2022 Positional Tracker: Defensive Backs

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2022 Positional Tracker: Defensive Backs

The Fantasy Points staff is covering every major offensive transaction from the 2022 off-season in our Off-season Tracker articles. We broke down all the important free agency signings and trades from a fantasy perspective in articles sorted by position. The articles are ordered by players changing teams ("New Homes") and by players sticking with their 2021 teams ("Staying Put"). The players are also ordered by their potential fantasy impact for the 2022 season in each section. Be sure to also check out Graham Barfield’s “Fantasy Fallout” pieces on the biggest transactions of the off-season.

New Homes

Marcus Williams (Bal, 25) — Williams signed a huge five-year contract with the Ravens worth $70 million.

Fantasy Points: Williams tied a career high in total tackles (72) and set a career high in assists (22) last year. He has produced double-digit big plays In each of his past three seasons with the Saints. The Ravens solidified their back end with the signing of Williams as opponents struggled completing passes against him in 2021. The aggressiveness of the Ravens defense could help Williams achieve a career high (5) in interceptions in 2022. We love this landing spot and his all around numbers should approach career highs if he remains healthy.

J.C. Jackson (LAC, 26) — Jackson landed a monster five-year deal worth $92.5 million with Los Angeles guaranteeing $40 million.

Fantasy Points: Jackson has produced double-digit big plays in three straight seasons and missed a fourth by one big play (nine in his rookie season of 2018). He will be an immediate starter with Los Angeles and bring stability to the corner position. Jackson has not missed a game in his past three years. He is coming off a season in which he set career highs in total tackles (54), solos (40), assists (14), passes defended (23), touchdowns (1) and forced fumbles (1). Jackson has 25 career interceptions in just four NFL seasons.

Charvarius Ward (SF, 25) — Ward signed with the 49ers on a three-year, $42 million contract with $26.7 million guaranteed.

Fantasy Points: Ward departs one Super Bowl contending team for another. He is coming off a season in which he set a career high in assists (19) and tied career highs in passes defended (10) and interceptions (2). The 49ers improved in one area of their defense as Ward should start for this young and aggressive unit. If there is a knock on Ward, it is his ability to stay healthy for a full season. Ward has played a full season just once in four NFL years and has missed nine of a possible 65 career games.

Jordan Whitehead (NYJ, 25) — Whitehead jumped to the AFC East with a two-year deal worth $14.5 million.

Fantasy Points: The arrival of Whitehead clearly indicated that the Jets were moving on from starting and free agent S Marcus Maye, who signed in New Orleans. Whitehead has a career average of six total tackles (just over 5 solos and an assist) per game. He has strung together three consecutive seasons with double-digit big plays. While he has missed six games in his four NFL seasons, Whitehead should approach a full season for New York in 2022. Playing for defensive minded head coach Robert Saleh should also help his stats going forward.

Marcus Maye (NO, 29) — Maye inked a three-year deal with New Orleans worth $28.5 million with $15 million guaranteed.

Fantasy Points: The Saints lost S Marcus Williams to free agency. Thus, they quickly replaced him with Maye. Long term and for fantasy dynasty owners, this should be a solid landing spot for him. Yet, the outlook for 2022 is a bit cloudy. Maye is coming off a 2021 Week 9 Achilles’ tear and is rehabbing the injury. In addition, he faces a possible suspension stemming from a DUI arrest back in February of 2021. When healthy and playing, Maye is capable of producing 70-75 total tackles as well as double-digit big plays in any given season.

Logan Ryan (TB, 31) — It only took one day for Ryan to sign with a new team after the New York Giants released him on Thursday, March 17th. He signed a 1-year contract with Tampa Bay worth $1.12 million.

Fantasy Points: Ryan won two Super Bowls with QB Tom Brady in New England and has missed the playoffs a mere three times in nine NFL seasons (two straight with the lowly Giants). With the departure of S Jordan Whitehead, Ryan brings a veteran presence to the Buccaneers while starting next to S Antoine Winfield. Ryan does have 56 or more solos in four of his last six seasons. He has missed four games in the last five years. Yet, Ryan has started in 88 of a possible 92 ames since 2015.

