Redskins Re-Sign Perry Riley
The Washington Redskins have re-signed ILB Perry Riley to a three-year, $13 million deal. In 2013, Riley played out the last year of his rookie deal and was threatening to bolt in free agency, but he’ll remain in the nation’s capital.
While head coach Mike Shanahan was ushered out of town after 2013’s abysmal performance, defensive coordinator Jim Haslett inexplicably kept his job, despite his unit’s No. 30 ranking in points allowed. Going forward, it can’t get much worse than the weekly pantsing the Redskins’ defense was receiving, but no matter what, we know Riley will return as an inside linebacker in a familiar 3-4 scheme.
However, he’ll have a new running mate in the middle of the defense since the ageless wonder London Fletcher is hanging up his cleats after 15 NFL seasons. It’s good news for Riley’s fantasy outlook that he will no longer have to compete with Fletcher for tackles, but the Redskins will look to reshape their defense in the coming months, so it’s too soon to declare this a huge positive.
Riley’s once-bright fantasy star has turned to a flicker
The Redskins drafted Riley out of LSU in the fourth round of the 2010 NFL Draft, but they did not call upon him early in his career. During his first 24 games in Washington, he was on the field for only nine snaps. That changed suddenly when he was inserted into the starting lineup Week 10 of the 2011 season, and he has been a stalwart on the Washington defense ever since.
Early on, Riley was billed as an up-and-coming IDP star, and when given a chance, he showed some flashes of fantasy brilliance. In eight starts in 2011, he amassed 68 total tackles. Extrapolated over 16 games, that’s 136 total tackles, which would have ranked him ninth among LBs in 2011. Those were promising numbers for a player who was in essence a rookie. He failed to take a step up in his first full season as a starter in 2012, though he still got 129 total tackles, good for 14th among LBs.
However, those numbers don’t reveal his solo tackle production, which is where Riley comes up short for his fantasy owners. His 73 solos ranked 30th among LBs in 2012. And it only got worse in 2013 as he struggled along with the rest of the Redskins’ defense. His total tackles fell to 115, good for 26th among LBs, while his solo numbers (72) disappointed again, ranking 30th among LBs.
Of course, tackles are not the only source of fantasy points, but that’s where we find another chink in Riley’s fantasy armor: He doesn’t exactly fill up the stat sheet. In 40 starts, he’s had one interception, one forced fumble, four fumble recoveries, and 7.5 sacks. His only saving grace may be his penchant for getting his hands on the ball, which has equated to 19 passes defensed.
Altogether, he has failed to finish better than 30th among fantasy linebackers in either of his full seasons. In 2013, he finished as the No. 30 fantasy linebacker in PFF IDP scoring, while in the previous season he was No. 32.
On top of underwhelming fantasy numbers, Riley has struggled with effectiveness on the field. He has consistently received a negative PFF rating, with his run defense grade reaching an embarrassing -8.2 in 2013. Among 38 inside linebackers who played at least half of their team’s snaps, only eight had a worse grade against the run than Riley.
He still has youth on his side as he’ll be only 26 years old when the 2014 season starts, and you can’t knock him for durability. Since being thrust into the starting lineup in 2011, he has started 40 straight games. And the Redskins are not afraid to leave him out on the field; the last two seasons he has been in on average over 97 percent of his team’s snaps.
He’s safely entrenched as a three-down linebacker on the inside of the defense, plus he’s getting a fresh start with a new head coach and the subtraction of London Fletcher. So he still has a chance to live up to the hype to some degree, but with consistently low solo tackle production and the lack of ability to stuff the stat sheet, his ceiling is low. Plus Washington may still add heavy competition for tackles beside him in the other ILB spot. For now, look for LB3 numbers and hope for LB2 production if he ends up on your squad.
Johnny B. Davis is a staff writer for PFF Fantasy. He likes to root out raw, young dynasty talent and spread the gospel of IDP. Follow Johnny on Twitter @JohnnyBDavis