Jamal Adams, Jabrill Peppers & 5 Other Rookie DBs to Target in IDP Leagues in 2017
Of all the positions, defensive back is the one you can wait the longest on. Even if you don’t land one of the top guys, you can count on a few defensive backs to emerge throughout the season. As the NFL becomes more pass-happy, corners and safeties are recording more tackles and defended passes.
I'm going to let you in on which backs to target for IDP success in both re-draft and dynasty leagues.
Jamal Adams, SS, Jets (Re-Draft Target)
If you take a look at my preseason rankings, you'll see I'm unapologetically high on Adams. The Jets love Adams so much, they jettisoned both of their other safeties after the draft. Adams looks like he's going to be asked to do a lot in the defense and I'm projecting him to be a presence immediately and have a Landon Collins-like rookie season.
Adams averaged 69 total tackles (including nearly six tackles for loss) during his three seasons at LSU. More importantly, he established himself as a leader, which is what the Jets need right now. He has a great build and doesn't think twice about attempting to make a big play. He'll takes on contact and doesn't allow any space for the ball carrier to get around him. I really like his instincts and ability to quickly read and diagnose.
It was almost laughable how quickly the Jets moved on from Calvin Pryor and Marcus Gilchrist after drafting Adams, so it appears that they are going to give him all of the snaps he can handle. He's already receiving rave reviews from his teammates. I've got him ranked fifth among defensive backs, and I don't have a problem pulling the trigger on him as a DB1. In dynasty leagues, if you need the help at the DB slot, he could be your first IDP off the board. I love his ceiling (again, think Collins).
Jabrill Peppers, SS, Browns (Re-Draft Target)
Peppers is another player I have ranked highly. He will be heavily used in Gregg Williams's defense, and it's possible he lines up just about everywhere. He can play some linebacker, line up near the line of scrimmage, and even return punts.
Peppers produced 71 total tackles (48 solo) during the 2016 college football season. He also had an impact near the line of scrimmage, notching 15 tackles for loss. His versatility is going make him an asset right out of the gate. He'll make tackles thanks to his ability to change direction and stop on a dime in pursuit. He also has good closing speed. His versatility will allow him to play slot corner, safety and linebacker. He's going to be involved in all packages and will rarely leave the field.
Peppers became the Browns best safety immediately. I don't envision recent acquisition Pryor eating into Peppers's snaps. Peppers has yet to sign his contract, but should be in uniform by the time camp starts. I've got him ranked right behind Adams among DBs, and I'd target Peppers as a DB1.
Related: 2017 IDP Rankings
Budda Baker, SS, Cardinals (Re-Draft Target)
I'd like Baker more if Antoine Bethea wasn't in town, but the Cardinals love their safeties and tend to play multiple ones on a given defensive series. The loss of Tony Jefferson, as well as the injury to Deone Bucannon, creates an opening for some snaps for Baker, so I think he will have fantasy value this season.
Baker averaged 67 total tackles (46 solo) in three seasons for Washington. He was also an asset in coverage, producing three interceptions and 19 defended passes. His playmaking abilities are going to fit right into Arizona's system. As a former sprinter, he's explosive getting off the snap and in pursuit of the ball. He has no stutter or hilt when backpedaling and can quickly make up space. He also has a knack for recognizing where the quarterback is going to go, all the while keeping the quarterback guessing about where he's going to be. Most importantly, he's a fundamental tackler and finishes the play, so misses aren't going to be much of an issue.
Baker has enough upside to be taken among the top 40 defensive backs and will make for bench depth in deeper leagues. Arizona loves using their safeties all over the field, so I'm comfortable targeting him as my DB4.
Marshon Lattimore, CB, Saints (Re-Draft Target)
This one is for those of you that are in CB-required leagues. As the Saints' 11th-overall pick, it is practically a given that Lattirmore start right out of the gate, which is what projected depth charts are showing at this point.
Lattimore proved he was NFL-ready in 2016. He recorded 41 tackles and nine defended passes while producing four interceptions. He is an impressive athlete that isn't afraid to play press coverage to the point where he can tell what the receiver had for breakfast. He'll use his arms and hands to get the receiver out of his route. He also remains fluid and can make plays from anywhere on the field, as well as finish tackles; he sees his target and tackles his target.
Delvin Breaux has emerged a as a decent NFL corner, so opposing quarterbacks are likely going to target the rookie Lattimore often, which is going to give him value in CB-required leagues. Because he should be on the field for all snaps, he should be the first corner off the board.
Kevin King, CB, Packers (Re-Draft Target)
King is going to be another target in CB-required leagues. He was taken 33rd overall and is already projected to be a starter.
Between King's sophomore and senior seasons, he averaged 49 total tackles, 2 interceptions, and 7 defended passes. At 6-foot-3, his height gives him an immediate advantage. His apex is going to shut down opposing receivers' windows. He also showed good ability to track the ball, which is going to help him against pass-happy offenses.
King is going to be counted on to make plays right away, especially in sub packages. His role is going to give him immediate IDP value in CB-required leagues.
Justin Evans, SS, Buccaneers (Mid-Season Target)
This one could go either way, but I think Evans is going to be an in-season target. The Bucs allowed Bradley McDougald to walk, and I am not enamored at all by Chris Conte or J.J. Wilcox as strong safeties (and that's putting it mildly).
Evans was highly productive in 2016, notching 87 tackles, 8 defended passes and 4 interceptions. He was a solid playmaker for the Aggies defense, then turned in an impressive Combine. His footwork is going to help him along in the NFL game.
Evans is someone to keep an eye on during training camp. If he wins the starting job, he becomes a re-draft target in deeper IDP drafts.
Josh Jones, SS, Packers (Dynasty Target)
Jones is behind Morgan Burnett on the depth chart, but the Packers did lose versatile Micah Hyde in the offseason. It looks as if King has a more secure role in the Packers' defensive backfield, but Jones could still receive snaps.
Ultimately, Jones could be a season or two away from producing IDP value, but deserves dynasty consideration.
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