in a game that has the makings of a shootout. Don’t give up on Flowers power just yet.
Tracy Porter, Chicago Bears (at DAL)
Unlike in Washington, the Bears have used Porter as a “shadow” on opponent’s No. 1 wideouts, a role he told Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune he’s fine with. “As far as lining up, the footwork might be a little different at the start, but once you get used to it, you’re pretty much just playing corner at the end of the day,” he said. “My coaches do it to me and I don’t have a problem doing it. That just shows the belief they have in me. That’s not to take anything away from our other corners. I look at it as a pretty good thing.”
The Bears’ defense was absolutely destroyed by injuries last week in a loss to the Eagles, and Porter found himself limited in practice and questionable on the injury report with a balky knee. Indications seem to be, however, that Porter will give it a go Sunday night — and that will mean an evening covering Dez Bryant against a Cowboys team that’s been a favorable fantasy matchup for cornerbacks in 2016. Even if Porter’s a late scratch, as long as your league allows swaps up to game time replacement Deiondre’ Hall could prove a pleasant surprise in his stead.
Desmond Trufant, Atlanta Falcons
Trufant made his first trip to the Pro Bowl last year, but he told D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that trip to Honolulu was only the beginning. “I obviously always want to improve,” Trufant said. “I’m always looking for ways to get better. Last year, I definitely did some good things, but I’m always trying to get better. I can definitely take it to a whole new level and that’s what I’m working on.”
Frankly, most weeks Trufant is a little too good for the tastes of IDP owners — he’s a borderline shutdown cornerback who ranked inside the top 10 at his position last year at PFF. But so far in 2016 at least, Trufant’s been thrown at a respectable number of times (13), and this isn’t just any week. Monday night the Falcons face a desperate New Orleans Saints team in the Superdome, and there’s going to be no shortage of passing in that NFC South showdown.