Notes On Our Preseason Rankings 2018: Safeties

Jon Somerset (@Orangeman3142) explains his safety rankings for the 2018 season, going through all 15 players that hit his rankings.

Everybody has rankings, and most rankings are just the same list of players in slightly different positions based on the bias of the author. In an effort to help you, the reader, get an idea where we were coming from and our thought process on why these players are listed and in what order they are listed in I figured let’s go over some of the more “hot” takes on our preseason rankings.

We’ll move through each position and by the end hopefully you’ll have a better idea why some players are where they are and some players are missing entirely.


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Landon Collins:

Collins took a step back last season due to a couple nagging injuries but still finished the season with 104 combined tackles even though he missed one entire game and part of another due to injury. The prior season he recorded 125 combined tackles and ended either the overall best IDP player (depending on settings) or certainly one of the top 5. He will enter this season with some added competition for tackles with Alec Ogletree signing in the offseason but there will still be plenty of production to go around.

The Giants offense has finished in the bottom of the league in offensive rankings quite a bit recently and Saquon Barkley probably won’t be enough to really turn it around, especially with holes still apparent in the offensive line. I see plenty of defensive snaps in the Giants IDP future and Collins, only in his 4th season this upcoming year, is still learning and getting better all the time.

Reshad Jones:

Jones was my comeback IDP player of the year in 2017, after missing most of the 2016 season with injury he stormed back into the IDP spotlight with 122 combined tackles. He finished 1st overall in combined tackles for all safeties by a wide margin and was almost certainly in the top 5 overall in IDP points depending on your scoring.

His 2015 season was even more impressive with 135 combined tackles showing us that if he can play all 16 games you will get monster production out of him. The addition of Raekwon McMillan coming back from injury and the drafting of Minkah Fitzpatrick may poach some of Jones production. However I’m in the camp that Miami’s offense will be the same or worse than last year, so the amount of defensive snaps will be large enough to sustain all these IDP assets.

Keanu Neal:

Entering his 3rd season as a safety on the Atlanta Falcons. His first two years produced impressive stats with him finishing last season with 116 combined tackles. His rookie year, he managed 106 combined tackles while only playing in 14 games. Super talented and young, the skies the limit for Neal. My only concern is the Atlanta offense will most likely improve this year with the addition of Calvin Ridley and another year to learn their new offensive scheme. I’m seeing fewer defensive snaps for their IDP production this season but with only Grady Jarrett and Deion Jones as the main tackle competition I believe Keanu Neal will produce plenty of IDP points this upcoming year.

Harrison Smith:

A reliable veteran safety for the Vikings that has put together some great IDP campaigns over his career. Last years contribution was below par for him with only 78 combined tackles but the additional 12 pass defenses, 5 interceptions and 1.5 sacks meant that his overall IDP points total was very high for the season. He is a bit more risk and reward depending on picks and pass breakups to supplement his tackle numbers.

Also the Vikings offense upgraded at QB by signing Kirk Cousins and they’ll be getting Dalvin Cook back from injury, so signs point towards their offense improving and the overall number of defensive snaps decreasing from last year. Smith remains in my top 5 though because of his reliability, he averages 81.5 combined tackles per year and in seasons where he plays all 16 games that average increases to 91 combined tackles. Smith may replicate last years stats or be slightly beneath them but is a sure thing for good weekly production.

Kevin Byard:

A surprise on the IDP screne last season with many believing his team mate and fellow safety Jonathan Cyprien would be the main producer in the Titans secondary. How wrong we all were. Byard last year, in his first full season as a starter, ended up with 87 combined tackles, 16 pass defenses and 8 interceptions. For a second year guy these numbers are terrific and will surely improve as he learns more defensively. I see his snap count remaining about the same and with the departure of Avery Williamson one less talented defender to poach tackles. Byard should be outstanding this season.

Jordan Poyer:

Played in 15 games for the Bills last season and tallied 95 combined tackles for the year. In some formats he was considered a cornerback, in most a safety, on Yahoo he was a combo CB\S. This kind of versatility in a Yahoo league meant you were getting safety type stats from someone you could plug into a CB slot. This on its own makes him valuable. While free safety isn’t the best spot for IDP points in the secondary, on this Bills team there is plenty of production to go around and it isn’t a concern.

Going into next season the Bills LB corps will start a MLB who is a rookie and a WLB who is only in his 2nd year. This inexperience at these IDP point heavy positions means that Poyer and strong safety Micah Hyde will have an opportunity to poach tackles from the green linebackers. The Bills offense also looks to not only be as bad as last season but even worse due to their current QB situation and lack of playmakers in the offensive skill positions (outside of LeSean McCoy of course). There will be, in my opinion, even more defensive snaps overall for this Bills defense this season and Poyer should improve on his 2017 IDP production.

Devin McCourty:

A surprise last season on a Patriots team thats defense mirrors its offense sometimes, in that you really never know who’s going to score the fantasy points. McCourty finished the season with 94 combined tackles and was pretty consistent throughout the season. Add in one pick, one sack and five pass defenses and you end up with a really solid season for IDP points. With Dont’a Hightower getting injured seemingly yearly and few other consistent IDP producers on the Patriots, McCourty looks to be a solid bet to match or come close to last years production this upcoming season.

