2014 fantasy football profiles and projections (DB 1-15)

Auction...............$8

Bye Week.............10

A bevvy of injuries, most notably a terrible case of turf toe, limited IDP star-in-the-making Smith to just eight games in 2014 and a measly 61.50 fantasy points. Had Smith finished out the full season, he was on pace for another top-five fantasy scoring finish at his position. The Vikings parted ways with veteran pass rusher Jared Allen in free agency, but signed the talented Linval Joseph from the New York Giants and drafted Anthony Barr in the first round to help get after the quarterback. This movement doesn't impact Smith's value too much, as plenty of plays will still make it to his level. If the third-year Notre Dame product can stay healthy, he should quickly return to being one of the first defensive backs drafted in IDP formats. Take Smith early in order to be a part of what has the makings of a tremendous bounce-back campaign.

Auction...............$8

Bye Week.............10

When looking for IDP consistency, look no further than Eric Weddle. Weddle has scored at least 105 fantasy points in each of the last four seasons, posting better than 120 in both 2012 and 2013. Weddle is the anchor of the San Diego secondary, and a sure tackler in space. Weddle won't set any of the stat categories on fire, but he'll fill the sheet nevertheless. Weddle is coming off his second Pro Bowl season as the leader of a young, hungry defense looking to improve in Year 2 under coordinator John Pagano. There's no reason to expect a dip in production from Weddle as he enters his eighth professional season. He should be one of the first defensive backs taken in fantasy drafts this fall.

Auction...............$8

Bye Week.............9

Burnett represented one of the great mysteries in fantasy football last season. He was coming off back-to-back top-five fantasy finishes, and was entering his fourth professional season with a new contract in his pocket. He then inexplicably plummeted all the way to a 28th place finish in 2013 after a completing a season marred by an early hamstring injury and overall poor play. So is this the real Burnett, or just an aberration? Fantasy owners will find out this season, as the Packers' new first-round draft pick Ha Ha Clinton-Dix will push Burnett for playing time and the role of the leader in the Packers secondary. We expect Burnett to get his feet back under him to prove to the Packers -- and fantasy owners -- that he is indeed on his way to becoming one of the better safeties in the NFL.

Auction...............$7

Bye Week.............11

Church came out of nowhere to lead all defensive backs in fantasy scoring in 2013, just one year after rupturing his Achilles tendon. Church's star seemed on the rise after he earned the starting role in the Dallas secondary in 2012, but now that star seems as if it has been shot out of a cannon. Church will look to build on this success and cement himself as one of fantasy's elite defensive backs, even if he's not on an elite fantasy defense. If newly promoted defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli can help this unit force a few more turnovers, like the units he coached in Chicago, Church's fantasy numbers could rise, seeing as he put up 143 fantasy points last season with only one interception and three forced fumbles to his name.

Auction...............$7

Bye Week.............9

Pollard's first season in Tennessee was a successful one, as he notched three interceptions and two blocked kicks to land him in the top 10 for the first time since 2010. While Pollard's hard-hitting ways will occasionally damage his wallet, they certainly won't damage fantasy teams as he racks up tackles and fantasy points. Pollard could be in for a treat with new defensive coordinator Ray Horton coming to town, who just helpped T.J. Ward deliver one of his most productive seasons as a pro. Pollard has some tread on the tires entering his eighth season, but he won't turn 30 until the end of the season, and plenty of safeties have turned in successful seasons at or beyond the 30-year mark. Don't sleep on Pollard in fantasy drafts, but don't reach too high for him either.

Auction...............$7

Bye Week.............4

The leader of the "Legion of Boom," Thomas had a career year in 2013, posting bests in solo tackles (78) and forced fumbles (two), while tying previous highs in interceptions (five) and passes defended (nine.) Coming off a dominant performance against the "best offense in NFL history" in Super Bowl XLVIII, Thomas and company will enter 2014 with a target on their backs. But they likely wouldn't want it any other way. Thomas is entrenched as the head honcho on the field, and with a massive new contract extension in his pocket he'll likely be trying to prove he's worth every dollar with his individual performance. Seeing Thomas get in on the occasional blitz would be great from a fantasy perspective, but that doesn't really fit the Seahawks scheme. And as the saying goes, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Auction...............$7

Bye Week.............6

If there was a way for him to make an impact on the field for the Chiefs in 2013, Eric Berry found it. He recorded 66 solo tackles, 3.5 sacks, 10 passes defended, three interceptions and one forced fumble. Oh, and let's not forget, he found the end zone twice as well. While the Chiefs defense was exploited for massive amounts of yards and points toward the end of last season, Berry remained a fantasy force, scoring seven or more fantasy points in four of the final five games. Not much is changing for Berry heading into 2014, except for a fully healthy Tamba Hali and Justin Houston. If those two can attack opposing quarterbacks as they did last season, there's no reason to believe Berry can't match -- or even exceed -- his production from 2013. The sky's the limit for the talented Tennessee product heading into his fifth pro season.

