Free Agent Forensic File – Part IV
For Part III, click here.
One of the most interesting free agents at wide receiver this year hasn’t played football in over a year. Jeremy Maclin suffered a torn ACL at the wrong time (it always seems to happen that way before a contract year, doesn’t it?) Maclin’s agent may have had some real negotiating power had Maclin been in uniform for the Philadelphia Eagles in Chip Kelly’s offense. In 2012, Maclin barely held onto WR2 fantasy value, scoring 192 points, or about 13 fantasy points a game. He only caught 58% of his passes, and that’s nothing to write home about. Maclin’s torn ACL may have cost him a cool 2 million a year in eventual contract money. He plays a different kind of game, however, so a team that signs him should look for him to invade space, get open in the soft spots, and be heavily active in the short and intermediate game. He’s shown he can play at a high level, and he hasn’t had much opportunity to have accurate balls thrown his way.
Much like the Jets, the New England Patriots should be front-runners in the race to secure a new Wide Receiver target. This is a deal that would make a lot of sense, as Danny Amendola hasn’t been able to stay on the field, and both Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins are still developing. I could see Maclin’s agent getting a call from the Patriots as they haven’t historically scouted rookie receivers very well in the draft. Bill Belichick could sell Maclin on the winning culture, offer up a one-year deal laden with performance incentives, and reassess the situation come 2015. Maclin has the speed to get behind the safeties, and he’d be a great asset to the team overall. Julian Edelman has been nothing short of spectacular in doing what he’s been asked to do catching 3 yard passes ( I kid – sort of), but Maclin is surely an upgrade.
Watching Andy Reid pound a table just might be a worst case scenario in its own regard (definitely not as cool as the Kool-Aid Man cameo), but it would also not bode very well for Maclin’s fantasy prospects if he’s called upon to reunite with Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs. Donnie Avery had his moments but was just another guy and Andy Reid has to think Maclin is a better option. The problem is that the Chiefs threw the ball 508 times, which is middle-of-the-road. Paul Blart Fun fact for you: Dwayne Bowe and Donnie Avery combined for 171 targets – the same number of targets as AJ Green. You have to think the arrow will point up from these passing metrics as the Chiefs acquire new talent, but if you own Maclin in a keeper or dynasty league, this is the last landing spot you want to see for him.
You’re in a contract year – you’re coming off of consecutive years scratch that – all of your years wherein you sustain an injury of some sort or another. This might be a good time to show up to practice on time, ya know? I stumbled upon a pretty cool site called sportsinjurypredictor.com, and they’ve built an algorithm to produce an “Injury Index Score” based on a number of different factors.Take a look at the chart that captures Nicks’ injury history here. He’s shown a propensity to get bumps and nicks, and while he’s willing to play through injuries, he hasn’t been the same since suffering the departmental syndrome. Hakeem Nicks joined the league and hit the scene with a bang. In his rookie season, he showed enough skill to be a very predictable 2nd year break-out candidate, and he did just that as the 8th best WR in terms of overall fantasy points in 2010. In 2011 he managed to finish as the 12th best WR, and it’s been all down-hill from there.
I want to say his upside his still there, but it’s very difficult to say that coming off a year in which he scored the same amount of receiving touchdowns as David Tyree. Having said that, the Carolina Panthers should blow on the dice and shoot craps. Steve Smith isn’t the same player anymore, and their best target (Greg Olsen) wasn’t even a Wide Receiver. Brandon LaFell is pedestrian at best, Ted Ginn Jr. is a gimmick type guy, and Tavarres King is still raw. While the Panthers are certain to draft a top receiver option as they’ve done great work building up the other side of the ball, it’s about damn time to give Cam Newton another target on the outside that can get open and catch the ball. Nicks could perform as a WR1 (for the weeks he’s in the lineup) as a top option for Cam. The question is whether or not the Panthers are willing to make this call.
While it’s not so much a worst case scenario for Hakeem Nicks, we do not want to see Nicks somehow remain in a New York Giants uniform. We’re ready to move on, we’ve drafted Rueben Randle and we know he can do what Nicks used to do in that offense, and Ben McAdoo will be able to bring life back into the Giants. If Nicks remains a Giant, there are simply too many mouths to feed. It caps the value and upside of Randle, and even Jerrel Jernigan. At this point, we’d rather Nicks signed anywhere else – even Oakland.