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One of the unexpected pitfalls of being in the NFL and entering the NFL is the burden of performing well. Imagine being a top performer at your job and being offered an opportunity at the Fortune 500 version of your company, only to be put into the mail room. In college, the best performers are usually drafted early, which means they are dispersed to the worst teams in the NFL. In the NFL, the better you are, the more that is expected of you; therefore, your opportunity to disappoint rises. The criticism that comes from this moniker is a necessary evil, but an evil one, nonetheless. So, what happens when you perform well but in a position less coveted than others? Are there examples of players that have ascended in these circumstances, or is the light dim at the end of the tunnel? In the case of safety Julian Love, you sign with a second team but as a backup to two solid IDP options. Before we dive into the analysis of this player, let’s first contextualize what we have seen thus far in the career of Love.
Who is Julian Love?
Love was a fourth-round pick for the New York Giants in 2019. He came from arguably the most popular program in college football in Notre Dame, so one could say that even as a fourth-round pick, the bar was high for Love to perform in the NFL. As a rookie, he did what he could do in minimal playing time and has steadily improved each year, although the stats were a bit underwhelming. That was until last season when Love shined bright for a team with minimal defensive stars. Last season, Love set career highs in almost every statistical category, most notably being interceptions with two and tackles with 122 total. One of the most intriguing parts of his performance was his ability to play a multitude of positions in the secondary. He made starts at both safety positions and at corner in 2022. As an IDP option, hitting career highs in year four is normally a dynasty manager’s dream. But there has been a significant change here, one that should have every manager, dynasty and redraft alike, pause for concern. What does 2023 look like for this player who is ascending into his prime, having finally figured out how to contribute in the NFL?
In short, bleak.
Change of Scenery
In typical NFL fashion, Love has now moved on to a different team. The projections for players succeeding when changing teams are determined by many factors. The first one that should always be researched is where they land on the new depth chart. As of this writing, Love is currently listed as a backup to Jamal Adams and Quandre Diggs, which is not ideal for any fantasy implications. But being behind these two has multiple layers to dissect. To start, these are two of the game’s best IDP safeties when they’re healthy, which has been a challenge these past few seasons. Adams was sidelined the entire season with torn quadriceps, which is likely part of why Love was brought on board. But Adams is an unquestioned starter in this league and a must-start safety when healthy. Diggs, to his credit, has a solid, but not exciting, resume as well. Simply put, you don’t win fantasy leagues rostering backups, and right now, Love is a backup to two very capable starters. Pete Carroll is a defensive head coach, so there may be somewhat of a plan for Love, but I don’t think there’s any reason to believe he sees the field much barring injury to the aforementioned duo of Adams and Diggs.
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