For Ravens LB Ray Lewis, age is just a number!
Editor’s note: New to DLF, Eric Olinger has been writing for IDPGuru.com for two years now and likes to focus on the Dynasty/Keeper IDP aspects of fantasy football. That doesn’t mean the offensive guys are off limits, though. He’s been playing dynasty IDP leagues since 1998 and it’s in his DNA to talk fantasy football 365 days a year, so he’s a perfect fit to be the newest writer on DLF.
Especially in startup drafts, people often overlook the proven veteran who’s a little long in the tooth for a shiny new toy. We all do it, but these grizzled veterans are reliable sources of IDP goodness. Everyone wants the next big thing, the budding Superstar that will be dominant for years to come, the “alpha dog” if you will. All while the guys who are already doing it slip through the cracks, some of which will likely outproduce 75% of those young pups. So, why not take a proven guy with a little tread worn off the tires? They’re usually a lot lower risk than gambling on an up-and-comer and come a lot cheaper. They might not give you a decade of production, but they can give you two to three years of rock solid production while you monitor the waiver wire and box scores for that “next big thing.”
Let’s take a look at some IDP players who aren’t exactly spring chickens, but should definitely not be forgotten come draft time. Guys like London Fletcher, Brian Urlacher, Ray Lewis, Lance Briggs, Julius Peppers, Jason Babin and Kyle Vanden Bosch are all very valuable IDP assets and all over 30. With the exception of Babin, they have also been IDP mainstays for nearly a decade.
London Fletcher- 37 years old, ADP LB21 (152nd overall)
Year Solo Tackles TFL Assists FR FF INT Sacks Pass Def # of TD 2011 96 5 71 0 2 2 2 8 0 2010 87 6.5 49 3 3 1 2.5 11 0 2009 95 7 47 0 1 1 2 6 0
Fletcher is a bona fide stud. He led the league in total tackles at 36 years old, his 15th season in the league. He is what every NFL team and fantasy team needs, a no nonsense, show up for work without an attitude, get it done player.
Brian Urlacher- 34 years old, ADP LB35 (207th overall)
Year Tackles TFL Assists FR FF INT Sacks Pass Def # of TD 2011 84 8 18 2 0 3 0 7 1 2010 96 13.5 29 2 1 1 4 10 0 2008 79 8 14 1 0 2 0 10 0
*2009 omitted due to Week 1 injury- missed entire 2009 season.
Brian Urlacher is a very good fantasy linebacker. He’s an even better NFL linebacker, which sometimes hurts his fantasy box score. He has the ability to cover tight ends with ease so he’s often dropping deep into the Cover-2 scheme, which leads to his high number of pass break ups and INT opportunities.
Ray Lewis- 37 years old, ADP LB26 (167th overall)
Year Tackles TFL Assists FR FF INT Sacks Pass Def # of TD 2011* 72 4 23 0 2 1 2 7 0 2010 102 6.5 37 3 2 2 2 4 1 2009 94 9.5 39 1 2 0 3 7 0
*Missed 4 games due to injury
Remarkably durable for a linebacker that plays as destructive as he does – the four games missed by Ray-Ray were his first since 2007. He is without a doubt the face of the franchise and the whole team draws its identity and intensity from him. As you can see, he is still very active in all aspects of the game. If you average out his per game numbers, they have stayed very consistent over the past three years. He shows no signs of any dramatic drop off looming.
Lance Briggs- 31 years old, ADP LB48 (262nd overall)
Year Tackles TFL Assists FR FF INT Sacks Pass Def # of TD 2011 86 9 19 0 2 1 0 4 0 2010 75 8.5 13 1 1 2 2 7 0 2009 94 8.5 24 0 0 1 3 5 0
These numbers might not blow you away, but he’s consistent and very rarely gives you a poor outing. Playing next to one of the game’s all-time greats hasn’t hurt him, either.
Julius Peppers- 32 years old, ADP DE6 (111th overall)
Year Tackles TFL Assists FR FF INT Sacks Pass Def # of TD 2011 32 17 5 2 3 0 11.5 4 0 2010 43 14 11 0 3 2 8 9 0 2009 36 13 5 1 5 2 10.5 5 1
With an ADP of DE6, you see that age doesn’t impact defensive ends as much as it does linebackers. It takes most defensive ends a couple years to really hit stride. There is only one Jason Pierre-Paul! Plenty of defensive ends remain very productive into their 30s. Most of the time they become “pass rush specialists” and turn into a part time player. Peppers still plays with one of the most relentless motors in the game.
Jason Babin- 32 years old, ADP DE8 (124th overall)
Year Tackles TFL Assists FR FF INT Sacks Pass Def # of TD 2011 34 19.5 5 0 3 0 18 2 0 2010 44 20 14 0 2 0 12.5 0 0 2009 12 3 4 0 0 0 3 0 0
Babin is proof that some guys are not cut out for every scheme. Until Babin hooked up with Jim Washburn he was considered a draft bust. Then, first in Tennessee, next in Philadelphia, he exploded for 30.5 sacks over a two-year stretch. Through week 15 of last year, he was on pace to break the single season sack record. He’s a classic example of a late bloomer.
These guys, in my opinion, are vital pieces to building a strong core of IDP longevity. Having these proven veterans allow you to draft guys that might take two to three years to develop, all while staying competitive now. Nobody wants to wait to dominate. We want results now! We want to be able to throw it in our buddy’s face every chance we get. The important thing to remember is to build a team that will allow you to laugh in his face now AND three to four years from now!
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