Eric Decker Is the Late-Round Fantasy Football Pick We All Deserve
Let me lay out a hypothetical scenario for you.
Say there was a 6-3, 215-pound, 28-year-old wide receiver who has already amassed 296 catches, 4,032 yards and 38 touchdowns in just 5 professional seasons.
What if I also told you that this same wide receiver was currently being drafted near the middle of the 10th round of 12-team, PPR mock drafts?
The player I’m describing is Eric Decker (as you may have deduced from this articles’ title).
Sure, the majority of Decker’s career production has come in the two seasons in which he was catching passes from Peyton Manning. And sure, after going to the New York Jets and their quarterback carousel of death, Decker’s raw statistical production took a hit last season.
But I’m here to stand atop the mountain boldly and plant my flag for Eric Decker for 2015 re-draft purposes.
I invite you all to join me.
Consistent And Efficient
Since 2011, when Decker first started seeing meaningful snaps, he has been an extremely reliable producer given his opportunity.
What he has also been is extremely efficient.
Using numberFire’s Net Expected Points (NEP) metric, a measure of how a greatly a player positively or negatively influences his team’s expected total score, we can see that with the exception of his 2011 season (where he settled near the bottom of our metric rankings), he has been at least an above-average pass-catcher, if not near the top of the league efficiency-wise.
|Year||Receptions||Reception NEP||Reception NEP/Target||Reception Success Rate|
To put these numbers into prospective, the table below shows Decker’s NEP rankings among similar usage receivers during the same time period.
|Year||Qualified Receivers||Reception NEP||Reception NEP/Target||Reception Success Rate|
Even while playing in New York last season, Decker was in the top half of qualified receivers in Reception NEP and just outside the top 10 in per-target efficiency, but his numbers pale in comparison to those with Manning.
What Marshall May Bring
As I mentioned before, Decker’s move to New York not only affected his production and efficiency but also is a major reason why he is currently being drafted as the WR47. His touchdown production took the biggest hit last season, dropping nearly 55% from 2013.
And although the Jets seem intent on rolling Geno Smith out again Week 1, there may be reasons for optimism.
The arrival of Brandon Marshall is one of those reasons.
First of all, the Jets’ offense was a train wreck last season (thanks, Rex). But one of the reasons for the disastrous state of affairs could have been the lack of competent pass-catching options behind Decker.
(The ghost of) Percy Harvin, Jeremy Kerley, Greg Salas and David Nelson were the four most targeted Jets’ wide receivers last season aside from Decker -- a list that should intimidate literally no one. And while Marshall is no spring chicken, he is far and away more talented than any of those aforementioned names by a country mile.
Marshall will certainly soak up his share of targets in 2015, but his presence alone should allow Decker to run more freely through opposing secondaries.
It Ain’t Perfect, But What Is?
Given his current situation, there are no guarantees that Decker will ever reach the statistical heights he found in Denver.
The addition of Chan Gailey as offensive coordinator, a coach who has finished in the top-10 in passing plays called just three times in his 12 seasons as an NFL head coach or offensive coordinator, may also end up putting a cap on the potential volume that Decker may see.
Expecting a monster WR1 season from Decker is probably not logical. But what we can pretty easily expect is for Decker to outplay his current 10.08 ADP.
Landing a bid-bodied, athletic, proven producer that late in our fantasy drafts is a very wise strategy. Even if he somehow gets engulfed in a spontaneously combustible combination of Geno Smith and Ryan Fitzpatrick, the cost you paid to watch the fire is miniscule enough to not even really matter.
We know what Decker’s ceiling can be, and the best thing is, we don’t have to pay full price for a shot at reaching it.