IDP Dynasty Fantasy Football: 2022 Starting Cornerbacks, Part Two

Tom Kislingbury

As we head towards summer camp and preseason, thoughts naturally start to the most unloved position in fantasy football: cornerback.

Corners are utterly essential to the modern NFL, and one of the most important positions in the sport. Pro Football Focus and others have shown that quality of corner play is actually more important to defenses than pass rush.

Sadly, in the vast majority of IDP leagues, corners are near worthless. There’s a glut of acceptable players given only a tiny percentage of leagues force teams to start more than two corners.

In week one of 2021, 45 corners played at least 60 snaps. The following chart shows the proportion of each grouping that repeat on average:

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So, if your league is a 12-teamer that starts two corners each, you probably only care about the top 24. In this case, a player who did well for you last season has a 66% chance of falling out of that group.

Every year a small handful of corners will have huge seasons due to high tackle numbers (Kenny Moore) or interceptions (Trevon Diggs) but these are not sustainable. If you were lucky enough to roster Diggs or Moore last season you probably feel like they are sure things who can buck the trend. But actually, there’s an 89% chance they do not.

So, what’s the point of this article then? If it’s so hard to predict corners, and they’re so variable – why bother writing about them? Because you can get a leg-up on your league mates simply by having a good idea of which corners are actually going to play this season. Most of them will not even have that information. They will just go on one of the (terrible) depth chart websites and assume that’s correct.

This article will give you a best-guess idea of which corners are the names to know by team.

If you missed part one, be sure to go back and read it here.

Las Vegas Raiders

It’s been so very long since the Raiders were a good team at the cornerback position but last season it really came together, for some of the year at least.

Rookie Nate Hobbs was extremely encouraging in the slot, while Casey Hayward rolled back the clock and seriously impressed.

Heyward has sadly departed the team, so we’re going to see Brandon Facyson, Rock Ya-Sin, and Anthony Averett battle it out for playing time. Hopefully they can capture a little of that 2021 magic.

Los Angeles Chargers

Asante Samuel Jr had the normal rookie struggles but flashed enough that we can be relatively confident of a year-two breakout. On the other side, JC Jackson has been one of the premier corners in the NFL in recent years. Michael Davis reprises his role as an excellent third outside corner who’ll likely see plenty of action and Bryce Callahan has arrived to play in the slot.

On paper, this is an elite unit.

Los Angeles Rams

Jalen Ramsey is of course locked in to play every snap. There was lots of talk last season about him moving position, but 145 of his 325 (45%) slot snaps were in the first four weeks. Don’t believe everything you read.

Darious Williams has left the team, which means David Long will have the first shot at winning the job opposite Ramsey.

And as one leaves, another rejoins. The team reacquired Troy Hill to play nickel.

Miami Dolphins

Xavien Howard and Byron Jones are both on huge contracts still and will man the outside jobs. Nik Needham is a very average player but should be the favorite to play in the slot. Bear in mind that the Dolphins love to deploy three safeties and often use Brandon Jones and Eric Rowe inside.

Minnesota Vikings

The outdated Vikings defense is finally seeing the spring clean it’s needed for a while now and yet somehow we’re still looking at the ghost of Patrick Peterson as a starting corner. He’ll have to get hold of some elixir of youth to even be an acceptable option in 2022. Cameron Dantzler is the early favourite to man the other job, but rookie Andrew Booth has every chance of taking one of those starting jobs by the end of the season. Kris Boyd is hanging around too.

In the slot Chandon Sullivan was brought in from the Packers and should be a solid start.

New England Patriots

With JC Jackson departed, the Patriots have Jalen Mills, Malcolm Butler, Terrance Mitchell, and rookie return-man Marcus Jones competing for outside snaps. Bill Belichick is a genius, but this does not seem like a viable group of options.

Jonathan Jones should hold down the slot job as the Patriots are another team that loves deploying a third safety inside.

