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Alfred Morris is one of the main reasons articles like these are written. He burst on the scene as the surprise Fantasy player of 2012. Which of his teammates will look to do the same in 2013?
Starting off with his backfield mates, Evan Royster, Roy Helu, and Chris Thompson seem like a good place to begin. Helu showed promise in his rookie season, but health has been a concern. Royster played well in relief of Morris last year, but neither of these players excites me. However, Thompson is a guy to keep an eye on. If Thompson can stay healthy he could be a deadly weapon in this offense. At FSU he made defenses pay the price for getting caught up on the zone stretch plays. Thompson would use his vision and quick cut ability to take advantage of the slightest opening. This is the strength of the Redskins’ running attack, and after you factor in Robert Griffin III, Thompson is sitting pretty for some open field opportunities.
It makes sense to bring in Thompson for two reasons. He’s a home run threat and they need to keep Morris under 20 carries a game. On carries 21-30 last season his average per carry dipped to a low 3.1. Allowing the rookie to get eight to ten touches a game keeps defenses on their toes, allows Morris to rest, and hopefully lengthens Morris’ career. Thompson is also a threat out of the backfield as a receiver in the open field. Thompson won’t be my roster bonus though, due to the fact that he’s not going to take over the bulk of the carries, even if Morris went down.
For the roster bonus player I looked to RGIII’s receiving targets. I considered players like Jordan Reed and Josh Morgan. Reed won’t be the primary tight end and shouldn’t see enough targets in year one. Morgan was an interesting one. Gary Kubiak in Houston stuck by Kevin Walter for years as the team’s number two receiver because of his blocking ability. This held the Texans offense back. Kubiak’s mentor was Mike Shanahan and he seems to be falling in that same trap. Morgan is a quality blocker at the receiver position, but his playing time limits this offense.
I listed Leonard Hankerson as my number three receiving prospect behind AJ Green and Julio Jones when he came out of the University of Miami. They’ve always said to give receivers three years before you see what type of NFL prospect they’ll become. This is Hankerson’s third season and he’s been plagued by some injuries that have also slowed his development. He’s a big target that can be utilized as a weapon in this offense.
When Hankerson was targeted in 2012, the quarterbacks completed 67 percent of their passes for an average of 14.3 yards per catch. Hankerson is deadly across the middle and has found a comfort zone on passes that went 11-30 yards downfield. What’s the significance of that? Of all of RGIII’s throws, he threw for the most yards over the middle, had his highest QB rating, and highest average per attempt. Griffin also completed 62 percent of his passes in the range of 11-30 yards for six touchdowns and only two interceptions. How does that stack up with Aaron Rodgers, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady? Manning was 56 percent on those throws, Rodgers 51 percent, and Brady 41 percent. It would only make sense for the Redskins to give their franchise quarterback a playmaker that plays to his strengths.
Hankerson also saw his average skyrocket on receptions when he was lined up in two wide receiver sets to 21 yards per catch and he received all threee touchdowns in this alignment. When he was on the field in three wide receiver sets his average fell to nine yards per catch and he recorded zero touchdowns. The team would be wise to start Hankerson in 2013. Santana Moss was RG3’s safety blanket on third downs and in the fourth quarter last year. He does a lot of over the middle, but is 34. Hankerson should start carving out a niche as Griffin’s go-to receiver on third downs and in the fourth quarter of games if Moss gets injured or has a falloff in ability.
New York Giants
Looking over the Giants’ roster for that special on the cusp player, I’ll start off with the wide receivers. Everyone knows Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks. Who will be that pivotal third receiver option? Jerrel Jernigan hasn’t had the light come on yet for some reason. I was high on Jernigan when he came out of college. I haven’t given up on him yet, but he has to show something this year.
I’ve never been a Louis Murphy fan. He’s been consistently inconsistent throughout his career. When quarterbacks have targeted him over his career the passes have only been completed 43 percent of the time. Eli Manning is use to throwing to receivers that complete around 60 percent of the passes thrown their direction.
Reuben Randle is the odds on favorite out of these three to have a breakout season. He has great size, speed, and hands. Eli plays well when he goes three wide. He’s actually at his best when he’s lined up with three receivers, one tight end, and one back. My fear with Randle is that he would be predominately outside on the left side. Eli completed over 63percent of his passes down the right sideline for 10 touchdowns and only 1 interception in 2012. On the other side of the coin, he completed less than 48percent of his passes down the left sideline for only 2 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. My general thought is that Cruz and Nicks would get most of the right sideline routes seeing how those are the top receivers and teams put their best players in the best situation to succeed. This would leave Randle as a forced option. That makes him too risky to be a roster bonus.
I liked David Wilson coming out as a change of pace back, a complement. I wasn’t as big on him as most in the scouting community. Wilson is a homerun threat, but it seems as if we want to force the issue. That never goes over good. David Wilson had 12 big runs last year that totaled 247 yards for 3 touchdowns. That’s his strength! If you take those carries away you see what his actually “workhorse” numbers are really like. His other 59 carries amounted to an average of 1.9 yards per.
Much like any other home run threat Wilson was subpar in between the tackles (3.6). His bread and butter is outside runs. In this area he averaged over 8 yards per carry. This leads me to my New York Giants roster bonus.
Andre Brown has been fighting to stay healthy or on a roster since he left NC State. He’s a big, powerful back that can definitely find the end zone. In 2012, Brown averaged 5.8 yards per carry when running between the tackles. He’s the stereotypical every down back. Despite where Wilson was drafted, he should become the change of pace back and let Brown do the dirty work. Andre should continue in his role which led him to getting 8 touchdowns in limited action last year. The battle of backfields in the city of Gotham isn’t between David Wilson and Chris Ivory, it’s between Andre Brown and Chris Ivory. Sorry Mr. Wilson, but move over and let the heavyweights battle.