Duron Harmon (LV, 31) — Harmon signed a one-year contract with the Las Vegas Raiders worth $1.2725 million with $656,250 guaranteed.

Fantasy Points: New head coach Josh McDaniels continues to bring former New England Patriot players on board in Las Vegas. Harmon was drafted by the Patriots in 2013 and won three Super Bowls with them. The Raiders do have Johnathan Abram and Tre’von Moehrig, but the new coaching staff has no draft loyalties to either player. So while Harmon could end up in another safety-by-committee situation, he could also see the most defensive snaps at the safety position. Keep in mind, Harmon has 60-70 total tackles in back-to-back seasons but nothing more than 38 total tackles in any of the previous seven years.

Jabrill Peppers (NE, 26) — Peppers signed with New England on a one-year contract worth $5 million..

Fantasy Points: Peppers is coming off a Week 7 torn ACL. He is expected to be ready for the start of training camp. Peppers is a solid fantasy option when healthy and an undisputed starter. Unfortunately, his arrival on the Patriots creates a log jam at the safety position. Devin McCourty recently re-signed with New England and the team also has Jalen Mills as a starter. Adrian Phillips and Kyle Dugger shared the third safety spot that New England uses frequently. Peppers is not a lock to be a 3-down IDP even if he is ready for the start of spring training. He will try to unseat McCourty or Mills, otherwise he challenges Phillips and Dugger for the third safety position.

Darious Williams (Jax, 29) — Williams signed a three-year contract with the Jaguars worth $30 million with $18 million guaranteed.

Fantasy Points: Jacksonville is doling out big contracts for starters like Williams. This is the second straight season Jacksonville has signed a starting CB during free agency as Shaquill Griffin was acquired last year. Williams is coming off a Super Bowl victory season in which he started 13 of 14 regular season outings and all four playoff games. His tackle totals have increased in each of his past three seasons and he showed his ballhawking skills with four interceptions during a full season in 2020. Williams did miss three games due to an ankle injury in 2021 and he has missed seven games in his last three years..

Steven Nelson (Hou, 29) — Nelson agreed to a two-year contract worth $10 million.

Fantasy Points: Nelson has 28 big plays (four interceptions and 24 passes defended) in his last three years combined. He has averaged almost 54 total tackles per year in his last four seasons combined. Nelson will likely start at LCB as the Texans do not have a ton of depth at the CB position. This will be the fourth team in his last five seasons for Nelson.

D.J. Reed (NYJ, 25) — Reed landed a big pay day in New York when he signed a three-year contract worth $33 million.

Fantasy Points: Reed came into his own last year as he set career highs in total tackles (64), solos (48), and passes defended. We do wonder why the Seahawks did not pony up a big contract for Reed. He is a bit on the small side and does get beat on contested balls. Plus, he only has one solid season under his belt. Time will tell if the Jets gamble on Reed pays off. One thing is for sure, the Jets will give him ample opportunity to prove himself as an everyday starter.

Xavier Woods (Car, 26) — Woods moved from the NFC North to the NFC South when he signed with Carolina on a three-year deal worth $15.75 million.

Fantasy Points: Woods has started in 61 straight games he has played since 2018. He tallied over 100 total tackles for the first time in his career last year. He set career highs in total tackles (101), solos (65) assists (36), paswses defended (10), and interceptions (3) in 2021. With Carolina bringing him onboard, the team now has more flexibility in how they use LB/S Jeremy Chinn. It also helps that Woods can be a deep cover safety on a team that is thin at safety and cornerback.

Justin Reid (KC, 25) — Reid signed a three-year contract worth $31.5 million with $20 million guaranteed.

