Readers that have been following the IDP section of this site for the past month or so have probably seen my 2011 Re-Draft LB Rankings and 2011 Dynasty LB Rankings. If you have, you have potentially noticed that I am very, very high on Daryl Washington, ILB, Arizona Cardinals.
Washington is not exactly an “unknown”, but he is certainly an “underrated” and has a huge opportunity to really blossom as a superstar IDP this coming season and beyond. Currently, I have Washington rated as my #15 overall linebacker in re-draft leagues and my #10 overall linebacker in dynasty leagues.
At this moment in time, Washington currently has an IDP average draft position (ADP) value of 48th amongst all IDPs and 27th amongst linebackers. There is no way that I would take 47 other IDPs over him, nor would I take 26 linebackers before him either. Let me explain why.
In his rookie campaign, Washington tallied 78 total tackles and 5 performance plays. He did this in 11 starts. While he played in 16 games, Washington did not start or play very much for a five game stretch in the middle of the season. During his 11 starts, Washington gathered 71 of his 78 total tackles and 60 of his 67 solo tackles. So during those 11 starts as a rookie, Washington averaged 6.45 total tackles per game and 5.45 solo tackles per game. These numbers would project to a 103 tackle (87 solo) season.
The fact that Washington averaged more than five solo tackles per start is great news for IDPers that play in bonus leagues. These leagues typically reward you a couple of bonus points when a player tallies five solos in one game. In one league that I am in, Washington averaged roughly 13.4 points per game in his 11 starts. That would have been good for 25th amongst all LBs. When you factor in that he did this as a rookie and that he has room to grow, Washington has the potential to really bloom this year.
Washington has great potential as a sideline-to-sideline tackler while playing inside in Arizona’s 3-4 scheme. He was the fastest linebacker in last year’s rookie class (ran a 4.57 forty) and he is a clear upgrade in speed and talent to all other linebackers currently on Arizona’s roster. When you factor in that Paris Lenon actually totaled 125 tackles at ILB for Arizona last year and finished as the 14th overall linebacker in points per game, it is easy to see the potential in this scheme as Washington takes over the role of lead linebacker here. I believe that transition starts now.
Another nice little nugget is that Washington averaged 7 tackles and 6 solos per game in starts against his divisional opponents last year. While the numbers do not completely support this from 2010, St. Louis and San Francisco are strongly committed to their running games when they do not fall behind early. This should provide some good tackle opportunities in divisional games for Washington.
Lastly, it is important to dig into some numbers about this Arizona defense. Arizona’s defense had 32.9 rush attempts against per game last season, which was the 3rd highest total in the NFL. They also allowed the third highest total of rushing yards per game as well (145.2 yards per game). When you factor these two statistics in with the fact that Arizona drafted Patrick Peterson and now sports a starting secondary that includes Peterson, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Adrian Wilson and Kerry Rhodes it is easy to see why teams will continue to attack Arizona on the ground going forward. This should mean ample opportunities for Washington to boost those tackle totals.
All in all, Washington is being underrated. While you will not need to pay top-10 or top-15 draft value to select him, he has a very good chance to return that kind of value. He will likely be somewhere between the 20th and 30th linebacker selected. Grab him as a LB2 or LB3 and reap a huge return on investment as he puts up high LB2 or low LB1 value for the next half decade or more.