I will admit, this sleeper is a little deeper than all of others I’ve written about on headsuproto. But I want to bring up a guy who is being drafted as a bench guy but I think will post fantasy starter level numbers in 3WR and Flex leagues. This guy is Eric Decker. A player who I think has proven he is not just a product of Peyton Manning, and I would argue is in a better situation than last season where he posted decent numbers despite Brandon Marshall coming to town.
Using Football Outsiders catchable ball stats, we can see that in 2014 Decker caught 74 of 91 catchable balls (81.6%). That’s comparable to some of the top WR in the league, Antonio Brown (86.5%), Demaryius Thomas (81.6%), Julio Jones (78.7%), and Jordy Nelson (79%) are just a few comparisons.
Last season, on those 74 catches, Decker managed 962 yards and 5 TD. In week 3 he was limited to just 12 snaps and 1 target due to aggravating his hamstring in practice. He played through the injury in week 4 and then missed week 5 against the Chargers. So if we took Decker’s other 14 games(ignoring Week 3&5) and ran those averages to see what he could have posted if he was healthy enough to play those two, his stat line would have been 83/1078/6. That stat line would have been good enough for WR14 in PPR (tied with Julian Edelman).
I also want to note that this past week deep-threat Devin Smith went down with broken ribs and a punctured lung. While it isn’t a huge deal, this could slow Smith down from taking many of Eric Decker’s down-field targets that he saw last year. As for other targets, Jeremy Kerley expects to see a huge drop off from last year’s 75 (He only caught 51% of them). Percy Harvin and Chris Johnson combined for 86 targets and both players are no longer with the team. I also expect the team as a whole to have a big increase in pass attempts thanks to Chan Gailey. Even if Marshall gets the most targets, I think Decker can reach his targets from last year, and he should find better looks with the targets he is given thanks to Marshall keeping defenses honest. This means an increase in catchable balls (24 uncatchable balls last year), and potentially a slight increase in YAC.
Anthony Amico of Rotoviz points out that historically, Chan Gailey likes to load up his talent with targets, as opposed to spreading the ball around. He points out that wherever the talent on the team is, Gailey seems sure to get them the targets, whether it was Dwayne Bowe and Tony Gonzalez in KC or Steve Johnson, C.J. Spiller, and Fred Jackson in Buffalo, Gailey’s teams talent received top 10 targets in each season he coached. The Jets now have two very talented receivers and I expect him to give them majority of targets this season.
So overall, I think the Jets take a leap from 2014’s last ranked passing offense thanks to Gailey and Marshall, and I don’t see how that’s anything but a good thing for Eric Decker. Currently Decker’s ADP is 118 overall in PPR/Flex leagues, and 130 Overall in standard leagues, having a lower ADP than 5 Defenses. I think he is a steal and is an easy value grab as a guy who could be a solid starter for you if you want to wait to draft WR depth. I wouldn’t bat a lash at Decker going in the 7th round. Projection: 76/1050/5.5