As we near the offseason, fantasy owners who want that competitive advantage are already looking for those bargain basement deals. In dynasty leagues, Ja’Whaun Bentley just might be the deal you are looking for in 2019
Ja’Whaun Bentley – New England Patriots
The fifth-round draft pick out of Purdue won the Patriots locker-room over quickly in 2018, including Bill Belichick. The rookie was plugged into the starting lineup to begin the season alongside veterans Dont’a Hightower and Kyle Van Noy and provided something the Patriots have not seen in a while, a hard-nosed thumper. He even drew some comparisons to another thumper the Patriots once had in Jerod Mayo.
“You’re like, ‘He’s one of those guys.’ I think he’s going to be a playmaker. He’s explosive. He’s strong. He hustles his ass off. When you talk about Patriots and what they’re looking for, especially at the linebacker position, somebody that can play every down. Kind of reminds you of guys like [Jerod] Mayo and [Dont’a] Hightower. Guys that you can do a lot of different things with. Guys that don’t have to come off the field. That’s priceless.”
In his first three games, Bentley racked up 14 total tackles and one interception. He only played an average of 63% of snaps. Hightower averaged 72% of snaps with 11 total tackles. Van Noy averaged 80.6% of snaps with 16 total tackles and one interception through the first three games. Yes, this is a small sample size, but it is hard to ignore the fact that Bentley put up better IDP production despite playing significantly less than Hightower and Van Noy.
Bentley’s role on the IR
Despite going down and landing on IR, Bentley has made the most of his time in New England so far. He has traveled with the team this year and I truly believe that he is being groomed to take over as the anchor of the Patriots’ front seven in 2019.
Inactive crew today: Derek Rivers, Keionta Davis, Obi Melifonwu, James Ferentz, Jacob Hollister. Danny Etling and Ja’Whaun Bentley warming up here too. pic.twitter.com/uPoWME00uE
— Zack Cox (@ZackCoxNESN) December 16, 2018
Bentley has also been present for the majority of Patriots practices this year, lining up in formations and digesting the playbook. It is clear the coaching staff wants and needs him to hit the ground running in 2019.
Ja’Whaun Bentley on hand at practice. We’ve seen much more of him than any other IR player this season. Patriots are really trying to keep him involved. pic.twitter.com/tvTpKDNg07
— Zack Cox (@ZackCoxNESN) December 13, 2018
Expectations for Bentley in 2019
It’s hard to say right now how things will shake out with Hightower and Van Noy. New England does have an out from Hightower’s contract before April 2019, with a dead cap hit. Van Noy will become an unrestricted free agent in 2020. If you follow me on Twitter you probably already know how I feel about Hightower. Hightower is what we call the emotional leader up front. His overall play leaves much to be desired, especially from an IDP perspective.
Do I think New England walks away from one of them? No. However, I would not be surprised to see Bentley and Van Noy taking the majority of snaps in 2019 with Hightower’s role limited.
The market for Bentley right now is nonexistent. In dynasty or keeper leagues he should be someone to pick up on the down low and shouldn’t cost you much. If the return on investment becomes Jerod Mayo 2.0, sign me up. If it doesn’t work out, you hopefully didn’t spend much to acquire him. I’m willing to bet that we’re looking at a top 18 LB given the right opportunity with New England in 2019.
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