How many of you out there are considering drafting Rob Gronkowski with an early pick and taking your chances? It’s hard to resist grabbing him and parking him on your bench, knowing you have the best tight end in the league in your back pocket when he is ready to go. And he will be ready to go at some point. Even if he starts the season on the Physically Unable to Perform list and misses the full six games, it is still an enticing prospect. The real question is: Would you do the same for a defensive player?
Daryl Washington of the Arizona Cardinals is going to serve a four-game suspension to start the season for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. He also has a court date set in early August for an offseason assault charge, so there is the possibility of an
suspension if the league wants to tack on a player conduct violation. Assuming this suspension (if it even happens) is no more than two games, he has the same worst-case scenario as Gronkowski. He will, however, definitely miss at least four games. Despite all this, I am still seriously considering using a late draft choice on him.
If you were lucky enough to have owned him last year, you have no need to read any further. I imagine you are already debating this very idea. Is it better to use a late pick on him, or wait until the season begins and pick him up off the waiver wire? I, for one, don’t want to take the chance that someone else is eyeing him and may act before I do.
Washington finished last year as a top-rated linebacker and was a very consistent performer on a weekly basis. You are not going to find this type of production late in a draft after the run on defensive players begins. The top defensive linemen will be gone, and most, if not all, of the strong linebackers will have been scooped up already. But you will have to wait for the payoff.
As a second-year player in 2011, Washington improved on a very impressive rookie campaign (78 total tackles, 67 solo, one sack). He finished with 107 total tackles (95 solo), five sacks and two interceptions. Last year he broke out with 134 total tackles (108 solo), nine sacks, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and an interception. He averaged close to double-digit points in one of my leagues that values solo tackles. How many defensive players out there can you rely on for that kind of production week in and week out? You can count them on one hand.
In an IDP league with three starters on your defense, you would likely want to keep 4-5 defensive players (if not more) on a 20-man roster. You should make
Daryl Washington one of them. A backup running back, a wide receiver who may never see the starting lineup or a second quarterback or tight end are just taking up space on your roster. You would gladly hold that spot for Gronkowski, knowing the advantage he gives you once he is ready to dominate again.
will dominate again. It’s just a matter of time.
There is always the concern that he may take a while to get up to speed, although I would worry more about that with an offensive player. Washington may have a slow week or two as he gets back into game shape, but even then he should produce decent fantasy numbers. Once he gets going, look out. A defensive player whose mentality is to seek and destroy, who has been cooped up like a caged dog for weeks? He will be aching to hit someone! And there is also the issue of rebuilding his damaged reputation and living up to the monster $33 million contract he signed last year. Nothing but snot bubbles.
It’s time to reconsider what you were going to do with the crapshoot that is the very back end of your draft in an IDP league. Don’t waste your time poring over stat sheets and expert picks looking for that obscure offensive player who may have a huge season if all the stars align right.
Daryl Washington represents all the value that you are looking for, right in front your face. In conclusion, I find myself so convincing that I have alleviated all of my concerns and am now officially using a draft choice on Washington. Hmm, what round should I grab him in?
Oh, and by the way, it seems that we may potentially be substituting
Von Miller’s name into this article and re-visiting this conversation.