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FREE AGENT FEEDING FRENZY: Defensive Backs

All true fantasy football fanatics (especially in dynasty leagues) know that for all intents and purposes there is no offseason, and it’s as vital to keep up to date on all the Individual Defensive Players (IDP) comings and goings in February as it is in September.

The 2012 NFL Scouting Combine begins in one short week, as hundreds of collegiate athletes gather in Indianapolis to show off for scouts and coaches in the hopes of bolstering their stock in April’s NFL Draft.

However, before we get to New York City we must first navigate the treacherous waters of the annual insanity that is free agency in the NFL, which begins on March 13.

Player movement can have a huge IDP impact not only on the players that join new teams but also their former and new teammates, so this article will be the finale of a three-part series looking at some of the prominent free agents at each of the major IDP positions, where those players might be headed, and what it all could mean for their fantasy football value in 2012 and beyond.

It’s worth mentioning that in the case of defensive backs (with a very few exceptions) there’s no real point in worrying too much about a player’s long-term value, as defensive backs are so inconsistent from season to season that “dynasty” becomes a very relative term where the position is concerned.

Also, there are about six million defensive backs that might be IDP-relevant in 2012, and about a third of those are free agents, so I have no doubt I’m about to miss a few guys. If you have any questions regarding those players there are links at the end of this article that will direct you to the information you seek.

Tyvon Branch, SS, Oakland:

Very few defensive backs over the past several seasons have been as consistent as the Raiders’ strong safety, who has topped 100 tackles and finished in the Top 20 at his position in Default IDP Manor Scoring three years running.

Branch is a classic “in the box” strong safety, stout against the run but something of a liability in coverage, and even should he remain in Oakland his IDP value may take something of a hit in 2012 given the new coaching staff’s potential switch to a 3-4 defense in Oakland and the differing ways in which them may choose to utilize Branch.

Should he depart the Bay Area, the fantasy value of Branch could vary quite a bit for next season, but with most signs pointing to him hanging around he appears to be set for at least one more season of serviceable IDP DB1 value.

LaRon Landry, SS, Washington:

The

Redskins’ strong safety appeared well on his way to a breakout season in 2010, averaging well over a fantasy point per game more than the second highest scoring IDP defensive back before his season was cut short by an achilles injury.

That same achilles injury plagued the fifth-year pro throughout the 2011 season, costing Landry eight games and limiting him to the lowest tackle totals of his career.

Fast forward to 2012, and guess what? The achilles is still an issue, and given Landry’s refusal to have it surgically repaired (which would shelve the 27-year-old for at least a year) both Landry’s future in the nation’s capital and his IDP value for 2012 are anyone’s guess at this point.

Whether Landry signs a one-year “show me” deal to remain with the Redskins or departs isn’t as important to his fantasy value as the health of that one pesky tendon, as a healthy Landry is a Top 5 fantasy defensive back while a gimpy one is just taking up a roster spot.

In all honesty, I’m not overly optimistic about Landry’s non-surgical treatments healing the ailment, (if they could have, wouldn’t it have happened by now?) so while my personal outlook for Landry in 2012 isn’t overly rosy right now the upside he presents is tempting as a buy low candidate.

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FantasySharks.com began in 2003, disseminating fantasy football content on the web for free. It is, or has been, home to some of the most talented and best known fantasy writers on the planet. Owned and operated by Tony Holm (5 time Fantasy Sports Writer Association Hall-of-Fame nominee,) Tony started writing fantasy content in 1993 for the only three fantasy football web sites in existence at the time.