From an IDP view: Top 10 DB Units
Since I’ve dug into the LB units now we’re going to switch gears and take a look at what’s becoming the most important position on defense today; the secondary. Now that the NFL has become a pass heavy league; cornerbacks and safeties have been more important than ever and it helps when you have a corner that can cover half of the field; or his side. The result of the league becoming pass heavy is Cornerbacks value rising and Safeties increasing their tackle numbers; so just like I did with the LB’s I’m going to look into the top 10 Secondary Units from an IDP view. Some of these players may not be household names or shutdown corners but they put up stats and points for your IDP squad and that’s what it’s all about. I’m quite surprised myself on who landed on this list but nonetheless it’ll be hard to argue because of the production that comes with it. I only went to the top 10, but I really like 13 teams but we can leave the 3 out as honorable mentions and I’ll include them at the end.
- Seattle Seahawks: (Richard Sherman, Brandon Browner, Antoine Winfield, Kam Chancellor, Earl Thomas) – we may be looking at arguably one of the best secondary units put together; and they all provide some sort of IDP impact. You have a rising shut down corner that backs up his mouth with his play, an underrated corner, a savvy vet who could be the hardest hitter on this team and then you got two young safeties which form arguably the best safety tandem in the NFL. Sherman is a PD king as he’s had 17 & 24 in his first 2 seasons; so you can lock him up for another 15+ and is a ball hawk. Browner has fallen off a little bit but still has the upside and serviceable; especially in CB leagues. Chancellor had a bit of a down year; didn’t pick off a pass and didn’t deflect much passes but I expect that to change in ’13; add in Winfield to the mix and although he may not have his Minnesota numbers he’s still going to be serviceable and absolutely flying under the radar in drafts right now. Lastly, we got Earl Thomas who may not look pretty in the tackle category but chips in everywhere else and even the in the shallowest of leagues all these Seahawks get drafted; so that says something. Here are their DB Values: Sherman (DB1) Browner (DB3) Winfield (DB2) Chancellor (DB1) Thomas (DB3).
- Indianapolis Colts: (LaRon Landry, Antoine Bethea, Greg Toler, Vontae Davis) – are you quite surprised to see them at #2? I’m not and here’s why, Bethea and Landry are tackling machines and will always be around the ball, Landry and his aggressiveness will get the turnovers for you. If Toler goes back to 2010 form; he has some serious upside and is currently being slept on in drafts; don’t be one of those guys. Toler is a legit candidate for a great season and Vontae Davis can provide some promise and be serviceable in CB leagues. Another strong safety duo; can one expect both of them to get 100+ tackles, yes you better believe it. At this point, if your league requires you to start 2 CB’s or 2 DB’s I’m confident enough where you can grab a stud first then wait until the later rounds and grab Toler and I believe he’s going to outplay his ADP big time. Here are the Colts DB Values: Landry (DB2) Bethea (DB1) Toler (DB2 upside) Davis (DB4.
- Chicago Bears: (Charles Tillman, Tim Jennings, Major Wright and Chris Conte) – If you love turnovers than this is your unit, Tillman and Jennings have a knack for creating turnovers. Jennings really jumped out of the screen last year as he had a tremendous season creating turnovers (9INT 21PDs) and although he doesn’t rack up much tackle he makes up for it. Tillman was just ridiculous in 2012 as he forced 10 fumbles (4 in one game) 3 interceptions 16 PD’s and 3 TD’s; that’s amazing numbers especially at his age. These 2 CB’s alone put them at #3 and I don’t see them slowing down as Chicago is known for creating turnovers. The safety position seems weak but it’s improving as Wright turned in a solid 2012 season that can definitely improve on; 4 int’s and 8 PD’s is nice coming out of the safety position. Another year developed and Conte can gain some confidence as he can increase his tackle totals and the 9 PD’s are a bonus to have. Tillman and Jennings should be the first 2 drafted and normally Wright gets taken as a late round flier; Conte is someone to keep on radar. The Bears DB Values are: Tillman (DB1) Jennings (DB2) Wright (DB3) Conte (DB4).
