“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment” – Buddha
Over the last two weeks Budda Baker leads the NFL in tackles and forced fumbles. He’s been an IDP superstar from just 114 defensive snaps. He’s perfectly positioned to be a week and league-winning force for you over the next five weeks.
As the quote above says, it’s important not to get too sucked into the past or the future when evaluating IDPs. But, given I traded away my Budda shares already, I wanted to go into how we got to this situation.
Early life of the Budda
Born “Bishard Baker”, the Budda was a standout safety even in high school, but it’s noteworthy he was also an excellent track athlete. He ran a 10.91 100m, a 22.11 200m, a 50.62 400m and managed 23’2” (7m 28cm) in the long jump. He also played both ways in football. As a senior he rushed for 428 yards from just 27 attempts (15.85 ypc).
The Budda was gifted athletically from his first steps on this earth.
The Budda’s formative years
The Budda was all over the field right from the start as a member of the Washington Huskies. In his first season in college in 2014, he led the team in tackles with 58. The Budda beat out future NFL players Shaq Thompson, John Timu, Cory Littleton, Danny Shelton, Hau’oli Kikaha, Marcus Peters, Sidney Jones and Kevin King for that honour. He also repeated the feat in 2016. That 2016 season also saw him manage five PDs and two INTs as well as 9.5 TFLs and 3.0 sacks.
The Budda finished his college career with 199 total tackles, four sacks, five interceptions and 18 passes defended to show off his all-round abilities. The Budda’s talent was clear to draft cognoscenti. The FF Ghost wrote in the Orange Report:
“Budda Baker might be a button on the small side for an NFL safety, but I have absolute faith that he will find or create a niche for himself that comes with significant playing time. Baker does everything you could ask for from a safety prospect. Despite his size, this defender shows no fear in making contact with a ball carrier who is usually significantly larger than he is.”
If you want to read more by Ghost I highly recommend doing so. You can find the Orange report here.
Pro Football Focus wrote:
“Baker seems best fit in a role close to the line of scrimmage in nickel defenses when he can attack the LOS. He works well when moving downhill as he closes quickly on the ball, making him effective as a short zone player.”
Both identified that the key aspect in question is not the Budda’s size, but rather his commitment.
The recent past of the Budda
The Budda’s professional career started slowly as he played just 40 defensive snaps in his first eight games and failed to play double digit snaps in any single game. During that time he compiled just three tackles and times seemed lean. Many of his most devoted followers found themselves in a dark place here and traded the Budda away for peanuts. Your humble biographer certainly did. Here is how the Budda has been used week by week:
As you can see, he has been used in multiple roles over the last two weeks. This is how his positional alignment has stacked up:
Here’s the spots he’s been asked to play in more detail:
As you can see, the Budda has lined up deep more than any other spot but almost two thirds of his time on the field has been NOT spent at deep safety. In fact around a quarter of his time has been spent in linebacker areas of the defense. This is fantastic news for his ability to produce personal statistics and very reminiscent of how the Cardinals used Tyrann Mathieu in his heyday. This is exactly what we were all hoping for when we drafted the Budda back in the off-season.
The Budda exists in the now
All darkness was blown away in week ten when Tyvon Branch was injured and found himself out for the season. The Budda stepped into the role that was always meant to be his and immediately produced with six solo tackles and an assist from just 44 snaps.
Still doubt swirled around the Budda and again your humble biographer recommended caution whilst we waited to see how events might unfold. And again, the Budda proved us wrong with another outstanding performance. This time he exploded for 11 solos, a TFL, two assists, a fumble recovered, a sack and a pass defended. The Budda showed his true colours and the world had no choice but to notice.
The Budda leads the NFL in tackles across the last two games. He already has 31 solo tackles which is as many as George Iloka and Andrew Sendejo have having played for a full season. The Budda has more solo tackles than any of Kenny Vaccaro, Kurt Coleman, Mike Adams, Darian Stewart, Eric Reid, Earl Thomas, Ricardo Allen, LaMarcus Joyner or Shawn Williams.
The Budda enters the next phase of existence
I imagine he’ll have been snapped up in any league where he’d fallen off rosters a week ago, but it’s worth checking to make sure. The Budda is a priority add if unowned.
If you are lucky enough to own the Budda, then it’s worth giving consideration to selling him. After all one cannot truly own another in this universe. Relinquishing any sense of possessions may help you reach Nirvana. In other words what you can trade him for now is probably a ton. Likewise, in leagues where he’s already owned, now is the absolute worst time to trade for the Budda because his value will never be higher than it is right now.
Safeties as a whole tend to not be reliable across seasons so the Budda’s long-term value is cloudy. Since 2002, only 20 safeties have had more than one season where they’ve recorded 70 or more solo tackles. Given 70 is what you’d expect of a top-12 safety, this is very low. The most reliable IDP safety since 2002 has been Eric Weddle and he managed just five top-tier seasons since entering the league in 2008. So even if the Budda is as good as Weddle, he’ll still have off years. There is simply no such thing as a safety who you can plug in as a ten-year starter for your IDP team. Or even a five-year starter. If you get a big offer you should take it.
Apologies for the faux mysticism. I couldn’t resist. The point I’ve been trying to make is that suddenly Budda Baker has turned from a bench-warmer into exactly what we dreamed he could be. That’s awesome if you own him and have been waiting for it to happen, but in the hype his value has been exploded to levels he can probably never live up to.
Remember when people were paying huge prices for Landon Collins just a few months ago? That’s the danger. Safeties just don’t tend to stay at the top the way some positions do so I’m always looking to sell one that does blow up. There’s no point letting him go on the cheap but of anyone is making you upper-echelon safety offers then feel free to send him packing.
All hail the Budda.
“All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think, we become” – Buddha
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