Top 10 Rookie Defensive Backs to Target in IDP Leagues
In the second of my three IDP rookie articles I look at the defensive back class of 2015. The defensive back position is a volatile position, but the safety position usually provides solid IDP digits in the right situation. Rookie corners tend to get targeted, but there’s still variance from week to week. Below I let you know which of these safeties and corners to target for redraft and dynasty IDP leagues.
1. Landon Collins, SS, New York Giants: The Giants have struggled to slot someone in at strong safety, however, it looks like they found their guy in Collins, drafting him 33rd overall. I love the landing spot for him for IDP purposes and he fits in well with the Giants defensive scheme. Collins was a 23 games starter for Nick Saban at Alabama, playing both free and strong, so he has position versatility.
In 2014, his junior season, Landon led the team in tackles with 103 and also picked off three passes. He can also contribute on special teams if asked, recording 10 special teams tackles as a freshman in 2012. He’s a physical, in-the-box safety with great instincts to get to the ball and doesn’t get fooled. A fundamental tackler, and while he’ll lay on a hit, he’s not going to miss.
Collins projects as the immediate starter at strong safety and looks as close to elite at the DB position as you can get for a rookie. The lack of an elite LB in New York also means production opportunities near the line of scrimmage. I have no problem with taking him as a DB1, and he should be one of the first IDPs off the board in rookie drafts, even among LBs.
4for4 initial projection: 117 tackles (85 solos)/3 INTs/8 tackles for loss
2. Clayton Geathers, SS, Indianapolis Colts: I think this is a great spot for a kid who was projected to go undrafted. The Colts used a 4th round pick on him since they really had no one at the position.
He was a four-year starter at Central Florida. He recorded 97 tackles as a senior to go along with nine defended passes. He’s a good in the box safety and can also cover tight ends. He has finishing speed, which allows him to get to the ball carrier quickly. He takes on contact and loves to make the tackle, so he looks like he could be a tackle machine, he just needs to avoid the misses.
He’ll have to develop quickly, as he looks like he could be thrown into the mix right away due to lack of safety options for the Colts. Geathers could be in line for significant snaps right away and is a decent sleeper in redraft and dynasty IDP leagues.
4for4 initial projection: 95 tackles (70 solos)/2 INTs/7 tackles for loss
3. James Sample, FS, Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jags used a 4th round pick on the safety, and he’ll get his chance to produce at free safety, which could bode well for possible IDP production.
In his lone season at Louisville, he recorded 74 solo tackles (90 total) and picked off four passes. He’s a solid defender at the line and has above average speed sideline to sideline. He can also play outside if asked. He needs to learn to take on contact, not wait for it.
He’ll start playing free safety and only has Sergio Brown to beat out, who’s been an average safety at best. Keep an eye on the training camp battle between these two, but I see Sample beating him out when all is said and done.
4for4 initial projection: 90 tackles (72 solos)/3 INTs/2 tackles for loss
4. Derron Smith, FS, Cincinnati Bengals: Some things will have to go his way in Cinci. He’s behind George Iloka on the depth chart for now, but a strong rookie camp and preseason could change his fortunes.
Smith was first-team All-Mountain West in 2014 thanks to 93 tackles. He was also a first-teamer in 2012 and 2013, notching over 160 tackles and double-digit picks in that span. He was a productive four-year starter and can play near the line or play a ball-hawking role, as he tracks the ball real well. He’ll need to do what is asked of him, and not do too much. He’s a little small, but he’ll challenge Illoka for the free safety spot.
Iloka graded well in 2014, so Smith will have some work to do. It wouldn’t surprise me if he started out as a special teamer and grew into a starter. Definitely someone to add in dynasty for DB depth.
4for4 initial projection: 64 tackles (31 solos)/4 INTs/3 tackles for loss
5. Adrian Amos, SS, Chicago Bears: Like Smith, Amos will have to have some breaks go his way as a 5th rounder. There are some things to like about Amos at the strong side.
In his last three years at Penn State, he started all 37 games. He has good range and reacts well with good motion. He’s a hawk and can get to the ball when he needs to and won’t get caught out of coverage.
He’s behind Ryan Mundy on SS depth chart, who’s coming off a solid season and hasn’t missed a game in six seasons. Amos could be a special teamer, however, he could be taking over in 2016 when Mundy is slated for free agency.
