Top 10 Cornerbacks in the NFL
The position in fantasy football that receives more analysis’ resources then any other is the Wide Receiver position. And that is for good reason, because on every single week of daily fantasy football the Wide Receiver position is the biggest differentiation between a person making stacks of cash and going home broke. We could keep a fire burning until the Super Bowl with the articles that are dedicated to Wide Receivers. Yet,
next to no analysis is given to the match-ups that the Wide Receivers have. When an article is written on cornerbacks most of the analysis misses the most important parts of what a defensive backfield is actually trying to do. Most daily fantasy grinders have a general idea of who the top cornerbacks are, but few understand how these players are actually utilized and what it means for your wide receiver match-ups. Does the cornerback shadow a number one wide receiver all over the field? Will he stay on the left or right side or in the slot in a nickel or dime package? Is he asked to play bump and run coverage or a cover 3 with linebackers asked to cover the flats? Does he get help over the top? Will the Wide Receiver you are targeting benefit or have difficulty with the defensive backfield he is going to face? Every week we will try to give you some answers to these questions based on how the defenses are playing this season. Today we will start with an article outlining the top 10 cornerbacks in the NFL from last year and if they can repeat and build on their success in 2014.
10. Desmond Trufant
We start with a rookie who made a big splash on one of the worst defenses in football last year. Desmond Trufant had a 53% Completion percentage on throws targeted at him in 2013. He also had 17 pass breakups which was 10th in the NFL. To be completely honest he was not the problem for the Atlanta Falcons last year. If the Falcons are going to get better on defense they need to Trufant to continue growing into a more complete cornerback. He gave up 47 receptions for 565 yards and 3 touchdowns. Game flow should dictate a lot more close games for the Falcons this year which means Trufant will be challenged for 60 minutes. We will monitor if the Falcons will continue to keep him primarily on the right side of the field or if he will begin moving around with the number 1 receiver as he gets more experience.
9. Captain Munnerlyn
The Captain started off as a 7th round pick in 2009 and finally got paid this off-season by the Vikings for three years $14.25 mil. He will be asked to duplicate his successful 2013 campaign where he lined up all over the field but mainly in the slot. His numbers are inflated by playing in the slot but at only 5-8 it is tough to envision him outside the numbers having tons of success against the mammoth receivers in the NFC North. That job will fall to Xavier Rhodes with Captain hopefully locking down the slot. The Vikings will be a very interesting defensive backfield to monitor in 2014. They will have a healthy Harrison Smith after giving up 4595 yards and 37 touchdowns through the air last year. Will they improve drastically and be a defense that gives certain DFS players an edge in 2014 or will they continue to be miserable in the high flying NFC North? A lot of interesting match-ups for daily fantasy grinders will revolve around this defensive backfield so they are a unit to closely monitor as we head into the first few weeks of the season.
8. Leodis McKelvin
Leodis McKelvin was close to being named a bust as a former 1st round (11th overall) pick until his impressive 2013 season that should have many closely monitoring his performance in 2014. He played mainly on the left side of the field last year and rocked an amazing 46.1 completion percentage. With match-ups against the Bears due of Wide Receivers followed by Mike Wallace, Keenan Allen, Andre Johnson, Calvin Johnson and finally the Patriots quick hitting passing attack he will need to be studied early on to see if last season was a fluke for the former 1st round pick or if he has finally figured NFL Wide Receivers out. This is a very big year for Leodis McKelvin as he will have a significant impact on daily fantasy lineups in one way or the other.
7. Tyrann Mathieu
The Honey Badger picked up right where he left off at LSU, flying around and making plays all over the field. He mainly lined up in the Slot but did roam some strong and free safety as well. He did have a high 65.2 completion percentage but that is expected with how much time he spent in the slot. He is extremely close to coming off the PUP list after tearing his ACL in Week 14. The Cardinals defensive backfield is evolving into a top 3 unit and the Honey Badger only makes them stronger. When he finally is able to play the Arizona Cardinals will most likely be a defensive backfield to simply avoid in daily fantasy football.
