Every week this fantasy season, I will be writing about a handful of defensive backs that you should be considering for your IDP lineup. It will be a fluid thing that may be determined by significant injuries or bye week fill-ins. Since we are staring directly at Week 1, I felt this was my last chance to publish personal picks for best fantasy Defensive Backs for 2014. These are guys that I have been targeting in my deep roster and dynasty leagues. I look forward to discussion that will ensue of these picks. You may laugh at me at all season or I could be bragging at the end. Either way, here we go…
“Alluhring Strategy” 2014 Defensive Backs Fantasy All-Pro Picks
Tramon Williams, CB (GB) — We jump right in with a bold prediction. Williams was a Pro-Bowl CB in 2010 and had pretty consistent stats over a five year span from 2008-2012. However in 2013 he had a career high in total tackles with 83 as a CB and added 2.5 sacks. He had a down year in Passes defensed (PD) and interceptions, but averaged 17 ½ PDs and over 4 INTs per year during that previous five year span. Even with the spike in tackles he doesn’t seem to be topping the IDP rankings. In fact, MLFS’ very own, Ben Wardi, didn’t list Williams in his Top 10 CBs for 2014. Call it a gut feeling. At the age of 31, Tramon puts it all together this year and has the best fantasy numbers across the board for CBs. I love the three-headed safety monster with Burnett, Clinton-Dix and Hyde. This should give Williams the ability to be aggressive on the outside and bring back his PDs and INT numbers as well as keep up the tackles. I could see 75 total tackles, 5 INT, 18 PDs with a few sacks and Fumble recoveries thrown in.
Harrison Smith, FS (MIN) — Smith had nearly 100 total tackles in the rookie campaign of 2012. Injuries derailed his sophomore season, but if he can stay healthy, I see him taking the top scoring Safety title in 2014. Working against him is his injury history. He has battled turf toe in college and it cost him half the 2013 season. On the plus side, he is a natural leader for a young player who should hit 100 total tackles due to his ability to play the run as a free safety. I like him for double-digit PDs and to double his career total with 5 INTs including one for a pick six. Harrison plays a solid “centerfield” and finds himself involved in nearly every play. This will all lead to top scoring safety in 2014.
Johnathan Cyprien, SS (JAX) — Cyprien is a tackling machine. He posted 103 total tackles as a rookie last season. Of course, the Jacksonville offense was so bad, that he had lots of opportunity to defend the run as their opponents tried to run down the clock. He should have no problem reaching or exceeding those tackle numbers as he and Paul Posluszny are the best tacklers on the team. Although not as high on his list, my colleague, Bryan Robinson, wrote earlier this offseason, that his “improved coverage skills” will help the Jags pass rush. I concur with this assessment and believe as a result that his coverage stats will improve this season. I like him for 110+ total tackles, 10 PDs, 3 INTs and 2 sacks. Despite the stiff competition in the safety category, Cyprien is my top fantasy strong safety and will finish top 5 overall fantasy safeties.
Alterraun Verner, CB (TB) — Here’s where BenW and I agree. Last year’s MLFS CB scoring champ should be in the top two again. Verner moves to the Tampa 2 defense which plays strong to his tackling ability and will allow him to rack up the PDs. I expect his tackles to increase to 70+, another 4 or 5 picks and another 20 PDs. Tampa’s front seven should be a force this season. Teams are not likely to have much success against the run and Verner should be very active covering the opponents number one receiver.
Week 1 Quick Hits
1. Prince Amukamara (NYG) — Prince lead all MLFS CBs in solo tackles last season. It seems as though the Giants are planning on isolating Prince and DRC on the outside and let the safeties cover the middle. This will set him up for a good week as they visit the high-flying Detroit Lions on Monday night. Should be plenty of targets coming his way for a healthy tackle and PD total as a result.
2. Brandon Flowers (SD) — Last year, Flowers had over 21 fantasy points in MLFS during Week 1. Why do you ask? He was healthy. He struggles with injuries seemingly every season, but Week 1, he is primed for another big week. At some point, Arizona QB, Carson Palmer will start throwing the ball around and Flowers will be there to reap the benefits. Great matchup this week for Flowers.
3. Brent Grimes (MIA) — This is a risky pick as he struggled in both games against NE last season. With one season under his belt in the AFC East, I expect Grimes to a Top 10 fantasy CB season. He starts out in Week 1 by notching a few tackles, PDs and picks off Tom Brady for 15+ fantasy points depending on your scoring system.
1. Earl Thomas (SEA) — He might not be the best fantasy Safety, but my eyes tell me his is arguably the best actual safety in the NFL. That being said, he is licking his lips for a shot at Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers this Thursday night. I could see him picking up double-digit tackles, and… He is returning punts. At least he is for Week 1. If you have Thomas you are not sitting him anyway, but he is a worth Flex Play in place of a LB this week if you another solid DB option.
2. TJ Ward (DEN) — New team, same result! You have to figure, Luck will be throwing 30+ times in this game. Denver lost Woodyard in free agency and Trevathan to injury. Ward will be counted on for another 110+ tackles this season and he should easily have double digits tackles in Week 1 and I could see a pick six ending a late 4th Quarter rally. Again, if you have him on your roster, you are playing him, but I like him to approach 20 fantasy points this week. (MLFS scoring setup or similar)
3. Matt Elam (BAL) — Elam takes over as defensive play caller and is versatile from experience playing both FS and SS last year. Due to this development, I see Elam as a huge breakout candidate and will start off in Week 1 with an impressive tackling performance against the anticipated run heavy Cincinnati offense. Other than AJ Green, the rest of the offense will likely play in front of Elam and he should be involved early and often.
Bryan Luhrs Real Deal Dynasty Sports, Creator & Executive Commissioner MajorLeagueFantasySports.com, Fantasy Baseball and Football Writer http://www.realdealdynasty.com @realdealdynasty _____________________________________________________________________________________ Major League Fantasy Football Radio: Join Ej Garr and Corey D Roberts on Sunday September 7th from 11am-12pm EST for another episode of our fantasy football show sponsored by the Sports Palooza Radio Network.
This week Jeff Nelson will joining us for week one of the regular season. We will be discussing match ups and players on both offense & defense to either avoid or to play. Jeff is a High School defensive backs coach in the Lehigh Valley of PA. You can call in at 646.915.8596, listen live online, bluetooth in your car, or listen to the podcast. You can download the podcast on I-Tunes or Google Play stores.