It’s been hot as hell for two months here in Texas, but the rest of the country seems to consider Memorial Day Weekend as the kickoff of the summer. The NFL is no different apparently, as it’s using the start of bikini season to get rid of those excess LBs. In this case, I’m talking about Sean Lee and Daryl Washington, but Andy Reid and the Ryan brothers can always stand to drop some weight. Let’s take a look at how the loss of two studs for the season affects the IDP landscape for 2014:
Sean Lee – It all started with a speculative Tweet from Schefter on Tuesday morning, and the bomb dropped a few hours later: Sean Lee tore his ACL. Lee has never played a full season in the NFL, but when he is on the field, few are better. Dallas will miss his tackling and coverage ability, and his IDP owners will be stuck scouring the waiver wire to replace him. Which brings up the question: Who will replace him in the middle of the Dallas defense?
Bruce Carter – When Lee went down for part of 2013, Carter shifted over to the middle and put up respectable stats. Nothing to write home about, but he was a top 40 LB in most scoring systems last year. The issue with relying on him to man the middle in Big D for an entire year is that he’s not very good at tackling or in coverage. You might ask, “Then why is he starting for an NFL team?” to which I would reply, “Because Jerrah.”
Anthony Hitchens – This is my pick for who will ultimately be the LB to own in Dallas this year. I did not mention Hitchens in my IDP Draft Recap, mainly because, you know, he was behind Sean Lee in the depth chart. Live and learn. Hitchens doesn’t have a great pedigree, but his ceiling is unknown compared to that of Carter, so I fully expect Dallas to roll the dice with their 4th round pick. He could easily be the steal of 2014 IDP drafts.
Daryl Washington – Spring-time has not been kind to Washington in the past two years. Last year he failed a drug test in April (which led to a 4-game suspension), and followed that up by assaulting his baby mama in May. As an encore, he failed yet another drug test this year, which will cost him the entire 2014 season, unless he pulls a Braun and gets it overturned. It’s frustrating to own someone who is as injury prone as Sean Lee, but I would take that any day over a guy like Washington.
Kevin Minter – Unlike in Dallas, Arizona has an obvious replacement for Washington. Minter was already going to step in for the departed Karlos Dansby, and he will now be looked at as the primary option on that defense. Highly regarded coming out of LSU, Minter rarely saw the field as a rookie, frustrating owners who drafted him early in Dynasty Rookie drafts. Assuming he’s not a total bust, their patience should pay off this year, and I’d rank Minter as an LB3 with huge upside at this point.
Larry Foote – The most interesting subplot in the aftermath of the Washington debacle is the man who will likely be starting opposite Minter. Foote hasn’t really seen the field since 2012, missing pretty much all of 2013 with a bicep injury. But in that 2012 season, Foote was a startable LB in IDP leagues, finishing in the top 30 in most scoring systems. A return to that level might be a pipe dream (sorry Daryl), but you could do a lot worse with a late-round LB flier pick.