- Tennessee Titans: (Jason McCourty, Alterraun Verner, Bledi Bleh-Wilson, Bernard Pollard, Michael Griffin) – The addition of Pollard has elevated this unit some, but the Titans have a solid IDP group in the secondary that is quite serviceable to your squad. McCourty jumped on the scene in 2011 with 105 tackles & 13 PD’s then followed it up with a 92 tackle 15 PD’s campaign in 2012; more than proven himself a low-tier DB1. Verner is the wildcard here, during his 2010 season where he started he put up 101 tackles 11 PD’s and 3int and soon as he regained the starting spot last year (lost it in 2011) he put up almost identical numbers as I expect a little more PD’s this year. The future lies in incoming rookie Wreh-Wilson; a possible replacement for either Verner or McCourty so for now he’s a nice dynasty stash or he can be left on waiver; don’t lose track of him though. Enter Bernard Pollard, he’ll bring the attitude to this secondary; the hard hitting and he’s been consistently racking up 90+ tackles year after year so we might as well pencil in at least 95 tackles in 2013 as well as a handful of PD’s. Then you got Griffin and Wilson; both are on the decline but if you had to choose one I’d roll with Griffin. After his big 2010 season Griffin has fallen off the IDP map and has been mediocre since. The Titans DB values are: McCourty (DB2) Verner (DB3) Wreh-Wilson (DB4, dynasty stash) Pollard (DB2) Griffin (DB3) Wilson (DB4).
- Atlanta Falcons: (Desmond Trufant, Asante Samuel, William Moore, Thomas DeCoud, Robert Alford) – The Falcons are on the verge of having some serious talent in their secondary; with the addition of rookies Trufant and Alford I won’t be surprised to see this unit vault into the top 3. Asante is a better player on the field than on your IDP roster so you can ignore him on draft day. Trufant and Alford are ones to definitely have your eyes on; Trufant is worth drafting while Alford is going to be a solid dynasty stash. Temper expectations with Trufant but the kid is about to stamp his name on the IDP world; I see a little of Stephon Gilmore in him and he’s going to have a bunch of PD’s. The strongpoint on this unit is the safety combo in Moore and DeCoud; Moore’s IDP value was getting tossed around this off-season because he was a free agent whom then eventually resigned in Atlanta. Moore could’ve easily eclipsed the 100 tackle mark last year hadn’t he missed the last 4 games; and does a little of everything else. DeCoud, is the ball hawk, the one who’ll get the turnovers. He may never eclipse the 90 tackle mark but he more than makes up for it in the other categories. The Falcons DB Values are: Asante (DB4) Trufant (DB3, has DB2 upside) Alford (DB4, great dynasty stash) Moore (DB1) DeCoud (DB2).
- St Louis Rams: (Cortland Finnegan, Janoris Jenkins, TJ McDonald, Darian Stewart, Trumaine Johnson) – With the exception of Finnegan, this secondary is young and becoming dangerous. Janoris is a serious playmaker opposite Finnegan (4 defensive TD’s in rookie campaign) and will become a pass deflection stud. Finnegan is a solid DB for any IDP league as he posts strong tackle numbers and a handful of PD’s, he’s just a pest on the field and will get after opposing teams #1 WR. Another corner that could be on the rise is Trumaine Johnson and with Fletcher gone; the opportunity is there. In spot snaps last year Trumaine was able to deflect 8 passes and one to keep on radar; in deep leagues. Darian Stewart is a name to keep an eye on as he should regain a starting spot, he’s shown flashes in 2010 (84 tackles 11 PD’s 3 sacks) but fell off in 2011 and lost his starting job to now departed Craig Dahl. Then the Rams went ahead and added TJ McDonald via the NFL Draft, slated to start he should flirt with nothing less of 90 tackles as he’ll be all over the field; if you miss out on one of the rookie studs don’t forget about McDonald. The Rams DB Values are: Jenkins (DB2, with DB1 upside due to playmaking) Finnegan (DB1) Johnson (DB4) McDonald (DB2 potential, but you’ll grab as DB3) Stewart (DB4, but definitely keep an eye out).
- New Orleans Saints: (Keenan Lewis, Kenny Vaccaro, Malcolm Jenkins, Roman Harper) – Talk about four quality starters for your IDP roster, but the depth after them is slim. Keenan Lewis is coming off a career year where he led the league in Pass Deflections (23) but doesn’t contribute anywhere else so that limits his IDP value some. Jenkins had 94 tackles last year and could very well repeat those numbers as he’ll be playing next to Vaccaro as well as nickel corner, sometimes. Keep in mind Jenkins could’ve easily gotten over 100 tackles though as he missed the last 3 weeks of the season; upside still remains. Roman is the vet on this team that plays in the box and has been consistent in the tackle categories as well as contributes in the QB Sacks stat, had a solid 7.5 QB Sacks in 2011 but a doughnut in 2012. Not expected to be full-time anymore with the addition of Kenny Vaccaro; so draft Harper at your own risk. Enter the future in Vaccaro; who is arguably one of the better safeties and all-around from this NFL draft class. I expect Vaccaro to make an immediate impact and have the opportunity to flirt with at least 90 tackles and with his all-around play he’ll provide other stats as well. The Saints DB Values are: Lewis (DB3) Harper (DB3) Vaccaro (DB2) Jenkins (DB2).
