Darren Waller
(Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports)

Unless you’ve seen Hard Knocks of course. Even then, that doesn’t show why he’s going to be a great TE. Darren Waller is now the starting TE of the Oakland Raiders and he let others know with his performance on Monday night against the Broncos. But before this point into his career, he had to work on himself, before he worked on his game.

The Fight Within Himself

During Hard Knocks, it was revealed that he had a drug problem. He was even suspended. “I was in Baltimore, I was just like a vegetable,” Waller said. “I was getting high, literally, every day. Whatever I could get my hands on. Like opiates first, like oxy pills, stuff like that. Xanax, cocaine. Not caring about anything, any kind of consequences, or anything like that.” He has also stated that he would smoke Marijuana often, that it was his go-to. He was suspended the whole year in 2017. In this year, he had to fight against his inner demons, and eventually won the battle. But with a problem with addiction, the war never ends. You’ve got fight the urge to use constantly and it is almost never easy. Don’t get it twisted though, he is and has been cleaned for 2 years now. He regularly attends meetings for himself and others struggling with drug use. Raiders fan, hell even football fan, or not, everyone loves a good story to get themselves clean.

Career Stats

Darren Waller is now in his 4th NFL season and his 2nd with the Raiders. In his 3 seasons in the NFL, he has played a total of 22 games and has a less than impressive stat line to show for it. In 2015, when he was with the Baltimore Ravens, he played in 6 games and only had 2 receptions for 18 yards. During 2016, his last season with the Ravens, he played in 12 games, with 10 receptions and 85 yards. This was a better year for Waller, but then he got suspended for his drug use. In 2018, his first with the Raiders, he appeared in 4 games and had 6 receptions for 75 yards.

The Hype is Real

So uh Alex….where’s the hype? First, let’s look at his athletic size and speed to get past his defenders. Waller is 6’6, 255 lbs, and runs a 4.46 40 yard dash. That is SCARY. In college at Georgia Tech, he ended with a career of 51 receptions and 971 yards in 33 games. For reference, Noah Fant, who was drafted in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, had 78 receptions for 1083 yards. Waller had only 100 yards less than Fant with 27 fewer receptions. In the Monday night game against the Broncos, he already had 7 receptions for 70 yards against a stout defense. He’s poised to have a breakout year, especially in Jon Gruden’s system that utilizes TEs often. The hype is real around Waller, plus he’s just a good guy and story to root for. Side note: Darren Waller is a great fantasy sleeper and would recommend picking him up if your TEs are already underperforming this year. We’re rooting for you, Darren Waller. Stay strong, and ball out.