In the 2016 Fantasy Football Season, Landon Collins was in a tier by himself at safety, and likewise during the 2015 Season, Reshad Jones was in his own tier. Top safety honors seem to change hands nearly every year in Fantasy Football, but this year I only see a couple of players who may contend with Landon Collins and keep him from keeping the top safety in fantasy title. Reshad Jones, a veteran, and Keanu Neal, a young player on the rise are the players with the best chance to push Collins for the top spot, but in the end I think Collins will again lead all safeties this season. Here are my Top 20 Safeties for the 2017 Season.
- Landon Collins (NY Giants) – The Giants sub par linebacker play last season allowed Collins 125 Combined Tackles, 4 Sacks and 5 Interceptions. Even if 2nd year player B.J. Goodson is an improvement at linebacker there are enough opportunities for Collins in this defense for another great season.
- Reshad Jones (Miami Dolphins) – Jones had 51 Combined Tackles through six games last season before missing the remainder of the season with an injury. That projected well over the 100 tackle mark. New linebackers Lawrence Timmons and Raekwon McMillan may take a few tackles away, but Jones should still produce enough stats to finish near the top.
- Keanu Neal (Atlanta Falcons) – Neal’s 106 Combined Tackles were produced in 14 games. Week 3 was also his worst week of the season, his first start. He could easily reach 90 Solo Tackles this season and getting his first career sacks and interceptions will be a bonus.
- Johnathan Cyprien (Tennessee Titans) – Cyprien produced 96 Solo Tackles in Jacksonville last season. He is one of the best safeties against the run, and this year in Tennessee I see his stats remaining at the same level if not improving slightly.
- Morgan Burnett (Green Bay Packers) – Burnett produced 70 Solo Tackles and 23 Assists over 15 games last season, along with 3 Sacks and 2 INT’s. Burnett has always been a consistent fantasy producer when healthy and his usage in different positions gives him extra opportunities each game.
- Kenny Vaccaro (New Orleans Saints) – Vaccaro was suspended for the final 4 games of the 2016 season, and missed an early game with an injury. There is definitely a points drop off after Cyprien, but Vaccaro’s 51 Solo Tackles and 17 Assists with 1 Sack and 1 INT in 11 games project nicely over a full season, and the New Orleans linebacker situation allows plenty of opportunities to both Vaccaro and Vonn Bell.
- Tony Jefferson (Baltimore Ravens) – Jefferson is coming off of a breakout year with Arizona which produced a nice payday from Baltimore. In Baltimore he is playing behind a pretty good linebacker in C.J. Mosley who may cut into a bit of his Arizona production, but playing alongside Eric Weddle he should be afforded to take more chances than usual.
- Jamal Adams (NY Jets) – Adams was considered the top college player entering the NFL Draft this year by some. If he is able to contain himself a bit and stay away from injury he has the ability to finish among the top 5 on this list. His landing spot with NY Jets was the perfect setup for a strong rookie fantasy season.
- Karl Joseph (Oakland Raiders) – Joseph was a first round pick last season by the Raiders, but battled injuries throughout his rookie season. He had 60 Combined Tackles with inconsistent playing time over 12 games. In camp so far this season he is getting good reviews from coach Jack Del Rio who said “I feel like a confident Karl Joseph is going to be much more impactful”.
- Kurt Coleman (Carolina Panthers) – Coleman has had at least 90 Combined Tackles, 1 Sack and 4 INT’s in each of the last two seasons, one at Free Safety and last year at Strong Safety. With the addition of Mike Adams, Coleman will return to Free Safety, but I think he may take a small hit in production with some of that production going to Adams.
- Kam Chancellor (Seattle Seahawks) – If not for 4 missed games last season, Chancellor may have had his best fantasy year. In 12 games he put up 51 Solo Tackles, 35 Assists and 2 INT’s, but he’s missed 11 games over the last 3 seasons. If he plays in all 16 games he’s more likely to finish in the top 10 other than just outside of it.
- Byron Jones (Dallas Cowboys) – Jones finished in the 15-20 range last year in Safety fantasy points. With the loss of Barry Church in free agency, Jones should see more opportunities come his way. Unsure on exactly how he will be used this season, I have only bumped him up a few slots. But if used in a more traditional role he could prove to be a steal in drafts.
- Harrison Smith (Minnesota Vikings) – Smith produced 69 Solo Tackles, 22 Assists and 2 Sacks in 14 games last season before an ankle injury. Smith has the talent to finish much higher in the rankings, but gets fewer opportunities than some other players because of the overall talent in the front of the Vikings defense.
- Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (Green Bay Packers) – Dix has finished with 94, 100 and 80 Combined Tackles in his first three seasons. Even though he had a dip in tackles last season he achieved a career high in INT’s with 5 and Passes Defended with 7. I look for more of the same for Ha Ha.
- Barry Church (Jacksonville Jaguars) – In Jacksonville, Church, will be playing behind a much more talented linebacker group than he has played behind in Dallas. This will allow fewer opportunities for tackles this season. Cyprien did well in this spot, but with the addition of Myles Jack between Telvin Smith and Paul Posluszny, and the addition of Calais Campbell on the front line, I think the Jaguars defense will finally turn the corner.
- Eric Weddle (Baltimore Ravens) – Weddle had 89 Combined Tackles, 4 INT’s and 13 Passes Defended in has first year in Baltimore. I look for a dip in his tackle production this season with the addition of Tony Jefferson, but he could increase his stats in most of the other areas.
- Antoine Bethea (Arizona Cardinals) – Bethea had 95 Solo Tackles last season, but was cut by the 49’ers in the off-season. He has always been good against the run and has finished with more than 100 tackles six times. He is now 33 , and has been a declining NFL safety over the last couple of years. Arizona has a lot of young talent in Budda Baker and Tyrann Mathieu that are sure to cut into Bethea’s usual production.
- T.J. Ward (Denver Broncos) – Ward produced 87 Combined Tackles in 14 games last season, which was solid production and an improvement in his 3rd year in Denver. He’ll turn 31 years old this season, but should have a couple of good years left.
- Tyrann Mathieu (Arizona Cardinals) – Mathieu is coming off of a disappointing season after an impressive 2015 where he had 89 Combined Tackles and 5 INT’s in 14 games before tearing his ACL. Last season his knee was never 100% and he also dealt with a shoulder injury before being shut down after 10 games. He appears to be fully healthy again this season and as long as that remains true he will be a solid fantasy contributor.
- Eric Berry (Kansas City Chiefs) – Berry is not a high tackle safety though he is very good against the run. However he usually produces in other areas like INT’s and Passes Defended. This past season included two pick sixes and a pick two to beat the Falcons 29-28.
Players to watch: Budda Baker (Arizona Cardinals), Marcus Maye (NY Jets), Vonn Bell (New Orleans Saints), Tavon Wilson (Detroit Lions), Jahleel Addae (Los Angeles Chargers) and Jabrill Peppers (Cleveland Browns).
In my next article I’ll be ranking linebackers 26 – 60. As always happy drafting and good luck this Fantasy Season!