Key & Diagnose: Pete Werner
Key & Diagnose: Pete Werner

Key & Diagnose: Pete Werner

by | Mar 20, 2022 | 0 comments

Pete Werner

Key & Diagnose
There are a few things that I look for when trying to identify breakout fantasy players. Youth, talent and an increased role. Second year players with high draft capital usually experience an increase in playing time and production. These players have had a year to adjust to the NFL, and their teams feel more confident playing them in major roles.  A player that fits this model is New Orleans Saints Linebacker Pete Werner.
Pete Werner
Werner played 4 seasons in college at the University of Ohio State. He was a starter in 3 of his 4 seasons in college. While in college, he recorded 185 tackles, 16 tackles for loss and 4 sacks. His accolades include being 1st team All-Big Ten Conference and a semifinalist for the Butkus award in his senior season. The Saints drafted Werner in the 2nd round of the 2021 NFL Draft.
What happened
Werner began his rookie season in a reserve role playing behind veterans Demario Davis, Kwon Alexander and Zack Baun. Werner played zero defensive snaps in his first two games and was even inactive in week 2. However, things quickly changed for him after injury prone Linebacker Kwon Alexander injured his elbow in the season opener. Werner ended up starting 5 straight games from weeks 3 through 7. In those starts his snap counts were very sporadic, indicating that he hadn’t yet earned the trust of the coaching staff.
Werner’s highest snap count came in week 5 against the Washington Commanders where he played on 99% of the defensive snaps. He recorded 13 combined tackles in that matchup and finished as the LB10 in balanced scoring formats. After Alexander returned from injury in week 7, Werner reverted back to a reserve role which included primarily special teams duties.
Werner didn’t receive significant playing time again until week 15 against the Miami Dolphins. He recorded 10 combined tackles in that matchup while playing on 100% of the defensive snaps. Overall, he completed his rookie season with 62 combined tackles while playing on only 40% of the team’s defensive snaps. It’s notable that Werner did compile double digit tackles in 3 out of the 4 games where he played at least 60% of the snaps. So why should we be optimistic about Werner going forward?
What’s next
The silver lining for Werner, was that he was an extremely efficient tackler in his rookie season. He posted an impressive 15.7% tackle rate to go along with a 1.6% missed tackle rate. Both these metrics were well above the norm, indicating that he could be an elite fantasy asset with an increase in playing time. For context, let’s examine the tackle rate and missed tackle rate of the league leaders in tackles this past season:
Foyesade Oluokun: 192 tackles on a 16.7% tackle rate and 5.4% missed tackle rate
Jordyn Brooks: 184 tackles on a 16.6% tackle rate and 4.7% missed tackle rate
Bobby Wagner: 170 tackles on a 15.0% tackle rate and 6.6% missed tackle rate
C.J. Mosley: 168 tackles on a 15.3% tackle rate and 9.7% missed tackle rate
Roquan Smith: 163 tackles on a 16.1% tackle rate and 3.6% missed tackle rate
According to stats provided by
Although Werner’s body of work is limited to only 394 snaps, his metrics show that he was converting on nearly all of his tackle opportunities. In comparison, we can examine second year breakout Linebacker Jordyn Brooks. Brooks was also an efficient tackler in his rookie season, converting 57 tackles on a 14.7% tackle rate and a 5.0% missed tackle rate across 367 snaps. As noted in the model above, Brooks finished 2nd in the league in tackles this past season. The model shows that Werner could be in for a similar breakout with increased playing time. So what are the odds that Werner can breakout and become a top 5 Fantasy Linebacker in 2022?
Depth chart
As things stand so far in the off-season, it appears that Werner is projected to be a starter next season. As of the date of this article, the Saints haven’t signed any notable free agent Linebackers. This includes their own free agent, Kwon Alexander who started 8 games last season next to mainstay Demario Davis. It’s still unclear if the Saints want to re-sign Alexander who was a standout in coverage last season. It’s possible that the Saints want to move on from a player who has missed a multitude of games due to injury. The other Linebackers on the current roster include fringe options such as Zack Baun, Kaden Ellis, Sharf Finch and Andrew Dowell. It’s important to note that these players primarily played on special teams last season and are no threat to Werner’s playing time.
Setting the odds
I’m putting the odds at 8 out of 10 that Werner starts at Weakside Linebacker next season. According to beat reporters, the Saints liked what they saw from Werner as a rookie and plan on starting him next season. Reportedly, Werner needs to improve in coverage, but there’s no debating his abilities defending against the run. Werner posted the highest run defensive grade of all Linebackers with a 91.0 according to PFF. It’s notable that the Saints have had a top 5 run defense the past 3 seasons. Starting Werner next season gives them a good chance at continuing that streak.
If he enters the season as a starter, he has huge upside potential in redraft leagues. A highly efficient tackler who has the ability to lead the league in tackles, I’m highly intrigued by Werner. His floor is an LB2 with his ceiling being a top 5 fantasy Linebacker in 2022. Don’t forget about Pete Werner in your IDP Fantasy Football Drafts.
About Jeff DiMatteo
Jeff is the Founder of Gridiron Ratings and operates today as it's primary analyst. His experience includes years of working for high school and collegiate football programs. After playing fantasy for nearly 20 years he decided it was time to build some of his own content.


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