Mays may surprise
Taylor Mays, Cincinnati Bengals
Mays tops the depth chart at strong safety, but it is a tenuous hold. He tends to look a little slow and plays stiff, but man can he hit. Mays is a tremendously physical player, and that is the key.
He is entering his third NFL season, and he has the chance to average a couple of tackles per game, while racking up a handful of forced fumbles and passes defended. The good news is that Mays has good awareness and outstanding football acumen. While those aren't necessarily traits that will garner fantasy points, it will mean plenty of playing time. Sometimes you have to take a little risk for tremendous reward.
Jason McCourty, Tennessee Titans
McCourty steps into the starting lineup following the departure of Cortland Finnegan to the St. Louis Rams. Around the league, McCourty isn't viewed as a dangerous player like Finnegan. In fact, McCourty has struggled in pass coverage in the past, so opposing QBs might test him early and often. That might lead to more fantasy statistics, at least initially.
He should easily eclipse 100 TKL again this season, and he should see an increase in interceptions. Fellow Titans CB Alterraun Verner is expected to work in the slot, and he too is worth a look in the middle to late rounds on draft day in IDP formats.
Captain Munnerlyn, Carolina Panthers
Munnerlyn is a deep sleeper, but he's not cemented into a starting job. Josh Norman is challenging him. Still, Munnerlyn, even in a nickel role, has even more fantasy appeal for owners in leagues which reward individual return yardage. Munnerlyn proved somewhat valuable down the stretch in 2011, posting 14 tackles (TKL) with nine solo stops over his final three games.
Ras-I Dowling, New England Patriots
The biggest drawback with Dowling is his propensity for injury, which we saw in his initial NFL campaign and his college career. If he could just stay on the field, he can make a serious impact. If he does not win the starting CB job opposite Devin McCourty, he could very well see time at the safety position due to his physicality and size.
Even if he stays at nickel, teams will probably have to throw often against the Pats to catch up to their high-scoring offense, so Dowling could probably be on the field in other teams' desperate pass-happy situations. Either way, he is expected to see plenty of time when healthy.
About Daniel Dobish
Daniel is a Hot Off the Wire Analyst who joined the KFFL staff in 2010. He is a veteran of the fantasy industry dating back to 1999, with stops at CBSSports.com, The Sports Forecaster, OPENSports.com and RotoExperts.com. His work has also appeared on NFL.com and Yahoo.com. Daniel was named the 2011 Fantasy Golf Writer of the Year, 2011 Fantasy Racing Writer of the Year, and he was nominated for the 2011 Fantasy Hockey Writer of the Year. Daniel lives in North Carolina with his wife and two sons.
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