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2012 fantasy football profiles and projections (DBs 1-12)

DB RANKINGS 13-24![](

Statistical projections are provided by EA Sports

  • Player
  • Analysis

Wilson was easily the league's best defensive playmaker at times last season, registering 53 tackles and all four of his interceptions in a span of five games. He finished the year as Buffalo's second-leading tackler and ranked an impressive eighth in fantasy points among defensive backs. What makes that even more impressive is that Wilson posted these totals in just 13 games. The talented veteran could see even more tackles with run-heavy teams like the New York Jets, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49ers on tap for 2012, so Wilson appears to be in a great place to produce. Unless he loses snaps to rookie Da'Norris Searcy, there's no reason to expect a drop in statistical success this season. He'll be worth a middle- to late-round selection in drafts.

One of the top defensive backs in the league, Branch recorded 100-plus tackles (including 80 or more solos) in each of the last three seasons. That includes a 2011 campaign that also saw him put up four passes defensed and one interception. He has also finished no worse than 11th in fantasy points at his position on in that time. Signed to the franchise tag by the Raiders during the offseason, the veteran out of Connecticut could ultimately be signing for his supper in an effort to earn a more lucrative deal down the road. Regardless, Branch is clearly one of the top options at his position in IDP formats. He'll be worth a middle- to late-round selection in drafts.

Berry missed most of the 2011 campaign with a torn ACL in his left knee, so there is some risk in drafting him this season. However, it's going to be tough to pass on a playmaker of Berry's caliber in IDP leagues. In his first pro season, the Tennessee product showed flashes of real brilliance with 92 total tackles, nine passes defensed and one touchdown. Barring any setbacks in his recovery from surgery, there's no reason to believe that Berry can't surpass those totals in 2012. Furthermore, some fantasy owners will be tempted to make him the first defensive back selected in IDP formats. Overall, the talented Berry will be worth a middle- to late-round pick across the board.

Harper isn't your typical ball-hawking safety. For proof, look no further than New Orleans' poor numbers against opposing passers. Harper didn't register a pick in 2011 and had just one in the past four seasons. It is, however, common to find Harper harassing opposing quarterbacks. The veteran has 12 sacks in the past three years - including 7.5 last year. With Steve Spagnuolo taking over the defense, the way Harper is used could change. But as a team, the Saints were in the bottom half of the league in sacks. That means Harper could once again be an extra pass rusher. He'll be among the first defensive backs off the board, but you can wait until the middle to late rounds.

One of the NFL's better defensive backs, Chung was on pace to post a terrific season for IDP leaguers in 2011 - that is, until a thumb injury cost him most of the second half of the year. Based on the totals he recorded in the eight games he did play, Chung would have projected to post the seventh-most fantasy points at his position. A big-time playmaker who could push 100 tackles in a full season - Chung recorded 96 tackles in 14 games in 2010 - the Oregon product is certain to be one of the first defensive backs to come off the board in the majority of IDP formats. Consider him somewhere in the middle-to-late rounds on draft day.

Tillman finished last season third on the Bears in tackles. And while Peanut might have been roasted a few times by opposing wide receivers, he won more than his share of battles and was quite the stat sheet stuffer. In addition to his 99 total tackles, Tillman registered a sack, three picks (two of which he returned for touchdowns), forced four fumbles and recovered two more. With four games against the Green Bay Packers and Detroit Lions in 2012, Tillman should continue to see plenty of passes thrown his way. But be prepared for some of those numbers to dip with balanced ( Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans) or run-heavy ( San Francisco 49ers, Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans) offenses filling out the schedule.

Considered one of the 10 best strong safeties in the league, Pollard's 2011 numbers are a bit deceiving on the surface. He didn't emerge as a starter until Week 4, at which point he put up an average of more than six tackles per game and finished with an impressive 13 passes defensed. Projected over a full slate, Pollard would have recorded more than 100 tackles - those were the sort of totals he had posted the two previous seasons in Houston when he was considered one of the elite IDP options at his position. At 27 and entering the prime of his career, Pollard is a good bet to surpass in 2011 totals this season. He's a solid No. 1 option among defensive backs.

It's not a good thing when a cornerback racks up more than 130 tackles, but there wasn't much that was good about the Colts last season. Bethea was an absolute tackling machine, which masked the fact that he posted neither a sack nor an interception during the entire 2011 campaign. Now with a defensive-minded coach in Chuck Pagano at the helm, Bethea should continue to see a major role in what will be a rebuilding year for the Colts. The durable veteran, who has started 64 consecutive regular-season contests, is a good bet to surpass the 100-tackle mark once again in 2012. Consider him in the late rounds as a No. 1 defensive back across the IDP landscape.

Burnett came out of nowhere to emerge into a nice option for IDP owners in 2011. The Georgia Tech product started all 16 games for the Packers, recording 107 total tackles with 11 passes defensed, one sack and three interceptions. That level of success was more impressive when you consider that Burnett had missed most of his rookie year due to a torn ACL in his left knee. Now with one full year under his belt since the reconstructive procedure, it's not out of the realm of possibility that Burnett can improve further one what was a solid 2011 campaign. In most standard IDP formats, he's well worth as look in the late rounds as a No. 1 option.

Weddle's style of play changed in 2011, and his numbers reflected it. The Chargers asked the veteran safety to be more of a ballhawk and less of a run-stopper. As a result, he was among the league leaders in interceptions with seven while his tackles dropped off compared to his 2010 totals. Whether he's asked to play the outfield again this upcoming season remains to be seen, especially since there aren't a myriad of pass-oriented teams on San Diego's schedule. Consider Weddle in the tail end of your draft, but a drop in interceptions should be expected.

Chancellor had a solid sophomore season in Seattle. As a first-time starter, he was third on the team in total tackles and tied for second in interceptions. The Seahawks had a tough time generating a consistent pass rush in 2011 and until it happens, the secondary will continue to be under siege. The upside is that the quarterback-rich NFC North is featured on the schedule. That means Chancellor should find himself challenged quite a bit. He could possibly creep into the middle rounds, but owners should be safe waiting until late to take a chance on him.

McCourty became a full-time starter for the Titans in 2011 and was a busy man, racking up 105 total takedowns. For all of that action, his two interceptions are somewhat disappointing (the 13 passes defensed make up for it slightly). With Cortland Finnegan now out of the mix, McCourty is now the top corner on the roster. With two division games against Andre Johnson and the Houston Texans as well as matchups with the New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers, Detroit Lions and San Diego Chargers, he will get tested by some of the NFL's best quarterback-wide receiver duos. That means plenty of opportunities for tackles, passes defensed and potential fantasy points.

DB RANKINGS 13-24![](

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