Fantasy Points: The Honey Badger has likely seen his last days with Kansas City as the Chiefs appear ready to move on with the signing of Reid. With S Tyrann Mathieu and Daniel Sorensen not under contract, Reid brings starting depth to the safety position. He averages about 5-6 total tackles and half a big play per game during his short four-year career with Houston. Be leery though, Reid could end up in a rotation should the Chiefs bring Mathieu and/or Sorensen back.

DeShon Elliott (Det, 34) — Elliott signed a one-year contract with the Lions worth $3.65 million.

Fantasy Points: Elliott is expected to start at strong safety for the Lions. Staying healthy is a major concern with him. Elliott lost his entire rookie season to a fractured forearm, missed eleven games in 2019 due to a season-ending knee injury, and then tore his pectoral and bicep muscles last year in Week 6. He has just one full season played and he produced 78 total tackles in 2020. Will Harris is a concern but the Lions intend on using Harris at slot CB in 2022.

Casey Hayward (Atl, 32) — Hayward signed a two-year contract worth $11 million.

Fantasy Points: Hayward will play for his fourth NFL team entering his tenth season. While he has not posted more than 41 total tackles during the past five years, he does have eight or more big plays in each of those seasons. Hayward will bring a veteran presence to the Falcons cornerback spot and will likely be a starter for Atlanta.

Keanu Neal (TB, 26) — Neal signed a one-year contract with Tampa Bay worth $1.2725 million with $152,500 guaranteed.

Fantasy Points: Neal played a hybrid linebacker/safety role and took a little over 50% of the defensive snaps with Dallas in 2021. In that role, he manned a linebacker position most of the time. With the Buccaneers signing Logan Ryan plus returning Antoine Winfield Jr. and Mike Edwards at safety as well as Devin White and Lavonte David at linebacker, there does not seem to be a logical fit for Neal other than being insurance on the players named.

Others Changing Teams

Malcolm Butler (NE, 32) — Butler signed with the team that originally drafted him on a 2-year contract worth $9 million.

Levi Wallace (Pit, 26) — The Steelers signed Wallace to a two-year contract worth $8 million.

Daniel Sorensen (NO, 32) — Sorensen opted to sign a one-year contract worth $1.2725 million with New Orleans and likely plays on special teams with the chance to earn playing time on defense.

Justin Coleman (Sea, 29) — Coleman returns to Seattle on a one-year contract worth $1.12 million and will likely challenge for the nickel cornerback spot.

Tavon Young (Chi, 28) — The slot cornerback signed with Chicago on a one-year contract worth $1.365 million with $650,000 guaranteed.

Anthony Averett (LV, 27) — Las Vegas signed Averett to a one-year contract worth $4.5 million.

Terrance Mitchell (NE, 29) — Mitchell inked a one-year contract worth $2 million with the New England Patriots.

Artie Burns (Sea, 26) — The Seahawks signed Burns to a one-year contract worth $2 million.

Deon Bush (KC, 28) — Bush signed a one-year contract with Kansas City worth $1.1875 million with $1.0475 million guaranteed.

Jeff Gladney (Ari, 25) — Gladney signed a two-year contract worth $4 million with all of it guaranteed.

George Odum (SF, 28) — Odum agreed to a 3-year contract worth $10.95 million with San Francisco..

Brandon Facyson (Ind, 27) — The Colts signed Facyson to a one-year contract worth $3.84 million with $1.1 million guaranteed.

Dean Marlowe (Atl, 29) — Signed with Atlanta on a one-year contract.

Dane Cruikshank (Chi, 26) — Signed a one-year contract worth $1.187 million with $1.047 million guaranteed with Chicago.

Darius Phillips (LV, 26) — Signed with the Raiders on a one-year contract worth $2.25 million.

Staying Put

Jessie Bates (Cin, 25) — Bates received the franchise tag from Cincinnati, which is worth close to $13 million.

