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  • Defensive Backs for 2022 Fantasy Football: Safeties

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    Identifying the best defensive backs can be difficult, but this team-by-team list of starting safeties will make your IDP draft much easier.


    Listed below are each team’s starting defensive backs at the safety position for 2022.

    Team

    Player

    Re-Draft

    DB Tier

    2021

    Pre-Snap

    Alignment

    2021 

    Scoring
    Avg.

    ARI Budda Baker DB1 Deep S17
    ARI Jalen Thompson DB2 Box S15
    ATL Jaylinn Hawkins   Box S102
    ATL Richie Grant   CB S97
    BAL Chuck Clark DB3 Box S36
    BAL Marcus Williams * DB3 Deep S47
    BUF Jordan Poyer DB1 Deep S9
    BUF Micah Hyde DB3 Deep S19
    CAR Jeremy Chinn DB1 Box S13
    CAR Xavier Woods * DB4 Deep S11
    CHI Jaquan Brisker DB4 Rookie Rookie
    CHI Eddie Jackson DB4 Box S52
    CIN Vonn Bell DB1 Box S16
    CIN Jessie Bates DB2 Deep S29
    CLE Grant Delpit   Box S58
    CLE John Johnson DB4 Deep S57
    DAL Jayron Kearse (S1) DB4 Box S10
    DAL Donovan Wilson (S2)   Box S90
    DAL Malik Hooker (S3)   Box S89
    DEN Kareem Jackson DB4 Deep S42
    DEN Justin Simmons DB1 Deep S21
    DET DeShon Elliott *   Deep S50
    DET Tracy Walker DB2 Deep S20
    GB Adrian Amos DB3 Deep S30
    GB Darnell Savage   Deep S65
    HOU Jonathan Owens   Deep S105
    HOU Jalen Pitre DB3 Rookie Rookie
    IND Nick Cross   Rookie Rookie
    IND Julian Blackmon   Deep S63
    JAC Rayshawn Jenkins   Box S55
    JAC Andre Cisco   Deep S113
    KC Juan Thornhill   Deep S76
    KC Justin Reid * DB2 Deep S49
    LAC Derwin James DB1 Box S1
    LAC Nasir Adderley DB3 Deep S24
    LAR

    Jordan Fuller

    Taylor Rapp

    DB2

    DB3

    Deep

    Box

    S26

    S38

    LAR Nick Scott   Deep S96
    LV Johnathan Abram DB4 Box S6
    LV Trevon Moehrig   Deep S84
    MIA Brandon Jones DB3 Box S35
    MIA Jevon Holland DB2 Deep S37
    MIN Harrison Smith DB1 Box S2
    MIN Camryn Bynum   Deep S99
    NE Adrian Phillips DB3 Box S32
    NE Devin McCourty   Deep S62
    NO Marcus Maye * DB3 Box S18
    NO Tyrann Mathieu * DB2 Box S25
    NYG Julian Love   Box/CB S73
    NYG Xavier McKinney DB1 Deep S23
    NYJ Jordan Whitehead * DB2 Box S22
    NYJ Lamarcus Joyner   Deep S132
    PHI

    C. Gardner-Johnson *

      CB S43
    PHI Marcus Epps   Deep S77
    PIT Terrell Edmunds DB3 Box S39
    PIT Minkah Fitzpatrick DB1 Deep S5
    SF Talanoa Hufanga   Deep S103
    SF Jimmie Ward   Deep S48
    SEA Jamal Adams DB1 Box S8
    SEA Quandre Diggs DB2 Deep S27
    TB Mike Edwards   Box/CB S54
    TB Antoine Winfield DB1 Deep S3
    TEN Amani Hooker DB4 Deep S45
    TEN Kevin Byard DB1 Deep S7
    WAS Kamren Curl DB2 Box/CB S31
    WAS Bobby McCain   Deep S69

    * Indicates New Team

    “Deep” indicates >50% of deep pre-snap alignment

    Check out the IDP Draft Kit for your IDP cheat sheets and IDP fantasy football rankings.


    Arizona Cardinals

    It appears that Jalen Thompson will wear the green dot and call the defensive plays.  Thompson should have another great year, but it may be difficult for him to repeat his impressive 121 total tackles.

    Budda Baker’s scoring decreased in 2021 due to an increase in deep snaps. With the team considering Isaiah Simmons in a hybrid “star backer” role, it could also hinder the box safety opportunities for Baker.

    Atlanta Falcons

    The Falcons will give youngsters Richie Grant and Jaylinn Hawkins every chance to earn the starting roles. Last year, Grant served as a nickel cornerback due to injuries in the secondary, but the team is counting on him for a much bigger role this season. I expect the Falcons to run a lot of two-high safety looks, so those expecting Grant to play mostly box safety may be disappointed.

