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Darrius Heyward-Bey Has Gotten More Fantasy Efficient Every Year He’s Been in the League


While it’s true that Oakland’s drafting of DHB when he was just an unpolished athletic specimen (and there were more accomplished receivers on the draft board) was a dumb reach, DHB has also worked to improve and ditch that bust label. People often point to DHB’s hands as his fatal flaw, but I tend to think about things in terms of the net result and at least as far as fantasy scoring goes, he’s been getting better. The graph below shows DHB’s Fantasy Points Over Par metric for each of his 4 years in the league. He started out terribly, producing close to 1/2 of a fantasy point less than average when OAK threw him the ball (that’s bad… really bad) but he’s been above average each of the last two seasons. That means that every time the ball goes in the air towards DHB, the odds are that he’s going to produce more fantasy points with that target than the average wide receiver.

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Heyward-Bey is currently sitting at WR 53, which probably correctly reflects the skepticism that people have about his role in the IND offense. I don’t know if you can call him a sleeper as of today, but he’s at least worth monitoring as the summer goes on. Andrew Luck will be easily the best QB that DHB has played with. In the context of the receiver’s improving efficiency while getting the ball from bad quarterbacks that’s worth keeping in mind.

Like a lot of the sleepers (or fliers, or value plays depending on how you look at things) that we advocate here, DHB’s value will be binary. We can’t guarantee he’ll get on the field or outplay anyone in the coaching staff’s eyes (we’re not on the coaching staff, so we can’t know what they’ll decide). All we can do is point to the positive indicators that exist if he does get on the field.

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