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IDP BARGAIN BIN: Defensive Back Values for the Savvy Fantasy Drafter

If you’ve read much (or any) of my work here at Fantasy Sharks, then you know that the next time I spend an early IDP pick on a defensive back will be the first time. The reasons are legion. Defensive backs are as unpredictable as they are plentiful, and yearly variances bounce like Ralphie May on a trampoline.

Sure, players like Harrison Smith of the Minnesota Vikings and Morgan Burnett of the Green Bay Packers have shown themselves to be reliable, consistent IDP performers. So has Reshad Jones of the Miami Dolphins. All are talented players who are very good at what they do.

But why spend top dollar for the same production when savvy IDP owners can get the same for pennies with late-round selections like these?

Da’Norris Searcy – SS, Tennessee Titans

OK, so Searcy may not exactly be a complete unknown in fantasy circles. In fact, of late the “sleeper” hype around the 26-year-old has been picking up steam rapidly. As recently as July 23, Jeff Ratcliffe of Pro Football Focus (via ESPN) extolled the fifth-year pro’s potential for fantasy owners.

“You might also want to give Da’Norris Searcy a look,” Ratcliffe wrote. “Searcy flashed fantasy potential in Buffalo and should finally get an every-down role at the fantasy-friendly strong safety position for the Titans.”

There’s a reason for my mentioning this besides shamelessly plugging a friend and as keen an IDP mind as you’ll find (plus, he’s fun to have a beer with in Vegas). Ratcliffe is absolutely right.

Literally, everything about Searcy screams breakout season. Granted, he wasn’t a worldbeater in Buffalo, but he had his moments. All signs point to an every-down role on a bad defense behind a suspect cadre of linebackers in Nashville. And defensive coordinator Ray Horton has never been shy about cheating his safeties.

Frankly, if anything, Searcy is almost too good to be true, leading me to wonder if he’s going to be eaten by a rogue python while fishing on his bye week or something. But with a low-end DB2 price tag and top-five (you heard me) upside, I’ll roll the dice all day that he doesn’t end up eaten by a snake or something.

Antrel Rolle – FS, Chicago Bears

I will freely admit that when I started writing this piece I had no intention of including the newest (old) safety for the Chicago Bears. That lasted right up until I saw Rolle’s Average Draft Position at My Fantasy League, which is currently outside the top 40 defensive backs.

That seems just a touch low for a player who has five straight seasons with over 70 solos and who finished inside IDP DB2 territory last year even in what was considered (statistically, at least) a “down” year. Of course, according to Pete Prisco of CBS Sports, the moment he arrived in the Windy City Rolle became the Bears’ most overrated player.

“He signed as a free agent after a bad season with the Giants in 2014,” Prisco said. “Rolle is 32, so age is starting to become a factor. He missed a lot of tackles last season. Even so, he still could be an upgrade in the Bears deep secondary. That’s how bad it’s been.”

I’ve had the pleasure of sharing a brew with Mr. Prisco, too (yes, I’m name-dropping — sue me. I love my job), and from an NFL perspective he may well be right. From an IDP perspective though, much like Searcy, Rolle fell into a great situation — at the back end of a bad defense behind suspect linebackers.

Given the DB4 price tag, I don’t care if he’s 52. It’s a no-risk, all-reward investment.

Charles Tillman – CB, Carolina Panthers

Oh, Peanut — I just can’t quit you.

Once upon a time, Charles Tillman was among the most valuable defensive backs in fantasy football. In fact, as recently as 2012, the longtime Bears cornerback was the most valuable IDP DB in Fantasy Sharks Default IDP Scoring.

Much has changed since then. Over the past two seasons, the 34-year-old has played in only 10 games. Tillman now also finds himself on a new team, and Tillman told The Black and Blue Review that while he relishes the role of mentor on his new team, he’s also eager to show that he isn’t done making an impact as a player just yet.

“If I see something, I’m not going to keep it a secret. A closed mouth don’t get fed,” Tillman said, “If I see something, I’m going to say something. One of the disheartening things about our profession is people worry so much about age. If you feel good and you’re playing good, it really shouldn’t matter how old you are.”

Here’s the thing. There’s no guarantee at this point Tillman can stay healthy. None. But if he does, he’ll start for a Panthers team weak in the secondary. And if he’s healthy and starting, Tillman will make plays. He topped 80 total stops in each of his last three full seasons, and Tillman has forced a ridiculous 42 fumbles in his career.

If you examine the defensive back ADP results at MyFantasyLeague, you’ll notice that of the 65 players listed, Tillman ain’t one of them. If you aren’t willing to burn your last pick on a guy with his pedigree and potential (especially if your IDP league requires cornerbacks), then I don’t know what to tell you.

And yes — he’s old. So is Charles Woodson.

That’s worked out OK the last couple of years.

With IDP draft season in high gear, Fantasy Sharks has you covered. Whether it’s 2015 player rankings and projections, waiver wire targets, rookie analysis for dynasty leagues or strategy tips, IDP Staff Writer Walton Spurlin and IDP Senior Staff Writer Gary Davenport have all the information you need to dominate your IDP league in 2015.Also, for the latest IDP news and player updates follow IDP Sharks on Twitter.

About Gary Davenport

A member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association and Pro Football Writers of America who resides in Columbus, Ohio, Gary has been featured on a number of fantasy websites and in nationally circulated publications. These publications include the USA Today Fantasy Football Preview and the magazines distributed by Fantasy Sports Publications Inc., for whom Gary is a both a contributing author and associate editor. Gary is an nine-time FSWA Award finalist and three-time winner who has been a finalist for that organization's Fantasy Football Writer of the Year award each of the last four years. He won the honor in 2017 and 2019. Gary also appears regularly on Sirius XM Radio (including live from Radio Row at Super Bowl XLIX) and over-the-air stations across the country. Gary was one of the co-founders of, and Head Writer at, Fantasy Football Oasis before joining Fantasy Sharks as an IDP Senior Staff Writer in 2011. He knows football. Or so he's heard.