30-Year-Old Safety – Denver Broncos
2017 Fantasy Football Outlook
Ward is coming off his most productive season with the Broncos, tallying 87 tackles, three forced fumbles, eight passes defended, a sack, and a pick in 2016. Ward in many ways was a forbearer to the n...
T.J. Ward Contract Information:
Signed a four-year, $22.5 million deal with the Broncos in March 2014.
Ward (concussion) won't play in Sunday's game against the Raiders.
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|Tackles||Defensive Stats||Fumbles||Kick Ret||Punt Ret|
|2017 Proj||30||DEN||Subscribe now to see our 2017 projections for T.J. Ward|
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.
T.J. Ward: Past News Updates ( ▲ View most recent update )
RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
In merely 12 games last season, Ward posted 61 tackles and failed to intercept a pass, marking his lowest statistical totals since his eight-game 2011 campaign. The Broncos often used multiple safeties in nickel and dime situations last year – usually bumping Ward down into a safety/linebacker hybrid. The strengths of the team could push Ward into a similar role again in 2016, particularly with inside linebacker Danny Trevathan now in Chicago and third-round pick Justin Simmons being groomed to help Darian Stewart patrol the deep part of the field. Such a role makes Ward a vital cog in Denver's defense on the field, but might render him a jack-of-all-trades, but master of none from a fantasy perspective.
Ward joined the Broncos last season after a career-year in 2013 with the Browns, but he failed to live up to his 112-tackle level of that season despite playing only one fewer game. He had 74 total tackles last season, never once hitting double-digits. He did pick off two passes and record two sacks (the latter a career-high), but he makes his fantasy living on tackles and he’ll have to get back to the triple-digit mark to make himself relevant in most IDP leagues. Unfortunately, the Broncos’ linebackers are very solid tacklers, leaving little room for Ward to step in and grab some for himself.
Ward saved his best season for the last year of his rookie contract in Cleveland, staying healthy for the first time in three years and piling up 112 tackles (75 solo), 1.5 sacks and two interceptions, scoring one touchdown off an interception and scoring another on a fumble recovery. Cleveland was unable or unwilling to re-sign Ward in free agency, allowing him to bolt for the Broncos, where he will step in as starter alongside Rahim Moore. With two seasons of triple-digit tackles in his four-year career, there's reason to believe Ward can make it to 100 tackles again this year. Denver played the 10th-most snaps last year on defense last year (1,074), and Ward should see plenty of tackle opportunities since opponents will need to throw often if they hope to keep up with Peyton Manning. The only worry with Ward is his durability – he missed eight games in 2011 and two in 2012.
Ward was a hit as a rookie in 2010, finishing with 105 tackles and two interceptions, but he has just 106 tackles since then, largely due to missing 10 games between 2011 and 2012. While he'll always be an injury worry, Ward should be in position to make more plays than in the past because the Browns should have a good pass rush with Barkevious Mingo, Jabaal Sheard, Paul Kruger, Ahtyba Rubin, Desmond Bryant and Phil Taylor in the front seven.
Ward was one of the most disappointing IDPs last year, though his decline was mostly due a season-derailing foot injury rather than poor play. He was a big deal in his 2010 rookie season, finishing with 123 tackles (95 solo) and two interceptions, but he totaled just 39 stops (28 solo) and no interceptions in eight games in 2011. He should be considered a decent DB pick heading into 2012 given that he had the offseason and the final eight weeks of last year to recover. But he had injury issues in college and tends to play more recklessly than a player with his build probably should – he plays like a strong safety but looks more like a cornerback at 5-10, 200, so he opens himself up to a fair amount of punishment.
Many wrote off Ward as a reach when the Browns took him 38th overall a year ago, but his play quickly cast doubt on such sentiments. He finished his rookie year as a 16-game starter, accumulating 123 tackles (95 solo), 10 passes defended, two interceptions and a forced fumble. Although he turns and runs in coverage better than some cornerbacks, Ward’s highly aggressive and somewhat reckless style of play is in the mold of an enforcer rather than a center fielder. Despite his free safety positional technicality, Ward is clearly the sort who would rather deal a big hit than sit back in a deep zone. Unfortunately, that sort of mentality could ultimately make him an injury risk. In the meantime, expect Ward to make another run at the triple-digit tackle mark.
The 38th overall selection in the 2010 draft, Ward might be the best IDP option among this year’s crop of rookie DBs. He’s considered to be an excellent hitter but has cornerback speed. And he landed with Cleveland — a team that’s perilously thin in the backfield. It’s not hard to imagine Eric Mangini using Ward both in coverage and run support and on the blitz, much as he used Kerry Rhodes with the Jets.