The quarter mark of the season is upon us and here, I will looking at the rookie safeties and how they are playing. Outside of Derwin James, the rookie safeties haven’t been getting a lot of attention but there’s another player flying under the radar. Everyone will know his name by the end of this article.
A couple of these rookie safeties are already seeing your starting lineups, others are on your radar and the rest should be stashed for future purposes for when they’re opportunity comes knocking. So with week five in the books, let’s take a look at some of these safeties and how they are doing during the first quarter of the season.
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Derwin James, LAC
The do-it-all safety landed in the Chargers’ lap at pick 17 during the NFL Draft and the IDP world applauded the move because defensive coordinator Gus Bradley knows what to do with James. He is the top-ranked DB/S right now with a season total of 26 tackles, three tackles for losses, one interception, three sacks, and six passes defended. James is a future All-Pro if he keeps this play up and his versatility is something other defensive coordinators in the league all hope to have. James has rushed the passer 22 times already and has produced nine QB Pressures along with those three sacks.
He has played 254 snaps and Bradley has had James lining up at free safety for 103 snaps, slot corner for 36 snaps, edge rusher for 28 snaps and in the box as a linebacker for 80 snaps.
During the off-season throughout rookie drafts, you were able to get James somewhere in the third round and what a steal it was. He’s arguably the best defensive player in the draft and could have made a case to be one of the first IDPs taken in drafts if it wasn’t for the LB love. He’s starting to exceed my expectations and will be very tough to trade for.
If I could get James in a trade for Landon Collins or maybe even Reshad Jones, I would do that without hesitation. If you take a look at DLF’s Trade Finder Tool, you can see some recent trades involving James. Enjoy your new DB1 in dynasty because there’s no stopping him now.
Jessie Bates, CIN
The ball-hawking FS out of Wake Forest has been a standout on the Bengals defense so far. After the release of veteran George Iloka in the off-season, not many people brought up Bates name as a replacement. I loved Bates coming out because his playmaking ability caught my eye. He had a knack for finding the ball and piling up interceptions: he had six in college, with two returned for touchdowns.
Bates racked up 177 tackles his last two seasons at Wake Forest, so he has the capability to be relevant in IDP despite playing free safety. There’s a good chance Bates went undrafted in your rookie drafts so you were able to scoop him up off waivers for free or with blind bidding money. He has 27 tackles and 1 INT through four games and has started and played every snap for the Bengals defense so far.
Bates is currently sitting at S21 on the season. I expect him to land somewhere near the top 15 at the next checkup because the interceptions and PDs will come. If you are making a trade with a Bates owner, add him as a throw in if you could use some safety depth. I view Bates as a solid DB2/S2 in dynasty so don’t overpay if you’re wanting to trade for him.
Minkah Fitzpatrick, MIA
The hybrid defensive back for the Dolphins has shown flashes early on. He has already shown he has great instincts and that’s not news to those who watched him at Alabama. The Dolphins primarily line him up at SCB but he has also seen time at FS since they don’t have a true safety net back there.
Fitzpatrick currently has 29 tackles (18 assists) and 1 INT on the season and sits at the S29 mark. As long as he keeps making plays, he’ll find himself being relevant for IDP owners in no time because there are plenty of SCBs in today’s game who are productive in IDP. Let’s not forget Cardinals safety Budda Baker who also lines up at SCB majority of the time and has already turned himself into a top-tier DB for IDP.
This might be a good time to buy low on Fitzpatrick if you’re looking to acquire some depth. Like Bates, he could be acquired as a throw-in for your blockbuster deals. He could be the second coming of Baker and we’ll find out as the season continues.
Terrell Edmunds, PIT
Edmunds is having a rough start to his career, only registering 12 tackles through the first four games. The Steelers have primarily played him deep but things could change when Morgan Burnett comes back. It’s too early to call him a bust but he’s definitely not looking like a first round pick, so the Steelers have to hope he turns it around during the next few weeks.
I was an owner of Edmunds but then dropped him in a couple of leagues because I didn’t see the production and he’s probably sitting on your waivers too. I would leave him there for now until we see improvement and if you’re going to start needing bye week fillers, you should look at other options.
The dynasty outlook for Edmunds is the middle of the pack. If he improves and plays in the box some, then he can be a good depth piece for your team. This might be a hard lesson for the Steelers but given Edmunds draft spot, he’s going to get all the chances in the world to get better.