As we tick toward July, and the quiet time of the NFL offseason begins to wind down, the interest in redraft fantasy leagues for the upcoming season becomes all-encompassing. But, as my esteemed colleague Ryan Bobbitt points out in his ode to Taywan Taylor, “This lull in the football calendar can make for a great time to acquire (dynasty) players, whether you’re rebuilding or fighting for the title.” Ryan is a wise man, and his words should always be heeded.
It is with this mission in mind that I am here today to talk to you about Chad Hansen. But I should stress right away that I am not advocating Hansen as a priority must add, but instead someone you should take a chance on if you have the room on your roster. Let’s meet him.
The College Years
Hansen began his collegiate career at Idaho State, the Bengals being the only team to offer him a scholarship. His true freshman season saw him amass 45 receptions for 501 yards, with three touchdowns. A transfer closer to home, to Cal, meant he had to sit out the 2014 season. In his first season on the active roster, 2015, Hansen played in seven games, catching 19 balls for 249 yards. He truly broke out in his junior campaign with 92 receptions for 1,249 yards and 11 touchdowns, earning All Pac-12 honors. All told, he finished his time as an amateur with 156 receptions, 1,999 yards, and 15 scores.
He emerged from the Scouting Combine as a WR blessed with agility more so than speed. His 4.53 40-yard dash was 27th fastest out of 53 WRs tested. But only five players had a faster 3-cone time than Hansen’s 6.74. The New York Jets selected him with the 141st overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Hansen and the Jets
Hansen played in 15 of the Jets games as a rookie, drawing a single start. He wasn’t targeted until Week 10 when the Jets lost to the Buccaneers. But in that game, he converted three of his four targets for 33 yards. These marks would be seasonal highs. Hansen would finish the year with nine receptions on 17 targets for 94 scoreless yards.
Despite the low usage, it is notable that Hansen became a fixture on the field for the Jets in the closing seven weeks of the season. As the image below shows, only Jermaine Kearse and Robby Anderson played more snaps than Hansen down the stretch.
As first seasons go, 2017 offered very little to shout about. Still, Hansen was seeing the field for the Jets. Even on the Jets, this is a positive sign.
Taking the Plunge
At present, Chad Hansen is being selected as an afterthought in dynasty drafts. The image below shows his ADP over the last week, indicative of a player that people are not exactly falling over themselves to get on their teams.
Despite ending the 2017 season as the de facto number three receiver on the Jets, things look a little different now. Hansen, Anderson, and Kearse have been joined by Terrelle Pryor. There is also the return of Quincy Enunwa, seen as a coming man before his lost 2017 season. It’s unlikely that anyone of Hansen, Pryor or Enunwa will displace Kearse and Anderson atop the depth chart, at least to start the season. They were a pleasantly surprising fantasy double act in 2017, especially between Weeks 9 and 14.
Aside from this top four, there is also a fair amount of chaff that Hansen must once again compete with. The likes of Ardarius Stewart and Devin Smith have some draft capital that may keep them dear to the Jets brass.
But Hansen has not rested on his laurels his offseason. As well as turning heads in spring practices, making the most of the absences of Pryor and Enunwa (both still rehabbing from injury), Hansen has also put the time in with his former Cal teammate Jared Goff. Chad Hansen himself feels that he
“can be whatever they want me to be — a slot receiver, an outside receiver, a third-down receiver, red zone, all that stuff.”
While it would be nice if this would happen in 2018, Hansen may find himself with more opportunities in 2019. Pryor, Kearse, and Enunwa are all set to become free agents after this season. Anderson will be a restricted free agent. But Anderson’s inability to stay out of trouble may cost him in the long run. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that the Jets open the season with Anderson suspended and Pryor and Enunwa still finding their feet. In this case, Hansen could open the season as a starter alongside Kearse.
For the price Chad Hansen is currently going for (i.e. nothing), he is certainly worth the investment. At best, you could land a player that will be tethered to one of the more promising young QBs in the NFL in Sam Darnold. At worst … cut him, and see if you can find another straw to clutch at in 2019. What have you got to lose?