As we enter the final week of the fantasy football season, many owners are turning their eyes toward 2019. Before waiver wires close for the offseason, the following are stashes at cornerbacks for 2019.
Josh Jackson – Green Bay Packers
Cornerbacks in IDP are a bit counterintuitive. You generally want the players across from what the league perceives as “shutdown” cornerbacks. So really, you likely want the lesser talented of a team’s two starters at cornerback. So, while you do want a talented player at cornerback for IDP, who you choose is more dependent on who starts across from them. For Green Bay Packers rookie cornerback, that is fellow rookie Jaire Alexander.
Jackson has had a productive season in his own right. He has 48 combined tackles and eight passes defended. Jackson has been playing significant snaps since week one, but since fellow cornerback, Kevin King went down with a hamstring injury, Jackson has become the third cornerback for the Packers.
— Dunn (@JMDHeisman) November 5, 2018
We also know that Jackson is extremely talented from his play in college. At Iowa, in his final season at Iowa, Jackson had 48 tackles and a huge 18 passes defended with eight interceptions. Jackson graded out as PFF’s best cornerback entering the 2018 NFL draft. He was picked by the Packers in the second round, which was a huge steal considering his talent level.
— PFF GB Packers (@PFF_Packers) April 28, 2018
But, as I said, this is more about Alexander. Alexander has been phenomenal this season with 62 tackles, 11 passes defended, and one interception. He has been lockdown at times and is one of PFF’s highest graded rookie cornerbacks.
The highest graded rookie cornerbacks so far this season. pic.twitter.com/3Z2OrEz22A
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) December 22, 2018
Alexander and Jackson are an up-and-coming cornerback tandem. They should continue to see successes. The current landscape has Alexander as close to a shutdown cornerback and much more well known than Jackson. Jackson should see more targets in the near future and therefore more statistical opportunities. That is why you should stash him for 2019.
Grant Haley – New York Giants
This one is actually based on his own merits. New York Giants rookie cornerback Grant Haley has come on of late. After not playing at all in the Giants first seven games of the season, Haley’s snap share has continually climbed through the rest of the season. Haley has rewarded the Giants for the increased playing time. On the season, Haley has 26 tackles, three tackles for loss, and two passes defended.
5. CB Grant Haley
The undrafted rookie out of Penn St has shown he can be effective when playing in the slot. His slot Coverage Grade of 75.0 ranks 3rd behind among rookie slot defenders. The only 2 ahead of him are 1st round picks Jaire Alexander & Derwin James.#GiantsPride pic.twitter.com/7eLZ18vcJu
— Matt Stopsky (@PFF_Stopsky) December 21, 2018
Haley went undrafted in the 2018 NFL draft. He as risen quickly into prominence. Haley went from not playing at the beginning of the season to being graded as one of the top rookie cornerbacks by PFF. He also boasts the third-best coverage grade in the slot among rookies, only behind Alexander, mentioned above, and Los Angeles Chargers safety Derwin James.
Haley seems to be the Giants main slot corner going into next season. With the rise of the slot receiver and “11” personnel in the NFL, slot cornerbacks are increasingly valuable in the NFL and IDP. Haly is a stash for 2019.
Quincy Wilson – Indianapolis Colts
Indianapolis Colts second-year cornerback Quincy Wilson has had a productive start to his career. Through two seasons, Wilson has 45 tackles, eight passes defended and two interceptions. But, like Jackson, this is more about Wilson’s partners in the secondary.
Fellow second-year cornerback Kenny Moore II has taken a huge step forward this season. On the season, Moore has 68 tackles, four tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, nine passes defended, two interceptions and one forced fumble. Moore has also been credited with 17 coverage stops, which ranks fourth among all cornerbacks.
The other aspect is Wilson’s upcoming situation. Current starting cornerback Pierre Desir’s contract is up after this season. If the Colts choose not to bring Desir back, which very possible with the emergence of Moore and Wilson, Wilson would step into a starting role. This, of course, leads to more opportunity to make plays. And that is why Wilson is a stash.
Terrance Mitchell – Cleveland Browns
Another one that is more about the counterpart. Mitchell has had a frustrating season in 2018. He was placed on IR after fracturing his wrist. Fortunately, he was designated for return. In the games he has played, Mitchell has been productive. In his six games, Mitchell has three or more tackles in each and has combined for five passes defended, one interception and two forced fumbles.
While Terrance Mitchell struggled at points tonight, still great to see him come back from injury so quick. Played well before his injury and I fully anticipate him to improve over the next two weeks and to be better than ever come next September. pic.twitter.com/1c2eecZVTC
— Dawg Pound News (@DawgPoundNews) December 16, 2018
We know that Mitchell can be a productive cornerback based on his NFL career. In 2017, with the Kansas City Chiefs, Mitchell produced 52 tackles, 18 passes defended, and four interceptions. He also earned the starting job with the Cleveland Browns for his play in the preseason.
He was a second-round draft pick, but he's been the highest graded cornerback in the NFL this preseason. pic.twitter.com/Z2Zjj8gLSi
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) August 29, 2018
Mitchell’s counterpart in the secondary is rookie Denzel Ward. Ward was taken fourth overall by the Browns in the 2018 NFL Draft. He has lived up to that draft pick. Ward has 48 tackles, 11 passes defended, and three interceptions this season. He has been the top graded rookie cornerback this season by PFF. In fact, Ward is tied for fifth in PFF’s top cornerbacks this season.
As Ward’s reputation grows, quarterbacks and offenses will avoid him. This means that the cornerback opposite of Ward will get a lot more looks in coverage. Currently, that is Terrance Mitchell. If Mitchell can continue to produce as he has in 2018 for a full season in 2019, he will be very valuable in IDP.
Marlon Humphrey – Baltimore Ravens
Baltimore Ravens second-year cornerback Marlon Humphrey has been great in his first two seasons in the NFL. Humphrey has combined for 65 tackles, four tackles for loss, 23 (!) passes defended, and three interceptions. He also the eighth-highest graded cornerback in 2018 by PFF.
According to @PFF, Alabama has 4 former DBs that are ranked in the top 10 at their respective position.
Eddie Jackson (93.2 – No. 1 S)
Kareem Jackson (84.7 – No. 5 CB)
Marlon Humphrey (81.7 – No. 8 CB)
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (81.6 – No. 9 S)
Levi Wallace just missed it (No. 13 CB). pic.twitter.com/tQctqP3K3B
— Clint Lamb (@ClintRLamb) December 17, 2018
Since Week 7, Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey is allowing the lowest catch rate in the NFL. That, and an observation on every team in the NFL below.
⬇️ ⬇️ ⬇️ https://t.co/RK6eXc0xTb
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) December 6, 2018
Really, Humphrey is probably one of the top cornerbacks in the league. Under normal circumstances, he would likely be one that quarterbacks avoided. However, Humphrey starts across Jimmy Smith. While one can argue that Humphrey is the better of the two cornerbacks, Smith still has the reputation of being a top cornerback in the league. He also had the fourth-lowest passer rating in coverage in 2017.
Jimmy Smith allowed the fourth-lowest passer rating in his coverage among CBs in 2017! pic.twitter.com/U8YNNAuB52
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) June 7, 2018
Until Smith proves that he is not the cornerback he used to be, teams will likely continue to avoid throwing his direction. Thus, Humphrey will see more targets and continue to make plays.
These cornerbacks have a chance to have productive or breakout seasons in 2019. Most if not all are likely available on the waiver wire. Take a risk and pick them for the chance at an uptick in value or cheap production.