Auction...............$6

Bye Week.............11

Despite dropping to the second round in the 2013 NFL Draft, Cyprien paced all rookie defensive backs in fantasy scoring with 108 points. Cyprien missed one game with a quad injury late in the season, or he could have had an even more impressive rookie fantasy campaign. The Jaguars defense as a whole allowed too many big plays last season, surrendering the sixth most yards in the NFL. Another year under defensive minded head coach Gus Bradley could reverse that trend, however, as the team (and Cyprien) played well down the stretch, winning three of their last six contests. During that run, excluding the game he sat out for injury, Cyprien's lowest fantasy output was seven points. Cyprien's an under-the-radar breakout candidate, but he might be overlooked if drafters can't look past the fact that he's on the Jaguars. Don't make that mistake.

Auction...............$6

Bye Week.............4

A fantasy stud in his rookie season, Ward fell from grace when injuries and average play hampered his next two seasons. Back at full health in 2013, Ward was an enforcer under defensive coordinator Ray Horton, posting over 120 fantasy points for the second time in his career. Ward was able to parlay his high level of play in 2013 into a new contract with the Denver Broncos. Ward is a versatile defender who is able to cover, tackle and get after the quarterback, which the Broncos coveted in order to make their defense tougher in 2014. Head coach John Fox is a defensive mind and believes that defenses win championships. It's a fair bet Fox will find ways to get the most out of Ward, which makes him a vaulable target in fantasy drafts.

Auction...............$6

Bye Week.............7

A combination of nagging injuries and the rookie learning curve have kept Barron from reaching his true fantasy potential. That could change with new head coach Lovie Smith taking over in Tampa. Barron has youth and talent on his side, so with the right coaching it's entirely possible he makes the leap to a top-tier IDP defensive back. The time is now to take a chance on Barron and hope he makes 2014 a career year. His new defensive coordinator is Leslie Frazier, a former defensive back himself. If any pair of coaches can get the most out of Barron, it's the combination of new head coach Lovie Smith and Frazier.

Auction...............$5

Bye Week.............12

Between battling a nagging knee injury all year, and enduring the rise of talented rookie Kenny Vaccaro, it was tough for Harper to find the field in 2013. As a result, he posted his worst fantasy season since his rookie year. Harper was a salary cap casualty with the Saints this offseason, and as a result will be suiting up for his longtime division rivals now in Carolina. As a Panther, Harper should see tons of opportunities after the high rate of turnover this offseason decimated the Panthers secondary. While he might not set the stat sheets on fire, Harper is a savvy veteran with a proven track record and is a name that should be called in IDP drafts this fall.

Auction...............$5

Bye Week.............8

Rolle earned a top-five finish among defensive backs in 2013 thanks to his ability to fill all of the columns in the stat sheets. Rolle posted at least one sack, four interceptions and a forced fumble for just the second time in his nine-year career, and added 12 passes defended to boot. His sure-tackling didn't hurt, either as he's had at least 73 solo tackles in four straight seasons. All he didn't do was find the end zone, but defensive touchdowns are near impossible to predict or count on. He played a key role in the Giants defense allowing the eighth fewest yards in 2012, something the unit will look to replicate in 2014. While Rolle is no spring chicken, the immediate future looks bright for the vocal leader of the G-Men's defense.

Auction...............$5

Bye Week.............6

Vaccaro's impressive rookie season was slightly diminished by an ankle injury that cost him playing time late in the season. Nevertheless, the talented safety out of Texas is poised for a breakout fantasy season in Year 2 under defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. Vaccaro roamed the field as a rookie, but the arrival of Jairus Byrd will allow Ryan to give Vaccaro a more defined role. Vaccaro handled numerous positions as a rookie, but if he's able to focus his attention and effort on a more specified role, the fantasy impact could be big. It remains to be seen what exactly that role will be, but it's very likely Vaccaro could be playing in the box more as Byrd is one of the few safeties capable of covering the whole field from as a single-high safety position. Whatever Ryan has in store for Vaccaro, fantasy players should be buying it. Target Vaccaro as a high-end No. 2 defensive back with a mountain of upside.

Auction...............$4

Bye Week.............5

With each passing year, Jones continues his ascent into IDP stardom. After making a splash in 2012 when he finished 14th in fantasy scoring for defensive backs, Jones made the leap into the top 10 in 2013 with his 110.50 fantasy points -- a career best. While some might argue he hasn't quite lived up to his recent contract on the field, fantasy owners are not complaining. The occasional lapse in coverage doesn't impact the fantasy stat sheets, as long as he recovers enough to make the tackle. Jones has improved in each year under the current Dolphins' coaching staff, and despite the turmoil in Miami Gardens, the defensive side of the ball remains stable. Jones' interception total came back down to earth in 2013 after snagging four in 2012. Unless he can regain his 2012 ball-hawking ways, Jones will be a solid mid-level defensive back and a safe bet to finish in the top 25 at his position.

Auction...............$4

Bye Week.............10

Landry was one of Colts general manager Ryan Grigson's prized offseason acquisitions last year, but unfortunately a high ankle sprain limited his playing time early, and then nagged him the rest of the season. Coming into 2014 fully healthy, and on a defense that has added more talented playmakers in D'Qwell Jackson and Arthur Jones, Landry should be poised for a bounce-back season. He was a top-10 fantasy scorer among defensive backs as recently as 2012, so the ability and potential is there. The Colts lost Antoine Bethea to the 49ers in free agency, so the onus is on Landry to run the defense from the secondary and make plays to put the ball back in Andrew Luck's hands. He should be able to handle those duties with aplomb, and rack up a significant amount of fantasy points in the process.

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