We’re turning the page to the dog days of summer and with every passing day the start of the 2015 NFL season draws closer and closer. I hope everyone was able to watch the first Major League Fantasy Sports Fantasy Football Weekly YouTube show, but if not here is the link. It was a great show and we focused on key offseason moves on both sides of the football via free agency and trades. I’m co-hosting the show with Lou Landers and our X’s and O’s guy Jeff Nelson, who is our defensive guru. We go into depth with our player evaluations and have some spirited debates. Every Saturday we will have a cast of characters including expert MLFS writers and special guests appearing on the show with us. Switching gears, this will be my final article highlighting key offseason moves at the cornerback and safety position. I feel confident the players I’m highlighting will be useful this year for their owners. I’m cleaning out the cupboard this week and chewing all the remaining meat off the bone. Mad Dog likes to eat well and leaves no scraps behind. Please join the dog pound again this week and stay tuned for my rankings at the cornerback and safety positions in the coming weeks.
Tramon Williams, Cornerback, Cleveland Browns
If you’ve been paying close attention to my articles you’ve probably noticed a common trend at this point. The majority of the players I’ve been highlighting are proven veterans changing their stripes this offseason. The cornerback and safety position are in high demand due to the lack of top-notch players at their respective positions. It’s the classic supply versus demand mentality, so players like Darrelle Revis and Tramon Williams are highly coveted by many teams. In Cleveland, Williams joins Joe Haden, a Pro Bowler, and Justin Gilbert, the eighth pick in the 2014 draft, at the cornerback position. The Browns desperately needed to add an experienced corner to their secondary after losing starting slot corner Buster Skrine to the New York Jets in free agency. If you ask me, Skrine should donate part of his signing bonus to Joe Haden considering how many opportunities his presence alone created for him. It’s no secret that opposing quarterbacks avoided Haden. Speaking of Haden, Tramon Williams falls into a perfect situation starting alongside one of the best corners in the game. Williams is a superior talent compared to Skrine and instantly becomes the most experienced player on their defense. Not to mention, he can teach Justin Gilbert the ropes and provide a great locker room presence that the Browns have been lacking for years. The Browns secondary will once again be a strong point, pairing Haden and Williams with nickel corner Justin Gilbert. Add in solid safeties Tashaun Gipson and Donte Whitner, and they will be a force to be reckoned with against the pass. Believe it or not, the Browns led the league in opponents’ quarterback passer rating (74.1), completion percentage (57.1), and passes defensed (99) and should improve on these stats with former Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champ Tramon Williams.
Tramon Williams has had a long and successful NFL career. Make no mistake it didn’t come easy for Williams. Considering he never earned a college scholarship, walked-on at college, went undrafted, got cut by the Texans as a rookie, and started as a practice squad player, you have to respect how hard he worked to become the player he is today. He’s been in the league for eight seasons playing for the Green Bay Packers. During that time, he’s totaled 28 interceptions, sixth-most in the NFL, to go along with 115 pass breakups, and five forced fumbles. Williams has been an anchor in the secondary since Dom Capers took over the defense in 2009 and was as durable as players come. The former undrafted free agent missed just one game in eight seasons and played through a number of injuries, including a sprained knee he suffered against Miami last season and a bad shoulder injury he suffered in Week 1 of 2011. Last season, he showed some decline in speed and was beaten for more than a half dozen touchdowns. But, he committed only four coverage penalties and allowed only seven plays of 20 or more yards. His interceptions have declined over the last three years; three in ’14, three in ’13, and two in ’12. He did register 19 interceptions in the four years prior to that. Williams should see plenty of action opposite Haden and is a lock for at least five interceptions in 2015. I think he’ll return to his early glory years in Green Bay and post solid numbers across the board. I was saying before, I didn’t want to own any Browns players this year, but Tramon Williams is the exception in IDP leagues.
