In my last Looking Ahead article for the IDP positions I will focus on defensive backs. I will focus primarily on safeties with a few cornerbacks thrown in as well, typically safeties are more reliable producing as far as defensive backs. Cornerbacks can be streamed if needed, and typically the safer cornerback is the team’s number 2 CB- the top cornerback will usually get avoided and the number 2 will get thrown at more resulting in more tackle opportunities. When watching the IDP side of the ball during games, I find myself often studying the defensive backfield, particularly the safeties. Few things are more exciting than watching a safety fly across the field and lay a punishing tackle or pick a ball out of the air after covering half the field- a great safety is fun to watch and a great IDP asset as well.
I will cover a few players that have some experience under their belt and a few rookies that really made an impact and will step into a more prominent role going forward. Most of the players below will be owned in deeper leagues but all should be attainable.
Marcus Williams, Safety, New Orleans Saints
Few saw the rookie year this young safety from Utah would put together and the sky is the limit going forward for Marcus. The scouting report out of college was that Marcus he was a ballhawk and could have issues tackling because of his slighter frame (6’1” and 200 lbs.). Marcus displayed some of the instincts particularly in Week 17, intercepting two passes- but also posted 73 tackles while playing 90% of the defensive snaps. Marcus teamed with Vonn Bell and Marshon Lattimore to quietly turn the Saints secondary around from a porous unit of the past into a team strength. Marcus will only get better and his interception total of 4 will increase as well as tackles and he will quietly- for now- be in the DB1 discussion as a leader of the rejuvenated New Orleans Saints secondary.
John Johnson, Safety, Los Angeles Rams
Coming out of Boston College, John was profiled as a good tackler with solid pass coverage skills and it seemed like a mixed bag of compliments but John quickly proved them all to be right- as least those who believed. In Week 5, John took over the SS spot for the Rams and didn’t look back posting 67 tackles over the last 12 games along with a few pass deflections and a pick. John flourished under the resurgent defensive unit coached by Wade Phillips and posted consistent tackle numbers that will increase in 2018 and beyond. John is an exciting young DB and could be available on the wire or had fairly cheap and will help your IDP secondary for many years.
Xavier Woods, Safety, Dallas Cowboys
Xavier fell in the draft to the Cowboys, and I can’t imagine anyone was happier coming out of the draft- Xavier will be a contributor to the Dallas secondary for years to come. Xavier fits the mode of the thumping free safety, also excellent reading the quarterback and a propensity to make the big hit on wide receivers venturing into his ‘playground’ in the middle of the field. Xavier will hold more value on ‘big play’ IDP scoring but will also post solid tackle numbers to maintain a solid floor. Playing in roughly half of the Cowboy’s defensive plays this season, Xavier notched 42 tackles and seemed to be around the ball whenever it entered the secondary. The pass deflections, interceptions, and forced fumbles will increase in 2018 and going forward.
Jalen Mills, Cornerback, Philadelphia Eagles
Jalen was projected to be a Day 2 draft pick after a productive career at LSU but fell all the way into the seventh round. Thrust into a prominent role in the Eagles secondary, Jalen has been among the leaders in tackles for cornerbacks in each of his first two seasons while posting 14 pass deflections and 3 interceptions in 2017. With Ronald Darby covering the WR1s for Philly, Jalen will get a lot of chances to display his sound tackling skills and deflections as well as interceptions will increase as Jalen enters his third season as the Eagles CB2.
Justin Simmons, Safety, Denver Broncos
Justin had a path cleared for him in the defensive backfield in 2017- he responded with a few great games and a few uneven, but the path for him to be the starting SS in Mile High is all his. Justin fell to the Broncos in the third round of the 2016 draft and he profiled to be a great tackler with good coverage skills and instincts to get to the ball. Thus far, Justin has been above average against the run and pass coverage has been a liability that going into season three- will need to be improved upon. He posted 69 tackles, 2 forced fumbles, and an interception in his increased role and the role will grow in 2018- giving Justin the opportunity to be a very solid DB2 for your IDP squad in the future.
Justin Evans, Safety, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Another safety named Justin, another name to watch in 2018- Justin Evans impressed in a rotational role for the Buccaneers and will grab a more prominent role in the upcoming seasons. Justin was an impressive prospect from Texas A&M- displaying above average coverage skills and ability to destroy blockers and make tackles. Tampa Bay has a plethora of options at the safety position but Justin is one of the most talented and will get the chance to separate and garner more snaps going into 2018 on a defense in need of playmakers. Despite the rotation, Justin posted 66 tackles and 3 interceptions, a number that will assuredly grow and secure a DB2 role on your IDP roster.
Desmond King, Cornerback, Los Angeles Chargers
Desmond could fall prey to a position change in the future as he filled a hybrid position in the Chargers defense- regardless, his production and nose for the ball will fill a position on your IDP team. Desmond was a great tackler at the college level and displayed great ball skills, as typical of Iowa defensive backs in recent years. Desmond rarely misses a tackle and it showed in his rookie season, posting 76 tackles along with 4 sacks, an interception, and 2 defensive TDs. Desmond will not have to cover the big WR1s or 2s, the Chargers secondary is strength when at full health, Desmond will get plenty of opportunity to cover slot, TE, or RBs as well as blitz opportunities and will be a great option for DB2/3 on your team.