In defensive-back oriented leagues, safeties are the less-risky position to fill roster spots with. At peak levels, they can put-up tackle numbers that rival linebackers and intercept passes just as frequently as cornerbacks. Because they can put up points in so many different ways, the floor is higher for safeties. But in this list, like all the others compiled, it is the ceiling that is of interest. As evidenced by these 10 players, the ceiling for safeties is a high one. The scoring for this list, like the others, is based on the Pro Football Focus IDP scoring settings in the table below:
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10t. Kenny Phillips, New York Giants: Week 3 @ Philadelphia Eagles (23 PFF Fantasy Points)
Kenny Phillips has always been an above average in-the-box safety for the Giants, and has also shown improvement in coverage over the years. Despite this and several highlight-reel worthy tackles and interceptions, Phillips isn’t exactly a staple in IDP leagues. However, the owners who took a chance on him last season would have been pleased with his tremendous effort versus the rival Eagles early in the season. Phillips was omnipresent, which helped him log an interception, a defended pass, a forced fumble and a season-high nine total tackles.
10t. Abram Elam, Dallas Cowboys: Week 7 vs. St Louis Rams (23 PFF Fantasy Points)
There weren’t many positives that the Cowboys could boast about their secondary in 2011, but a dominant fantasy performance by Abram Elam is something that comprises the short list. In a 34-7 thrashing of the Rams, Elam was a force in defending the run, netting three tackles for loss, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in addition to his eight total tackles.
10t. Charlie Peprah, Green Bay Packers: Week 16 vs. Chicago Bears: (23 PFF Fantasy Points)
About the only consolation for Charlie Peprah’s struggles a season ago is that he had several weeks of putting up sturdy fantasy numbers. Week 16 was no exception as he logged 11 total tackles, a forced fumble, an interception and a defended pass during a championship-week for fantasy owners.
8t. Roman Harper, New Orleans Saints: Week 10 @ Atlanta Falcons (24 PFF Fantasy Points
Harper had several games that nearly made the cut, but appears on this list thanks to a great game versus the Falcons. Harper played his best game versus the run all season against a team that carried the ball for over 30 times (+2.2). As a reward to his fantasy owners for his above average play, Harper put up linebacker-like numbers with 13 total tackles, a sack, a tackle for loss and a defended pass.
8t. Steve Gregory, San Diego Chargers: Week 14 vs. Buffalo Bills (24 PFF Fantasy Points)
The few owners who inserted Steve Gregory into their lineups largely have Shaun Phillips to thank for his great fantasy day. Shaun Phillips pressured Ryan Fitzpatrick into making a poor decision with the football which resulted in Gregory snatching the ball out of the air and returning it 26 yards for a touchdown. That one play comprised half of his day’s point total, with the other 12 resulting from seven solo tackles and a defended pass.
7. Darian Stewart, St. Louis Rams: Week 8 vs. New Orleans Saints (24.5 PFF Fantasy Points)
Darian Stewart had a few bright spots over the course of the 2011 season, but as a whole he was dreadful, especially in defending the run. Stewart’s currently out of a job, but a possible selling point for him is what he did versus the Rams’ shocking defeat of the Saints in a midseason matchup. Stewart logged seven total tackles, two defended passes, and like Gregory, had the ever important pick-six to pad his point total.
6. Eric Weddle, San Diego Chargers: Week 8 @ Kansas City Chiefs (25 PFF Fantasy Points)
Games like this are why Eric Weddle is one of the first defensive backs taken off the board in IDP leagues. Weddle pleased all of his owners, as he surely had a season to remember in 2011, snatching seven of his 13 career interceptions. Two of those came in a memorable performance versus the Kansas City Chiefs, where he also batted away two more pass attempts and recorded seven solo tackles.
4t. Charlie Peprah, Green Bay Packers: Week 9 @ San Diego Chargers (26.5 PFF Fantasy Points)
The very next week, Weddle got a taste of his own medicine and watched as a different safety put together a dominant fantasy performance. Charlie Peprah played a large part in a wild shootout between the Packers and Chargers, building an impressive point total from a first-quarter pick-six. From there, Peprah defended two more passes and logged five total tackles. To cap-off his day, Peprah snatched-up another interception late in the fourth quarter and nearly took it back for a touchdown, ending all hope of a Chargers’ comeback. Had Peprah been able to make it the extra six yards to the endzone, he would have had the highest fantasy performance of any defensive back for the 2011 season.
4t. Morgan Burnett, Green Bay Packers: Week 2 @ Carolina Panthers (26.5 PFF Fantasy Points)
In the same game that teammate Charles Woodson put an impressive 24.5 fantasy points on the scoreboard, Burnett was somehow even better. Burnett made life difficult for Cam Newton and company, creating turnovers and making his presence felt at all levels of the playing field. In the Week 2 showdown Burnett had eight solo tackles, forced a Steve Smith Fumble, and recorded a sack, an interception and batted away two passes.
2t. Ed Reed, Baltimore Ravens: Week 1 vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (29 PFF Fantasy Points)
Despite being capable of playing the safety position at an unprecedented level, Ed Reed was far from a fantasy stud in 2011, as 40 other safeties recorded more fantasy points than the esteemed veteran. No one would have anticipated those low numbers had they watched Reed during the Ravens season-opener, where their defense overwhelmed a sputtering Steelers offense that committed seven turnovers. Reed earned his highest regular-season grade of +4.2 in this effort, and intercepted two passes, defended four, and also recorded six tackles, with one being behind the line of scrimmage.
2t. George Wilson, Buffalo Bills: Week 5 vs. Philadelphia Eagles (29 PFF Fantasy Points)
One of the most impressive safeties in fantasy football from 2011 was George Wilson, who during the season had a five-game stretch where he recorded four games of 20 points or more. The peak of this stretch came versus the foundering Eagles . Wilson accounted for one of Michael Vick’s four interceptions in that game, and also defended three passes in addition to his whopping 11 solo tackles.
1. Kurt Coleman, Philadelphia Eagles: Week 6 @ Washington Redskins (31 PFF Fantasy Points)
For defensive backs in IDP leagues, Rex Grossman is the gift that keeps on giving. Kurt Coleman’s afternoon against the Redskins is the best example of this philosophy, as Grossman targeted him four times, and three of those resulted in Coleman interceptions. Coleman also defended three more passes and logged seven total tackles en route to posting the highest fantasy total of the season among safeties.