4for4 initial projection: 42 tackles/2 INTs/1 tackle for loss
1. Ibraheim Campbell, SS, Cleveland Browns: A nice dynasty stash, but will need injuries for him to be productive in 2015.
2. Jaquiski Tartt, SS, San Francisco 49’ers: Behind Antoine Bethea on the chart, but well worth a dynasty pickup.
3. Jordan Richards, SS, New England Patriots: Another stash here. Will need injuries or poor play to get on the field.
4. Mykkele Thompson, FS, New York Giants: Another Giant in a good spot. Will battle Nat Berhe for snaps.
1. Trae Waynes, CB, Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings took Waynes 11th overall to play opposite Xavier Rhodes. In the pass happy NFC North, Waynes can make a strong argument for the top CB this year in IDP leagues.
A 27-game starter for Michigan State, he was selected first-team All-Big Ten in 2014. As a junior this past season, he picked off three passes and eight defended passes. Nice size at 6’0” and has nice length and can play one-on-one, get the WR on an island and shut him down (2 TDs allowed over last two seasons). He is about as NFL ready as you can get.
He’ll slot in as a starter outside and will be an upgrade to a pass defense that faces the likes of Matthew Stafford, Aaron Rodgers and Jay Cutler. He should see plenty of targets, making him one of the first CBs off the board in dynasty leagues. I project him as a CB3 with CB2 upside in redraft leagues where CBs are required.
4for4 initial projection: 79 tackles/5 INTs/13 defended passes
2. Eric Rowe, CB, Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles found their upgrade from Bradley Fletcher as Rowe should slot in outside as a starter.
He’s long and can play physical off the line. He’ll also throw himself into the mix in the run and make good tackles. He knows where the top of the pass is and goes up and makes the play, making life difficult for WRs. He’ll play man most of the time.
In the NFC East, he should see plenty of targets playing opposite Byron Maxwell. He’ll be someone I target in CB-specific leagues as a CB3 and should be one of the first CBs off the board in dynasty leagues.
4for4 initial projection: 78 tackles/4 INTs/12 passes defended
3. Marcus Peters, CB, Kansas City Chiefs: KC got themselves an elite corner to play opposite Sean Smith. Peters was taken 18th overall and should slot in immediately as a starter. He has perfect size for the position at 6’0”.
He’s going to try to use his size to intimidate WRs and can move them off their routes. Peters doesn’t lose a step when moving to track the ball and is disruptive once it’s in the air. He’s got a bit of knuckle-headedness, so hopefully, guys like Justin Houston, Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson can get him straight.
As mentioned, Chiefs drafted him 18th overall and should see the field immediately. There’s a possibility he covers opposing teams’ top WRs, which should help his targets. Target him as a CB3, like Rowe, and one of the top CBs off the board in rookie drafts.
4for4 initial projection: 74 tackles/4 INTs/15 defended passes
4. Damarious Randall, CB/S, Green Bay Packers: Although he was a safety in college, he’s probably going to play more corner with Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Morgan Burnett manning the free and strong.
Randall compiled over 100 tackles in his 2014 season on his way to being selected first-team All-Pac 12. He’s an overall great athlete and can make the tackles (177 in two seasons with ASU). He makes big hits and take good routes in his run defense. Has an instinct as to where the ball is going, so that’s going to help him at corner, especially if he plays slot.
Keep an eye on his training camp. He could land a role as outside corner, but is slated for the slot. If there are any injuries, he should move to the defensive backfield to play safety. For redraft leagues, I might target him in deeper leagues as a 4th CB and for CB depth in dynasty leagues.
4for4 initial projection: 48 tackles/3 INTs/9 defended passes
5. Byron Jones, CB, Dallas Cowboys: He could move up the depth chart if the Cowboys release Brandon Carr and Mo Claiborne can’t remain healthy.
He missed five games due to shoulder surgery, but still played well. He was a converted CB from safety, probably because of his instincts on the field. He can recover well with his speed and reminds of Buster Skrine in that regard.
There’s CB3 upside with Jones if he can move up the depth chart and earn a starting role. I still like him as one of the top CBs in dynasty formats. In redraft, he could be a waiver pickup.
4for4 initial projection: 44 tackles/3 INTs/8 defended passes
Let me know your thoughts on these guys or if you have questions on any other defender, follow me on Twitter @Mike_Woellert. I'm always up for talking IDP.