As anyone who has ever tried to play matchmaker with a couple of his or her friends can attest, it is a maneuver wrought with peril. They either hit it off and live happily ever after or hold it against you forever when it doesn’t work out.
That is why I have retired from playing ‘cupid’ with my friends and limit my matchmaking to the fantasy realm. It keeps the number of angry phone calls to a minimum and is a lot more fun.
The defensive back position is full of fantasy relevant free agents for 2013, and, looking at where respective players can best reach their fantasy potential may not fall in line with where a lot of ‘NFL experts’ feel players should sign.
Hey, let’s be honest here folks. As Individual Defensive Player (IDP) fantasy owners we really don’t concern ourselves with whether or not a cornerback can shut down his side of the field as much as we want the man thrown at as often as possible.
We want our safeties having to come down into the box to support a weak run stopping defense more than we want him trolling 20 yards downfield as the last line of defense. With that in mind, let’s get down to some fantasy matchmaking …
William Moore, SS, Atlanta:
Moore was hampered down the stretch last season with a hamstring injury that caused him to miss the final four weeks of the regular season. On the bright side, he did play every defensive snap in the games he played in and finished the year with 62 solos and 85 total tackles including the playoffs.
After appearing in only two games as a rookie (knee and hamstring issues), Moore has been a three-year starter for the Falcons. He has racked up more than 200 combined stops with 11 interceptions along with 1.5 sacks and five forced fumbles in his career.
The St. Louis Rams are in need of a premier strong safety to line up alongside Quintin Mikell (who may need to restructure his deal if he wants to remain a Ram) in their secondary, and Moore would fit the bill perfectly. He is steady against the run and capable of more than holding his own in coverage.
He has struggled with staying healthy and has missed 24 regular season games in his four years in the league but is coming off his best season to date. St. Louis is highly unlikely to bring back strong safety Craig Dahl, who is a free agent and has underwhelmed in his stint for the Rams.
Adding a Pro Bowl talent like Moore to the mix of Cortland Finnegan, Janoris Jenkins as well as Mikell improves the Rams defense considerably as well as boosts Moore’s fantasy value. He would be a solid DB2 with excellent upside and the chance to possibly even reach low-end DB1 fantasy numbers should the Rams bring him on board for 2013.
Chris Clemons, FS, Miami:
In his fourth season for the Dolphins Clemons took over the starting free safety position and started all 16 games. He put up very nice numbers finishing with 99 total tackles with two interceptions and was credited with four passes defended.
Clemons played above average against both the pass and the run while allowing 57.1 percent of the passes thrown into his coverage to be completed, and none of those went for a touchdown. He is an ascending talent that would fit in perfectly with the Detroit Lions for 2013 and forward.
Detroit is desperate for help at every position in their secondary, and especially the safety position if they choose to let the oft-injured Louis Delmas walk via free agency. Clemons could step right in as their top safety and immediately become the steadying force in the defensive backfield that this defense has lacked for years.
He would also be a very attractive fantasy option as Detroit has been susceptible through the air as teams completed more than 63 percent of their passes against the Lions in 2012. Clemons would also be called upon to step up in run support and has shown a willingness to do so and would amass excellent tackle numbers.
Clemons would be a Top 10 IDP draft selection at the defensive back position in 2013 and could finish the season as a solid DB1 and Top 12 fantasy point producer next season should he sign with Detroit.
Brent Grimes, CB, Atlanta:
Grimes suffered an Achilles injury in Week 1 last season, finished the season having played 52 snaps and amassing six total tackles. Grimes should be ready for the start of training camp 2013, as, according to Falcons head coach Mike Smith, Grimes’ rehab is going “outstanding.”
He is an unrestricted free agent and there should be plenty of teams that are interested in bringing him on board to bolster their secondary. One such team is the San Diego Chargers, as their duo of Antoine Cason and Quentin Jammer are both free agents and are coming off of horrendous 2012 campaigns.
Cason and Jammer each allowed more than 700 yards last season and combined they gave up 13 touchdowns while only defending 12 passes. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out, fellas. By contrast, Grimes had 14 passes defended in 2011 (while playing 12 games), a whopping 23 in 2010 and has picked off 12 passes in the last four seasons.
When healthy, Grimes is a Top 10 fantasy defensive back that plays with a mean streak and tenaciousness that belies his 5-foot-10, 185-pound size and averages just less than four solo tackles per game. He’ll have to prove he hasn’t lost the quickness and mobility to be a No. 1 corner and may have to settle for a one-year deal to prove his health but is an excellent bounce back fantasy candidate for 2013.
Should the Chargers manage to bring Grimes on board, he will be a solid high-end DB2 with DB1 upside that has the chance to finish 2013 as a Top 10 fantasy scoring option at the defensive back position.