Potential is such a dangerous concept in the world of fantasy football. It’s far too easy to get caught up in a young player’s best case scenario and forget about the idea that there is indeed a learning curve in the NFL. Often we push up these expectations a year or two too soon in order to justify reaching for the player and in doing so miss out on plenty of quality players at a much better value.
It’s easy to fall in love with the athletic gifts Cordarrelle Patterson been given. When a 6’ 2” wide receiver, who can put up a 4.42 in the 40-yard dash and has a 37-inch vertical leap enters the league, he’s labeled as a prototype. In the fantasy world of football, he was and still is labeled as a can’t miss prospect. If your cup of tea is a deep keeper league, there’s a good chance Patterson is being held by the person who reached for him last season.
It’s hard to blame Patterson for his early season struggles during his rookie year. The combined arm strength of Christian Ponder, Josh Freeman and Matt Cassel wasn’t enough to hit Patterson in stride down the sideline. Leslie Fraizer didn’t understand the athlete that he had in Patterson as it took Fraizer until Week 12 for Patterson to become a proponent of the running game (he has all three of his rushing touchdowns from Week 12 on).
When you look at Patterson’s game log from last season (as I did on Pro-Fooball-Reference.com) it’s hard to understand why he’s currently being selected at the average draft position of 44, according to fantasyfootballcalculator.com. He had only one game out of 16 with 100+ yards. There was only one other game last season in which Patterson recorded over 50 yards. He had four games in which he finished with under 10 yards. Essentially Patterson’s ridiculously high ADP is thanks to the fact that he scored at least one receiving or rushing touchdown in the last five games of the 2013 season.
Patterson is also entering the 2014 season with a fresh name at quarterback that’s chomping at the bit to take the job from veteran Matt Cassel. Teddy Bridgewater went from being number one on multiple mock drafts to the Vikings with the final pick in the first round, which means the Vikings have now entered the classic quarterback battle in camp between the veteran and the rookie.
This usually leads to a mediocre season as the rookie learns the ropes and the veteran struggles to hold onto his job, but much like Josh Gordon’s rise to fantasy fame last season, some are saying that it doesn’t matter who the quarterback of the Vikings is, Patterson will still rack up his numbers.
But just know when you reach for him, these are the guys you’re likely going to pass on:
(All ADPs taken courtesy of fantasyfootballcalculator.com)
Michael Crabtree (ADP 46)
Before he missed most of last season while recovering from a torn Achilles, Crabtree looked like he was primed to continue the success he had at the end of the 2012 season. It seems like a distant memory, but Crabtree became the receiver Colin Kaepernick fell in love with at first sight.
Crabtree played in only five games last year before he missed the rest of the season. He only reached the 100 yard plateau once, but this was thanks to Kaepernick’s four game stretch from Weeks 2-5 when he failed to throw for over 200 yards.
Crabtree’s success is so far removed from our minds that it’s easy to forget he was once (briefly) considered a WR1 in fantasy. If Crabtree can stay relatively healthy in 2014, he has the ability to return to this level even with the buffet of options Kaepernick has at his disposal this season (Anquan Boldin, Vernon Davis, Brandon Lloyd, Stevie Johnson and Quinton Patton).
Percy Harvin (ADP 49)
Russell Wilson’s shiny new toy wasn’t taken out of the box and played with at its full capacity until Super Bowl 48. With the loss of Golden Tate in free agency, the potential for Harvin to put up a career year as the focal point of an offense has increased. For his entire career Harvin has played second fiddle to the running back on his team and on paper that rings true this season with Marshawn Lynch still on the Seahawks roster, but with the rumors of a running back committee forming with he and Christine Michael, this could finally be the year Harvin rules an offense.
It’s easy to be scared away by Harvin’s injury history, but why is it so hard to look at his situation and get excited about the connection Wilson-to-Harvin could be this season.
DeSean Jackson (ADP 51)
DJax is coming off of a career year in which he put up a 82/1332/9 line. Now the debate surrounding Jackson is focused around the idea that Jackson’s explosive season was a product of Chip Kelly’s offense, or if Jackson could carry this level of play to another team.
Let’s face it, the time is ticking for Jackson. A wide receiver that relies on his speed to stay a step ahead of cornerbacks and safeties will eventually lose that step and thus his place in the league, but Jackson is entering a situation in which he’s going to be able to stretch the field and capitalize off of bubble screens just like he did in Philadelphia. Pierre Garcon is the number one option on a deep Washington depth chart that also includes Andre Roberts and emerging tight end Jordan Reed. Oh and Robert Griffin III throwing the ball to all of these tasty options.
Why take a risk on Patterson, when there is a proven veteran out there who should enter this season with a chip on his shoulder (pun not intended) to prove that he wasn’t just a product of a system.
T.Y. Hilton (ADP 57)
One of the easiest columns to write during the months leading up to fantasy football drafts is the wide receivers who are entering their third year in the league and the odds of those receivers breaking out. Hilton is one of those WRs who is entering the third year of his career this season, with one of the best young quarterbacks in the league slinging the ball to him.
The difference with Hilton is, he already had the breakout season last year when he tallied 82 catches for 1083 yards and five touchdowns. So instead of rising up draft boards thanks to the idea that this is going to be a breakout year for Hilton, he’s being overlooked because he’s already broken out, so now what?
Perhaps another 80+ catch season for over 1,000 yards? Sign me up.
Marques Colston (ADP 73)
In six of his eight years in the NFL Colston has put up over 1,000 yards and he has Drew Brees throwing the ball to him, what the hell am I missing here?
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