The Redskins retained the services of their most productive linebacker, and most importantly, the last of the big name free agent linebackers that was on the market in London Fletcher. Never mind the fact that he’ll be 37 this season, he still remains an elite IDP target, and in my opinion, is the Rodney Dangerfield of the NFL, as he just doesn’t get the respect that he deserves. The Redskins showed him that respect and he’ll remain an integral part of the ‘Skins defense. What does this mean for his IDP prospects in 2012?
Fletcher has been one of the great players in the NFL, and most importantly, one of the most productive at his position, especially from an IDP standpoint. During the off-season, there just didn’t seem to a lot of buzz surrounding his free agency. As productive as he’s been his entire career, this lack of interest is hard to understand, because, just when you think age is going to catch up to him, he manages to produce another 100+ tackle season.
Combine age with a defensive scheme change a few seasons ago? No problem. In fact, since coming to the Redskins in 2007, he’s averaged 126 tackles, and also throws in the splash plays, whether it’s a sack or a forced fumble. Since Pro Football Focus started its grading in 2008, Fletcher has graded out positively in overall play and against the run among ILBs, so the Redskins did well in keeping one of the better run stoppers. From an IDP standpoint, he doesn’t leave the field, as he’s on the field for every down and every snap, which leads to more tackle opportunities. Just like death and taxes, you can expect a 100+ tackle season from Fletcher every season and 2011 was no different. In his contract year, he logged 1,033 defensive snaps, while compiling 144 tackles, grading out at a +19.9 overall and a +13.6 against the run, where both of those, were good for top 10 amongst ILBs.
What are the Redskins and his would-be IDP owners getting? Fletcher has been one of the most consistent tacklers in the league, as he’s productive and efficient with his defensive snaps. If you look at his tackle/snap percentage in 2011, he notched a solo tackle in 10.9% of his snaps and either a solo/assist in 13.9% of his defensive snaps, which led to some of his best tackle numbers since his arrival in the Nation’s Capital. How important was he to the run defense? He notched 41 defensive stops (which led to a loss for the offense) in 408 run snaps, leading to a 10% run stop percentage, ranking him among the top 20 in the league, as he was 1 of 7 others that logged 400+ run snaps; so we’re dealing with a nice sample size here. Fletcher did miss 14 total tackles, but still ranked among the top 25 in tackling efficiency, as he missed a tackle every 11.3 attempts.
Even though Fletcher is up near 40, age doesn’t appear to be slowing him down any, as like a fine wine, he just seems to get better with age. He’ll take fellow ILB, Perry Riley, under his wing and they should be a solid tackling duo in Washington’s 3-4 defense once again. In most tackle heavy formats, Fletcher puts up elite numbers weekly, averaging 15-17 points, and according to Dan Ciarrochi’s adjusted scoring chart, he ranks 10th among all IDPs in scoring.
Redskins DC, Jim Haslett, will continue to use Fletcher all over the field, and even deploy him on pass rushing snaps if he sees that Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan are getting extra attention. Fletcher never leaves the field, which is a characteristic you love in all IDPs and with him being scheme versatile (meaning he can play in both a 4-3 and 3-4), a change of scenery wouldn’t have hurt his overall IDP value. However, in his case, change isn’t a good thing and it’s good to see Fletcher staying with the same squad. Fletcher is as good a bet for triple digit tackle numbers and should have another year of elite stats as an LB1 in most IDP leagues.