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Will the Real Lawrence Timmons Please Stand Up?

Nothing is worse in Dynasty leagues than having a player who was a bona fide stud one year fall on his face the next. You get your hopes up and consider him a core player, a sure fire every week starter, then without warning or explanation he hits a slump so nasty that you want to drive to their city and beat them with a dead car battery. Having said that…

Will the real Lawrence Timmons please stand up?

In 2010, Timmons finished the year ranked as the LB7 in IDP leagues. He was machine of destruction. Through the first seven games he had racked up 56 solo tackles, 18 assists and three sacks. Nobody started off hotter! Then, something happened. Through the next six games he totaled just 20 solos, 17 assists, and zero sacks. He wasn’t hurt, there was no position change, and it wasn’t bad match-ups. It was like there was an imposter in his uniform. Timmons finished the year strong with 20 solos, seven assists, and a sack the final three weeks so everything was forgiven.

Fast forward to 2011 where all the “experts” had Timmons locked in as an elite tier, can’t miss, top five linebacker. There was very little reason to believe Timmons wasn’t going to build on his 2010 numbers. He was “The Man” in Pittsburgh – the next great Steelers linebacker following in the footsteps of all-time greats. Week one rolls around and he blows the stat sheet up against the Ravens with ten solos and two assists. Everything seemed on track as the LB1 we drafted was panning out. The next week, five solos and three assists – an average game, nothing to worry about. Week three versus the Colts was a snooze fest. It was three and out after three and out, so the stat sheet was not kind to the IDP players. One solo, two assists was all Timmons could tally. Just a bad match up, nothing to worry about, right?

From weeks five through eight, things got real interesting for Timmons’ owners. James Harrison, Pro Bowl outside linebacker, went down with an injury and Timmons was shifted into his spot. During those four games he TOTALED seven solos and five assists, including a week six goose egg. Everyone held their heads up though, Harrison was coming back in week nine and the Steelers were gonna get their uber-stud back on track. Unfortunately, that was not the case. Timmons slid back to his inside linebacker spot and continued his disappearing act. Only one more time in the 2011 season did he break double digit total tackles, which was in week 16.

Let’s look at his overall numbers from the past two seasons.

Season Tackles Tackles    for Loss Assists Fum Recovered Fumbles Forced INTs Sacks Passes Defensed
2011 68 4 25 0 1 1 2 5
2010 96 10 39 2 2 2 3 10

 

As you can see, his numbers were down across the board. His total tackles dropped by 30% – that’s an insane amount. For playing four games as an outside linebacker, his big play numbers dipping in every category is also alarming. Simply put, he was invisible in almost every aspect of the game.

The thing that confuses me the most is the fact the Steelers drafted Jason Worilds as the heir apparent to James Harrison, but when Harrison went down, Worilds was left on the bench for an out-of-position Timmons. Furthermore, the Steelers have Stevenson Sylvester and Sean Spence on the roster learning the inside linebacker positions. That makes me wonder if the Steelers view their best option as Timmons and LaMarr Woodley as the future outside linebackers and Sylvester and Spence as the inside linebackers.

Timmons’ versatility makes him a great NFL player and a risky IDP investment. In Dynasty leagues, the investment is already made and his value is at an all-time low. So, there is no value in trying to move him now. He is just 26 years old, so there is plenty of time for him to bounce back. Maybe 2011 was shot simply because he couldn’t get into a groove switching back and forth between linebacker spots. It’s possible the lost off-season due to the lockout affected him negatively as well. Maybe 2010 was the reality and 2011 was the fluke?

Fantasy Football is a “what have you done for me lately?” business and Timmons will either be a phenomenal value in 2012 or continue to be an enigma. I would be too nervous trusting him as my LB1 in Dynasty start ups. In a 12 team league, I consider him a low-end LB2 and would honestly be more comfortable having him as my LB3 with upside. In a perfect world, I would group him with a top seven linebacker and an aging London Fletcher/Ray Lewis type to protect myself, just in case the 2010 season was the fluke.

All I can ask is will the real Lawrence Timmons please stand up?

Check out our Dynasty LB rankings here.  You can follow me on Twitter @OlingerIDPGuru 

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Mike Woellert
10 years ago

I think you have the 2010/2011 numbers flip-flopped…..otherwise, solid piece…

Admin
Reply to  Mike Woellert
10 years ago

All fixed. Darn tables!

Boobam13 *
10 years ago

I was thinking the same thing…he was a beast in 2010! If you look at the last 7 weeks of the 2011 season he put up a really solid run of points in FF (15, 15, 14, 13, 12, 21 and 19 at least in our league). Those numbers look more “LT” like, no disrespect to the other LT!

Cyrus Miller
10 years ago

I’m of the opinion that Timmons is better in real football than FF for the Steelers. They love what he brings to the table no matter where he lines up, so he is the most likely to be moved outside if Spence is as good as he seems to be.

