2015 fantasy football profiles and projections (DB 1-16)

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

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

Few defensive backs were able to fill out their stat sheet quite as well as Smith in 2014. He tied for first in sacks (three) and third in interceptions (five) while adding one touchdown, one forced fumble and nine pass breakups. He's now one of the leaders of a youthful and talented defense that is just starting to realize their potential under head coach Mike Zimmer and defensive coordinator George Edwards. Smith is one of the fastest rising IDP stars, and should be one of the first defensive back names called on draft day.

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

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

Burnett looked like a bonafide IDP star after back-to-back top-five finishes in 2011 and 2012, but injuries and general ineffectiveness completely derailed his 2013 campaign. Burnett looked lost at times in 2013, but found his groove in 2014 and put together a campaign that netted him a first place finish in fantasy scoring (the first of his career). It helps that Burnett now has a running mate in HaHa Clinton-Dix who can play the single-high safety role, allowing Burnett to enter the box and rack up tackles. Case in point, Burnett led all defensive backs with 129 combined tackels in 2014. He'll enter 2015 as one of the first defensive backs needing to be drafted in IDP formats.

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

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

Few defensive backs have been as consistent in terms of fantasy production as Eric Weddle. 2014 marked his third straight year finishing as a top-five scorer at his position, and he hasn't finished outside the top 25 since 2009. While he doesn't force a ton of turnovers or make countless highlight-reel plays, Weddle is one of the most consistent tacklers at his position. Weddle leads the San Diego secondary in spirit and by example, as he hasn't missed a game since 2009 (and only four total in his career). He's a safe pick to lead your fantasy secondary this fall.

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

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

Had a concussion not kept Cyprien out of most of the first two games of the season, he likely would have surpassed his outstanding rookie production. Even in a shorter season, the sure-tackling safety notched 114 total takedowns, with 80 of them of the solo variety. He failed to register any sort of turnover plays, which was disappointing, but those can be flukey. Cyprien's a consistent performer week-to-week, so draft him early in 2015 and hope he adds in a few turnovers for good measure.

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

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

Mere days after singing a $30 million extension with the Dolphins, Jones was suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the league's policy against PEDs. It's a shame, too, because Jones has grown into one of the more reliable fantasy DBs in the NFL. He excels in run support, as evidenced by his 70 solo tackles in just 12 games. If you average Jones' production over a full season, he would have finished second in fantasy scoring to only Morgan Burnett. Don't forget about Jones on draft day because his stats seem off -- he'll be back on track in 2015.

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

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

Thomas finished just 21st in fantasy scoring in 2014, but earned his third straight All-Pro honor proving his play on the field was once again at an elite level. Thomas dropped a few interceptions, leading to a career low of just one, however, he posted career highs in tackles (80) and forced fumbles (four) to help keep his fantasy output from dropping too far. Look for Thomas to bounce back in 2015 as the Seahawks look to make it back to the Super Bowl for the third straight year. As one of the leaders of the "Legion of Boom" on one of the league's best defenses, there is little doubt Thomas will produce once again in 2015.

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

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

Many predicted that the Dallas defense, lacking both proven starters and elite-level players, would be the Achilles heel of the team. That didn't prove to be the case, however, as the no-name players formed what they called a "we-fense," which was once again led from the back by Church. Although his numbers were down from his breakout 2013 campaign, Church still played well enough to finish seventh in fantasy scoring at his position. Church posted a new career-high with two interceptions, and will look to build upon his recent streak of success in Year 2 under defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli.

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

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

Woodson tackled pretty much everyone last season, including Father Time. The Heisman winner racked up 113 tackles in 2014 -- the first 100-plus tackle campaign of his venerable career. Woodson's instincts are as good as ever, even if he has lost a bit of the athleticism of his youth. Fantasy owners can breathe a sigh of relief, as Woodson signed on for one more year with the Silver and Black this offseason. As long as he's on the field, he'll be one of the most valuable defensive backs in fantasy as he racks up tackles, turnovers and every other stat he can on the gridiron.

