By Taylor Mascia
A few names caught my eye during the Points/Snap analysis that I’d like to discuss here. First, however, I’d like to reiterate my philosophy towards fantasy football data that I outlined in my first column. I use data as a directional tool. It does not tell me what is underneath the rocks but which rocks are worth turning over. I must look underneath myself by diving deep into a player’s talent, physical ability, and roster situation. Some hide gold underneath while others don’t. So if anyone is wondering why I’m going beyond the points/snap data in these sleeper columns, there you have it.
Quick is a 4th year WR out of Appalachian St. in whom the Rams invested the 2012 33rd overall pick. After a slow first two years in the league, 2014 saw Quick explode onto the scene by amassing 322 yards and 3 TD’s in the first month of the season. Quick ranked 34th in points/snap and 11th in points/target while only seeing 34% of the team’s season snaps due to a shoulder injury sustained in Week 7 against the Chiefs that ended his breakout season. Even more impressive is that he accomplished that with Austin Davis throwing him the rock. Although Davis’ accuracy was middle of the pack (16th), he finished his 2014 campaign with a QBR of 37.6 which ranks 27th among ESPN’s 30 qualified 2014 QBs–not exactly a world beater at the position.
Fortunately, things are looking up for Quick with regards to QB play in 2015 however. Nick Foles came to town in the Sam Bradford trade providing the Rams with a competent, young, upside QB for the future. Foles’ bread-and-butter is the short-to-intermediate passing game–precisely where Quick thrives. Quick averaged 15 yards/reception in 2014. Combining that with the oft overlooked stat of First Downs (Quick had 19 first downs on 25 receptions) and we have recipe for a beautiful connection between Quick and Foles.
Quick is 26 years of age (precisely the age WR’s tend to move into their peak). He will undoubtedly enter 2015 as the Rams’ WR1 with a relative dearth of talent behind him. At an ADP of around 115 (about the 2.09 in rookie drafts), he is a steal in my eyes given his position atop the depth chart and his WR1 potential. Try to grab him where you can.
In 2014, Aiken was featured in 25% of the Raven’s snaps while sharing the Ravens’ WR3 spot with Jacoby Jones, Marlon Brown, and Michael Camapanaro. Despite this, he placed himself 29th in points/snap and 9th in points/target. He showed chemistry with Flacco later in the season with his best games coming in weeks 12 and 13 (and adding a TD in week 16). As it stands, he appears to be in competition with rookie Breshad Perriman for the WR2 spot across from Steve Smith. I am low on Perriman in his first year despite his physical prowess due to his lack of polish and inconsistent hands (reports out of OTA’s are that he is still having issues with drops). As a result, my bet is on Aiken beating him out for the WR2 spot.
While Perriman possesses an unreal combination of size, speed, and athleticism, Aiken is no slouch himself. At the 2011 UCF Pro Day, he clocked a 4.45 40 and measured a 128 inch broad jump. He also broke Brandon Marshall’s UCF strength records during his time at the school. His 40 time would have tied him for 9th at the 2011 combine (beating out fellow draft mates Randall Cobb and AJ Green). His broad jump would have placed him 5th and his bench press reps (17) would have tied him with Julio Jones for 13th. Those are impressive measurable for a guy who was snubbed from the Combine.
Even if Perriman beats him out (or the Ravens start him to justify his draft position), there are enough targets going around in Mark Trestman’s offense that the WR3 can be a productive role to occupy. Martellus Bennett is evidence that a third receiver can post quality fantasy numbers with Trestman calling the plays. Since the Ravens don’t have any TE’s of Bennett’s quality (yet, at least) they will need to look to their WR depth to occupy that role.
The way its looking Aiken will either be the WR2 or the WR3 come Week 1. Given that he is likely a free agent in your leagues (DLF’s 2015 ADP doesn’t list him), he comes at the price of an end-of-the-bench stash who likely doesn’t have the mix of opportunity and ability that Aiken provides. I’ve rostered him in all my leagues.
I thought 2014 would be Kendall Wright’s breakout party. 2013 saw him pass the 1,000 yard mark while racking up 94 receptions on 140 targets. However, he was rather anemic from a TD perspective which significantly impacted his value (Less so in PPR).
Unfortunately, 2014 didn’t go as I had hoped due what seemed like a combination of horrific QB play and some issues with Ken Whisenhunt’s scheme. His TD’s were up (6) but his receptions and yards were down significantly (57 and 715, respectively). Despite the down stats, he ranks 28th in points/snap and 31st in points/target.
2015 sounds promising for Wright so far. Reports out of OTA’s are that Mariota has been the best QB by a longshot. In Oregon’s scheme, Mariota was asked to throw short-to-intermediate passes while getting the ball out of his hand quickly–which he did with Heisman-worthy success. Kendall Wright is the perfect compliment to that skill. He is a small, quick, short route guy that can work from all areas of the field. If Mariota can pick up the scheme, provide competence and stability at the position and DGB or Hunter can stretch the field then I can see Wright matching his 2013 totals with increased TD’s.
The upside to this all is that Wright is only 25. He will be a free agent in 2017. I wouldn’t be shocked if he left Tennessee given the dumpster fire they’ve been since drafting him with the 20th overall pick in 2012 draft. His value probably won’t get any lower than it already is(ADP of 97, about a mid-2nd round in rookie drafts) so if you know an antsy owner, throw him/her a proposal.
If the former Buffalo star isn’t owned in your league(s), I think he has some bye week/low-end flex appeal. On these lists, he ranks 10th in points per snap and 26th in points per target. While his usage was low (28%), he was very efficient with what he was given posting 10th in points/snap and 26th in points/target. He’s only 28 and now has Philip Rivers throwing to him. While Keenan Allen is the WR1, he scored horribly on these lists (as I touched on in my previous column). Also consider that Malcom Floyd is 33 and has only once played a full 16 games once in his 10 year career. If Rivers can work with Johnson’s tendency to run inconsistent routes, we could certainly see a bounce back from the guy most known for showing that Darrelle Revis is in fact human.