Fighting The Urge To Use High Picks On Safeties

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Christian Gardner’s big mouth sparked some thought to wait a little bit before diving in on safeties. Follow Gardner on Twitter.


I had an interesting talk the day after finishing a rookie draft.

LA Chargers safety Derwin James was selected 15th overall in a 10-team league that holds a pretty deep focus on starting linebackers. The IDP side of this league starts three linebackers, two d-lineman and two defensive backs. We also start a defensive flex spot, which usually works out as a fourth starting linebacker. The defensive roster holds four defensive lineman, six linebackers and four defensive backs.

Immediately I started ribbing, which I’ve become known to do during drafts.

Seeing James picked before other very notable names like Baker Mayfield, Tremaine Edmunds, Anthony Miller and Courtland Sutton looked like a reach to me. Michael Gallup went the pick after James.

Dusch — pronounced Douche — is one of my best friends. Hi, Dusch. I hope you didn’t hurt your back reaching up there for James.

“In IDP, having a safety like Landon Collins is essentially having an extra LB in a DB spot,” Dusch said. “Guys are always scrambling for safeties over DB.”

Very true. I don’t even really consider rostering CBs cause IDP is usually shallow. I’ve been coming around thinking about bad defenses and teams that will be thrown on a lot. Like the Colts, I said.

Don’t get me wrong here though because James is clearly a very talented player.

The Chargers selected him 17th overall after making plays all over the field at Florida State. Maybe I’ll again put my foot deep into my cramhole as I have learned to do a lot in fantasy football. Giants safety Landon Collins as an example of what he is expecting. Fair enough.

But why spend a high-value pick in a 10-team league on a safety when you can just as easily grab another defensive back lower, or snag a guy off the wire, after the draft?

For example Bengals safety Jessie Bates went one round later than James in the 2018 draft and is now starting for Cincinnati. The team released veteran George Iloka and elevated Bates to starter. I see value with Bates. The former Aggie is a ball hawk on a Teryl Austin coached defense that will focus on creating turnovers and big plays.

Another player to keep an eye on is Tampa Bay Bucs safety Justin Evans. Evans, who went in the second round of the 2017 NFL draft, finished last season on injured reserve. The second-year safety started nine games and finished 2017 with 49 tackles and I’ve found him as a free agent in one league. 

The venerable IDP Tipster pointed out another player flying under the radar I’ve been watching very closely and he went undrafted in my most recent dynasty IDP draft. Carolina Panthers rookie safety Rashaan Gaulden.

The Tipster writes, “According to the ADPs in full redrafts as well as a rookie only drafts he was currently going undrafted. He’ll likely receive every opportunity to compete as a third-round pick and the reports of Searcy having good OTAs and minicamps just don’t come in play hard enough knowing his history. With Gaulden’s name not yet hitting mainstream fantasy football airwaves as Searcy’s has this is the more primed player for odds of making a low investment with what actually could turn into a productive IDP play.”

LA Rams safety John Johnson isn’t as under the radar as some of the names above. However Johnson is worth a quick search to see if he is available in your league.

Before spending high fantasy draft picks on defensive players that NFL teams used valuable real-life first-round draft picks on maybe take a second to consider if other defensive players, and in this instance safeties, are flying under the radar a little bit. Then use the pick you would have used on offense.

Also if you have not read Sam Lane’s piece on emerging Denver Broncos rookie LB Josey Jewell I am highly encouraging you to do so. Sam went deep and provided an excellent breakdown on Jewell.


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Christian comes to idpguys.org after 14 years in an ultra-competitive league with close friends that included IDP players before IDP was a thing. A title in that league is the trophy he wants most and promises a billboard in the 716 when that happens. A self-proclaimed cornhole ace, he will eat all the cookies and gamble on anything, especially home dogs. Hit him up on Twitter @gardner_rake