• IDP Fantasy Football for 2022: Safeties to Target in Redraft

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    The safety position can be hard to predict for fantasy. Let's talk through safeties for you to target in your redraft leagues.


    Safety is a fascinating fantasy position — how a player is used in a team's scheme drastically changes fantasy production. For example, see my previous article where I talk about Kyle Dugger and Johnathan Abram and how they are used.

    There is usually a clear correlation between what a player is asked to do in their position and fantasy relevance. Great wide receivers catch catches and score touchdowns. The best linebackers rack up tackles. Excellent edge players get to the quarterback. The issue with safeties is that they can do everything they are asked to do to help their team win but not provide fantasy value.

    Some of the highest-rated safeties from a winning NFL games perspective do not show up on the stat sheet where fantasy owners need them most! Take for example Jevon Holland. While he was PFF's fourth highest-rated safety in 2021 (source here), he finished the year ranked as the 35th safety in fantasy points in standard scoring (source here).

    Even our usual metric of the percentage of defensive snaps played doesn't necessarily correlate to fantasy points! Trevon Moehrig played practically every snap when the Raiders were on defense, but that only translated to him ending in shocking 70th place in safety fantasy scoring. You need to be on the field to score points, but for safeties, it doesn't necessarily translate to fantasy relevance.

    Ok ok, I think you get my point. The safety position is unpredictable. So what do we look for when attempting to find safeties to target? The ideal safety is used all over the field, helping in run support while also garnering pass defense statistics. Let's take a look at a few players I have my eye on who will outperform their ADP.

    Let's get to the safeties!

     

    Harrison Smith, S, Minnesota Vikings (IDP Guys Rank: 14)

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    Somehow, someway, Smith is still underrated. Last year Smith racked up 114 combined tackles,  3.0 sacks, and 7 passes defended. This monster year had him as the fourth-highest scoring safety and highlights why he is so valuable. Smith checks the box for racking up stats from all around the field. Oh, and he's good at it, too. Smith was just recognized as the second-best all-around safety by PFF.

    So why, good reader, would we rank Smith as the 14th best safety in our rankings? One might make the argument that the Vikings' first-round draft pick Lewis Cine might hurt Smith's production. I would argue that Smith is so versatile and so good at what he does that it won't. Having another able-bodied safety on the roster will free up Smith to line up all over the field and rack up fantasy points.

    It's not a huge stretch to claim that the 14th-ranked player at a position is a sleeper. Based on the upside Smith provides, I want him on my roster. I really can't see him finishing any lower than the top 10. Your opponents will rue the day they let you draft Smith as the 14th safety. He is one of my favorite safeties to target this upcoming year.

    Jayron Kearse, S, Dallas Cowboys (IDP Guys Rank: 20)

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    What a difference a change of teams can make! Kearse's first year in Dallas was as breakout a campaign as one can have. He went off for 101 combined tackles, 10 passes defended, and 2 interceptions. This was good to land him as the eighth-highest scoring safety in 2021. These stats indicate what you can see when you watch Kearse play: he has a knack for making plays all over the field.

    There are a few reasons why I think Kearse's campaign last year was not a fluke. The Cowboys did not make any major additions to their secondary to take away any of Kearse's play time. The additions the Cowboys made on defense were at the edge position, which will help Kearse's value.

    Drafting Sam Williams in the second round and getting a healthy DeMarcus Lawrence back will only help the Cowboys get after opposing quarterbacks. When forced into making bad throws, the Cowboys' safeties will have even more opportunities to make great fantasy plays. Targetting a safety that can once again put up a top 10 campaign at the 20th draft position is a no-brainer to me!

    Landon Collins, S, Free Agent (IDP Guys Rank: 28)

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    Collins is a new addition to the free agency market after seeing his time with the Commanders come to an end. While I don't know where he will land, I do know that he is still a valuable fantasy asset. You should take advantage of the uncertainty and look to grab the seven-year vet.

    How am I so confident that Collins will be valuable wherever he lands? Let's look at his NFL resume. Over his career, he averages around 97 combined tackles and six passes defended every year. This is exactly the kind of safety to target, especially for the draft price. I will happily take the risk of not knowing where he is going to land because the upside is there.

    Jaquan Brisker, S, Chicago Bears (IDP Guys Rank: 50)

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    I love the landing spot for Brisker. The second-round pick finds himself on a Bears defense that desperately needs youth. The hardest part of projecting defensive rookies for redraft is predicting how much playing time they will see in year one. Thankfully, one look at the Bears' depth chart makes you feel confident that Brisker is going to play and will play a lot.

    We know he is going to play, but will he be good? Looking at this draft profile, you have to like his chances in the NFL. Brisker's an uber-athletic, versatile safety who will line up all around the field. His size will also allow him to be able to cover both wide receivers and tight ends. This sort of interchangeability almost ensures he will be racking up all sorts of defensive stats.

    Brisker is our 50th-ranked safety at the moment, slightly behind his new teammate Eddie Jackson. Other names that are around Brisker are Devin McCourty, Mike Edwards, and Ronnie Harrison. All of these are good veterans for their respective teams, but not exactly fantasy dynamos. At this point in the draft given the potential, Brisker is one of my favorite safeties to target.

    Richie Grant, S, Atlanta Falcons (IDP Guys Rank: 63)

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    Do you remember last year when Grant was the hottest name in rookie safeties to target in drafts? He rewarded us, believers, with an extremely disappointing rookie campaign where he struggled to see the field. Many people are fading Grant, if not forgetting him altogether. Our rank as the 63rd safety aligns with this idea.

    I am here to change that narrative! All of the things we liked about Grant last year are still true. His physical makeup will allow him to play all around the field. His college tape shows us traits that indicate he will be an asset in run defense, providing us fantasy players a nice weekly floor for points. Even his landing spot in Atlanta is great, with limited competition on the depth chart.

    The issue last year was Grant for some reason didn't get much playing time. So what makes me think this will change? Dean Pees is on record (here) saying Grant will get his opportunities this year. Helping pave the way for this is last year's starter Duron Harmon going to the Raiders. I will look to grab this post-hype safety late in drafts knowing he has every chance to out-perform his ranking.

     

    Find all IDP Guys player rankings — including those referenced above — here.


    Thank you for reading my article! Be sure to reach out and let me know what you think I got right and what I got wrong! Happy drafting! You can find all my work on my IDP Guys Author page. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter @mrecord21 and follow @IDPGuys to keep up to date with all the latest fantasy news! 

    Matt Record

    I got started in Fantasy Football over 15 years ago and have never looked back! I'm just a regular guy who loves to analyze data and watch and talk about sports. Outside of all things fantasy, I enjoy playing disc golf, playing board games, and enjoying a nice hazy IPA. I can't wait to share with you all my thoughts on Fantasy Football!

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