In deep IDP dynasty leagues, upside is the way to go. This is exactly why diehard owners paid close attention to LSU product Perry Riley (+4.9) once he got the nod to start alongside London Fletcher on the Washington Redskins defense. This season, Riley looks to be a staple in Jim Haslett’s scheme and should be just as reliable for fantasy owners who are fortunate enough to pencil him into their lineups every week. Riley was once buried on the Redskins depth chart, and was mostly unowned in the earliest stages of his career. However, that all changed midway through the 2011 season and Riley rewarded owners who took a chance with him.
In Week 10 versus the Miami Dolphins, Riley cracked the starting lineup in the Redskins defense in favor of the rapidly declining Rocky McIntosh (-9.3). In that game he had nine tackles, logged a quarterback hit and an additional pressure, which was good enough for 17 fantasy points. He did allow three receptions, but for a total of negative seven yards. After that performance Haslett and Mike Shanahan never looked back, and for good reason.
Perhaps his most telling contribution, however, was his dominance in the run game for a team that ranked 18th in the NFL in run defense. In fact, Riley ranked fifth among inside linebackers in our run stop efficiency grade, which calculates how proficient a defensive player is at stopping the run.
|Player||Team||Run Snaps||Tackles||Assists||Missed Tackles||Stops||Stop %|
As you can see, Riley’s efficiency puts him in pretty good company with the likes of Ray Lewis, Brian Cushing and Novorro Bowman. Joe Mays is the other lesser-known on this list, but this is further proof of his solid 2011 campaign.
That said, the fantasy implications for these numbers could be huge. In a previous article, I touched on how scoring in IDP leagues is getting closer and closer to mirroring actual on-field play of defensive players, rather than predominantly rewarding one-dimensional tackling machines that standard IDP scoring typically does.
By looking at run stop efficiency for linebackers, we can understand that a player with a high stop percentage is not solely a beneficiary of circumstance. He has to diagnose the play, he has to know where to be, and he has to demonstrate sure-tackling ability. He is beating the defense, and not just sitting back and collecting a cheap tackle after the offense gains significant yardage. He has instincts, and these instincts often lead to bigger and better things on the field of play, which in turn can be quantified with fantasy points.
Even with present scoring settings, Riley’s outlook is solid. If we extrapolate his season over the course of a full 16 games, he would have had 157 fantasy points. That puts him the 17th highest scoring IDP, right behind DeMarcus Ware and ahead of guys like Cushing, Stephen Tulloch and Sean Lee. The dangers of extrapolation are well-documented, but in this case, it may not be a huge stretch of the means. Let’s compare his season with the player he replaced, Rocky McIntosh.
(Note: Other categories factor into fantasy point outputs, i.e. interceptions, safeties, etc., but are not included on the chart because neither player registered any of them.)
|Player||PFF Grade||Snaps||Solo Tkls||Asst Tkls||Sks||TFL||PDs||FRs||Fantasy Points|
Riley bests McIntosh in this comparison, and rightfully so. Regardless of how bad McIntosh was on the field, if we add both of their outputs together, you’re getting a top-40 IDP over the course of 16 games. Only five inside linebackers graded worse than McIntosh did last year, so it would be a stretch to say that we could expect Riley to match that low over such a long stretch of games in 2012.
From this, we can infer that just playing right inside linebacker for the Washington Redskins will probably result in a decent fantasy output. Add the fact that Riley’s grades demonstrate that he is not just playing the role of seat filler in the defense, but gives the Redskins an improvement over the average replacement. That said, it should lead to even bigger numbers. Additionally, the Redskins have said that they would like to keep London Fletcher, but are still in danger of losing him in free agency. If Fletcher walks, it could mean a spike in fantasy points for Riley, his heir apparent.
But even if Fletcher stays, history indicates that the man lined up beside him should still give his owners a steady week-to-week output. Looking beyond 2012, Fletcher’s time is still running out and will do so sooner than later. Another great season for Riley could mean being the focal point of that defense for years to come.
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