As there typically is no standard-setting in Individual Defensive Player (IDP) leagues, knowing your roster requirements and scoring settings is essential to a sound draft strategy. You will need to consider the value of tackles compared to other defensive scoring categories such as sacks, interceptions and passes-defensed. If your league requires you to draft defensive backs, we have your top 5 targets here:
Landon Collins, S New York Giants:
After an amazing 2016 where he posted 100 solo and 25 assisted tackles to go along with four sacks, five interceptions, one fumble return and a touchdown, Collins is on a mission to prove he isn’t a one-year wonder. After his first 2017 preseason game, Landon stated his goal was to jump out of the gates fast this year, unlike the slow start he had to begin the ’16 regular season. Despite that underwhelming beginning, Collins quickly became a game changer, making plays all over the field in the passing game while showing an ability to come up and stop the run. Collins was named to the 2016 First-Team All-Pro Team and a Pro Bowler. Landon was one of the most consistent IDP scoring defensive backs last year, as he posted 13 games with at least five solo stops. Look for the third-year Strong Safety out of the University of Alabama to once again be the highest scoring DB’s in fantasy football, and one of the most consistent IDP plays of the year. 2017 prediction: 97 solo tackles, 33 assisted tackles, 3 sacks, 6 interceptions and two TD’s.
Keanu Neal, S Atlanta Falcons:
A rookie out of the University of Florida, Neal was instrumental in leading the Falcons to the 2016 NFC Title and a Super Bowl appearance. In 14 starts, Keanu posted 72 solo stops, 34 assisted tackles and 9 passes defensed. In just his first year in the league, Neal showed an incredibly high football IQ, as Pro Football Focus charted him as playing five different defensive positions. Keanu’s intelligence and athleticism even drew rave reviews from Seattle Seahawks’ strong safety Kam Chancellor. That kind of versatility allows him to stay on the field for all three downs, and with his propensity to play near the line of scrimmage, Neal is a lock to rack up the solo tackles this year. Making the jump into year two, expect him to improve his ability to make a play on the pass, further increasing his fantasy value. 2017 prediction: 81 solo tackles, 32 assisted tackles, 1 sack, 2 interceptions.
Johnathan Cyprien, S Tennessee Titans:
With their big free-agent signing of Cyprien during the offseason, the Titans are getting one of the premier run-stopping safeties in the NFL. Playing for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2016, Cyprien posted 96 solo and 31 tackle-assists to go along with one forced fumble and four passes defensed. While not much of a factor in the passing game, Johnathan is a major force vs. the run, earning the top-grade from PFF against the rush last year. His ability to stack the box will result in major fantasy points this season, as Tennessee plays such run-heavy teams like the Seahawks, Texans (twice), Dolphins, Browns, and Rams. 2017 prediction: 92 solo tackles, 23 assisted tackles, 2 sacks, 1 interception.
Marcus Peters, CB Kansas City Chiefs:
If you have to draft a cornerback in your league, Peters should be your first option. Over the course of his first two NFL seasons Marcus has 14 interceptions, 46 passes defensed and 105 total tackles. Matched up against the AFC West’s top six wide receivers in 2016, Peters held opposing QB’s to a abysmal 14.6 passer rating, allowing only six receptions for 50 yards with no TD’s and two interceptions. If your league gives points for passes defensed, the third-year Pro wont let you down, as Peters posted 11 games with at least one pass break-up. 2017 prediction: 50 combined tackles, 4 interceptions, 21 passes defensed.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB New York Giants:
A rare cornerback who steps up and plays the run, Rodgers-Cromartie contributed 41 solo tackles for the New York Giants in 2016. A bigger CB at 6’2″ and 203 pounds, Dominique’s size also helps him make plays against the pass. He broke up 21 passes and had an impressive six interceptions last year as he earned Second-Team All-Pro honors as a slot cornerback. Though Eli Apple has cut into the amount of snaps the veteran Rodgers-Cromartie gets, DRC makes the most of each play. Pro Football Focus ranks Dominique as the NFL’s third-most proficient player maker out of the secondary. 2017 prediction: 39 solo stops, 16 passes defensed, 4 interceptions and 1 sack.
NEXT LEVEL OPTIONS:
Ha Ha Clinton Dix, S Green Bay Packers
Brent Grimes, CB Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tony Jefferson, S Baltimore Ravens
Harrison Smith, S Minnesota Vikings
Morgan Burnett, S Green Bay Packers