Why You Should Target Andre Holmes This Year in Fantasy Football
Andre Holmes has had a long road to the NFL, and at the age of 26, he seems to have finally found a home with the Oakland Raiders. After coming out of Hillsdale College as an undrafted free agent and spending time with the Vikings, Cowboys and Patriots, Holmes finally got his shot late in the 2013 season with the Raiders.
He played limited snaps over the first five games he was active (from week 6 to week 12) last year, but Holmes was named the starter before the Raiders' Thanksgiving game against the Dallas Cowboys. He took advantage of the opportunity, totaling seven receptions, 136 yards and entrenching himself as a starter opposite Rod Streater
Somewhere, Al Davis is smiling at the prospects of Andre Holmes playing wide receiver for the Silver and Black. At 6’4'' and 210 pounds, Holmes is a massive target for new quarterback Matt Schaub, and with a 4.5 40-yard dash time, he also has the speed that the late great Raiders owner was known to covet. PlayerProfiler.com has Holmes in the 95th percentile for his array of athletic attributes, and has Larry Fitzgerald as his best player comparable from a physical measurement standpoint. Holmes has an elite combination of size and speed, and now will finally have the opportunity to match.
In this season’s first official depth chart, Holmes was listed as the starter across Rod Streater, and if given the opportunity, the Hillsdale product has a chance to be the first Raider to top 1,000 yards receiving since Jerry Rice in 2002. Let’s take a look at some of the numbers that have Raiders fans and fantasy football fanatics so excited about Holmes.
Holmes By the Numbers
As mentioned earlier, Holmes only played a total of seven games last year, and only started five of them. In those seven games, Holmes totaled 25 receptions (and 52 targets) for 431 yards. If you were to extrapolate those numbers over a 16 game season - which, sure, isn't an exact science - Holmes totals would be 57 receptions for 985 yards.
While those numbers don’t seem overly impressive, consider that Holmes only started the final five games of the season. If you were to project his numbers based on just those games, he would’ve finished with 70 receptions and 1,171 yards. In addition to the pure reception and yardage numbers, Holmes’ advanced metrics projections also bode well for his 2014 prospects.
If Holmes is able to maintain his Reception Net Expected Points (NEP) per target of 0.67 while doubling his amount of targets to above 100, his efficiency numbers would’ve placed within the top 35 for all wide receivers last year. Keep in mind that these numbers don’t account for any improvement on the part of Holmes, just more targets.
Outside of the obvious reasons, such as a full off-season as the starter to train and learn the playbook, there's legitimate reason to believe that not only will Holmes targets increase, but that his efficiency will improve in 2014. One of the main ones is the change in quarterback. Despite how you may feel about Matt Schaub, the numbers indicate that he is a clear upgrade over Matt McGloin and Terrelle Pryor.
Obviously last year was a disaster for the Schaub and the Texans as a whole, but the metrics indicate that the 2013 season was an extreme outlier for Schaub.
|Year||Passes||Pass NEP||Pass NEP/P||Pass Successes||Pass Success Rate|
In his five previous seasons before 2013, Schaub averaged a Passing NEP of 87.484 (for reference, that would’ve been good enough for sixth overall among quarterbacks last season).
In contrast, McGloin, who was the starting quarterback for six of Holmes’ active games, was 22nd in Net Expected Points per drop back last year among signal-callers with more than 200 drop backs. Though Schaub's numbers were admittedly worse last year, as noted above, that's not the norm for him.
In addition, one place where Holmes can be special is in the red zone. In four of Schaub’s last five years, his highest quarterback rating of anywhere on the field has come inside the red zone. He's extremely efficient when his team is close to scoring, and a receiver like Holmes with tremendous leaping ability and a massive catch radius will undoubtedly be a beneficiary.
Nick Mensio of Rotoworld documented every snap of Holmes 2013 season, and indicated that Holmes received seven red zone targets last year, and was tackled at the one-yard line twice. Holmes was already a major red zone threat last season, and with a quarterback like Schaub who is ultra efficient inside the 20s, his touchdown numbers have the potential to spike.
Where Should He Be Drafted?
Andre Holmes has been tearing it up at Raiders practice, and has already grabbed Schaub's attention.
Schaub on Andre Holmes (per AP), "most consistent downfield threat since the team began practicing." WR is SNOOZING. Nice end-game pick.— Brad Evans (@YahooNoise) August 6, 2014
In a receiving group lacking explosive playmaking, Holmes has the chance to shine. Schaub was one of the most efficient quarterbacks in the league prior to last year, and if he can regain even some of his previous form, Holmes’ numbers will also increase.
With a little improvement in efficiency and consistent targets, Holmes has the potential to finish with nice fantasy numbers this year. He's not even being drafted in fake football leagues right now, yet his numbers indicate that he will have a legitimate case to be a WR3 in fantasy football. Take a chance on Holmes late in your draft this year, and he could return tremendous value.