The IDP Roundtable Series
This summer, the Footballguys staff will discuss various topics to help you in your IDP leagues.
The IDP Rookies Series
There were nine safeties drafted in the first three rounds this year, but there has been no consensus in early rookie drafts, as to which one is the best fantasy option. Of that group, what player or players do you like, and what player or players will you avoid?
The easy answer here is Kyle Hamilton, but his path to snaps is much more difficult than some of the other options. He's a stud, and with Chuck Clark's struggles in coverage in 2021, Hamilton could see snaps earlier than some expect. But my favorite safety for immediate impact is Lewis Cine. His play in coverage was raw but showed promise with some coaching. What makes him so appealing, though, is his ability to play downhill. I think he could lead all rookie safeties in tackles, and playing next to Harrison Smith should open him up to play a hard-hitting, space-eating role. After that, I like Jaquan Brisker's chances to find a fantasy-relevant role. The front seven in Chicago looks to be a weaker group in 2022, and Brisker's ability in mop-up duty will be tested. If he's able to refine his tackling consistency, I think he could have a nice mix of tackles and coverage stats.
Kyle Hamilton is an absolute stud and should be every person's 1.01 of the defensive back group. Hands down, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. After Hamilton, it varies between rankers. For me, Lewis Cine is a smash late 3rd round rookie draft pick. He will play alongside Harrison Smith which has historically been a good IDP landing spot. Over the past three seasons, the starters next to Smith have been Anthony Harris and Xavier Woods. Now they are fine players, but I would not call them elite by any means. Historically they are better BYE week fillers rather than weekly starters. Yet, together they have averaged 95 tackles per season collectively playing next to Smith. Cine is a more talented prospect than either Woods or Harris ever were and holds strong draft capital. He has a great opportunity to be a day-one starter in Minnesota in a role that historically produces at a high level.
Nick Cross is a guy that a ton of people have been slightly overreacting to. The news of Khari Willis has sent people sprinting to the waiver wire and over-drafting Nick Cross in hopes that he walks right into the box role left behind by Willis. Cross is a speedster with terrific range and may be better suited for the deep safety in Gus Bradley's system. It is still a real possibility that Julian Blackmon slides into the Willis role leaving Cross in the deep safety role, not ideal for IDP, and not ideal for the 3rd/4th round draft pick he has spiked to. Wait until the later rounds, the 4th and 5th rounds, and draft Jalen Pitre of the Texans or Bryan Cook of the Chiefs. Both landed on teams in need of safety help and have the potential for productive roles from the word
For me, the top safety is Jaquan Brisker, followed by Kyle Hamilton and Lewis Cine. Brisker's fit with the Bears makes him the top safety, in my opinion. Not only is Brisker a strong, multi-talented do-all type of player, but he also has linebacker abilities and can be physical in the box or drop back in coverage and roam the field. He'll team up with defensive coordinator Alan Williams whose tenure goes back to Tony Dungy's talented Bucs and Colts defenses. It also includes time with the Vikings. Williams developed both Bob Sanders and Harrison Smith. He'll have a chunk of clay to mold Brisker and I can't wait to see what he turns into. Hamilton is second on my list. He also has the tools to be an effective and productive IDP safety. His numbers may take a bit to reach full capacity with Chuck Clark and Marcus Williams being big contributors as well on the Ravens defense. Lewis Cine rounds out my Top 3. He'll be a contributor from the start and should have decent numbers due to his talents in the box. He'll likely eventually take over for Harrison Smith, but in the meantime, he'll carve out his own role, join the nickel packages, and be a key piece to the Vikings' defense.
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