2014 Fantasy Football: Early Defensive Back Rankings
Top 15 Fantasy Defensive Backs
In fantasy football IDP formats, most fantasy owners tend to lock on to safeties as their defensive backs. The position racks up more tackles per game and is around the ball much more than cornerbacks.
Lately, though, the cornerback position has really seen a drastic uptick in fantasy value. Corners like Richard Sherman, Charles Tillman, Darrelle Revis, and DeAngelo Hall have reinvented the value of the position over the past couple years. Now there are a handful of corners around fantasy that can put up starter quality numbers. Safeties may still be more popular on draft day, but there are corners out there that can still contribute.
So for those of you that never put fantasy football on the back burner, here are some early defensive back rankings for the 2014 fantasy season.
Honorable Mention: S Harrison Smith ( Minnesota Vikings), S Bernard Pollard (Free Agent), S T.J. Ward (Free Agent), CB Brandon Boykin ( Philadelphia Eagles), Tashaun Gipson ( Cleveland Browns), CB DeAngelo Hall ( Washington Redskins)
15. S Jonathan Cyprien, Jacksonville Jaguars
S Jonathan Cyprien, Jacksonville Jaguars – Cyprien ended up being a hidden gem over the final weeks of the 2013 season. The safety averaged 8.3 hits over his final six contests and quietly put up DB2 numbers. He is a very sound tackler, which is important considering he is featured on a Jacksonville defense that is always on the field. JC is still somewhat unknown, but he will be a decent second option to take a shot on.
14. S Jairus Byrd, Free Agent
S Jairus Byrd, Free Agent – Byrd will be one of the primer free agent safeties during this off-season. The Byrdman has picked off 22 career passes in 73 career games to go along with 11 forced fumbles and three sacks. He will warrant some serious money this spring, and considering Buffalo’s history with re-signing players, they are unlikely to retain the ballhawk’s services.
13. S Reshad Jones, Miami Dolphins
S Reshad Jones, Miami Dolphins - Jones has recorded 201 tackles over the past two seasons, including a career-high 107 last year. Jones has taken over control of Miami’s secondary and the 215-pound safety hits like a linebacker. Jones won’t pick off many passes, as he has just seven picks in four professional seasons, but his consistent tackle numbers make him a valuable DB2.
12. S Mark Barron, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
S Mark Barron, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Despite receiving relatively no attention, Barron has posted back-to-back 88-tackle seasons. The strong safety has proven to be a hard-hitting defensive back with a nose for the ball. Barron will be one of the best options to grab in any type of dynasty league as the former Alabama standout seems to be on the verge of his first 100-tackle season.
11. CB Charles Tillman, Free Agent
CB Charles Tillman, Free Agent – For the first time in his career, Tillman could be playing in somewhere other than Chi-town, as the shutdown corner will hit the market this off-season. No matter where he ends up, Peanut Tillman will be a reliable source of tackles, picks, and force fumbles. He may fall outside of the DB1 territory following his season-ending tricep injury, but the veteran will still be a decent low-end starter.
10. S Ryan Clark, Free Agent
S Ryan Clark, Free Agent – Clark may be petitioning his services everyday on ESPN, but it is looking more and more likely that the free agent safety will not be returning to Pittsburgh. He has finished with 100 tackles or more in three straight seasons in the Steel City and he has become an underrated fantasy option in recent seasons. Although Clark’s future is still unclear, the safety will be a low-end starter based on tackle numbers alone.
9. S Major Wright, Chicago Bears
S Major Wright, Chicago Bears – Wright posted his first 100-tackle season in 2013 and he finally had a breakout fantasy campaign. Veteran corner, Charles Tillman, is a free agent and will likely be leaving Chicago, which will allow Wright even more freedom to roam the secondary. Expect Wright to once again emerge as a top-10 option in 2014.
8. S Barry Church, Dallas Cowboys
S Barry Church, Dallas Cowboys – Church won the starting job in camp and the strong safety quickly became a fantasy superstar. He recorded 135 tackles last year, including 107 solo hits. He also racked up eight hits or more in 11 of the team’s 16 contests. Church may see a drop in tackles since he will moving over to the free safety spot, but he will be able to do enough to still be a top-10 option.
7. S Eric Berry, Kansas City Chiefs
S Eric Berry, Kansas City Chiefs - Berry may have seen a drop in tackles last season, but he was much better at filling the box score. He added a career-high 3.5 sacks to go along with three picks and two defensive touchdowns. Berry has finally developed into a weekly fantasy contributor and the former first round pick will a safe option inside of the top-10 defensive backs.
6. CB Richard Sherman, Seattle Seahawks
Richard Sherman, Seattle Seahawks – Sherman may be the self-proclaimed best cornerback in football, but he falls just outside of the top-tier IDP options. Sherman led the NFL with eight interceptions last season and he has now picked off 16 passes in the last two years alone. He is constantly making plays on the ball, despite a lack of balls headed his way. However, this may be the year that teams finally stop throwing in his direction. Sherman will still put up top-10 numbers but look for his interceptions/tackles to decrease slightly following his highly publicized Super Bowl run.
5. S Antrel Rolle, New York Giants
S Antrel Rolle, New York Giants – Since joining the G-Men, Rolle has been one of the most underrated fantasy defensive backs. He has recorded 96 hits or more in three straight seasons and the safety picked off a career-high six passes in 2013. Rolle benefits from the lack of reliable tacklers in front of him and it will always keep the safety playing close to the line of scrimmage. Expect Rolle to once again post another 90-plus hits in 2014 with a couple picks.
4. S Antoine Bethea, Indianapolis Colts
S Antonie Bethea, Indianapolis Colts - Bethea hasn’t missed a game in six consecutive seasons and the safety has become a rock in Indy. He has racked up 651 tackles over the last six seasons and is constantly around the ball. Bethea will be an ideal DB1 to grab after the first couple stars come off the board.
3. S Morgan Burnett, Green Bay Packers
S Morgan Burnett, Green Bay Packers - Despite playing in just 13 games last year due to a hamstring injury, Burnett still finished with 96 tackles. He posted four double-digit tackle performances and the safety quickly anchored Green Bay’s backline. He will enter the 2014 season completely healthy and a 125-tackle season is not out of the question.
2. S Earl Thomas, Seattle Seahawks
S Earl Thomas, Seattle Seahawks - ET3 was once again out of this world this past fantasy season. Thomas recorded a career-high 105 tackles and finished fifth at the position in hits. He picked off five passes as well, which was the total from his previous two season combined. He has developed into a top-five fantasy defensive back, despite being featured in the heavily-feared Legion of Boom.
1. S Eric Weddle, San Diego Chargers
Eric Weddle, San Diego Chargers - Weddle has been the safest defensive back in IDP formats recently. He hasn’t missed a contest in four years and has recorded at least 88 hits each season. The safety has picked off at least two passes in each of the five seasons as well. He is all but guaranteed to finish with over 95 hits in next year to go along with a handful of sacks and picks. View Weddle as one of the few elite IDP options in 2014 drafts.
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