If you’re a fan of my Individual Defensive Player (IDP) articles here at Fantasy Sharks (and really, who isn’t?), you know that I’m a passionate advocate of waiting to draft defensive backs. There are a couple of reasons for this philosophy.
First, with precious few exceptions, defensive backs are just too damned inconsistent to be worth a significant investment on draft day. If three of the defensive backs ranked in the top 10 to start a season actually finish it there that’s a
good year, and there will be more defensive backs who come from “nowhere” to post solid fantasy numbers than along the defensive front or at linebacker.
Notice I didn’t say there
could be. There
will be. It’s as certain as death, taxes and politicians lying to your face.
Also, the player pool at defensive back is ridiculously deep. Unless you play in a Lake Superior-deep IDP league, there will be startable defensive backs sitting on your waiver wire most weeks, and it’s much easier to stomach cutting an underperforming defensive back loose if he didn’t really cost anything to begin with.
This isn’t to say, however, that by waiting to draft defensive backs you’re going to end up with a bunch of so-so options that may be headed right back to the waiver wire three weeks into the season. Each of the defensive backs listed here is not only available late in IDP drafts, but they also possess the sort of upside that gives them an excellent chance of sticking on your squad.
Johnathan Cyprien, SS, Jacksonville
I’ve been banging the drum for Cyprien since about eight seconds after the Jacksonville Jaguars selected him in the second round of April’s NFL draft. The Florida International standout has been limited by a hamstring injury in training camp, but there are no indications that his Week 1 status is in doubt. A strong tackler who will spend plenty of time in the box as opponents nursing leads pound away on the ground, Cyprien offers top 10 upside but is the 24th defensive back off draft boards in 2013 according to My Fantasy League. Throw in that no team in the NFL saw more tackle opportunities in 2012 than the Jaguars, and you have the makings of one of the top fantasy values at his position this year.
Dawan Landry, SS, New York Jets
Part of the reason that the Jaguars selected Cyprien is that they decided to part ways with Landry, who signed on in New York as his brother’s replacement with the Jets. The eighth-year veteran has averaged more than 100 tackles a season over the past three years, finished inside the top 30 defensive backs in Fantasy Sharks Default IDP Scoring twice over that stretch, and plays for a Jets defense that will be on the field all day long in 2013. Landry may not do a whole lot in the big-play column, but his tackle production makes the 30-year-old a steady (if unspectacular) IDP DB2 option that can be had very late in most drafts.
Yeremiah Bell, SS, Arizona
After several years as one of the more dependable fantasy options available in the secondary, Bell’s production fell off in 2012 with the New York Jets, as the 10th-year veteran failed to amass 100 tackles for the first time since 2007. That dropoff, coupled with Bell’s age (35) has caused Bell to fall completely off the IDP map, with the veteran going undrafted altogether in shallower fantasy football leagues. However, Bell won’t be competing with LaRon Landry for stops at the back end of the Arizona defense, and it wasn’t that long ago (2011) that Bell was a top 20 fantasy option at his position. Given his meager asking price Bell is the perfect late-round defensive back pick … a no-risk fantasy investment with a very good chance of becoming a weekly starter for your team.
DeAngelo Hall, CB, Washington
Hall may be overrated as an NFL player, but he’s underrated as a fantasy asset. In each of the past three years Hall has posted at least 90 tackles and finished the year as a top 25 defensive back, and yet the 29-year-old isn’t being selected in the first 35 defensive backs off draft boards according to MyFantasyLeague. That’s just nuts for a viable DB2 and high-end weekly starter in IDP leagues that require cornerbacks, especially when you factor in that Hall was the second-most targeted cornerback in the NFL in 2012 according to Pro Football Focus
Morris Claiborne, CB, Dallas
Savvy IDP owners don’t just consider past performance when determining IDP value and searching for late-round gems. They also examine present situation and talent, as those can be indicators for when last year’s dud is about to become this year’s stud, as in the case of Morris Claiborne. Yes, the Cowboys’ first-round pick a year ago posted underwhelming stats as a rookie. But the stage is set for a breakout in 2013, however, as Claiborne will play in Monte Kiffin’s Tampa-2 defense. It’s a scheme that calls for cornerbacks to be aggressive in run support, and Claiborne has the skill-set to excel in it. The 23-year-old is the 23rd cornerback being selected in IDP drafts, which is fantastic value for a player who is a solid starter in cornerback-required formats with top 25 IDP upside in “standard” leagues.
Don’t forget to check back here regularly at Fantasy Sharks for all your IDP needs, from Rankings and Projections to waiver wire pickups and strategy. Whatever you need, Fantasy Sharks has you covered!
Looking for more IDP information? Be sure to check out all the other great IDP articles by the rest of the Fantasy Sharks’ crew, the IDP Forum, IDP Manor, and for the latest injury news follow @IDPManor on Twitter.