The defensive secondary has long been a wildcard position in the world of IDP fantasy football and the main reason a good strategy is to wait on drafting defensive backs. The position generally runs deep with new names cropping up each season as surprise performers and only few top tier options such as Charles Tillman, Roman Harper and Antoine Winfield (when healthy) being safe year-to-year selections.
The ‘rookie corner rule’ also seriously impacts scoring on a yearly basis, as quarterbacks and offensive coordinators will find and look to exploit the youngsters in the secondary. And of course injuries, new defensive schemes and coordinators will affect the fantasy value of defensive backs as it does all positions.
As we await the Super Bowl (It’s always the longest two weeks of the year) and then the combine, let’s continue to look ahead at some potential IDP fantasy studs-in-waiting for the 2013 season. While the position is a tricky one to predict, there are some very interesting players that are ready to ascend to the top of the rankings and here are a few of those players.
Jairus Byrd, FS, Free Agent: While Byrd is technically a free agent as of now and may look to shop his wares around the league, there is little chance that Buffalo will let him go. The cost to franchise him would be $6.4 million and if a long-term deal can not be struck then look for the Bills to go ahead and slap the tag on Byrd.
Byrd burst onto the fantasy scene as a rookie in 2009 when he had nine interceptions after converting from cornerback where he lined up at Oregon to the free safety position. He was also credited with 11 passes defensed as a rookie and totaled 45 combined tackles while playing approximately half of the defensive snaps (666) that season.
He has the quintessential skill set for the free safety position with exceptional range and has put in the work to improve his tackling skills. Once a liability in run support he is now a solid tackling safety who has averaged 77 combined tackles per season over the past four years.
Byrd is one of the best big play safeties in the game having returned two of his 18 career interceptions for touchdowns while forcing 10 fumbles and registering two sacks as well. He’s a tireless worker that has improved his overall skill set to become one of the best defensive backs in the NFL and at only 26 years old he has the upside to continue to improve. He is a top fifteen selection in 2013 IDP fantasy drafts.
Reshad Jones, SS, MIAMI: Jones has ascended to the top tier of fantasy defensive backs after biding his time during his first two seasons before emerging in 2012 as one of the premier strong safeties in the NFL. After being selected in the 5th round of the 2010 NFL draft out of Georgia he was used sparingly as a rookie before logging over 670 snaps in his second season at free safety.
Jones showed enough versatility down the stretch in 2011 in totaling 18 tackles and an interception over the final three games to be given a shot at a full-time safety position heading into 2012.
After spending much of training camp at free safety, Jones was swapped with incumbent strong safety Chris Clemons prior to week one and never looked back. He finished the season with 95 total tackles, one sack and nine passes defended. Jones also flashed excellent big-play abilities by intercepting four passes and forcing two fumbles while playing 1,141 defensive snaps.
Entering the final year of his rookie contract Jones has a stranglehold on the SS position heading into 2013 and Miami is looking to extend his contract. Jones is a legitimate top-five fantasy selection at the DB position heading into next season.