Fantasy Points: The Bengals wasted no time signing their fourth-best tackler in 2021. Had he played in two more games instead of 15 outings last year, he likely would have reached 100 total tackles. Last season marked the first time in his four-year career that Bates did not record double-digit big plays. Cincinnati is hungry now that they have tasted the Super Bowl and their defense is going to be a huge part of getting back there. Bates is a critical element of this defense.

Quandre Diggs (Sea, 29) — Diggs re-signed with Seattle on a three-year contract worth $40 million. This is close to $2 million a year more than the Franchise tag the Seahawks were considering.

Fantasy Points: The trade of QB Russell Wilson and the release of LB Bobby Wagner opened the door financially for Seattle to make a solid offer on the pending free agent. The Seahawks have a solid one-two punch at safety now. Diggs ability to cover deep and protect the back end allows the staff flexibility on how they utilize S Jamal Adams. Diggs has improved his tackle numbers in each of the last two seasons. He set career highs in total tackles (88) and assists (28) in 2021 and now has back-to-back seasons with five interceptions.

Carlton Davis (TB, 25) — Davis chose to remain with Tampa Bay as he signed a three-year contract worth $45 million with $2.5 million guaranteed.

Fantasy Points: It does not surprise us that Tampa Bay re-signed Davis as the 25-year old is a solid defender against opposing top flight wide receivers. The problem with Davis, especially for fantasy owners, is that he misses games too often. Last year alone he missed seven games due to a quad injury and a back issue nagged him during the playoffs. In his four-year career, Davis has missed over 21% of a possible 65 regular season games.

Tracy Walker (Det, 27) — Walker signed back up with Detroit on a three-year contract worth $25 million with $17 million guaranteed.

Fantasy Points: Walker is a solid fantasy producer who tends to give a fantasy owner fits due to the way staff uses him on a weekly basis. Too many times last year Walker would have monster fantasy outings for a couple of games, then his snap count would drop to 60-65% over the next two games or so. His tackle numbers make you do a double-take as he has 98, 83, and 97 total tackles in his last three seasons. Yet, he has missed six games during that stretch and he frustrates with a yo-yo snap count. Walker must like what he sees in the latest coaching staff to re-sign with the Lions.

Jayron Kearse (Dal, 28) — Kearse re-upped with Dallas on a two-year contract worth $10 million that can go upwards to $11 million.

Fantasy Points: Kearse had more starts (15) for Dallas in 2021 than he did in his previous five seasons combined (12). He set career highs in total tackles (94), solos (60), assists (34), sacks (1), interceptions (2), and passes defended (10). Kearse claimed the starting job in Week 2 of last season and never looked back.We would be remiss if we did not point out that Kearse has one season of solid production, but he is an integral part of the Cowboys defense and should approach similar stats in 2022.

Rasul Douglas (GB, 26) — Douglas re-signed with Green Bay on a three-year contract worth $21 million but has incentives up to $25.5 million.

Fantasy Points: Douglas was added to the Packers’ roster in Week 5 of last year and proceeded to have his better statistical seasons in his five-year career. He is extremely capable of posting double-digit big plays in any given season as evidenced in him doing so in three of his five career years. Douglas brought stability to the Packers secondary once he took over as a starter, especially with all the injuries Green Bay suffered at cornerback.

Donte Jackson (Car, 26) — Jackson re-upped with Carolina on a three-year contract worth $31.1 million.

Fantasy Points: Jackson was on pace to set career highs across the board until a groin injury shut him down in Week 12 of 2021. He was averaging close to five total tackles and one big play per game before the injury. Jackson will anchor the cornerback position along with C.J. Henderson and Jaycee Horn in 2022, Carolina might add another veteran presence for insurance purposes, but Jackson will be a starter even if they do add to the secondary.

Devin McCourty (NE, 34) — New England opted to re-sign the seasoned veteran on a one-year contract worth $9 million.

