If you’ve read any of my IDP scribblings here at Fantasy Sharks over the past six years (time flies), then you know I am many things. Prescient. Knowledgeable. Witty.
And quite possibly completely full of crap.
I am also a big proponent of waiting to draft defensive backs in IDP leagues, despite the fact that the top scorers in each of the last two seasons (Reshad Jones of the Miami Dolphins in 2015 and Landon Collins of the New York Giants a year ago) hailed from the secondary.
It’s nothing against those players. I can’t call either “bad” picks – at least not with a straight face. But their big seasons the past two years don’t change the fact that there will be defensive backs available late who will go on to post top-10 seasons ala Bradley McDougald a year ago.
If you’re looking for just such a late value in the defensive backfield in 2017, keep this handful of players in mind.
Will they all have big years? Most likely not. But that’s the best part about stocking your DB slots with players out of the bargain bin.
If they don’t pan out you can just cut them loose and grab one of the early-season surgers who will be on your IDP league’s waiver wire.
And rest assured – they will be there.
Mike Adams, S, Carolina Panthers
At 36 years of age the end of the road is coming pretty soon for Carolina Panthers safety Mike Adams. Gil Brandt of NFL.com thinks he Adams already could have a second career lined up once his playing days are done – as a coach.
“You don’t make it to your 14th year in the NFL without having the kind of strong leadership skills and work habits Adams has,” Brandt said. “He’s an excellent teacher, the kind of guy who will make a team better because of the on-field coaching and guidance he provides to the other players on the roster.”
There’s no questioning Adams’ leadership skills, but the Panthers thought well enough of Adams as a player to add him in free agency after a 2016 season in which he had 79 tackles, two interceptions and two forced fumbles in 15 games with the Indianapolis Colts.
Adams’ 2016 numbers aren’t going to knock anyone over, but as recently as two years ago he was a top-five fantasy defensive backs in terms of fantasy points per game in Fantasy Sharks Default IDP Scoring. That’s a pretty good resume for a player who will starting at strong safety who probably isn’t even being drafted in most IDP leagues.
Maurice Alexander, S, Los Angeles Rams
Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus recently assembled a list of “secret superstars” for each NFL team. His pick for the Los Angeles Rams was safety Maurice Alexander, who had 50 tackles and a pair in interceptions last year in 14 starts.
“Alexander saw 434 snaps in 2015 for the Rams,” Monson said, “but this past season he started all year, replacing the departed Rodney McLeod. His coverage was the biggest leap in performance, and he notched two interceptions while allowing no scores when in primary coverage from his safety spot. Alexander only really had one poor game all season, a week 12 outing against the Saints in which he missed three tackles.”
The fourth-year pro is a secret, all right – the overwhelming majority of IDP owners have no earthly idea who the heck he is. If things go well with his move to strong safety in 2017 they will – and that at least puts Alexander on the deep-league radar.
Antoine Bethea, S, Arizona Cardinals
Entering his 12th NFL season and about to play for his third team, Antoine Bethea made his plans for 2017 very clear while speaking with Bob McManaman of Arizona Sports – the 32-year-old wants to win as his career winds down.
“I think I fit in well,” Bethea said. “I’ve been in it for a while so I kind of know what it takes. Coming to a team that has a bunch of vets and seems like everyone here has one goal in mind. It’s the same goal of mine as well so when there’s a bunch of like-minded people in a situation together, I think it just makes the transition that much smoother.”
Bethea didn’t do much winning in San Francisco the last three years, but he had one of the best IDP seasons of his career in 2016, piling up a career-high 95 solos and finishing fourth in fantasy points among defensive backs. Yes, the Cardinals drafted a young starter of the future in Budda Baker, but given Bethea’s modest asking price I’m willing to roll the dice he’ll be the starter of the present in 2017.