Cornerbacks: The Rodney Dangerfield of everyone’s Dynasty IDP team. No respect. Over the last couple years, NFL teams have made a habit of making the cornerback position one the highest paid positions in the league. I think I heard someone say this is now a passing league… or something like that.
Unfortunately, cornerbacks sometimes just don’t offer the same value in Dynasty leagues as they do in the NFL. The reason being, they generally don’t put up fantasy points if they are doing their jobs. Think about it. If a cornerback is good enough to be called a “shutdown” corner, smart QBs just won’t throw in their direction. If they don’t throw in that CB’s direction, you get less tackle and defended pass opportunities.
Before I even start trying to explain what corner you should be looking for when building your team just remember this is the most unpredictable position in Dynasty football. By no means useless, but just really hard to gauge which ones will have success season to season. Key words there are “season to season”. If you can find 2 or 3 consistent cornerbacks each week you could have an advantage over most of your opponent. It’s actually harder than you think if you stick to the conventional NFL thought process of who’s elite.
When picking corners to be on your team, first off, you have to look for the guys that are going to be on the field the most. Snap count is king for all IDP. Next, keep in mind how corners gather fantasy points. There is tackles, pass defenses, interceptions, fumbles, punt/kick returns, sacks, and touchdowns. In the end you want to roster at least 3 corners that can average 8 points per week with some upside potential for 10-15 points.
The “shut down” corners: The guys with the highest upside for interceptions and touchdowns are the ball hawking “shut down” corners like Darrelle Revis, Richard Sherman, Patrick Peterson, etc. It won’t surprise me to see a corner like these guys have the occasional 20-point game but also end up outside of the top 30 in CB scoring. Basically the consistency will not be there to confidently start this corner each week. You have a chance to see multiple weeks where this guy will only get you 2 points in a week and will struggle to still average 7-10 points per week even with a dud weeks. There is nothing wrong with having this type of corner on your roster, it is just I would advise against overpaying because you can’t use these type of corners for more than a matchup based starter. These corners are best against struggling QBs that are known to throw INTs (Andrew Luck 2015) but can also be played against good QBs when covering elite WRs. Few elite WRs get completely shut down. I would start any corner that’s covering Julio Jones, Odell Beckham, etc.
Rookies and inexperienced corners: In my opinion, the best sneaky play at cornerback for fantasy is the rookie/inexperienced corners and slot corners. Sound weird right? Well the biggest liabilities in the secondary of a team’s defense usually put up the most consistent points week after week. Undersized corners and/or corners with little experience (rookies and UDFA) will get picked on a lot by most QBs. High drafted rookies are usually a steal in fantasy leagues. The best corner in the draft will usually cost around a 3rd in most league formats. You can usually find a lot of value in the later rounds for corners. Marcus Peters and Ronald Darby paid off big time for MDL teams last year. They ended up as CB1 and CB5 respectively, separated by 56pts. Peters was picked 52 picks earlier than Darby at pick 130 in MDL5. Don’t overlook undrafted FA’s that are seeing playing time. Draft wisely friends.
Slot Corners: The slot corners (inside corners) cover slot receivers and/or TEs running over the middle of the field. Since most pass attempts are within 20 yards of the line of scrimmage, slot corners can get a lot of opportunities for tackles. I will take a CB that will get 4-5 tackles per game over a guy that will have a ceiling of 7-8 interceptions per year. Sometimes these guys are considered poor NFL CB’s and aren’t trusted to cover #1 WRs or any WR on the outside. Most of the time they don’t last long as productive dynasty players or solid starters in the NFL. Slot corners can sometimes mean they are one season away from the bench. If you can find them in that special place between serviceable starter and bench warmer, you my friend, may have found fantasy gold. Nothing like profiting on someone else’s failures. I wouldn’t consider many slot corners for extensions or long terms contracts. Honestly, I would consider trading them immediately after their productive fantasy season if you happen to have them in a multi-year deal.
Punt/Kick Returners: There is one scenario where I don’t mind overpaying/ reaching in the draft a tad to get my guy. There are a select few CB’s that return kicks. You can’t overlook this; it can add upside to your cornerback that can give you an extra 2-3 point advantage each week if the player is consistent. One piece of warning though, these types of corners usually only run kick returns very early in their careers. Once they are established as an elite-ish or more then rotational talent, teams don’t risk them on kick returns very often.
Okay now that you know the main types, how do you roster them? It’s my opinion that you want one shutdown corner and one rookie going into the season. That’s best case scenario prior to week 1 but they may not be your starters for week 1. Which leads me to the last type of corner.
Waiver Corners: This is the most challenging boom/bust corner. Not for the set it and forget it manager. Most managers overlook this aspect of waivers but trust me, it’s worth looking each week. Chances are all the elite CBs are not available on waivers so you are likely going to be picking up guys most have never heard of. This is a week to week gamble but I have had plenty of 20-ish point games from waiver CB’s to know that the risk is usually worth the reward. You could legitimately do this with both starting CBs the entire season and have success. It might be easier to gauge which guys to plug and play as the season goes on. With these guys, it’s going to come down to the matchup. Here are a couple tips when looking for your waiver wire wonders
- Follow snap counts and coach interviews. This is the easiest indicator of who’s in line to start should something happen to the current starter. After a bad performance or a big injury to starting CB, the coach could mention that he’s excited about “X” player, or so and so will compete to start next week. Coaches also lie so proceed with caution and if you are having a hard time between two CBs, let the snap count be the tie breaker.
- You want a matchup from a QB that’s recently been prone to throwing picks or any backup that is suddenly a starter due to injury. This could either be a disaster because the QB is so bad he only has single digit completions or it be a homerun if your guy can pull off the pick 6.
- Find the corners covering elite receivers and tight ends. No reason to overthink this one.
- Follow the injuries and follow depth charts. Knowing who the backups are is what give you an edge in any position for waivers. There are always 2-3 teams during the year that have so many injuries, all their starting CBs are scrubs. They are also cycling in new guy’s week to week if they are struggling. Good QBs will find these weak links and attack them over and over again. Good tackle floor. He might lose his team the game but he will likely get you a ton of tackles in the process.
5. If the CB doesn’t have a household name, be very cautious of chasing stats week to week. If you find a CB that put up 15 points last week and they were all from tackles, that’s actually a bad sign. Big tackle numbers one week usually mean your CB is giving up plays and this isn’t going to sit well with the coach. He may not even play next week. The exception are those extra effort guys like Malcolm Butler, who are sideline to sideline making tackles and instinctively blowing up screen passes. It’s much more likely that the guy you are looking at just sucks and you are heading for a goose egg if you are chasing points. On the flip side, if the CB you are looking at just had a game with 3 passes defended and an interception (or better, a pick 6), chances are he’s earned a couple more weeks of playing times. It’s much safer to forget about last week’s points and put trust in the matchups.