As we expected, Derrick Ward was released by Tampa Bay today.
The Bucs signed Ward last year to challenge Cadillac Williams for the No. 1 running spot on the depth chart, but it simply never happened.
He produced just 409 yards and one score last season and was severely outplayed this preseason by both Williams and upstart Kareem Huggins. In fact, coach Raheem Morris cited “skill level” as the reason Ward was let go.
For Ward, it’s a big career blow. He likely thought he’d end his career with Tampa Bay after signing a four-year contract worth upwards of $17 million before last season. Little did he know his career may still end with Tampa Bay, but three years before he expected.
The market for 30-year-old running backs who have seemingly lost a step is pretty slim, so Ward is going to have a very hard time finding a job this late in the preseason.
So, what now in dynasty and fantasy leagues?
If I was a Ward owner, I’d feel very comfortable dropping him. His chances of having a starting job in the league are somewhere between slim and none.
Kareem Huggins is the big winner in this scenario. We’ve been telling readers for a month that Huggins was a good pickup in a dynasty league, and this morning’s move solidifies that. Congratulations if you used our advice and had the foresight to get him early.
There’s no doubt that Cadillac Williams is the starter, but Huggins will likely be used as a change of pace back this season. With Williams’ history of injuries, it’s not inconceivable to think Huggins could get some spot starts this season.
Is he the running back of the future? That’s a whole different question, but one that we’ll be able to answer soon enough. If anything, he gets a chance to show he can play this year.
He’s an immediate pickup in any fantasy football league, worth a pick in the late rounds as a solid handcuff to an injury-prone starter.
Hopefully he’s available in your league, but if you have any avid readers of DLF in your league, the Huggins train has probably left the station.
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