Antonio Cromartie, Cornerback, New York Jets
So I’m sticking to the script here and promoting yet another veteran in Antonio Cromartie who signed with the Jets. Darrelle Revis isn’t the only one throwing a homecoming party with Cromartie coming back to the Big Apple. Last week, I wrote about his former and current teammate Revis whom he played alongside from 2010-2012. They’ll team up again along with slot corner Buster Skrine and create major headaches for opposing quarterbacks and offensive coordinators. The Jets defense is going to be nasty with Revis Island and Cromartie playing outside, and three maulers (Wilkerson, Richardson, and rookie Williams) rotating on the defensive line. Let’s not forget about last year’s first round selection at safety Calvin Pryor, who should take a step forward. The linebacker core will be the key for the Jets with David Harris and Demario Davis, who should be serviceable. If Todd Bowles runs an aggressive 3-4 defense similar to the one he ran in Arizona last year, watch out! The additions of Revis and Cromartie in the secondary allow Bowles to be aggressive and dial up multiple blitz packages with the front seven. The Cardinals blitzed 46.5% of the time last year with Bowles calling the plays, so you do the math. I’m expecting a lot of turnovers caused by rushed throws and relentless pressure from the interior. The main beneficiary should be Antonio Cromartie who could get picked on a lot, which is perfectly fine with his owners. He should be able to parlay these increased opportunities into more turnovers. I’m expecting him to perform at a high level and top four interceptions for the first time since 2007 when he registered a career high ten. Also keep in mind how reliable Cromartie has been the past eight years with 31 interceptions during that span. Only Ed Reed, Asante Samuel, and Charles Woodson have more picks over that period. Talk about some good company, those are all future Hall-of-Famers, if that tells you anything. I’m down with the Gang Green defense this year and recommend investing in as many of Todd Bowles chess pieces as possible.
Rahim Moore, Safety, Houston Texans
I decided to save one of my personal favorites for last. Rahim Moore is like a fine wine that gets better with age. He’s coming off a career year in 2014 with the Denver Broncos in which he registered 49 tackles, four interceptions, and two forced fumbles. The breakout season led to a big payday this offseason with the Houston Texans. After an injury-shortened 2013, Moore bounced back to grade positively in coverage last season. Only two safeties bested his four interceptions, which made him one of the most sought after defensive players in free agency and arguably second best at his position behind Devin McCourty. Run defense is his only question mark, and he’ll need to improve in that area and missed tackles to become a complete player at his position. Make no mistake, Moore is a liability against the run, but he has plus coverage skills and top-notch ball skills. Few safeties man center field as effectively as Moore. Given how valuable safeties have become over the last five years as pass defenders, Moore figures to be one of the most underrated signees this offseason. He’ll join a strong secondary that already includes Kareem Jackson and Johnathan Joseph. It’s hard to find an impact player in the secondary, especially one as young as Moore, who is only 25. Considering his age, he has plenty of experience having played in 57 games (48 starts) and has shown a proficiency to create turnovers with eight interceptions and two forced fumbles in four years. Moore is a great target for IDP owners and is just scratching the surface. He’ll fit in perfectly with the Texans defense and all the playmakers they currently have, making them even more dangerous.
(Click the BLUE link to listen to the show)
Major League Fantasy Sports Show: Join Ej Garr and Corey D Roberts on Sunday June 28th from 7-9pm EST for this week’s episode of Major League Fantasy Sports Radio sponsored by the Sports Palooza Radio Network. Call in to ask questions at 646-915-8596. This week’s topics will be the A.L. Central, N.L. West, and everything fantasy related within.
Our guests this week include Kyle Amore, Lou Landers, and Hernan Batista. Kyle is a writer with MLFS in which he focuses on the N.L. East, N.L. Central, and the MLB Draft. Catch his articles every Tuesday morning. Lou Landers is the host of Major League Fantasy Football Weekly which is our live YouTube show which runs every Saturday from 2-3:30pm EST. Hernan Batista is an excellent owner in (Team name “Powerslave) MLFB2, and a long time veteran of fantasy baseball. Come join us for a lively debate.
If you can’t make it to the live airing you can always download the podcast at I-Tunes or Google Play stores. Search for “Sports Palooza Radio Show”. Android owners download “Podcast Republic” and then search on podcast republic for “Sports Palooza Radio Show.”
(Click the BLUE Link to watch the show)
Major League Fantasy Football Weekly Show: Join Lou Landers and Ron McCleese on Saturday June 27th from 2-3:30pm EST for this week’s episode Major League Fantasy Football Weekly. We will be discussing key free agents/traded players that will have a profound impact in the 2015 fantasy football season.
You can watch live and ask questions to the group, or you can watch afterward on our YouTube channel at your leisure.