33-Year-Old Safety – Pittsburgh Steelers
2014 Fantasy Football Outlook
After signing a three-year contract extension in March, Polamalu returns as a fixture of the Steelers' defense. When healthy, he is an IDP stud but, at 33, injuries are a real concern....
Troy Polamalu Contract Information:
Signed a three-year extension with Pittsburgh in March of 2014.
Polamalu has signed an extension with the Steelers that will keep him with the team through the 2016 season, ESPN.com reports.
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|Tackles||Defensive Stats||Fumbles||Kick Ret||Punt Ret|
|2014 Proj||33||PIT||Subscribe now to see our 2013 projections for Troy Polamalu|
Age is determined on September 1st of each season.
|Snap Count||Tackles||Defensive Stats||Fumbles||Kick Ret||Punt Ret|
A blank stat line is used above whenever a player was not on the field for any plays in the game that week.
Troy Polamalu: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
A persistent calf injury resulted in Polamalu missing nine games last season. The Steelers need him healthy if they hope to return to the playoffs in 2013.
Polamalu finally stayed healthy and played 16 games in 2011 and, though his interception total (two) was unusually low, he had a good IDP season by making 91 stops (64 solo) and defending 14 passes. With 17 interceptions in his last 35 games prior to last year, there is reason to hope for both durability and interceptions in 2012, a turn of events that would allow Polamalu to push his IDP value to what would be an all-time high for him. His generally poor durability over the years, though, means you should try to land him as a backup.
With 17 interceptions in his last 35 games, Polamalu has been consistently productive whenever he’s on the field. The problem, of course, is Polamalu’s wild style of play entails great risks to his health, and he ends up missing some games and playing hurt in others almost every year. In the end, Polamalu’s owners can expect modest tackle production but plenty of turnovers for however many games he is healthy. But failing to record at least 60 solo stops since 2005 makes Polamalu a surprisingly weak option in leagues that emphasize tackle production.
One player does not a defense make, but the 2009 season for the Steelers sure tried to disprove that adage. Not only was Pittsburgh 4-0 with their fearless leader in the lineup and just 5-7 without him, he tied for the team lead in interceptions (three) despite playing only a quarter of the season. The defense allowed an additional 10 points per game when he was not on the field, and their 1st-ranked pass defense from 2008 dropped to 16th last season. It has been recommended to Polamalu that he sport a knee brace throughout camp and the preseason, but he is expected to be healthy for the start of the season. When he's on the field, there's no denying his value to the defense. However, in terms of fantasy production, you have take a closer look at the numbers. You can't bank on interceptions, he's not going to rack up a ton of tackles (he has not cracked the top 40 in that category among DBs since 2005) and he hasn't recorded a sack since 2006. You can't put a price on his value to the team, but when considering his health concerns (just one 16 game season over the last four years) and middle-of-the-pack tackle numbers, those in IDP leagues have to draft accordingly.
It’s hard to miss Polamalu when watching a Steelers game. Maybe it’s the hair. Or maybe it’s his penchant for making big plays – he picked off seven passes in the regular season and sealed Pittsburgh’s trip to the Super Bowl with a key pick-six off Baltimore’s Joe Flacco in the AFC Championship game. Polamalu is so well known, the casual fan might be surprised to notice the flaws in his game. His tackles dropped significantly last season to 73, his lowest total in a 16-game season since his rookie year and far off his 90-plus-tackle pace of 2004 and 2005. In fact, he had more tackles in 2006 (76) in only 13 games and averaged more tackles per game in an injury-shortened 2007 (5.3) than during last season (4.5). He also hasn’t dropped a quarterback in the last two years. Polamalu will again be in the middle of Pittsburgh’s defensive storm, but he needs another strong INT year if he’s not going to log big tackle numbers.
If IDP rankings were based on hair, Polamalu would have took the top spot. Unfortunately, the rankings are based on past performances and projections for the upcoming season. Prior to his 2007 campaign, Polamalu would have been higher up the rankings. The main culprit in his dropping is health. Polamalu missed five games last season and played through pain in many others. He had offseason knee surgery, but is expected to be ready by training camp. Barring any health issues, Polumalu should bounce back and have another productive season.
When you've got this many tools, you can control the game like it's a grand symphony. Or, in Polamalu’s case, a demolition derby. With his speed, recognition and instincts, he can be anywhere on the field he needs to be, testified to by his 96, 91 and 76 tackles the last three years (just 13 games last season). He launches his body into holes on run support and uses unique closing burst against the run, on blitzes and in pass coverage. His playmaking ability needs no scouting report: you've seen his highlight reels, popping ball carriers and returning interceptions since he entered the league. Of course, when you treat your body like a bowling ball, the downside is battling injury. He hadn't missed a game in three seasons entering 2006, but missed three last year. He played through a separated shoulder early in the season, a midseason concussion and a Larry Johnson tackle by his legendary, wildly long hair on an interception return. But he couldn't stay on the field with a sprained MCL. So be it. He still turned in a worthy fantasy year and fantastic per-game averages. He makes a sack every year and has picked off 10 passes in three years as a starter. It's not often you get as much enjoyment from watching an IDP as you will by having him on your roster.
As strong as Pittsburgh’s linebackers are, Polamalu has begun overshadowing them and is certainly poaching tackles even though linebackers line up closer to the ball. Playing like a pinball on Red Bull, Polamalu is the player most likely to notch stats in every column, from picks and sacks to touchdowns, passes defended and fumbles. He plays with a reckless abandon that might not be as popular with his coaches as fantasy owners. On this side of the divide, giving up a tackle for a possible pick is a good thing. The career-high three sacks last year came in one game against a lowly Houston offensive line, but don’t write off the sacks: he’s had a sack in every pro season, including as a benchwarmer. He’s electrified sports fans with highlight-reel fumble and interception returns, but this is one poster boy whose complete game is for real.
Big and aggressive, Polamalu has been considered especially good at run support, but in 2004 he added interceptions to his arsenal and turned in one of the most exciting plays of the season with an interception return for a touchdown off USC roommate Carson Palmer, during which Polamalu broke six tackles. And that Polamalu’s stats came on a Pittsburgh team with such outstanding linebackers is particularly telling. He’s shown great motor and fierceness with his tackling, and certainly proved in 2004 that he can create plays in coverage. With Larry Foote replacing Kendrell Bell on the inside of the team’s 3-4 alignment, Polamalu may step up his tackle poaching from the linebackers even more this season.
The Steelers desperately needed to address their leaky secondary, so they traded up to take Polamalu with the 16th overall pick. The Southern California product is an excellent tackler from his strong safety position.