- Green Bay Packers: (Morgan Burnett, M.D Jennings, Casey Hayward, Tramon Williams, Sam Shields) – Although they can’t stop anyone on the field, that brings fantasy gold for their IDP’s. Tramon is the vet among this group and has averaged 16 PD’s and 4 int’s the last 5 seasons; no reason he won’t put up those numbers again in 2013, limited upside but you know what you’re getting from Tramon. Hayward had an impressive rookie campaign in 2012 as he posted a monstrous 21 PD’s and had 6 int’s, the tackle numbers will increase slightly but you’re drafting Hayward for the PD’s and INT’s so you’d need to balance out your roster with some high tackle number DB’s. Burnett is clearly one of the best IDP DB’s out there as he can do it all, posted a career high 123 tackles in 2012 and looks to either match or increase that total in 2013. If he’s not the #1 DB in IDP then he’s 1a or 1b and he’s still just 24 years old. With Woodson gone, there’s an open spot next to Burnett and I expect Jennings to take control of that position. He’s had his moments last year and could definitely be on the sleeper list if he lands the starting job. The Packers DB Values are: Hayward (DB2) Tramon (DB3) Burnett (DB1) Shields (DB5)
- Buffalo Bills: (Jairus Byrd, Stephon Gilmore, Leodis McKelvin, Da’Norris Searcy, Duke Williams, Aaron Williams) – a very talented group and a CB who provides value in leagues that award return yardage (Leodis). Byrd is the ball hawk among this group and an elite DB IDP; he’s bound to get a handful of INT’s and with Wilson gone, Byrd will take his game to another level in 2013 as he’s also playing for a new contract. Gilmore is establishing himself as a shutdown corner in this league after just 1 season; in the last 11 games of 2012 he hasn’t allowed a TD to his opposing WR he’s covered. Gilmore posted 16 PD’s last year and I expect those numbers to be the same; his IDP value could plummet though as teams may not throw his way so that is something to keep an eye on. Searcy is the sleeper among this group as he’ll take over for departed Wilson and is a better athlete. He’ll be lined up in the box often and that’s where he’ll make his IDP impact, getting to the QB and creating turnovers. Duke Williams is the dynasty stash; especially if Byrd doesn’t resign in Buffalo. Leodis is only valuable in leagues that score return yards as that’s where he’ll make his impact; but he’s also going to start opposite Gilmore and would see an ample of pigskins thrown his way, so will numbers come with that? The Bills DB Values are: Byrd (DB1) Searcy (DB2) Gilmore (DB2) McKlevin (DB3) Duke (DB5, great dynasty stash).
- Miami Dolphins: (Brent Grimes, Richard Marshall, Jamar Taylor, Reshad Jones, Chris Clemons) – Something tells me I should’ve ranked the Dolphins a little higher but its more of a wait and see approach; the upside is there. Bringing in Grimes definitely helps and everything sounds good about him now returning from Achilles injury. I can see Grimes returning to his 2010 form, slightly, as he may not get as much opportunity in Miami but still a playmaker. The battle will be between Marshall and rookie Jamar Taylor, I like Taylor to land the CB2 job in Miami and take off with it; Taylor is a strong corner and if he starts he makes an immediate impact for IDP owners. Marshall has been pretty consistent the last 5 years (not including 2012) as he put up nearly 80+ tackles each season but moving to nickel corner will hurt. Dolphins got two safeties coming off career years and they’re well on their way to getting better. Reshad Jones and Chris Clemons both had 95+ tackles and a handful of PD’s; expect more of the same from both with Jones putting up slightly better numbers overall. These Miami Dolphins are on the verge of making noise in the IDP world; take notice. The Dolphins DB Values are: Grimes (DB2) Marshall (DB4) Taylor (DB3 with upside) Jones (DB2) Clemons (DB3).
Houston Texans (Jonathan Joseph, Kareem Jackson, Ed Reed, Daniel Manning, DJ Swearinger)
Arizona Cardinals (Patrick Peterson, Antoine Cason, Tyrann Mathieu, Yeremiah Bell, Jerraud Powers)
Oakland Raiders (DJ Hayden, Charles Woodson, Tyvon Branch, Mike Jenkins, Usama Young)