Punch Drunk Wonderland

2014 IDP Defensive Backs: Who do I love?

As we draw ever near the beginning of the 2014 NFL (and fantasy football!) season I’ve began taking a more focused look at the IDP prospects of 2014 that are on my “love these guys” list. Last week we looked at 2014 IDP Linebackers. This week we are going to look at defensive backs. Additionally, be sure to stay up to date on PDW IDP Rankings and ADP trends based on the Getting Defensive IDP Mock Drafts.

Let’s check out some of the DBs that I love for 2014…

Harrison Smith (SS, Minnesota Vikings)

Safety Harrison SmithDespite an abbreviated 2013 season due to injury, Smith remains at the top of the board among dominate safeties. In his 2012 rookie season he was a solid top 15 fantasy IDP as he piled up 103 tackles, 11 passes defensed, 3 interceptions, and 1 sack. Smith only played eight games in 2013, but still managed to put together 58 tackles, 2 interceptions, and 3 passes defensed. If he can stay healthy, he should be the best you can get for 2014.

Morgan Burnett (SS, Green Bay Packers)

Packers S, Morgan BurnettBetween injury and lackluster production in coverage, Burnett had an ostensibly disappointing 2013 season. That said, he has proved to be a star safety throughout his 4 year NFL career. He’s put up 90+ tackles in each of the last three seasons, and he’s typically good for a few sacks and interceptions. Burnett plays in a pass happy division, so that means he should see plenty of opportunities to make big plays.  Look for him to bounce back in 2014 and have a strong season.

Eric Weddle (FS, San Diego Chargers)

Chargers S, Eric WeddleWeddle is a perennial name at the top of the DB charts. Mr. Consistency, Weddle has been good for around 100 tackles, a sack, a handful of interceptions, and 8-12 passes defensed per year for the majority of his career. At 29 he’s nearing a time in his career when some defensive backs start to slow down, but at this point there’s no reason to think Weddle’s production will be declining any time soon.

Bernard Pollard (SS, Tennessee Titans)

Titans S, Bernard PollardPollard may be getting up there in age at 29, but he’s still capable of being a top producer. I rank Pollard a bit higher than most because I love his consistency. His ceiling may not be as high as others, but you can count on him to be a solid IDP option at DB season in and season out. Pollard is an in-the-box force and gets it done when it comes to run stopping and applying pressure. He’s good for around 100 tackles, 2 sacks, an interception or two, and a handful of passes defensed every year.

Barry Church (SS, Dallas Cowboys)

Cowboys S, Barry ChurchChurch was the #1 fantasy defensive back of 2013 as he had a stellar season for the Cowboys. He had a whopping 135 tackles and really benefited from the injury to linebacker Sean Lee as it created (woefully) tons of tackle opportunities. Don’t expect those same kind of numbers in 2014, but Dallas is still going to be struggling with their linebacker situation with Lee out. Church should be good for around 100 tackles again this season as he continues picking up the pieces on the defense.

T.J. Ward (SS, Denver Broncos)

Broncos S, T.J. WardWard had a great 2013 season, and he’s shown that he can be an elite fantasy IDP when he can stay healthy. He’s put up 110+ tackles in the two seasons in which he played in 16 games. Of course, his numbers for his other two NFL seasons are sparse by comparison. Ward will be joining a Denver defense that has been in great need of a top notch safety, so there’s definite potential. I don’t expect him to have another season with 112 tackles like 2013, but he should be able to produce at a high rate if he can stay healthy.

Johnathan Cyprien (SS, Jacksonville Jaguars)

Jaguars S, Johnathan CyprienCyprien had a very nice rookie campaign in 2013 piling up 102 tackles, 1 sack, 1 interception, and 6 passes defensed. With a year of NFL experience under his belt he’s primed to rise in 2014. Like Bernard Pollard (above), Cyprien is an in-the-box force that will produce by stuffing the run and applying pressure. His consistency in coverage leaves a good deal to be desired, but I expect him to emerge in 2014 as a definitive top tier safety. He’s a certain IDP dynasty gem.

Mark Barron (SS, Tampa Bay Bucs)

Bucs S, Mark BarronBarron had a respectable 2013 season despite it being cut short by two games due to hamstring issues. In 2 NFL seasons he has 177 tackles, 2 sacks, 3 interceptions, and 16 passes defensed. I expect Barron to have a big 2014 season as he should be coming into his own as a top notch NFL safety. Look for him to produce, and he’s a great young option for dynasty formats.

Jairus Byrd (FS, New Orleans Saints)

Saints S, Jairus ByrdByrd was a big name with big potential in 2013, but injury setbacks limited him to a disappointing season in terms of statistical and fantasy production. He finds himself on a new team in New Orleans, and there are some health questions following an offseason back surgery. However, if he’s healthy, he should hopefully be able to return to form. Between 2010 and 2012 he showed why he deserves to be listed among the best safeties in the league as he piled up 263 tackles, 9 interceptions, 16 passes defensed, and 2 sacks during that period. Health pending, he could have a big 2014 season.

Tyrann Mathieu (SS, Arizona Cardinals)

Cardinals S, Tyrann MathieuThe Honey Badger is a dominate hybrid defensive back force for the Cardinals and he showed his versatility in his rookie season. He was used extensively as both safety and corner, and he excelled all over the field. However, his 2013 season was cut short by a torn ACL in December. Pending setbacks, Mathieu should be returning to the field around Week 6. He has huge fantasy production potential and he could be picked up at a value in most leagues due to his delayed start. He’s a dynasty steal.




K. Smelser About K. Smelser
Kelly Smelser is Owner/Senior Writer for Punch Drunk Wonderland and PDFantasy Sports. Architect of the PDW fantasy football world and general spinster of NFL and Fantasy Football news and analysis. Long walks on the beach, sunsets, and other such niceties are also fine...