6. Vontae Davis
Vontae has been one of the best cover corners in the NFL since entering the league in 2009. He had a 50.6 completion percentage last year giving up 43 receptions for 560 yards. The only knock is that he gave up 8 touchdowns which is the highest for any cornerback considered elite last year. The Colts had next to no defense last year and played in a number of shootouts which does help explain his high touchdowns given up. He is still a dominant corner on the right side of the field and can challenge bigger wide receivers with his 5’11” frame. He needs to be monitored in the beginning of the season as he could easily turn into the shutdown corner everyone expects him to be in his 6th NFL season. The Colts figure to be in a lot of shootouts so it will be interesting to see if Vontae is a cornerback to avoid or not in daily fantasy football.
5. Brent Grimes
Somewhat overlooked in Miami, Grimes started as an undrafted free agent with Atlanta and got signed to a big deal with Miami when they traded away Vontae Davis. Brent Grimes had a 60.2% completion percentage and gave up 59 receptions for 730 yards last year but the reason he is on this list is the 0 touchdowns he allowed last year. Over 1131 snaps last season he did not give up one touchdown. Granted Miami was a middling defense but Brent Grimes is the type of corner who moves all over the field. He is a lot tougher on #1 receivers then people give him credit for. Closely monitor how he is utilized in Miami this season.
4. Darrelle Revis
Simply put he has been the top cornerback in the league when healthy for the past 5 years. He has floated around teams but seems to have finally landed in the perfect position playing for Bill Belichick. If you thought Aqib Talib was lock down in this defense last year just wait until Revis is utilized by Belichick. Even though he spent the better part of the year underutilized in a sagging cover 3 defense Revis still shined through as a top cornerback in 2013. He had a 54 completion percentage and allowed 34 receptions for 400 yards and 4 touchdowns. Starting off 2014 I will be avoiding #1 receivers against New England. We should all remember when Aqip Talib held Jimmy Graham to no catches in Week 6 of 2013. Darrelle Revis will be better then that utilized by Belichick this year.
3. Joe Haden
Joe Haden shadowed a teams #1 receiver on 65% of his snaps last year which led the NFL. He is the most likely cornerback in the NFL to follow a #1 receiver all over the field. While doing this thankless job he had a 55.6 completion percentage and gave up 55 receptions for 557 yards and 6 touchdowns. How much better would his numbers look if he stayed on one half of the field like Richard Sherman or most other cornerbacks in the NFL? Week in and week out he lines up opposite the #1 receiver and still dominates. He is a player I do not want my daily fantasy receivers going against. Cleveland figures to be an improved defense next year and Joe Haden is going to be a big reason why. Better matchups reside elsewhere in daily fantasy starting off the year.
2. Patrick Peterson
Patrick Peterson entered the elite realm of cornerbacks last year. He shadowed the other teams #1 receiver on 55% of snaps in 2013. He sported a 54.4 completion percentage and gave up 49 receptions for 688 yards and 7 touchdowns. Although higher then others on this list Peterson also lined up in the slot more then most cornerbacks. It will be very important to see if he continues to get beat for touchdowns early on in the season. Once the Honey Badger is healthy this will be a defensive backfield to avoid in 2014.
1. Richard Sherman
Richard Sherman is not asked to shadow a #1 receiver like other cornerbacks that came before him on this list but no corner will be more feared this year then Richard Sherman. At the end of last year he was simply lights out. Quarterbacks stopped throwing to his side of the field as the Seahawks showed that a suffocating defense still can win a Lombardi trophy. Sherman had a 50.9 completion percentage but only allowed 29 receptions last year. That is less then two receptions a game. He gave up 348 yards and exactly 1 touchdown. There is no reason in the world to run any receiver out on a team that is facing off against the Seahawks unless you want to be contrarian for the week. It would have paid off once or twice last year but for those who like to play with the odds in their favor a simple pass on any receiver facing off against the Seahawks is your recommended play until proven otherwise.