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Rod Streater Is the Icing on Top of Your Zero WR Cake
AP Photo/Kathy Willens
AP Photo/Kathy Willens

In June, Shawn Siegele unleashed Zero WR on the fantasy world. He argued that while Zero RB worked for many owners last season, it might be wise to zig while others zag this season.

Starting a draft by selecting five or six consecutive RBs (when you can only start two or three) sounds ludicrous. It probably is. But, Siegele’s core idea—that drafters can exploit the fantasy community’s collective PTSD after last year’s unprecedented number of RB busts—is sound.

Of course, the success of a Zero WR strategy hinges on picking the right WRs in the middle rounds. Indeed, the availability of guys like Eric Decker, Marques Colston, and Rueben Randle at their current ADP is precisely the reason Zero WR is a viable approach. However, some (if not most) of those players will bust. Of course, if you go Zero WR, you must supplement your lineup with plenty of undervalued receivers in the later rounds.

That’s where Rod Streater comes in. As the 81st WR off the board, Streater is the definition of free. He’s the icing on top of your WR Zero cake.

Rod Streater is Better and More Athletic than You Realize

Rod Streater wants to be the next Andre Johnson.

“Andre Johnson was one of my favorite receivers,”

Streater told a radio station this summer.

“I already told [Matt Schaub], ‘Yo I go the [number] 80, Andre was my favorite receiver, we gotta make this happen.'”

The Johnson aspiration is probably a stretch, but Streater isn’t as far off as you think. Streater went undrafted in 2012. He wasn’t even invited to the combine. NFL teams were likely unimpressed with Streater’s grand total of 49 receptions in his college career. However, his meager production becomes a bit more fathomable when you consider the Temple Owls’ offensive strategy during Streater’s two years there.

Year Rush Attempts Pass Attempts Rush %
2010 421 315 57.2
2011 654 196 76.9

Though Streater didn’t participate in the combine, he put up very impressive numbers at Temple’s Pro Day.

Height Weight 40 time Broad Jump Vertical Jump Freak Score
75 200 4.37 134 37.5 69

He’s a freak. In 2009 at his junior college, Streater was a first-team All-American in the high jump. Oakland recognized this potential and signed Streater after the draft. He established a good rapport with Carson Palmer in his rookie season and finished with 39 receptions for 584 yards and three touchdowns. Palmer was more effective targeting Streater than with many of the receivers he’s thrown to.1

Receiver Targets AY/A
Chris Henry 183 9.38
Darrius Heyward-Bey 139 8.36
Jordan Shipley 74 8.31
Chad Johnson 877 7.63
Michael Floyd 113 7.42
T.J. Houshmandzadeh 552 7.28
Rod Streater 64 7.20
Lavernanues Coles 74 6.82
Antonio Chatman 50 6.64
Larry Fitzgerald 135 6.21
Denarius Moore 146 5.94
Andre Caldwell 115 5.71
Terrell Owens 138 4.51

Streater took another step forward last season, hauling in 60 receptions for 888 yards and four TDs. Streater’s drop rate was the ninth-lowest in the league and he bested Johnson, A.J. Green, Josh Gordon, Dez Bryant, and Calvin Johnson in catch rate. These numbers were good enough for a WR33 fantasy finish in PPR leagues. He finished as a WR3, but is inexplicably being drafted as a WR7 alongside players like Martavis Bryant, Brandon LaFell, and John Brown.

Streater’s 2013 season is even more impressive when you consider the QB play he endured.

Quarterback Games Started Completion % (Rank) AY/A (Rank)
Terrell Pryor 9 57.4 (33) 5.3 (38)
Matt McGloin 6 55.8 (35) 6.4 (24)

While Pryor was horrendous, McGloin was merely terrible. Using the Game Splits app, we discover that Streater was a fantasy WR2 with McGloin at the helm:

 

streatersplits

To top it all off, Streater has reportedly bulked up this offseason. We know what that means.

Oakland Upgraded at Quarterback

Matt Schaub is the new starter in Oakland. His 2013 campaign was dismal, but don’t forget that Schaub was a decent quarterback from 2008-2012:

Year Comp % (Rank) AY/A (Rank)
2008 66.1 (4) 7.6 (4)
2009 67.9 (4) 8.0 (7)
2010 63.6 (8) 7.5 (7)
2011 61.0 (14) 8.6 (4)
2012 64.3 (6) 7.2 (12)
2013 61.2 (17) 5.3 (36)

Schaub has never been spectacular, but has almost always been solid. His numbers compare favorably not only to McGloin’s brief stint as a starter, but also to Palmer’s 2012 campaign, when Palmer posted a 61.1 percent completion percentage with 6.8 adjusted yards per attempt.

So what happened to Schaub in 2013? Ryan McKee at Pro Football Focus recently examined this question. He ruled out age regression and concluded that Houston’s offensive line deserves much of the blame. After three consecutive top 10 pass blocking seasons, the Texans’ line ranked 26th in 2013. Oakland was 14th in pass blocking efficiency last season, so it’s reasonable to expect that Schaub will have more time to throw in 2014.

Despite Schaub’s bleak 2013 performance, he’s still more capable than the other quarterbacks that Streater has played with. If Streater can put up WR2 numbers with McGloin, he can do the same with Schaub.

He just needs the volume.