Fantasy Points: McCourty has been a key part of the Patriots defense for the past 12 seasons. While he is getting long in the tooth, McCourty has not missed a game since 2015. His tackle numbers have dropped off but he has nine or more big plays in each of his last four seasons. We do not expect him to come anywhere near the 93 total tackle year of 2017. Stiil, he does see the field plenty and can be a serviceable DB3.

Patrick Peterson (Min, 31) — Peterson opted to stay with the Vikings on a one-year $4 million contract that could add another $1 million in incentives.

Fantasy Points: Peterson is not the shut down stud cornerback he was early in his ten year career. As such, the Vikings do not use him in that role. Still, he continues to share a wealth of knowledge with a young Vikings secondary. Peterson has at least one interception in all ten seasons he has played. He also is a solid run defender and has averaged nearly 52 total tackles in four consecutive seasons. With the loss of S Xavier Woods to free agency, it would not surprise us to see Peterson play safety when the Vikings use their three safety schemes.

Sidney Jones (Sea, 25) — Jones chose to remain in Seattle on a one-year contract worth $3.6 million with incentives up to $4.4 million.

Fantasy Points: The departure of starting CB D.J. Reed leaves the Seahawks with Jones as their only experienced starter. Jones does have a history of injuries as evidenced in his missing 34 of a possible 81 career games, His 10 passes defended last year marked the first time in his career that he posted double-digit big plays during a season. The biggest concern with Jones is the fact Seattle should be active in free agency and should add more talent at the CB spots.

Others Staying Home

P.J. Williams (NO, 28) — Re-signed with New Orleans on a one-year contract.

Eli Apple (Cin, 26) — Re-signed with the Bengals on a one-year contract worth $4 million.

Tre Flowers (Cin, 26) — Re-signed with the Bengals on a one-year contract worth $1.85 million with $500,000 guaranteed.

Anthony Harris (Phi, 30) — The Eagles are bringing Harris back on a one-year contract worth $2.5 million.

Juston Burris (Car, 28) — Burris re-signed with Carolina on a two-year contract worth $8 million.

Ahkello Witherspoon (Pit, 27) — Re-signed with Pittsburgh on a two-year contract.

Desmond King (Hou, 27) — Re-signed with Houston on a two-year contract worth $7 million with $3.5 million guaranteed.

Bobby McCain (Was, 28) — Re-signed with Washington on a two-year contract worth $11 million.

Isaiah Oliver (Atl, 25) — The Falcons re-signed Oliver to a 1-year contract worth $1.035 million.

Tre Herndon (Jax, 26) — Herndon re-signed with the Jaguars. Terms of the deal have yet to be disclosed.

Malik Hooker (Dal, 25) — Re-signed with Dallas on a two-year contract worth $8 million.

Arthur Maulet (Pit, 28) — Re-signed with Pittsburgh on a two-year contract worth $3.825 million.

Lamarcus Joyner (NYJ, 31) — Re-signed with New York on a two-year contract worth $2.6 million.

Sean Chandler (Car, 25) — Re-signed with Carolina on a one-year contract worth $1.035 million.

DeAndre Houston-Carson (Chi, 28) — Re-signed with Chicago on a one-year contract worth $1.77 million.

Buster Skrine (Ten, 32) — Skrine re-signed with Tennessee on a one-year contract worth $1.2725 million with $602,500 guaranteed.

Mike Hughes (Det, 25) — Detroit signed Hughes to a one-year contract worth up to $3.5 million..

Miles Killebrew (Pit, 28) — Re-signed with Pittsburgh on a two-year contract worth $4 million.

Karl Joseph (Pit, 28) — Re-signed with Pittsburgh on a one-year contract worth $1.035 million.

Terrence Brooks (Hou, 30) — Re-signed with Houston on a two-year contract worth $2 million.

Rashaan Melvin (Car, 32) — Carolina re-sign Melvin to a one-year contract.

A savvy veteran of fantasy football since 1990, Thomas specializes in IDP and Special Teams. When he is not delving into fantasy football, Thomas works as an instant or slow-motion replay technician for national and regional clients.

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