Top IDP Fantasy Rookies: Defensive Backs

Kyle Holmes, @kpholmes

MORE IDP FANTASY ROOKIES: Linebackers  |  Defensive Linemen  |  Defensive Backs

Deone Buchanon – SS

6’1”  211  Washington St.
Pick 27, Round 1 (27) Cardinals
Twitter: @deonebucannon20
Many thought Deone Buchanon would fall into the second or early third round, but his play-style is exactly what the Cardinals are looking for to compliment Tyrann Mathieu in the backfield. As a four-year starter Buchanon demonstrated a great nose for the ball and punished ball carriers when they got in his way. In Arizona, he’ll fill the void left by Yeremiah Bell and look to continue the Cardinals’ SS IDP productivity.

Fantasy Impact/Value
Redraft: It just comes down to how quickly Buchanon can get on the field. Tony Jefferson has the advantage as he’s spent time in the Cardinals’ system, but the Cards wouldn’t use a first round pick on Buchanon if they didn’t plan on using him. Low DB3 with upside for this season.
Dynasty: The Cardinals are really trying to build a young secondary in Peterson, Mathieu and Buchanon; if Buchanon can play well and stay healthy, he should be productive for a long time in Arizona. The Cardinals SS position has always been a lucrative spot for IDP production – solid DB2 down the road with DB1 upside.

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Ha Ha Clinton-Dix – FS

6’1”  208  Alabama
Pick 21, Round 1 (21) Packers
Twitter: @haha_cd6
Clinton-Dix comes to the Packers as the top ranked safety in this year’s draft class. A huge contributor to Alabama’s stout defense, he’ll start alongside Morgan Burnett and play the center field for the Pack’s pass coverage. While many analysts think the hype is greater than his actual talent, Ted Thompson has certainly earned the benefit of the doubt when it comes to his draft picks. He will have a lot of tackle opportunities, especially playing against Stafford and Cutler twice a year.

Fantasy Impact/Value
Redraft: A day-one starter, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is probably the safest redraft DB to take this year. Consider him a very solid DB3, with potential upside if his nose for the ball translates quickly to the NFL.
Dynasty: Job security isn’t an issue, as Clinton-Dix will be given every opportunity to be successful in Green Bay. The long-term issue will be tackle opportunities at the FS position. With Burnett playing the box Clinton-Dix will need to make plays downfield to be a relevant IDP DB. Consider him a low-end DB3 that could become a high DB2 if he makes the right plays.

Calvin Pryor – FS

5’11”  207  Louisville
Pick 18, Round 1 (18) Jets
Twitter: @CP3_850
A textbook Rex Ryan player, Calvin Pryor flies around the field punishing ball carriers with big hits. The most fitting observation made was Mike Mayock’s comparison of Pryor to Bob Sanders in his prime – fast, loose and heavy hitting. “The Bone Crusher” as he is called, will step into the Jets’ lineup quickly and make an immediate impact for both the Jets and IDP owners. Ryan loves Pryor’s “enforcer” play-style, and will let him run loose and make plays all over the field.

Fantasy Impact/Value
Redraft: Clearly a Rex Ryan (and not GM John Idzik) pick, Pryor will be given every opportunity to be successful at free safety for the Jets. Antonio Allen struggled to put up big IDP numbers last season, but Pryor plays much more aggressively. Consider him a DB3 with DB2 upside.
Dynasty: Rex Ryan has had some very productive IDP safeties throughout the years. As long as Pryor’s swagger and reckless-abandon don’t become a liability for the Jets’ secondary, he should have a very promising career as an IDP DB2.

Jimmie Ward – SS/CB

5’11”  193  Northern Illinois
Pick 30, Round 1 (30) 49ers
Twitter: n/a
An incredibly versatile player, Jimmie Ward fills a lot of needs for the 49ers – he can play both safety positions, the nickel and contribute on special teams. Ward will come into training camp behind newly acquired safety Antoine Bethae, and will be used immediately all over the backfield. Football intelligence, speed and deep coverage skills make him very appealing to Harbaugh and Baalke. Size and durability are a concern for him in the long run.
Fantasy Impact/Value
Redraft: Unless he’s able to unseat Bethae early, doesn’t have much IDP value this season. Harbaugh and Baalke have both said he will compete immediately for the starting nickel position so he can be used in a Big Nickel package. Consider him a DB4 with some upside.
Dynasty: It might take a year or two, but eventually Jimmie Ward will be the 49ers starting free safety, and a very productive IDP defensive back. DB2 value with DB1 upside. Until that day comes however, park him on your taxi squad and wait patiently.

Justin Gilbert – CB

6’0”  202  Oklahoma St.
Pick 8, Round 1 (8) Browns
Twitter: @JGil_4
Hands down the best cover corner in the draft, Justin Gilbert heads to the Cleveland Browns in a very favorable situation. He will join the newly re-signed shut down man-to-man corner Joe Haden in Mike Pettine’s defense that gets the most out of players’ natural abilities. Gilbert will be an instant starter and will be tasked with taking receivers like Steve Smith, Lance Moore, and Marvin Jones out of the game. From an IDP standpoint his productivity will be determined entirely by the amount of tackles he can accumulate (i.e. how often he is picked on) – if Haden is playing at his best and teams want to avoid throwing towards him, Gilbert’s fantasy owners will benefit.

Fantasy Impact/Value
Redraft: Coming in to the season, Gilbert will be a low DB4/high DB5. If teams decide to target him, he will use his great combination of size and speed to accumulate a handful of tackles and finish the season as a solid DB3.
Dynasty: DB3 with DB2 upside – if he and Haden can stay healthy together, the two of them will put together one of the best corner tandems in the league.

