Tuesday, September 9, 2014


Patrick O’Connor 

The conventional wisdom in fantasy football leagues utilizing individual defensive 

players (IDPs) is to use high volume tacklers – meaning linebackers and safeties. All of the top 

50 tacklers in the NFL last year were either linebackers or safeties (the top tackling corner - Josh 

Wilson, now with the Falcons – came in tied for 57th

up tackles. These guys typically have a high floor, but can also have a low ceiling. If your 

league gives you a full point per solo tackle and a half point for an assist, these guys are your 

bread and butter. They will be steady producers for you for the entire year.

However, some fantasy owners, either out of desperation for major upside or out of sheer 

ignorance, will inevitably be sucked in by the allure of the flashy corner. This is understandable 

(to some degree). They have swagger. You hear about them all the time. They’re always 

talking, usually about how good they are and how bad other players are (remember Richard 

Sherman’s little quote about that “sorry” receiver Michael Crabtree? How about Dee Milliner 

proclaiming himself the best corner in the league? And no, he was not joking when he said 

it). If one of these guys grabs a pick six, you’re looking at 9 points just for that one play (using 

Yahoo standard IDP scoring: 3 pts/INT; 6 pts/TD). Throw in a tackle or two and a couple of 

passes defended and you can get a pretty big number out of one of these guys.

But what you have to remember is that pick sixes don’t happen often (unless your name 

happens to be Matt Schaub – then they happen all the time...no really – all the time). Take 

Richard Sherman for example. He had the most interceptions in the league last year (8). Do 

you know how many he returned for a TD? One. That’s it. Just one pick six. In fact, no single 

player had more than 2 pick sixes the entire 2013 regular season. So, while these guys are 

capable of getting a pick six on any given Sunday, it’s only going to happen a couple times a 

). Simply put, linebackers and safeties rack 

Patrick O’Connor (@poconnor08) 

season...at most. (And no – no one will be able to predict for you when that will happen).

So, what happens if your opponent has a guy go absolutely nuts on Thursday night or if 

you know your RB1 is hurt and you need some major upside? Don’t just grab a corner and pray 

for a pick six. Check your league’s scoring settings. If points are awarded for return yards and 

touchdowns, you have to open your eyes to the IDP return men for 2014.

Patrick Peterson has been the classic example of an IDP return man – elite corner and 

also a very good punt returner. However, with Ted Ginn, Jr. as the main return man in Arizona 

this year, Peterson’s value as a punt returner has substantially decreased (although he may get a 

few reps on the offensive side of the ball too this year, so don’t completely dismiss him). So, 

you’ll have to go even deeper to find a quality IDP return man. Good news for you is that I’ve 

got the list of IDP return men for 2014 for your right here.

At this point in the season, there are really only two legitimate IDP return men to 

consider starting on any given week: Earl Thomas (FS – Seattle) and Leodis McKelvin (CB – 

Buffalo). In addition to the being the starting free safety for the Seahawks, Earl Thomas is also 

the starting punt returner. And he’s no joke either. He nearly broke a return for a touchdown 

in Seattle’s third preseason game. Adding in his regular defensive stats (he was the 38th

tackler in the league last year with 105 total tackles, had 14 passes defended, and also had 

5 interceptions), Earl Thomas can provide you with some huge upside while maintaining a 

relatively high floor.

Leodis McKelvin has recovered from offseason hip surgery and started 2014 off with a 

bang. He recorded 13 solo tackles against the Bears in Week 1 and had 14 return yards. If the 

relatively low return yardage doesn’t immediately make your skirt fly, consider the fact that 

McKelvin has 4 career return touchdowns. Dude can flat out play. Like Thomas, McKelvin 

Patrick O’Connor (@poconnor08) 

offers you some good upside and maintains a relatively high floor as well.

These are the only two guys who are both starting defensive players and starting 

returners. After these two guys, the pickins become much slimmer, but I’ve got the list here for 

you to keep an eye on:

1. Earl Thomas (FS*, PR* – Seattle)

2. Leodis McKelvin (CB*, PR* – Buffalo)

3. Patrick Peterson (CB*, PR2 – Arizona)

4. Loucheiz Purifoy (CB3, PR* – Indianapolis)

5. Will Blackmon (CB2, PR* – Jacksonville)

6. Travis Carrie (CB2, PR* – Oakland)

7. Taiwan Jones (CB3, KR* – Oakland)

8. Quintin Demps (FS2, KR* – NYG)

9. Nolan Carroll (CB2, KR* – Philadelphia)

10. Marcus Sherels (CB3, PR* – Minnesota)

11. Perrish Cox (CB2, KR/PR* – San Francisco)

(*) indicates starter at that position

(CB/KR/PR2) indicates second string at that position

(CB/KR/PR3) indicates third string at that position

Hat tip to www.ourlads.com for providing the up-to-date depth charts for each team.

No comments:

Post a Comment