Owners in IDP fantasy football leagues are well aware of and freely employ the ‘rookie corner rule’ when setting their weekly line-ups. For the uninitiated, it’s really quite simple. Rookie cornerbacks have a tendency to get picked on…a lot. Bad for them, good for us.
There is fantasy gold to be mined from the abuse heaped on rookie corners and examining just which ‘newbies’ are garnering the most attention and fantasy points is vital in staying ahead of the curve.
As we near the quarter-pole of the 2012 season, let’s take a look at the top-five fantasy scoring rookie cornerbacks and their chances of maintaining their current level of production. To say there are a some surprising names is akin to saying that Bob Sanders was “a little bit injury prone.” Yet another insider joke for IDP aficionados. I will try to contain myself from here on out. No promises though. Alright, let’s get to it.
1. Josh Norman, Carolina Panthers: Didn’t see that one coming did you? The fifth round draft pick from Coastal Carolina beat out Captain Munnerlyn during the preseason for a starting position and has been a nice fantasy surprise. Norman has put up 23 total tackles, many of those coming on balls that were completed to the man he is covering and quarterbacks are going to continue to challenge him. While he has yet to have had a touchdown thrown on him he isn’t overly physical and still a bit raw in coverage. The Panthers defense will be on the field a lot in 2012 and Norman is entrenched as a starting CB, so he will continue to be an excellent fantasy option.
2. Janoris Jenkins, St. Louis Rams: Now here is a name we recognize. Maybe it isn’t for the right reasons, as Jenkins was the talk of the draft. His checkered past (I’m being kind here) placed a huge red flag on him during April’s draft. The Rams took a chance on the kid from North Alabama (hey, it was officially the last college he attended) with the 39th overall pick in the second round. He was instantly inserted into the starting line-up opposite Cortland Finnegan, which placed an even bigger bulls-eye on Jenkins. He’s been thrown at an average of eight times a game, has picked off one pass and given up one touchdown. Eventually, he will earn the respect of quarterbacks around the league, as he does have considerable talent, but not this season. He’ll take his lumps and his fantasy owners will take the points he amasses.
3. Stephon Gilmore, Buffalo Bills: Ah, we finally have a first round draft pick making an appearance in the top five. Gilmore went to the Bills with the 10th overall pick last April and stepped right in as a starter for Buffalo. At 6′ 1″, and 190 pounds, Gilmore flashed skills in training camp that had teammates comparing him to Darrelle Revis. If only, as so far Gilmore has been torched for two touchdowns, with over 225 yards amassed by the receivers he’s covered. You can bet Tom Brady has taken notice and will challenge him this week. Gilmore has the skill set to be a shut-down corner but needs to be more consistent with his physical play. Until he puts it all together, he will continue to be targeted early and often. Fantasy owners can sit back and enjoy the fantasy production for at least the rest of the 2012 season.
4. Corey White, New Orleans Saints: Here is another name I dare folks to have picked prior to the season as someone in the top-five fantasy scoring cornerbacks at any point in the season. White was a strong safety while at Samford (no idea where that is? Me either), was selected in the 5th round and expected to be mainly a special teams contributor. After the first three games, White has played 211 of a possible 237 defensive snaps for the Saints, mainly as a cornerback and has fifteen total tackles. Quarterbacks have completed fifteen of the sixteen passes thrown White’s way and if we know that you can bet a gaggle of offensive coordinators do as well. The Saints defense is a mess, no one is challenging White for snaps and that means fantasy goodness for his owners in IDP leagues.
5. Josh Robinson, Minnesota Vikings: Keeping with the theme of ‘who the heck is that?’, we have third round draft selection Josh Robinson, out of Central Florida. Robinson replaced an injured Chris Cook in the Vikings opening game against Jacksonville and with Cook’s return, has been mainly a situational player for Minnesota. However, in limited action he has managed to rack up ten total tackles, two passes defended and a week three interception to help salt away the upset of the 49ers. All that being said, Robinson will soon fade from this list of top scorers due to his limited opportunities and lack of playing time.
So there we have it. A glance at where the ‘rookie corner rule’ is in full effect and the benefit that it affords fantasy owners. Throughout the season we will continue to monitor the scoring of rookie cornerbacks, seeing just how long this group will sit atop the list. In the meantime, to quote ‘The Who”…The kids are alright.