Kyle Fuller – CB

6’0”  190  Virginia Tech
Pick 14, Round 1 (14) Bears
Twitter: @kbfuller17
The Bears spent their 1st round pick on Virginia Tech standout Kyle Fuller, who immediately improves Chicago’s secondary. With surprising quickness for his stout build, Fuller will see playing time from day one and will supplant Tim Jennings for the #2 corner spot by the end of the season. Playing across the field from Peanut Tillman in the pass-happy NFC North will give Fuller lots of opportunities to make plays, and his willingness to play run support will only add to his fantasy production. In 2011 and 2012 when Tillman was healthy all 16 games, Jennings piled up over 69 and 55 tackles respectively – Fuller should have a similar opportunity.

Fantasy Impact/Value
Redraft: The Bears won’t give Fuller much time to “get his feet wet” – many scouts felt he was one of the most pro-ready defenders in the draft this year, and he should see playing time immediately. As a nickel corner and special teams contributor he isn’t much more than a DB5; keep an eye on him in training camp and early in the season however, as soon as he surpasses Jennings for the starting job he will start putting up solid DB3 numbers, with DB2 upside.
Dynasty: A great pick-up in a dynasty league, Fuller will put up some great numbers for a long time with the Bears. Having Tillman there helps his value, but then again Tillman was the #1 scoring defensive back in 2012 as the Bears CB1. DB3 with DB2 upside.

Lamarcus Joyner – FS/CB

5’8”  184  Florida St.
Pick 9, Round 2 (41) Rams
Twitter: n/a
While Lamarcus Joyner “officially” joins Jeff Fisher’s defense as a cornerback, he will certainly see playing time at free safety opposite of TJ McDonald. Joyner lacks the ideal size to play a long career at safety, but the Rams need help at both corner and safety positions, and Joyner’s ability to read an offense and rally his teammates will earn him plenty of playing time. Look for Joyner to be shuffled around often throughout his first season at corner, nickel and free safety.

Fantasy Impact/Value
Redraft: Will see plenty of playing time in his first year and should get lots of opportunities to make tackles. Consider him a solid DB4 with upside.
Dynasty: Durability and where he is used are the big factors here – at 5’8” and 184 lbs he doesn’t have the best build to withstand a full season. As a hybrid defensive back, his IDP production will depend on where Fisher finds a home for him; DB4 with solid DB3 production if he’s healthy at the FS.

Terrence Brooks – FS

5’11”  198  Florida St.
Pick 15, Round 3 (79) Ravens
Twitter: @_Showtime31
Brooks is one of the most intriguing defensive backs in this rookie draft class, as it wasn’t until the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine that scouts really started to take notice. With a 4.42 40-yard dash and 38” vertical leap, Brooks is arguably the most athletic safety in the draft class, and the Ravens passed on Clinton-Dix and Pryor in the 1st knowing they could get Brooks in the 3rd. He will fill an immediate need for the Ravens at free safety, and has the potential to be a great player once he further develops his tackling skills.

Fantasy Impact/Value
Redraft: As a 3rd round pick he will compete for the starting job with Darian Stewart heading into training camp. Expect Brooks to struggle early as he adjusts to the NFL, and get comfortable as he settles in. DB4 this year.
Dynasty: If Brooks can adjust well enough to lock down the starting free safety spot, he could have a fantastic IDP career ahead of him. Playing the Ravens free safety role last year, James Ihedigbo was the 15th overall scoring defensive back. Brooks dynasty value should be boom or bust – he’ll either take the field as a stud who puts up DB2 numbers, or he won’t be able to adjust and will make too many mistakes to see much play time at all.

Dezmen Southward – FS

6’0”  211  Wisconsin
Pick 4, Round 3 (68) Falcons
Twitter: @D_Southward12
With the departure of Thomas DeCoud, the Falcons came into the draft with a very big hole at safety. Southward comes to Atlanta with only one year of high school football experience and is very much a developing prospect. In the third round the Falcons might have waited a bit too late to address their need in the secondary, but regardless – Southward was their guy. He will come into training camp competing against Kemal Ishmael and Dwight Lowery for the starting free safety job, and could make an immediate impact on special teams.

Fantasy Impact/Value
Redraft: Not much value heading into the season. Southward wasn’t drafted to be the answer for the free safety position, but rather as just an option to win the starting job. Nothing more than a DB5 at this point.
Dynasty: In the long run if Southward is able to take the starting job and play well, he could be a solid DB3 in Atlanta’s system. His size and quickness could get him more playing time in the nickel and on special teams, which would only help.

Jason Verrett – CB

5’9”  189  TCU
Pick 25, Round 1 (25) Chargers
Twitter: @Jfeeva_2
At 5’9” many scouts doubt Verrett’s ability to make big plays at the corner position. Consequentially and fortunately for San Diego, he comes to the Chargers with a chip on his shoulder, and will continue to play scrappy and motivated football in an attempt to silence his critics. This season he’ll be competing for the Chargers’ nickel corner job and if a few cards fall the right way, the #2 corner spot. He’s tough, fast, and will make his presence felt from the get-go.

Fantasy Impact/Value
Redraft: Probably not much this season, as he won’t see a whole lot of tackle opportunities from the nickel position. Consider him a DB5 with some DB4 upside.
Dynasty: If he can get a lock on a starting cornerback position, he can play in the realm of a DB3. He has a nose for the ball and wants to prove a point – think Cortland Finnegan in Tennessee.

MORE IDP FANTASY ROOKIES: Linebackers  |  Defensive Linemen  |  Defensive Backs

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