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

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

McDonald was a third-round pick out of USC in 2013, and started just 10 games his rookie year. Fortunately for the Rams, those 10 starts were all the training McDonald needed for a breakout campaign in 2014. McDonald was fourth in the league in solo tackles with 84, and added in two sacks, one interception, one fumble recovery and two blocked kicks for good measure. Head coach Jeff Fisher said last season that McDonald was playing the safety position "as good as any safety in the league." Fantasy owners should look for more of the same in Year 3 with McDonald.

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

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

Mathieu had a long road back to the gridiron last season after sustaining ACL and LCL tears in December of 2013. The Cardinals eased him back into a rotational role at first, which contributed to his lower numbers. Also limiting his production was the cracked thumb he suffered in Week 13. Heading into 2015, Mathieu should be at full strength and vying for one of the starting safety roles in Arizona's secondary. He has the talent, instincts and knack for big plays to make him a fantasy superstar. He's worth drafting as a DB1, but owners would be wise to back him up as well in case the Cardinals continue their rotational defensive backfield in 2015.

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

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

Griffin has had a solid career playing for the Titans, and he rewarded fantasy owners with the second-best statistical production of his career in 2014. Griffin set new highs with 112 combined tackles and three sacks, while adding two interceptions and five pass breakups. The Tennessee defense isn't exactly a stalwart unit, but that doesn't mean players like Griffin can't stand out from the pack. When looking at defensive backs to round out a roster, sure-tacklers like Griffin are an attractive tier-one option after the big names are off the board.

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

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

Bethea's first season in San Francisco was successful, but not up to his usual standards. He failed to accumulate 100-plus tackles for the first time since 2009, but tied his career high with four interceptions. The 10-year veteran has been a proven contributor in IDP leagues since his rookie season, only failing to rack up more than 90 combined tackles twice (last year, and 2007, the last time he missed a game). Bethea will have to learn a new system again under newly-minted defensive coordinator Eric Mangini, but he should still be a lock for solid fantasy production as a mid-tier defensive back.

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

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

After bouncing around the NFL for a decade as a journeyman and occasional starter, it appears Mike Adams has finally found a home in Indianapolis. The savvy veteran proved he has star-caliber abilities by turning in a career-year for the Colts in 2014 that led to him receiving a two-year contract extension. Adams set career-highs in tackles and interceptions, while also tacking on two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and 11 passes defended. The Colts didn't do too much in the offseason to boslter their defensive unit, meaning Adams will be counted on to steady the backcourt once again. He'll have DB1-upside in Chuck Pagano's defense in 2015.

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

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

Ihedigbo missed the first three weeks of the 2014 season with a neck injury, but once he hit the field for the Lions, he played exceptionally well. There was a stretch during the season where few safeties were playing better than Ihedigbo in both fantasy and real life. From Weeks 10 to 14, he notched 26 combined tackles, eight passes defended and all four of his interceptions. The team will rely on Ihedibgbo once again to hold down the backline of their defense. With defensive tackles Nick Fairley and Ndamukong Suh out of the picture, Ihedigbo could have even more on his plate as plays find their way to his area of the field. Give Ihedigbo a chance as a low-end DB1, as he could turn in another strong fantasy season in 2015.

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

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

There was really no bigger surprise among fantasy defensive backs than Kemal Ishmael last season. He was a seventh-round pick out Central Florida in 2013, and largely played on special teams. In 2014, various injuries to starters William Moore and Dwight Lowery paved the way for Ishmael to get more playing time with the defense, and he responded with aplomb. He secured a pick-six in Week 3 on some of his first meaningful snaps, and slowly continued his impressive play as the season went on. Ishmael will be a sleeper next year, and one that can be had in fantasy drafts much later than his final production might warrant. Keep an eye on him and take a chance as the risk could be way worth the reward.

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

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

Rolle has claimed that he has four "great" seasons left in him. While that might be a stretch he likely has at least one more good fantasy season in him (and hey, at least he's not predicting 12 straight wins again). Rolle's numbers dipped a bit last season, but he hasn't missed a game in five years and has posted at least 71 solo tackles in each of those seasons. The Bears defense will welcome those stats from Rolle, as they signed him in the offseason to help shore up their porous defense. Rolle should continue to produce as long as the Bears front seven can cause some disruption up front. However, at 32 years old, Rolle's fantasy value will likely be facing a steep decline in the near future. He's a low-end DB1 for 2015.

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