That is why I think Spence will be the ILB and Timmons will either be moved outside or to the other ILB spot (due to his size compared to Spence). I am still buying Timmons low because he has a chance to be productive outside, and if he stays inside he will be a stud. But I am also buying Spence later in drafts and hoping he gets the job.

Cyrus Miller
Reply to  Eric Olinger
10 years ago

I have mixed thoughts on this.

1- Sylvester is in contention to replace Farrior as the Buck linebacker. This is better in real life than in my IDP leagues. Timmons plays the Mack, which is where I would want my FF LB to be.

2- The Steelers will get their best 4 LB on the field, with Timmons being able to play any position.

So I think that there are three different possibilities.
A: Timmons at Mack
Sylvester/Spence (doesn’t matter, but I would guess Sylvester) at Buck. Woodley at one OLB, I don’t know who at the other.

B: Timmons at Buck
Spence at Mack, Woodley at OLB, I don’t know who at the other.

C: Timmons at OLB
Spence at Mack, Sylvester at Buck, Woodley at other OLB

At this point, I think it is most likely to be A or C. The thing is, the X-factor in my mind is how well Spence plays and whether anyone steps up at OLB.

My decision tree:
If Spence is playing really well, they will want him to play. That means Timmons will move.

If Harrison is productive opposite Woodley, Timmons will stay inside. That means Timmons/Spence are the two ILB, I am not sure how they will configure, but my guess is Spence is smaller so he will be Mack.

If Harrison is not productive or is injured, or in 2013 or down the road when Harrison is older, Timmons can play OLB. That means Sylvester/Spence are the two ILB, with Spence at Mack.

Just my extrapolation, others can chime in!

Cyrus Miller
Reply to  Eric Olinger
10 years ago

I don’t believe in Worilds. I think he was a reach at the time and hasn’t developed well. That said, Harrison is the guy in the short term so maybe Worilds will step up by the time Harrison isn’t productive.

With both as possible OLB though, it does seem unlikely for Timmons to move outside. That kind of takes away half of my theory, I guess it is between Spence and Sylvester now.

phorts
10 years ago

I bought high on Timmons after the 2010 season as he was the #3 in scoring for LB in our league. (Mayo was #1 and i bought high on him too..doh!)

I watched this situation very closely and you’ve done a nice job of breaking it down. A lot of people are giving him a pass for last year citing his move to the outside, but as you illustrated it really was only for 4 games. I’m one of the believers in his immense talent and drive. His ability to move sideline to sideline and track plays is rare. I believe all of the factors are at play that you mentioned and he was visibly and outwardly upset about how he was used last season. That, i think, was the biggest factor. They’ve gone so far as admitting that they didnt use him the way they should have, or would have liked.

I dont think he’ll return to top 5 status, and would feel comfortable projecting him somewhere in between 2010 and 2011.

Cyrus Miller
Reply to  phorts
10 years ago

I bought high on Mayo too, and as a Patriots fan, I believe in him.

The one question is how they use Hightower and Spikes. Mayo is the Timmons in this situation, and Hightower and Spikes are both very good ILB. I could see Mayo being used as a nickel MLB and a run down OLB of some sort.

His size isn’t up where OLB’s in the Patriots 3-4 should be, though, so I am really hoping they keep him inside. I’m not sure how to put all three ILB on the field outside of a big nickel package, but maybe they just wanted the depth in case anyone gets hurt.

Cyrus Miller
Reply to  Cyrus Miller
10 years ago

Boston Globe reports that Hightower will be the starting SLB (or Sam).

If that is the case, Mayo and Spikes will remain in the middle and one of the bigger guys will be the Jack at DE/OLB. My guess is Chandler Jones will be groomed for that spot, but they might sign Andre Carter or use one of the veterans in the first year.

Biggest reason to use Hightower on the outside is size– he is 265 compared to Mayo 245.

Cyrus Miller
Reply to  Eric Olinger
10 years ago

I still think they will run a 3-4 the majority of the time (thus Spikes being the Ted, Mayo the MLB and Jones the Elephant), but your theory of the well-disguised 3-4/4-3 hybrid is the first time I’ve been able to picture them all seeing the field at the same time. My only confusion is what becomes of Ninkovich, as he seems to be a pass rushing specialist, but Hightower is good enough to not come off the field.

Also, will Mayo or Hightower be the defensive guy with the headset? I guess Mayo, but Hightower has several years with Saban, great preparation for Belichick.

JBlake
10 years ago

This article supports my belief in NOT drafting an LB too early when guys like Navorro Bowman seem to explode off the waiver wire every year. In my dynasty startup last year, I nicknamed one guy “Early D” for his tendency to reach early and often for IDPs. He finished near the bottom last year and projects to be at the bottom again this year.

MR ROURKE
10 years ago

Worlids will be a pass rushing beast once Harrison gets out of the way. I have no fear in Timmons being a top LB and I’m buying off anyone who would feel most safe with him as their LB3 or values him as a low LB2. You can’t go wrong buying from those people. You’ll likely get a top LB at a nice discount, but at worst you break even.

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