Fantasy resurgence in the cards for Eric Weddle in Baltimore
Safety Eric Weddle’s slow divorce with the San Diego Chargers was finally put to rest when he signed with the Baltimore Ravens on a four-year, $26 million contract, reportedly including $13 million guaranteed.
The 31-year-old, three-time Pro Bowler and league leader in interceptions in 2011 has provided fantasy owners with multiple years of top-end production, including three seasons with over 100 total tackles, and will slide in straight away as a starter in Baltimore. This move comes off the back of a disappointing 2015 campaign that saw Weddle start the season hot, posting four consecutive games with over 12.5 points, before failing to break the six point barrier in seven of the nine games he played the rest of the season.
The former Utah Ute then proceeded to have a highly acrimonious split with the Chargers as the season ended, being placed on I.R. against his wishes in Week 17 because “there wasn’t room on the plane” for the flight to the final game. This was after Weddle had been fined earlier in the season for watching his daughter perform in a half-time show and not returning to the locker room. Following the incidents, Weddle stated, “I [will] probably never speak to them again,” before eventually signing in Baltimore, turning down the advances of Pittsburgh, Dallas, Oakland and New England.
The Ravens were in great need of a solid presence at safety since the retirement of Ed Reed, as the likes of Will Hill, Matt Elam and Darian Stewart have proved themselves to be ineffectual starters in recent seasons. Weddle’s ability to regularly get to the ball carrier has been apparent throughout his career, posting 88 or more total tackles in each season he has played in 16 games since his rookie year. He has also flashed playmaking ability with 19 career interceptions, five forced fumbles and 6.5 sacks, and he has numerous DB1 seasons on his resume.
Looking at how the Baltimore defensive scheme will fit Weddle, in running a 3-4 defense, the Ravens linebacking corps isn’t going to swallow up all the tackle production on offer, so Weddle appeals as a bounceback candidate in 2016, who should push into the top half of the DB1 tier again. ILB C.J. Mosley didn’t progress on as an all-encompassing tackle monster in his second year after a promising rookie campaign, so Weddle has the opportunity to return to triple-digit tackles numbers as a Raven. This will of course curtail his interception opportunities – Weddle has not posted more than two in a season when he has notched over 100 total tackles, while his career-best of seven in one season came with his lowest 16-game tackle total (88) – but from a fantasy perspective, consistent scoring via tackle totals is a nice platform to build around.
It would be a shock if Weddle wasn’t a DB1 (assuming he plays 16 games) in 2016, and a return to a top-three spot isn’t out of the question either. Keep tabs on his ADP vs his peers during the off-season as he could prove to be value for you on draft day if he is being picked outside of the top 8-10 defensive backs.