Defensive backs player analysis: Top 12

by Cory J. Bonini on August 13, 2010 @ 19:12:00 PDT

 


Yeremiah Bell | Miami Dolphins | 6-foot, 205 pounds | 7th year

Fantasy tip: The strong safety is coming off two of the finest back-to-back tackle seasons an IDP owner could ask for. He posted 120 total stops in 2008 and 114 in '09. Bell picked off a career-high three passes last year to go along with eight passes defensed, and he has 2.5 sacks in the last two seasons. Age isn't on his side (32), but he should have a few good years left in the tank. He should be your top target when looking for a fantasy defensive back in IDP leagues.

Eric Weddle | San Diego Chargers | 5-foot-11, 200 pounds | 4th year

Fantasy tip: Weddle is probably better suited to play strong safety than free, but he has done well in the latter role the past two years. Even though he missed three games due to injury last year, Weddle posted 82 total tackles, 1.5 sacks, seven passes defensed, intercepted two passes and returned one for a score. In 16 games the year before, he racked up 127 total stops. Weddle should be a top-notch defensive back, as long as he remains healthy, and fantasy owners should target him as a high No. 1 IDP DB.

Gibril Wilson | Cincinnati Bengals | 6-foot, 210 pounds | 7th year

Fantasy tip: Wilson is battling Chris Crocker for the starting free safety job, but we are confident Wilson will win this fight. He has been an IDP beast everywhere he has played and is two years removed from a 129-tackle season with the Oakland Raiders. Wilson logged 93 combined put-downs in 2009 with the Miami Dolphins. He has been a capable multi-category contributor in the past; defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer's scheme is aggressive enough to believe Wilson can return to that level of play. He should be nabbed as your top IDP defensive back if he wins the job as we expect.

Bernard Pollard | Houston Texans | 6-foot-1, 228 pounds | 5th year

Fantasy tip: The Texans gave Pollard a whirl after the Kansas City Chiefs released him, and the Purdue product didn't disappoint. He turned in his best season as a pro despite missing three games. Pollard accounted for 102 total stops (81 solo), 1.5 sacks, seven passes defensed, four interceptions (one returned for a TD) and a forced fumble. All of that came after consecutive seasons with at least 90 tackles. This strong safety's violent play could open him up to injury. Pollard is a fine No. 1 defensive back for IDP leagues.

Tyvon Branch | Oakland Raiders | 6-foot, 205 pounds | 3rd year

Fantasy tip: Branch started every game in his second pro season and didn't disappoint. The Syracuse, N.Y. native put up 124 total tackles (98 solo), a sack, eight passes defensed and two forced fumbles. He isn't very good in coverage but lays the lumber in the box. Branch is a risky fantasy pick due to his limited experience, but the numbers he posted can't be ignored. He's a midrange No. 1 pick to your fantasy defensive backfield.

Dashon Goldson | San Francisco 49ers | 6-foot-2, 200 pounds | 4th year

Fantasy tip: In his first year as a starter, Goldson posted wonderful numbers for IDP owners. He made 94 combined stops, recorded 2.0 sacks, defensed six passes, intercepted four balls and forced three fumbles. Versatility is the strength of his game, and he can play both safety spots. This free safety makes for a slightly risky No. 1 defensive back in fantasy leagues due to his limited track record.

Brian Dawkins | Denver Broncos | 6-foot, 210 pounds | 15th year

Fantasy tip: Dawkins put up his best season in a decade after joining the Broncos in the 2009 offseason; motivation from feeling unwanted can be a powerful force. He has stayed healthy for the past two years and can contribute across the board stats-wise. The former Philadelphia Eagles free safety was responsible for 116 total tackles last year. He defensed 11 passes and picked off two. Dawkins, who turns 37 years old Oct. 13, has forced seven fumbles the past two years. You can probably get away with drafting Dawkins as a No. 2 DB; if he stays healthy, expect midrange No. 1 production.

Erik Coleman | Atlanta Falcons | 5-foot-10, 207 pounds | 7th year

Fantasy tip: The former New York Jet has returned to form with the Falcons over the past two years. During this time he has posted at least 95 total tackles, including 116 last year, and has forced four fumbles. Coleman didn't intercept a pass last year, but he has two seasons with at least three in his career (2004, 2008). Expect low-end No. 1 production again from Coleman this year.

Louis Delmas | Detroit Lions | 6-foot-1, 204 pounds | 4th year

Fantasy tip: Even though he is working his way back from a groin injury, Delmas will be a valuable IDP contributor in 2010. In 15 games last year, the rookie made 94 combined tackles. He chipped in with a sack, eight passes defensed, two interceptions and one pick-six. Keep an eye on his rehab throughout the preseason; Delmas figures to be a low-end No. 1 defensive back, and you should be able to land him as your No. 2 because of the injury situation.

Michael Lewis | San Francisco 49ers | 5-foot-11, 202 pounds | 2nd year

Fantasy tip: The veteran lumber layer has seen his production slow the past two years, but he is still a viable fantasy performer. Lewis posted 82 total stops in 15 starts last year. He added a sack, one pick and two forced fumbles. He has at least one interception every year of his career but 2008, and the 2004 season was the only one in which he didn't tally a sack. Lewis will be pushed for time by rookie strong safety Taylor Mays. Don't worry, though, because Lewis' above-average ball skills will keep Mays at bay. Lewis is a low-end No. 1.

Antoine Bethea | Indianapolis Colts | 5-foot-11, 203 pounds | 5th year

Fantasy tip: The Howard product has been a dominant fantasy force the past two years. He put up 95 total tackles last year and 101 the year before; he has six picks in this time. He forced two fumbles last year and hasn't missed a game in two seasons following a pair of injury-shortened campaigns to start his career. Bethea does well whether or not strong safety Bob Sanders (shoulder) is in the lineup and has emerged as a DB1 for fantasy owners.

Adrian Wilson | Arizona Cardinals | 6-foot-3, 230 pounds | 10th year

Fantasy tip: Wilson has slowed down a bit as the years have passed, but he remains on fantasy radars as a low-end No. 1 option. He posted 74 total tackles last year in his first 16-game season in two years. Wilson has always been a strong contributor in many categories. He garnered 2.0 sacks, 13 passes defensed, five interceptions and a forced fumble last year. His days of 100-tackle seasons seem well behind him, but Wilson is still a low-end No. 1 or the ideal No. 2 defensive back based on his peripheral statistical contributions.

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About Cory J. Bonini

Cory is KFFL's General Manager. In late 2002, he joined the KFFL staff as a research analyst and has been involved in fantasy sports since 1996. A member of the Fantasy Sports Trade Association, as well as Fantasy Sports Writers Association, Bonini has been featured in print, on radio and on scores of websites. Bonini co-hosted Big Lead Sports on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio from 2011 to 2012.

Bonini was recognized with the 2010 Best Article in Print Award from the FSWA and was a finalist for the same award in 2011. In '11, he finished first overall in the FSWA NFL experts challenge that featured 60 of the industry's best competitors.

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