    Baltimore Ravens

    Kyle Hamilton (DB2) is currently listed as a backup, but I expect the team will frequently use three safeties on the field at once. Chuck Clark will wear the green dot and call the defensive plays. Free-agent addition Marcus Williams is expected to play deep.

    Buffalo Bills

    Jordan Poyer missed the second preseason game due to an elbow injury, but seeing him working out with the team during pregame was encouraging. Micah Hyde should see a drop in fantasy scoring, as it will be difficult for him to repeat his five interceptions from a year ago.

    Carolina Panthers

    Jeremy Chinn led the Panthers in tackles in 2021 and will be joined by former Viking Xavier Woods for the coming season. Some fantasy owners expressed concerns about his slight drop in scoring in 2021, but I project Chinn to be a top-five scoring defensive back in 2022.

    Update 8/30/22: In the preseason, Xavier Woods has been lining up in the box while Jeremy Chinn has been lining up deep (23 out of 31), according to @JoeyTheToothIDP. Woods could be a sleeper and Chinn could be someone to avoid at current ADP if this trend continues into the regular season.

    Chicago Bears

    The Bears drafted Jaquan Brisker in the second round, and he is expected to immediately serve in a box safety role. 24% of Brisker’s snaps were deep in the first preseason game. Of all rookie IDP defensive backs, Brisker should be drafted in the Top 2. Brisker recently underwent hand surgery, but the team hopes he will be able to return by Week 1.  Source

    Cincinnati Bengals

    The Bengals placed the franchise tag on Jessie Bates, but he avoided signing the $12.9 million tender until August 23rd, since he was seeking a long-term commitment from the team.

    With Bates back in the fold, the safety room becomes crowded with Vonn Bell and Daxton Hill.  Bell and Hill will both see a decrease in re-draft value, in the coming weeks, due to Bates’ return.

    Some people thought that the team may have drafted Hill as insurance in case Bates didn’t return to the team. Hill projects as a deep safety with slot cornerback abilities and he has graded out well in the preseason.

    Cleveland Browns

    Grant Delpit will take over the starting strong safety spot, so he is a sleeper candidate and someone you should consider at the end of your drafts. If you recall, an Achilles injury derailed Delpit’s 2020 rookie campaign, and he didn’t carve out a full-time role until late in 2021.

    Dallas Cowboys

    The Cowboys list three safeties on their unofficial depth chart, which makes sense since the team uses many three-safety looks. Jayron Kearse is the defensive back in this group to own since he spends a lot of time in the box and even called the defense last year. Kearse is undervalued at his current ADP but you should monitor his back injury that recently popped up.  Source

    Denver Broncos

    Justin Simmons had a slight drop in production in 2021, but I’m expecting a rebound in 2022. Second-year player, Caden Sterns, is preparing to take over for veteran Kareem Jackson but will most likely serve in a part-time role.

    Detroit Lions

    The Lions have remade their safety group in 2022. Will Harris has moved to cornerback, DeShon Elliott was signed in free agency, and the team drafted Kerby Joseph in the third round. Tracy Walker anchors this group on the field and is the one safety worth owning from this group.

    Green Bay Packers

    Darnell Savage has been nursing a hamstring injury since August 5th, but it doesn’t sound concerning for his Week 1 availability.  Adrian Amos may not be a flashy scorer or an exciting name, but he could be a nice depth piece to build out your roster.

    Update 9/4: Savage returned to practice 8/28 and appears ready for the start of the season.

    Houston Texans

    You may be surprised to hear that Jonathan Owens has been practicing with the first team, while Eric Murray has been relegated to the second team. In addition, rookie Jalen Pitre has been manning the starting spot opposite Owens. In the preseason, Owens has lined up deeper than Pitre so far.

    Update 9/4: It sounds like Jonathan Owens has earned a starting spot amongst the defensive backs.

    Indianapolis Colts

    Once Khari Willis retired, Nick Cross started getting everyone’s attention. Cross is an exciting rookie with 4.34 speed and the ability to “lay the wood” as a hard-hitting defender. According to PFF, Cross has been playing in the box in the preseason and has graded out well.

    Julian Blackmon will be paired with Cross and serve as the defense’s back-end leader. Rodney McLeod may occasionally rotate in for Cross as the rookie transitions to the NFL game.

    Jacksonville Jaguars

    Andre Cisco will take over the starting free safety spot next to Rayshawn Jenkins. Cisco was drafted in the third round in 2021 and didn’t take on a full-time role until late in the season due to injuries in the secondary. Andrew Wingard will be the third safety, while Jenkins remains the only safety worth rostering at this point.

