In the Trenches - Week 10
Each week I’ll be using data from PFF and around the web to give some insight into IDP fantasy football, and how using these metrics can lead to finding undervalued players, potential breakouts and sleepers.
This week I want to look at how you can find hidden value with defensive backs, in particular safeties, as well as knowing which style of safety to avoid, as I did in the Week 2 and Week 6 columns in this series.
In-the-Box Safeties Recap
One of PFF’s signature statistics, which can be very revealing for fantasy purposes, is the percentage of run snaps a safety plays within eight yards of the line of scrimmage. This means the safety had dropped down into the box to help stuff the running game, and has an increased chance of making a tackle.
In 2012, seven of the top 12 safeties using the PFF IDP scoring system played more snaps in the box than the league average (34.9 percent) for starting safeties, and of the other five Eric Weddle had seven interceptions, Stevie Brown had eight, and then Harrison Smith had three, but returned two for touchdowns.
In 2013, ten of the top 12 safeties were playing within eight yards of the line of scrimmage above league average (37.1 percent), with one of the exceptions being All-World free safety, Earl Thomas, who made five interceptions last year.
The trend is clear, safeties who spend more time in the box than their counterparts are likely to have better statistical seasons, and therefore have more fantasy value. The visa versa is true. Safeties who protect the deep middle are less likely to be fantasy impact players unless they are elite ballhawks, and even then, it’s very difficult to break into that top tier (see Byrd, Jairus).
Ross Miles is a Lead Writer for Pro Football Focus Fantasy. Follow him on Twitter – @RossMilesNFL
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