Oakland Will Throw More in 2014

Raiders called a pass play 56 percent of the time in 2013, the 23rd-highest percentage in the NFL. That level of emphasis on the run game is out of character for offensive coordinator Greg Olson. Here’s what Olson has done in his previous coaching stops:

Year (Team) Quarterback(s) Pass % Rank
2004 (Detroit) Joey Harrington 57.0 12
2005 (Detroit) Joey Harrington 57.6 11
2006 (St. Louis) Marc Bulger 60.1 5
2007 (St. Louis) Marc Bulger/Gus Frerotte 60.6 7
2008 (Tampa Bay) Jeff Garcia 56.8 15
2009 (Tampa Bay) Josh Johnson/Byron Leftwich/Josh Freeman 58.0 12
2010 (Tampa Bay) Josh Freeman 54.9 24
2011 (Tampa Bay) Josh Freeman 64.2 2
2012 (Jacksonville) Chad Henne/Blaine Gabbert 64.0 5
Average Average 59.2 10.3

Olson has had only one season that was more run-heavy than 2013—Josh Freeman’s first full season as the starter. Olson’s anomalous play-calling in 2013 was the result of starting Pryor for nine games. In Pryor’s starts, the Raiders leaned heavily on the run game; when McGloin played, the offense threw more. Now that he’s once again got a veteran QB at the helm, expect Olson to return to his pass-happy ways.

How will those passes be distributed?

Streater’s Competition Is Overrated

Most drafters are completely shying away from Oakland’s receiving corps. This is probably because it’s the Raiders and there are too many mouths to feed. The former view probably represents a valuable heuristic, but the latter one is overblown. Let’s take a look at the target distribution last season for players with at least 20 targets.

Player (Position) Target %
Rod Streater (WR) 19.2
Denarius Moore (WR) 16.6
Mychal Rivera (TE) 11.6
Marcel Reece (RB) 10.4
Andre Holmes (WR) 10.0
Rashad Jennings (RB) 9.1
Darren McFadden (RB) 5.0
Jacoby Ford (WR) 4.6

Denarius Moore is currently slotted as the Raiders’ WR4. He followed up an impressive rookie campaign in 2011 with clunkers in 2012 and 2013. If Oakland had drafted Sammy Watkins, the team probably would’ve traded Moore. Head coach Dennis Allen and OC Greg Olson have both expressed concern with his inconsistency this offseason. Even if he secure the WR3 role, Moore’s targets should fall dramatically in 2014—perhaps to Ford’s level.

Andre Holmes—Oakland’s likely WR3—has generated some buzz in fantasy circles. I understand the optimism: Holmes passes the Eric Decker test and boats some impressive measurables. After looking like a bust in his first two years in the NFL—he was cut by the Vikings, Cowboys, and Patriots—Holmes flashed some big play ability in the second half of 2013, when Moore was out with an injury. Nick Mensio at Rotoworld recently wrote a great breakdown of Holmes’ tape. While Mensio is bullish on Holmes as a deep threat in 2014 and beyond, he recognizes that Holmes struggled with drops and route running last year. He has already dropped multiple passes in training camp and is solidly behind Streater and Jones on the depth chart. Holmes will likely improve with more reps—he’s certainly an intriguing dynasty buy—but is not yet polished enough to secure significant snaps and eat into Streater’s volume.

James Jones will start opposite Streater. The consensus view—that Jones’ modest successes in Green Bay were due to the golden arm of Aaron Rodgers—seems to be supported by the numbers:

jonesstreatersplits

Jones is older (30), slower (4.59 40 time at the combine), and shorter (73 inches) than Streater. Jones’ career numbers—save for one fluke 14 TD season—are pedestrian. I assumed that most of Jones’ success occurred when teammates Greg Jennings, Randall Cobb, and Jermichael Finley were hurt. However, Jones actually performs much better when they play, suggesting that he struggles as one of his team’s primary targets.

jonesjennings

jonescobb

jonesfinley

For its part, the Sim Score app thinks that Jones and Streater will have similar seasons.

Player Standard Half PPR PPR
Rod Streater 7.2 8.9 11.2
James Jones 7.3 9.2 11.2

Considering the app doesn’t realize that Jones’ new QB is a massive downgrade and Streater’s new QB is an upgrade, those projections don’t bode well for Jones.

To make matters worse for Jones, he was sidelined for most of the offseason with hamstring and shoulder injuries. He has been attending training camp, but already missed valuable opportunities to establish chemistry with Schaub.

Bottom Line

Streater is a dynamic athlete capable of WR2 numbers with merely mediocre QB play. Schaub—benefitting from better offensive line play— should be able to provide mediocrity in 2014. At the very least, Schaub’s arrival likely means that Olson will return to his pass-happy game plans.

While Oakland’s receiving corps may appear murky at first glance, Streater’s competition for targets is, upon further inspection, middling. Jones’ arrival in Oakland is unlikely to affect Streater’s playing time; it would not be surprising if Streater—a younger and more athletic receiver—once again led the team in targets. Holmes has play-making potential as Oakland’s WR3, but is probably too unpolished to compete with Streater for playing time. Moore’s inconsistency has landed him in the doghouse; barring an injury to another Oakland receiver, he’s set for a reduction in playing time.

Streater is available in the 18th round in redraft leagues. He’s the icing on your Zero WR cake. Save room for him.

  1. With at least 50 targets.  (back)

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