    Kansas City Chiefs

    Justin Reid was signed to a massive three-year, $31.5 million contract to replace Tyrann Mathieu in the offseason. Juan Thornhill will start alongside Reid, while second-round rookie Bryan Cook will serve in a backup role in year one.

    Los Angeles Chargers

    Derwin James becomes the highest-paid safety in the league with a new four-year, $76.5 million contract. James finished as the top scoring safety in 2021 and racked up an impressive 117 total tackles while missing two games. James will wear the green dot, while Nasir Adderley serves in the other starting role. Derwin James should be the top safety on most draft boards.

    Los Angeles Rams

    The initial depth chart listed Taylor Rapp starting next to Nick Scott, but the chart has been updated to list both Rapp and Fuller as starting Strong Safety. Jordan Fuller missed the playoffs due to an ankle injury from which he is still recovering. Unfortunately, we will have to wait until Week 1 to better understand how this safety rotation will play out.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Rapp and Fuller are the two starters. I am trying to avoid rostering any of the three safeties with this murky situation.

    Las Vegas Raiders

    The Raiders have a new defensive coordinator, and this could have the biggest impact on Johnathan Abram. Gus Bradley frequently used Abram in the box and blitzing situations in 2021.

    Miami Dolphins

    Both Jevon Holland and Brandon Jones can be viable fantasy starters. Holland is the better football player, but Jones gets more tackle opportunities by lining up in the box. If Jones can’t improve his coverage ability, he won’t make it more than one season as a starter, but camp reports have been promising thus far.

    Holland and Jones both get blitz opportunities, which gives them a scoring boost in leagues that reward sacks.

    Minnesota Vikings

    When Lewis Cine was drafted in the first round, many expected he would be handed the starting job opposite Harrison Smith. However, Camryn Bynum has been holding off the rookie and relegating Cine to the second team. As a result, Cine may have to settle for the three-safety sets to start the season. I expect Cine to surpass Bynum relatively early in the season.

    The Vikings produced two top 12 scoring safeties last year, but this will be especially hard to repeat since the team has a new defensive coordinator (Ed Donatell) and will implement a 3-4 scheme.

    Some have speculated that Harrison Smith could be traded, but Minnesota hasn’t expressed any interest in trading him. In addition, finding a team willing to take on the 33-year-old safety and his contract may be difficult. I expect Smith to have another top-12 scoring year with the Vikings.

    New England Patriots

    If you can predict how the Patriots will use their safeties this year, you may be Nostradamus. New England is loaded at the safety position with Devin McCourty, Adrian Phillips, Kyle Dugger, and Jabrill Peppers. The Patriots frequently use three-safety looks, but at least two of these players are looking at a part-time role.

    The current depth chart lists Devin McCourty and Adrian Phillips as the starters. There are weeks where Dugger may only be used 75%, but he has shown he can still be a productive DB2 while serving in this role. In baseball terms, I expect Devin McCourty to play center fielder while Belichick mixes and matches the other three safeties.

    As Jabrill Peppers works his way back from an ACL injury, we are reminded that health and depth are of utmost importance on defense.

    New Orleans Saints

    The Saints will have two new starters at safety in Marcus Maye and Tyrann Mathieu. Both can play deep, and in the box, so it should help the team disguise their defensive looks. The team will become more versatile with their safeties and move away from how they used Malcolm Jenkins (box) and Marcus Williams (deep).

    Mathieu may not be the same player he was at the start of his career, but the change in scenery may help his fantasy production.

    Update 8/30/22: The Saints have traded away slot corner Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, this may open up additional slot opportunities for Tyrann Mathieu.

    Update 9/1/22: Marcus Maye was allegedly arrested this morning for aggravated assault with a firearm.

    New York Giants

    Earlier in the offseason, I was pessimistic about Xavier McKinney‘s 2022 outlook, but a lot has changed since then. Not only has McKinney earned the green dot to call plays, but he has also increased his box snaps in the preseason. In addition, the new defensive coordinator, “Wink” Martindale, loves to bring blitz pressure from all positions.

    The Giants drafted Dane Belton in the fourth round, but he has since broken his collarbone and may not be ready for Week 1. Belton is expected to work his way into the nickel and dime packages once he is fully healthy.

    Julian Love is a versatile defender that has been used as a cornerback, box safety, and deep safety since joining the Giants in 2019. I get the impression that Love will be used deep on first and second downs but will move up on third downs and could see the occasional blitz.

    Update 9/2: With the recent release of Blake Martinez, don’t be surprised if the Giants use more three defensive back looks. Dane Belton could get playing time sooner than expected.

