This is the seventh installment of a 10 part series spotlighting players that will make a significant leap in the 2015 NFL season. If you haven’t checked out our feature on the Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert, I suggest giving it a read. Each player featured in this series are prime prospects to target in season long formats, as well as early season IDP lineups before their prices rise. Let’s get into it!
2015-2016 NFL Breakout Ballers: Xavier Rhodes
Why We Believe
For NFL fantasy enthusiasts: Xavier Rhodes heads into his third season in the NFL, and second season as the team’s number one cornerback. Rhodes was expected to make a big leap last season, and he did that and more in 2014. As a rookie, Rhodes showed some promise with his size and length after being selected in the first round of the 2013 draft. Last season, with Mike Zimmer coming in as the new head coach and considered the defensive backs guru, Rhodes thrived in the new system and played some elite level football. Now heading into his third season, and second in Zimmer’s defense, expect an even bigger jump for Rhodes and for him to become a household name. Rhodes will continue to shadow the opposing team’s number one receiver week in and week out.
What the Numbers Tell Us
Now let’s take a look at why Xavier Rhodes numbers from 2014 will only vault him into the top 10 list for cornerbacks, and possibly the top 20 for all defensive backs in IDP fantasy leagues. Rhodes as a rookie was able to collect 5 tackles for loss and 10 passes defended in 13 games. In his sophomore season Rhodes started to turn into the shutdown corner he was expected to become. Although he only collected one interception, the biggest stat that stands out in his second season was the 18 passes defended, which ranked tied for third in the entire NFL. Rhodes may not have ranked in the top 50 for fantasy defensive backs last season, but his numbers do not tell the entire story of his ascension in the league.
Now, headed into his third season, Rhodes looked primed to become the ultimate shutdown corner for a rising defense. With Harrison Smith, new found rookie Trae Waynes and veteran Terrance Newman, Rhodes will have the help he needs to continue his rise up the ranks. Also, expect his interception totals to increase substantially, and for him to be one of the league leaders in interceptions this season.
The numbers Rhodes has the chance to produce this season are unlimited with his combination of size and speed. With the opportunity to play in Mike Zimmer’s man to man defense, Rhodes gets to play to his strengths. We saw what Rhodes could do in his first season in Zimmer’s defense, his fantasy translation should vault him up fantasy draft boards. With the new opportunities to play IDP (Individual Defensive Players) fantasy leagues, Rhodes should be a hot commodity for defensive backs.
The Vikings brought in key players on the defensive side of the ball in order for Rhodes to continue his rise and success. With those key players, teams will be less inclined to throw his way, but when they do it should provide him better turnover opportunities. For Rhodes to get to the top tier of fantasy defensive backs, he is going to have to stay healthy and increase his interception numbers substantially, which I think he will. Rhodes should be a defensive back to look for on the rise in IDP league drafts and as a steal in later rounds.
2015 Stats Predictions: 70 total tackles, 8 TFL’s and 5 Interceptions
2015 Fantasy Prediction: 115.40 Season Total, Weekly Avg: 7.21
*All stats and rankings are from fantasydata.com
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