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DB2s With Top-Five Potential (2022 IDP Fantasy Football)

May 24, 2022
Kyle Hamilton

Welcome to my fantasy football IDP (Individual Defensive Player) deep-dive on players ready to leap to the top of the rankings. Today’s subject: Defensive Backs.

While not all of the following players are destined for a big leap in 2022, there is a path for all of them to beat their current evaluation. At worst, these are players to buy at a bargain. At best, these are DB2s with top-five upside.

A note on expert consensus rankings (ECR): IDP rankings often take longer to update than offensive player rankings. I’m basing the following players on both the FantasyPros redraft and dynasty IDP rankings, ensuring that all of these players are unquestionably ranked outside of the DB1 category. As we approach the season, we may see the rankings change. I suggest you deal for any or all of these players before their price goes up.

This article is part of an ongoing series. If you’re curious about which players might surprise us all and end up in the top five at other IDP positions, please see this article on LB2s With Top-5 Potential.

Let’s begin.

Kamren Curl (DB – WAS)

The Washington Commanders’ defense gave up the fourth-most passing yards, the most passing TDs, and tallied the eighth fewest interceptions in the NFL in 2021. The Washington defensive backfield was undeniably atrocious last season. However, there’s solid reasoning to be high on Kamren Curl for fantasy football purposes in 2022.

He’s entering his third NFL season and posted nearly equivalent seasons from year one to year two. He’s young and has room to improve. Year two presented a few more challenges than his rookie season did, particularly regarding his competition for tackles. He started alongside notorious tackle-machine Landon Collins in 2021. However, Collins is no longer with the team, and the Commanders brought in no one that can be considered competition to Curl.

Get in on Curl now because most see him as a middling DB, which is how he finished in 2022 (DB41), but his ceiling is much higher now that Collins is not on the team. Curl’s rookie season actually started slow and then jumped into DB1 territory when Collins was forced to sit out due to injury. Curl performed like a stud when he had less competition. One could argue his sophomore season was lessened due to the presence of Collins.

The point here is simple:  Curl may not be the best NFL defensive back, but he’s got a legitimate shot at being a fantasy football top-five DB in 2022.

Xavier McKinney (DB  – NYG)

It’s totally acceptable to be out on the New York Giants in 2022. The team seems like a mess. That being said, I would implore you not to overlook Xavier McKinney in your IDP leagues.

After his rookie season was cut short due to a broken foot, he came back in 2021 with a vengeance, finishing as the DB20. He posted 59 tackles, 34 assists, 10 pass deflections, and five interceptions. He was, simply put, a man amongst boys. The rest of the Giants’ defense feels tepid at best, but McKinney is worth rostering.

The Giants’ defense lost their other safety, Jabrill Peppers, to the Patriots. As they attempt to fill more significant holes on this abysmal roster, McKinney will reap the rewards of being the unchallenged top dog for this defense. He should post a career-high in tackles, which would push him quickly up the rankings. The opportunity and talent are both there. Get him before he’s out of reach.

Kyle Hamilton (DB – BAL) 

Yes, I know Kyle Hamilton is a rookie. I’m aware that the likelihood of him finishing as a top-five defensive back is low. Still, there’s an avenue for him to get there right away. He’s currently nowhere to be found in redraft IDP rankings, and he’s only the DB28 in IDP dynasty rankings. Those rankings are nowhere near where he actually should be, so you need to seize the moment and understand that this is a unique player coming into a truly desirable situation.

The Ravens’ defense gave up the eighth-most passing yards in 2021 and did so with the worst Yards Per Play (Y/P) rate in the league (6.0). They also had the fourth-fewest takeaways. Not surprisingly, they gave up the fewest rushing yards, but they also experienced the third-fewest rushing attempts. This team was punished by teams that could pass.

Hamilton stands to improve this pass defense substantially, but he’ll also be able to use his 6’4″ and 220 lbs frame to step up and help against the run. He’s going to put up solid numbers, and the team used a high first-round draft pick on him. Of all the rookie defensive backs, he’s got the highest ceiling.

Divine Deablo (S, LB – LV)

Aside from having the best name in the NFL, Divine Deablo has a real shot to shock IDP managers in 2022. He did very little in 2021, so don’t take his season-long stats as evidence for the kind of player he is.

However, he’s got a unique opportunity that few other players have:  He may be the starting linebacker for the Raiders while still being listed as a defensive back. That would be a massive advantage. Linebackers put up significantly higher tackle totals than most defensive backs. To be listed as a safety and yet put up linebacker-level stats would propel him into the top-five instantly.

The question now is whether or not he’ll make that move. Luckily, we have a segment of play from 2021 (Week 13 through the end of the season) where Deablo was consistently lining up at the linebacker position. During that stretch, he had the best missed-tackle rate for all rookie defenders, meaning he was highly efficient with his tackle opportunities (at least when compared to other rookies).

To put this into perspective, a previous player on this list, McKinney, finished as the DB20 in 2021, and he totaled 59 tackles and 34 assists. Deablo experienced all of his production over five of the last six weeks of the season (he left one game early with an injury). Over the five games where he started at LB and was healthy, he had 23 tackles and 14 assists. Those totals, extrapolated over 17 games, would have been 78 tackles and 48 assists.

That would put him close to the top-five range for DBs. There are quite a few pieces that need to fall into place for that to happen, but the possibility of such a statistical unicorn at the position is enough to make me excited.

CTAs


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Tim Metzler is a featured writer at FantasyPros, known for multiple article series’, including 5 Under 25, Expert Consensus Rantings, his in-season Running Diary and for his dynasty IDP rankings. For more from Tim, check out his archive and follow him @Timmy_The_Metz.

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