Budda Baker:

A guy who the IDP fantasy community wants to crown the next king of the Arizona secondary. The Cardinals have produced safeties that have outstanding IDP seasons consistently over the last few seasons. Tony Jefferson and Antoine Bethea recently and Tyvon Branch last season (until his season ending injury) were all major players in the IDP landscape. Budda Baker steps into his likely starting role as the Cardinals strong safety and put up 74 combined tackles in just 7 starts last season.

While he did play some snaps in other games, his numbers from starts in week 10 until week 17 as a strong safety were truly ridiculous. He tallied 62 of his 74 total combined tackles in those seven games, averaging 8.8 combined tackles per game during that run. With the Cardinals offense most likely taking a step back due to starting rookie Josh Rosen, or often-injured and always underwhelming Sam Bradford, the defensive snap total should increase. If Budda Baker can replicate or improve last years performance you’re looking at damned near 10 combined tackles a game from a safety. Sign me up for that.

Derwin James:

Similar hype-wise to Budda Baker in that the IDP community thinks he is also going to be the next best thing since sliced bread. James left Florida State after his sophomore year so he will need to rely on his athleticism and talent, until he can learn the ins and outs of the Chargers defense. He should be just fine though considering San Diego doesn’t have a lot of competition for tackles and their linebacking corps is especially weak. James looks to step right in and take over as the team leader in combined tackles and most of the IDP community has a ticket on that train.

Jamal Adams:

On top of most analysts draft boards at safety going into last season and showed signs that he will be a well known name in the IDP community for many years to come. Adams had 82 combined tackles in his rookie season and was one of the few rookies from last years class that landed in the top 64 for IDP purposes.

The Jets offense looks to be as bad if not worse than last year’s, so defensive snap count looks terrific. My only concern is Avery Williamson coming over from the Titans to fill an ILB slot vacated by DeMario Davis. While the pond is large, Williamson is a big fish and will certainly get his fill of IDP points. However with the Jets most likely moving to starting a rookie at QB sometime this season, and the inevitable 3 and outs and turnovers that come with that, should add enough defensive snaps to offset any production Williamson steals from Adams.

Sean Davis:

Had a great season for IDP production last year with 90 combined tackles. All things pointed towards another strong outing this year, until the Steelers took Terrell Edmunds with their 28th pick. This throws a monkey wrench into the works, and when you factor in their offseason move acquiring Morgan Burnett from the Packers, you now have a mess. Burnett and Davis are currently listed as the starting safeties, but we are far from the regular season and they drafted Edmunds in the first round for a reason.

Edmunds is listed as the backup free safety to Burnett at this point in time so it looks like Davis should be good to go. The defensive snap count should remain about the same as last season and with the Ryan Shazier injury opening up some production, Davis should be in good shape for the coming season.

Eric Berry:

Started last season with a bang, shutting down Rob Gronkowski in the opener against the Patriots and was well on his way to a huge season of IDP points. Unfortunately Berry tore his ACL\MCL during that game and missed the rest of the entire 2017 season. In 2016 Berry had 77 combined tackles and has been a consistent IDP performer for many years. His Chiefs offense will most likely take a step back starting 2nd year QB Patrick Mahomes instead of Alex Smith, who left in the offseason for the Redskins. Defensive snaps should increase and the Chiefs linebackers corps isn’t exactly the best in the league, so Berry should be able to get his share of IDP points this season.

Micah Hyde:

Had a solid 2017 season with 82 combined tackles as the Bills strong safety. He looks to take advantage of the inexperience at the team’s linebackers position and soak up some of that missed production from them. Defensive snap count should be through the roof, with the departure of Tyrod Taylor and the teams current lack of depth at offensive skill positions. Hyde should be a can’t miss performer this season.

Matthias Farley:

The surprise 2nd year safety of the Colts last year, who came out of nowhere producing 95 combined tackles. Unless Andrew Luck makes some kind of miracle recovery, the Colts will have Jacoby Brissett under center again ensuring another season of vomit inducing offensive production, or lack thereof. Defensive snaps should be very high and as long as Farley remains the starting strong safety he should have plenty of production in the upcoming season.

Jaquiski Tartt:

Started eight games and parts of one more for the 49ers as their strong safety last season and produced 54 tackles in those games. That’s an average of almost seven combined tackles per game and would’ve easily cleared 100 combined tackles for the year if he hadn’t gotten injured in week 9. If Tartt can stay healthy this season and remains the starter, he could be an under the radar guy with a shot at 100 combined tackles.

The 49ers offense will certainly be better overall than last year, but still lacks star power besides Jimmy G. Defensive snap count should be plentiful and besides Rueben Foster, there isn’t much competition for tackles on the team. The situation looks good for Jaquiski and since he’s such an unknown name he can probably be drafted much later than other safeties that will have similar numbers this upcoming season.

***Offseason depth charts were taken from and may not be up to date or accurate as of this date of reading. Until close to the end of preseason some of these positions on their teams depth charts are up in the air. These rankings will be re-visited and revised for the beginning of the regular season.***

Follow Jon Somerset on twitter @Orangeman3142 and listen to him on the IDP Guys Podcast!

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