Follow me on Twitter @Jesse_DFW
Value is the name of the game when building a dominant dynasty team through trades and waiver wires and what better way than to get your guy before he blows up and commands top dollar? It’s fairly common knowledge that the key to fantasy is finding the perfect combination of talent and opportunity. When looking for breakout players it is good to remember that most players make their biggest jump in production in years two and three as it takes time to adjust to the NFL game.
The DB position is one of the hardest to predict from year-to-year, and therefore my least valuable IDP position. It seems like each year I can find serviceable starters on the waiver wire. In addition, the disparity in points from the top to the bottom is less than all other positions. All that being said, it is still a position you can create an advantage at because everyone else overlooks the position as well.
Like LBs, I prefer DBs that are consistent over big play upside. Turnovers and touchdowns are just too hard to predict and there are only a few veterans that have proven to be consistent playmakers worthy of starting week to week. To find consistency, you must find the tackle heavy safeties in the league and the majority of them will be at the SS position; so that is where my focus will be for this year’s breakout DBs. Not only do I look for talent, but one of my tricks is to evaluate which teams tend to produce these top IDP DBs and target that particular starter.
Here are my guys to target this year that are primed to have breakout seasons. Depending on how deep your league is you may be able to pick a couple of these guys off of waivers. I don’t recommend giving up a lot to acquire DBs, but for the right value these guys are worth it.
Harrison Smith, SS: Minnesota Vikings, 23 Years old, Year 2
Smith was drafted by the Vikings as the 29th overall pick in the 2012 draft and was heralded as a big, athletic safety with exceptional smarts and instincts. His ability to recognize and react on the field made him a phenomenal SS prospect and Smith did not disappoint in his rookie year, racking up 104 combined tackles and 3 interceptions.
Last year’s number illustrate to me that Smith already had his breakout season, but he seems to be flying under the radar and I think he could have an even better year in 2013. Overall, I love Smith because he is the perfect example of what a talented player can do in a perfect situation. Not only was Smith a tackle machine, he displayed the ability to create turnovers, a rare combination in a league that is so specialized today. Consistency combined with big-play upside make Smith a favorite of mine to be a perennial stud in your IDP lineup.
Take a quick scan of your free agents because, while Smith should be owned in most leagues, you may find out he was dropped to make roster space or is still on waivers and you should be all over it.
Mark Barron, SS: Tampa Bay, 23 years old, Year 2
Barron was the cream of the crop at the safety position in last year’s draft and was the opening day starter for the Buccaneers terrible secondary. As a whole, Barron had a respectable year, but wasn’t even the best IDP rookie at his position (see above). I think this could change going forward. Barron is too talented not to produce better than last year and his situation has improved dramatically.
The safety position tends to be a slow transition from college to the NFL and being the best part of a bad secondary didn’t prove to be the ideal IDP situation for Barron. Fortunately, Barron has a full year of experience under his belt and the Buccaneers made significant improvements to their defensive backfield by adding Dashon Goldson and Darrelle Revis. Not only will the additions of these allow Barron to do what he does best as a hard-hitting SS, his invaluable experience last year should prove to be a catalyst for a breakout season in 2013.
I would be surprise if Barron isn’t owned in your league just based on name recognition, but due to him underperforming last year you may be able to acquire him on the cheap.
Da’Norris Searcy, SS: Buffalo Bills, 24 Years Old, Year 3
The UNC Product was a talented, but late round pick in 2011 as he was labeled as somewhat of a tweener at the safety position; his knocks being that he was fluid in coverage, but lacked the speed to stick with NFL WRs, was big and strong, but shied away from contact. I know this doesn’t sound overly promising, so why do I have him pegged as a breakout player? Because productive IDP DBs often come out of nowhere and aren’t necessarily the uber-talented.
Additionally, Searcy was a productive player in college and it looks like the Bills trust him enough to give him the opportunity to step into a SS role that has proven to be ultra-productive for the team over the years, and should continue to be going forward, as the Bills haven’t proven that they are going to be much better anytime soon.
Overall, Searcy is more of a sleeper breakout player (is that a new term?) than Smith and Barron and will be a nice waiver pickup in most leagues. I know I will be targeting him in my leagues where I need DB help.