    New York Jets

    Lamarcus Joyner only made it through nine plays last year before a season-ending arm injury in Week 1. Joyner will be back with the team and expected to man the free safety spot, while Jordan Whitehead plays strong safety.

    Whitehead joins the Jets after winning a Super Bowl with Tom Brady and the Buccaneers last season. Whitehead replaces Marcus Maye and could be someone to keep an eye on since Maye was productive in this defense.

    Philadelphia Eagles

    Most Eagles fans expected the team to upgrade the safety room in the offseason, but the team must have confidence in Marcus Epps because they didn’t bring in any competition. Epps has not only carved out a starting role, but he appears to be the leader of the safety room.

    Epps graded out well last year in a part-time role, so it will be interesting to see if he can maintain this level of play with an increased role. Keep your eye on Epps because he may end up playing strong safety. I could easily envision this former sixth-round pick becoming a popular Week 1 waiver add.

    The Philadelphia safeties may see their scoring opportunities decrease in 2022 due to a much-improved defense surrounding them. Additions to the defense include Haason Reddick, Kyzir White, Jordan Davis, and Nakobe Dean.

    Update 8/30/22: The Eagles have acquired Chauncey Gardner-Johnson from the Saints, and cut Anthony Harris. Gardner-Johnson has historically played in the slot or closer to the line, so Epps may play deeper as a result.

    Pittsburgh Steelers

    Minkah Fitzpatrick recently signed a massive four-year, $73.6 million contract. He scored fourth in safety in 2021, after finishing #16 in 2020 and #13 in 2019. I do not expect Fitzpatrick to have a huge drop, but I’m not prepared to put him in my top five. It is rather difficult for defensive backs to repeat top-five performances, and Fitzpatrick lined up deep around 79% of the time in 2021.  

    San Francisco 49ers

    Jimmie Ward suffered a significant hamstring injury and is at risk of missing games at the start of the season. Tarvarius Moore is expected to fill in for Ward and man the spot next to Talanoa Hufanga. With Fred Warner, Dre Greenlaw, and Azeez Al-Shaair roaming the middle of the field, there are not as many tackle opportunities for the defensive backs in San Francisco.  

    Seattle Seahawks

    Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs will anchor Seattle’s secondary. Adams has been a top scorer in the past several seasons when healthy. However, he has dropped out of our top five due to some recent concerns. Adams broke a finger and has been wearing a cast at practices.

    In addition, Adams’ play on the field started to decline last year. Lastly, Seattle has a new defensive coordinator who may not allow Adams to blitz quite so frequently.

    Tennessee Titans

    Kevin Byard and Amani Hooker are locked into the starting safety roles. Byard plays more deep snaps than I typically prefer, but he is a playmaker and has finished in the top 10 in each of the past two seasons.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers

    Antoine Winfield will lead the secondary, while Mike Edwards is listed as the second starter.  Don’t be surprised if Logan Ryan has more snaps and outperforms Edwards. Winfield and Ryan will spend some time as slot corners as well. Meanwhile, Keanu Neal will miss the rest of the preseason with an undisclosed injury.

    Update 8/30/22: Logan Ryan has been released, but there are rumors floating around that he will be re-signed by the team.

    Update 9/4: Ryan has signed back with the team.

    Washington Commanders

    Many will remember Kamren Curl as being a key IDP waiver add in the 2020 season, but in 2021 Curl proved that his prior success was not a fluke. I expect even bigger things for Curl in 2022 due to the departure of Landon Collins. Curl’s production was limited by Collins’ return from injury in 2021.  

    Update 8/31: Kamren Curl spotted at practice with his arm in a sling; waiting on additional information. Sound like he had a thumb injury that may have required surgery. Lovie Smith is tight-lipped with Curl’s injury status.

    Clink on this Link If you like to Find the Next Derwin James.


    At this point, you may be exhausted from reading all this information about defensive backs, so here is a little music video as a reward. Enjoy!


    @MasterIDP Special: Top 7 Rookie Defensive Backs for Re-Draft

    1. Jaquan Brisker
    2. Nick Cross
    3. Kyle Hamilton
    4. Jalen Pitre
    5. Lewis Cine
    6. Bryan Cook
    7. Daxton Hill

    Thank you for reading! Follow me on Twitter at @MasterIDP. For my previous work, check out my Every-Down Linebacker Article. Please subscribe to IDPGuys.org for all your fantasy football needs and check out our customizable IDP scoring tool.

    Leo (@MasterIDP)

    Leo joined IDP Guys as a writer and ranker on June 30, 2022. He is passionate about IDP and helping you win your fantasy leagues. Leo has been competing in IDP since 2013 in the Brooklyn Fantasy Football League (Ohio league established in 1991)
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