When Father Time comes to the door he pays no attention to the lovely “No Solicitors” sign that we have painstakingly chosen to display. Nope. He just saunters on in as Old Uncle Waldo’s hairline (or lack thereof) can attest.
This is an annual look at players that have once helped our IDP fantasy teams that are now sitting uncomfortably across the table from Father Time. Their time in the sun as fantasy factors has come to an end even though they continue their NFL careers. This is always a bittersweet article to write as longtime IDP owners such as myself have won championships in both redraft and dynasty formats with some of the players I will mention.
That being said, it is always a priority to recognize when to pull the plug earlier rather than later and not waste a draft selection on a player riding off into the sunset (a quick tip of the cap to Jared Allen and his retirement pic).
We will begin with a trip to Minnesota where LB Chad Greenway has re-signed for what will likely be his final NFL season. Greenway was once a fantasy force finishing in the top 20 from 2008-2013 and in the top 10 in both 2011 and 2012. He has topped triple-digit tackle totals six times during his career and had at least 90 total stops for eight straight seasons (2007-2014). Well, that was then and this is now.
For years Greenway was an every-down LB with the athleticism to be a seek and destroy tackling machine. Over the last two seasons he has seen his role in subpackages taken away and his snap count tumble. Last season, Greenway averaged only 39 defensive snaps per game.
Another factor working against Greenway’s chances of contributing very much is the Vikings signing of LB Emmanuel Lamur formerly of the Cincinnati Bengals. Lamur played for Minnesota head coach Mike Zimmer for two seasons and will likely battle Greenway for the starting WLB role. Even if Greenway manages to secure the starting gig, he will likely continue to leave the field in subpackages negating his value. It’s time to move on from Greenway come fantasy draft day.
There is the old adage that ‘You can’t go home again’ and that certainly applies to a couple of players that have returned to their old stomping grounds. Veteran LB Sean Weatherspoon is returning to the Atlanta Falcons while S Roman Harper is heading back to the New Orleans Saints.
After missing all of the 2014 season with an Achilles injury, Weatherspoon spent a lost season out in the desert last year as a member of the Arizona Cardinals. Initially thought to be an answer at LB for the Cardinals, Weatherspoon was rendered an afterthought with the emergence of Deone Bucannon in a LB role. Ultimately, Weatherspoon would end up playing less than 160 snaps on defense last season finishing with 11 total tackles. He was allowed to walk via free agency and signed with his former team in March.
While it would be nice to think this reunion could reignite Weatherspoon’s potential, the bottom line is that he has struggled to stay on the field throughout his career. Weatherspoon has missed 33 regular season games during his six years in the league and has managed to play a 16-game season only once. He will turn 29 in December and hasn’t topped triple digits in tackles since 2011 (it’s the only time he has done so) and has lost a step due to the litany of injuries he’s suffered.
Weatherspoon flashed some big-play potential back in the 2011-2012 seasons rolling up seven sacks along with a pair of fumble recoveries as well as a forced fumble and interception. Unfortunately since that time, an interception returned for a score in 2013 is the only big play on his resume.
The Falcons LB corps is a crowded one and the team is looking to get faster and more athletic at the position. As things stand right now, it appears that youngsters De’Vondre Campbell and Deion Jones will get the first crack at WLB and MLB, respectively. That will leave Weatherspoon in a battle with fellow veterans Courtney Upshaw, Philip Wheeler and Paul Worrilow for snaps. While Weatherspoon isn’t exactly garnering attention as a starting option for IDP owners, I have seen him going off the board late as depth for some teams.
Don’t do it. Let another owner waste that pick and go ahead and bolster your roster with a younger LB that has upside. The days of considering selecting Weatherspoon are officially over.
While Weatherspoon was a fringe starting option even during his best seasons, there was a time when Roman Harper was one of the top fantasy producers at DB. From 2007-2012, Harper was a top-12 DB and a top-five S five times. He racked up 480 solo tackles during that time and was a stud big-play producer. From 2007-2012, Harper amassed 17 sacks (he had 7 ½ in 2011) while also forcing 13 fumbles. The fact that he was a member of the New Orleans Saints during his glory years has some folks excited about his return to the team.
Let’s slow our roll a bit as Harper will turn 34 in December and hasn’t cracked the top 55 DBs in the past three seasons. In fact, he’s seen a steep decline in tackle numbers along with depleted big-play totals. From 2013-2015, Harper has put up only 109 solo stops along with a single sack and forced fumble.
Saints head coach Sean Payton recently remarked that “he has too much respect” for Harper to have signed him only to cut him at the end of training camp. While that is all well and good it doesn’t necessarily mean that Harper is in line for a big role on the defense. New Orleans has a pair of more than capable starters at S in Kenny Vaccaro and Jairus Byrd and drafted former Ohio State DB Vonn Bell who possesses the skill set to play anywhere in the secondary. The reason I am saying goodbye to Roman is that I can see Harper’s role as that of a mentor to the younger players and depth in case of injury.
Speaking of injuries, I will add one caveat to this farewell. Since joining the Saints two years ago, Jairus Byrd has had a very hard time staying on the field having missed 15 games due to injury. While I do not condone drafting Harper this season, should Byrd go down once again, then grabbing him off the waiver wire would be a wise move.
The lack of depth when evaluating the DL particularly at DE allows older players to hold value a bit longer than the other IDP positions. The proliferation of defenses using a 3-4 alignment continues to change designations for players once considered DEs into OLBs. There are really no older players I would be adverse to drafting late as depth just because the pickings get slim pretty fast at the DL position.
That does not mean there is not a DL player that we can wave bye-bye to. Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in showing DE Greg Hardy the proverbial fantasy relevance door. In this case it’s not Father Time that has ended a run as a fantasy factor, it is Hardy himself. Hardy carries more baggage than an overbooked 747 and has burned every bridge he’s crossed.
He was lucky to have been given a chance to play for the Dallas Cowboys last season and failed to produce on the field while stirring up trouble off of it. Hardy skipped practices and threw sideline tantrums on his way to only six sacks in 12 games. Despite Hardy’s agent Drew Rosenhaus trying to spin things in a positive direction by letting teams know that he has been undergoing treatment, there has been no hint of a signing. Back in May, ESPNs Ed Werner reported that the “prevailing opinion” around the league is that “nobody wants” to sign Hardy.
Good riddance. Anyone that has read my article Wally’s World is well aware of my thoughts regarding Hardy. He didn’t belong in the league last season and he doesn’t belong in the league moving forward. It finally appears that NFL owners have come around to this notion and fantasy owners should do the same.
That’s it folks. Keep coming back to Fantasy Sharks as Senior Staff Writer Gary Davenport and myself continue to bring IDP information and advice to help bring home that championship.