“The Wizard of Goz” 2018 NFL Draft Cornerback & Safety – Rookie Review and special bonus the Class of ’17
QUICK INTRO & TIPS for finding Defensive Backs
This will be my 35th year playing Fantasy Football (T.C.F.L) and I’ve seen many changes. The good ones include the following: A. Fantasy Football, with an estimated 33 million patrons last year, has mainstream popularity. Hell, even the NFL has tried to cash in on the phenomenon, B: stats and information are instant access. Long gone are the days of using a newspaper to provide stats and homemade stats, C: there are various ways to play the game. Call it a la carte if you want, season-long head-to-head is still the king, but for the more impetuous you can play in Draft Kings or another one of those type of one-and-done leagues and, most importantly, D. growth in the industry towards rosters that feature Individual Defensive Players .
And that is why I’m here and you’re reading this. My main 16 team league, that I mentioned earlier, has used IDP’s for at least 25 years, starting with three (DL,LB,DB) and eventually growing to seven (2 each at DL, LB &DB and a wild card). On any given Sunday your lineup will feature eight offensive and seven defensive players. This league is a total points league and if your “defense” rots you may as well forget about cashing in.
Categories will vary league-by-league but as far as my DEFENSIVE BACKS RANKINGS for 2018, I will use the following commonly scored stats.
- tackles and assists
- fumbles forced
- passes defensed
Defensive backs are in a real tough spot. Between a rock and a hard place is easy living compared to the pressure of being a DB, particularly a cornerback, under today’s rules. The best tips I can give you in regards to picking DBs in general are counter-intuitive.
- Do not pick a player based on NAME RECOGNITION. In particular, the best corners will also, more than likely, see the least amount of balls thrown their way
- Do not favor players on the best NFL teams. The best teams tend to dominate time of possession. Conversely, the bad teams regardless of their defensive stature will have more opportunity
- Do not chase stats. Last year, Landon Collins was indisputably “the man” at DB based on his all-over-the-field 2016 season. Not to say he was mediocre last year, but almost guaranteed he was drafted too soon. It happens time and time again. A few years ago, Robert Quinn was hailed as the next Deacon Jones. The following year he didn’t get a sack until week 5 — not because he sucked but because opponents made it a point to shut him down (and probably because of it one of the league’s top linemen, Aaron Donald, emerged!)
- Do not overvalue interceptions. They can be very random, I’ve seen a guy lead the league and then get one or none the following year! In most cases the adage holds true that if the guy had great hands he’d be a WR!!
Defensive backs DEPENDING ON FORMAT could score the least or the most of your defensive players (STUDY THE SCORING RULES). Last piece of important advice even if you’re not a numbers nerd take the time to look over last year’s league stats and decipher what % of points DB’s scored last year. THIS IMPORTANT TIDBIT WILL GIVE YOU A CLUE as to when to pick these players. Typical leagues would have <25% of total points scored from your defense. Obviously defensive backs would comprise a portion of that total. Long story short, the smart play is to chill on defensive back. Pick your starting offense (and a few bench players) before you even consider a DB. The key is to be prepared, over the next few months I’ll give you plenty of options. If you pick a player and he is riding the pine pony or hurt- real simple NEXT MAN UP.
Class of ’17 REVIEW
There was an inordinate amount of No. 1 draft picks (8) in 2017- see below the quick rundown of who was (a few) and who wasn’t ALL THAT . In addition, I’ll profile a 2nd rounder that made his mark both positively and as an all-time bonehead. Cornerbacks will be listed first, by nature of the position they will tackle less. but fly to the thrown ball (picks/passes defensed) more.
Marshon Lattimore, PICK 11 (N.O via OHIO STATE)- simply put, the Saints struck gold. One guy cannot move a mountain in the the NFL, but the stellar play of Lattimore undoubtedly helped take the Saints off the WORST DEFENSE IN THE LEAGUE LIST. As far as accolades, he was selected as DEFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR and to the Pro Bowl.
But stats are why we are here. The most impressive being the fact that he led the league in lowest passers QB rating against, 45.3 and allowed ZERO TOUCHDOWNS. Hindsight being what it is, I’d bet quite a few of the ten teams that picked ahead of New Orleans would like to have a mulligan!
As far as fantasy worth, also ALL PRO. In spite of the fact that he missed three games: five picks (one returned for a score), 18 passes defensed and , for a corner, a respectable 43 solo tackles. All-in-all a prolific grade-A year that certainly solidifies his IDP status this coming season.