New Orleans Saints

Marshon Lattimore had a major bounce-back in 2021 and actually led the league in combined PDs and interceptions. His role is secure. 2021 rookie Paulson Adebo is also a firm favorite to reprise his starting role.

That leaves Chauncey Gardner-Johnson as the top nickel back option. With the Saints also signing Tyrann Mathieu, there’s likely to be some flexibility in the secondary. Expect this defense to evolve and deploy more dime personnel in interesting alignments.

New York Giants

Adoree’ Jackson is the most stable and reliable outside corner on the Giants’ roster. That is not a joke. He really is. Behind him are the likes of Rodarious Williams, rookie Cordale Flott and Aaron Robinson.

Darnay Holmes has flashed some ability in the slot but has not established himself as a bona fide NFL starter.

This has every chance to be an utter car crash of a unit.

New York Jets

Coach Robert Saleh goes into 2022 with his reputation on the line. Assuming rookie Sauce Gardner is an immediate starter, this means Saleh needs DJ Reed to hit the ground running, with Bryce Hall also in the mix. There’s some promise there, but also no guarantees of good play.

Michael Carter goes into his second season in the NFL as the presumptive starter in the slot unless Reed (or someone else) is moved there.

Pittsburgh Steelers

This is another unit that could be one of the worst in the NFL even with Mike Tomlin and Brian Flores coaching the team.

Levi Wallace, Cameron Sutton, Ahkello Witherspoon, James Pierre, Justin Layne, and Arthur Maulet – the whole situation smells of regret.

For what it’s worth, Sutton, Wallace and Witherspoon seem like the three best options here, even if they’re not a natural fit as a group. But expect instability.

Philadelphia Eagles

Darius Slay and James Bradberry should be an excellent starting pair of perimeter corners. If they can stay healthy and live up to expectations, that is a plus pair of players.

Avonte Maddox is an acceptable option in the slot.

San Francisco 49ers

Year after year, the 49ers seem to turn an average group of corners into an excellent unit. By signing Charvarius Ward this off-season, they might even upgrade that process. He should be joined on the outside by a combination of Emmanuel Moseley and Jason Verrett, while Dontae Johnson plays in the slot. That’s a very solid group.

Seattle Seahawks

Many think the Seahawks will be one of the league’s worst teams in 2022 and the cornerback group does nothing to alleviate those fears.

Sidney Jones and Tre Brown are bang-average players on the outside. Slot DB Ugo Amadi has never even been that. He’s so bad that one year, the Seahawks basically played a third LB instead of letting him on the field, which went predictably horrendously.

Depth options include serial disappointments Artie Burns and Justin Coleman.

Be afraid, Seahawks fans.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Bucs still have their excellent group of corners in place even if 2021 was not their best year as a unit.

Jamel Dean and Carlton Davis are strong options outside, with the slot being held down by a combination of Sean Murphy-Bunting (who can also play outside) and Ross Cockrell.

Tennessee Titans

Last season, nine different corners played defense for the Titans. Nine! We are very likely to see much more continuity and stability this season from the unit.

Elijah Molden is the top slot option and has the ability and opportunity to put together one of those brilliant IDP seasons that see huge points. You should never bet on any individual corner to do that, but he’s a good player to have stashed.

Outside of him, we’ll see a combination of Kristian Fulton, Caleb Farley and rookie Roger McCreary. None have proven themselves reliable but all three have potential.

Washington Commanders

Last year this unit was horrible. But hopefully we can see some sort of bounce back. Kendall Fuller tends to inside in nickel sets, and outside in base secondaries. William Jackson is very much an outside corner and needs a good season in a bad way. The third corner is likely to be a combination of Danny Johnson (a slot specialist) and Benjamin St Juste (who plays outside). Fuller gives them that flexibility.

tom kislingbury
IDP Dynasty Fantasy Football: 2022 Starting Cornerbacks, Part Two