Can the Tampa Bay Buccaneers OLB Shaquille Barrett repeat as the league’s sack leader for the 2020 NFL season or has he been sacked? History is not in his favor, but it’s not an unprecedented feat!
Shaquille Barrett is trying to accomplish something that only two other players before him have done. He has his eyes set on becoming the third player to be the NFL’s sack champion in consecutive seasons. There are a number of obstacles standing in his way. Can he overcome them or will he be the one that is sacked? Let’s jump in and see what is standing in his way. Also, we will examine how it will affect his fantasy outlook.
History of Sacks
Since 82’ when sacks became an officially recorded stat, there have only been two instances where a player has repeated as the NFL’s sack leader in back to back years. Both times it happened, came in a six-year period. It’s been thirty-two years since we’ve had a repeat sack leader. When you think back on the great pash rush leaders of the past, it’s hard to believe that it has been that long since we’ve had a repeat sack leader. Let’s take a look and see who these two superstars were.
The first official repeat sack leader was the legendary defensive end, Mark Gastineau, leader of the famed New York Sack Exchange for the New York Jets. In 1983 at the age of 27, Gastineau in his 5th professional season led the NFL in sacks with 19. He would follow that up with a 22 sack performance in 1984, as he became the first player in NFL history to crack the twenty sack barrier. Gastineau would earn All-Pro honors as a reward for each of those seasons. That two-year run of fifty-one combined sacks still stands as one of the best in history. Quarterbacks were terrified of being sacked by the star pass rusher during his reign of terror.
The next and last player to repeat as the NFL’s sack leader in consecutive seasons was the Hall of Famer known as the “Minister of Defense”, Reggie White, when he teamed with the Jerome Brown in those beautiful kelly green jersey’s. Four years after Gastineau led the league in sacks in back to back years, White accomplished the same feat. In 1987, White at the age of 26, he led the league with twenty-one sacks and becoming the third player (Lawrence Taylor was the 2nd) to crack the twenty sack barrier. He would follow that up with an 18 sack output in 1988 for his second consecutive sack title. As a reward, he would win Defensive Player of the Year honors for in both seasons. He kept quarterbacks in fear of being sacked by the gentle giant.
Chasing Sack History
Now we come to the present day and our defending sack champion Shaquille Barrett is going to try to become just the third player ever to lead the NFL in sacks in back to back seasons. The list of the great pass rushers who just couldn’t get that elusive second one the following season is impressive, from the likes of Derrick Thomas and Michael Strahan to JJ Watt and Aaron Donald. As you can see what Barrett is trying to accomplish is very rare and no small feat.
Last season Barrett came out of nowhere, to lead the NFL in sacks with 19½. He spent five years in Denver and was nothing more than an average player at best. With Von Miller and Bradley Chubb ahead of him on the Broncos depth chart, there was no room for him to grow. The Buccaneers decided to take a chance on the free agent and signed him to a one-year prove-it deal. He would reward them with a Pro-Bowl caliber season and the best of his career. The Bucs used the franchise tag on Barrett this season, with hopes of getting a long-term deal done soon.
As Barrett chases the rare and elusive back to back sack crown, there will be many obstacles for him to overcome. First off, after last seasons breakout campaign, opposing teams will be paying a lot more attention to the star rusher. Next and more importantly, it will be what Barrett can’t control that will be his biggest obstacle. That obstacle comes in the form of all the other star sack masters the league has. From Danielle Hunter, Chandler Jones, and Myles Garrett to the Bosa brothers (Joey & Nick), along with the rest of the NFL. Barrett has the talent and skill to repeat as the sack champ. However, it will be difficult to hold off the field of contenders.
Barrett will have enough pressure on him to repeat as the sack champion. He will care little about us fantasy owners want. However, we all are chasing similar things. We want Barrett to be productive, and we all want to win a championship. Barrett can find comfort in having a year of experience as a starter producing at a high level, in a system that fits his style well. With that said, I expect there to be a fall-off in Barret’s sack numbers this year. If you look back through history, the proof is there, especially when you’re at the twenty sack threshold. I expect Barrett to be among the league leaders this season and have approximately fifteen sacks for the season.
Barrett’s fantasy value is tied to his sack output, especially in leagues where sacks are scored heavily. Those are the type of leagues where you can maximize his full fantasy value. In fantasy, the idea is to sell high and buy low and with Barrett, it’s no different. It will be hard to buy Barrett at a good price after the performance he had last season. Your best justification to use to bring his value down some is the unlikelihood he repeats as a sack champion. Also, let’s not forget he’s an outside linebacker and not a defensive end. If you are trading for Barrett, I would suggest working out a package deal with him in it, where you can get a little better buy-value.
On the other hand, if you’re selling Barrett, (I am one that is) then stick to your high asking price. If and when you trade him, you will have to bargain with any would-be buyers. It’s all a game between us fantasy owners and both sides want the best end of the deal. Give yourself some wiggle room on your asking price, so you still feel good about what you sell him for. In terms of selling Barrett, I compare him to Aaron Donald when he led the league with 20 sacks. It was virtually impossible to sell him because no one was willing to pay the high price to acquire him. Just be patient and don’t rush any trades.