OTHER Cornerbacks drafted in Round 1 of the 2017 NFL DRAFT
|16 by Ravens||Marlon Humphrey||ALA.||16/5||2||11||30||none||D|
|18 by Titans||Adoree’ Jackson||USC||16/16||0||17||61||3 forced fumbles/impressed as a return man||B|
|24 by Raiders||Garreon Conley||LSU||2||0||0||5||Injured- big time||INC.|
|27 by Bills||Tre’Davious White||LSU||16/16||4||18||53||impressed as a return man also||B+|
SAFETIES drafted in Round 1 of the 2017 NFL DRAFT & a bonehead that cost his team a playoff game
|6 by Jets||Jamal Adams||L.S.U||16/16||0||6||63||Showed veteran presence- up and comer in ‘18||B-|
|15 by Colts||Malik Hooker||Ohio State||7/6||3||4||15||ACL injury ruined season||INC.|
|26 by Browns||Jabrill Peppers||Michigan||13/13||1||3||44||Good return man who will be draftable in ‘18||C+|
|42 by Saints||Marcus Williams||Utah||15/15||4||7||53||Another excellent Saints pick-But what was he thinking in the VIKINGS game?||B|
2018 1st Rounders RECAP
|6 by Browns||Denzel Ward||Ohio State||Makes up for being undersized with speed and cover ability||Browns D wasn’t the problem- reserve pick until he shines|
|18 by Packers||Jaire Alexander||Louisville||Confident , dynamic return man and bound to play||could be Deion Lite=WORTHY OF A SLEEPER PICK|
|30 by Vikings||Mike Hughes||UCF||Character issues abound- but plenty of ability||Don’t bother|
|11 by Dolphins||Minkah Fitzpatrick||Alabama||The Fins have Rashad Jones – ID stud and T.J McDonald at safety but versatility and smarts
could garner P.T
|Deep league or reserve pick only|
|28 by Steelers||Terrell Edmunds||Virginia Tech||historic feel good story about two brothers picked in 1st round||not worth a pick|
FEATURED TALENT at SAFETY
Derwin James (CHARGERS)- freakishly talented player who only played two years at Florida State. In 2015, he had an outstanding freshman year, but hurt his knee the next year and was granted a red shirt year. Last year, as a Sophomore, the native Floridian came back strong and was named an All-American.
In addition to playing with a mean streak, James is a lanky physical specimen who has cover skills. If bloodlines count he’s also blessed with no less than three cousins already in the NFL (Karlos Williams, Vince Williams and Mike James). Oh, and let’s not forget his 2nd cousin, the former Colts All-Pro running back, Edgerrin James.
Whereas the Cornerback position lists speed and cover skills as top priority, playing safety is an entirely different (no pun intended) animal. THE SAFETY POSITION is really a hybrid spot, you need, at minimum, to be able to be a sure tackler and also cover players often faster and bigger. Unlike Cornerbacks, you also will be blocked and, hopefully, not steamrolled by some massive offensive linemen.
The best safeties (STRONG or FREE) in the game are disruptive- they hammer people including quarterbacks. Derwin James is one of those guys. Look no further than the comparison given by Pro Football Weekly calling him a BLEND OF ERIC BERRY AND LANDON COLLINS!! That may be pushing it, but don’t be afraid to pick this guy as your first or preferably second DB on your squad.
Regardless of your team, watching the NFL draft is full of hope, emotion and hysteria. Look no further than at the top of this piece and you’ll see a Super Fan that goes by the name of Pancho Billa. This guy is no ordinary Bills fan, he’s a Texan that is fighting cancer. As a tribute to his heroic attitude former Bills players, Fred Jackson and Andre Reed called him on stage to call out a pick (video is on You Tube). What a moment.
Every year renders hope to us as fans, but the reality is that rookies in the NFL, in general, have a hard time. For every Alvin Kamara there are fifty running backs who will be lucky to play special teams or make the practice squad. Defensive backs in particular are under immense pressure and often have the onus of the ballgames in their hands. Surely, a few rookie DBs will shine and could easily have been drafted later than the crop previewed. Keep a close eye for early season excellence and jump on the “new guy”, you never know…..
Of the 2018 bunch, I’d consider two and probably only pick one because of the uncertainty and, more so, the lengthy list of proven DB talent on my draft board.
SO LONG FOR NOW
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join host Brian Roach, Jr, and Cole Freel live on Sunday May 13th, 2018 from 8-9:30pm EST for episode #120 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. We will discuss the latest information in the world of fantasy baseball.
Our guest this week is Kevin Bzdek. Kevin is a writer and editor with majorleaguefantasysports.com. His articles publish every Friday morning and his focus is on bullpens.
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