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Is Jake Kumerow a Legit Fantasy Sleeper in 2019?

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers sent waves of hope through the fantasy world this week when he spent a solid 60 seconds pumping the tires of sophomore wide receiver Jake Kumerow.

Here’s the full clip.

“He’s an extremely intelligent guy who’s in the right place at the right time,” fawned Rodgers. “He makes contested catches. He makes the plays that are there.”

Rodgers went on to say that Kumerow does the little things that separate him “from a guy you might not trust as much.” Was that a shot at fellow sophomore WRs Equanimeous St. Brown or Marquez Valdes-Scantling? Well, it certainly wasn’t a shot at Davante Adams.

Early-summer coach speak is one thing, but coming from the mouth of the guy who can directly make or break careers with his decisions on the field — and who likely has more pull than ever now that Mike McCarthy is gone — this seems like a good time for a deeper look at Kumerow to ask if he has true sleeper potential in 2019.

Who is Jake Kumerow?

The first thing that jumps off the page with Kumerow is his age. Despite effectively being a rookie last season, Kumerow is already 27-years old.

He was signed by the Bengals as a UDFA after the 2015 NFL Draft and spent the next two seasons on their practice squad. The Patriots signed him to their practice squad for 2017 before he caught on with the Packers for the 2018 season.

Standing 6 feet 4 inches and weighing 209 pounds, Kumerow transferred to the Division III Wisconsin-Whitewater “Warhawks” for the 2013 season after winning a roster spot at Illinois as a walk-on the year before.

Playing against DIII competition as a 21-year old, Kumerow was highly productive, averaging an explosive 17.29 yards per catch in his first season.

Season School Games Rec Yds YPG YPC TD
2013-14 Wisconsin-Whitewater 15 77 1331 88.7 17.29 19
2014-15 Wisconsin-Whitewater 11 66 1116 101.5 16.91 14

Unfortunately, our Box Score Scout doesn’t register Kumerow, who is a cousin to the NFL’s Bosa brothers. However, his combination of size and speed were enough to catch the attention of several NFL teams.

 

Can Jake Snake a Starting Spot?

This isn’t the first offseason that Kumerow has generated some buzz. Last summer, Shawn Siegele noted that Kumerow may be a guy to watch after starring in the preseason, racking up 190 yards and 2 TDs on 10 targets through just two preseason games.

However, he suffered a sprained shoulder in that second game and was shelved until Week 13 of the regular season, putting any sleeper talk on ice.

Kumerow finished the season strong, though, garnering nine targets over the final three games of the season, one of which he turned into a 49-yard TD.

Rodgers sent a career-high four targets Kumerow’s way the following week, though he managed just 19 yards.

Heading into 2019 training camp, Kumerow is behind St. Brown, Valdes-Scantling, and probably Geronimo Allison too. When he was active, Kumerow didn’t look out of place among the other Packers pass catchers.1

Kumerow outscored St. Brown, nearly went point-for-point with Valdes-Scantling, and was the most efficient (reFPOE) of the trio.

If Kumerow is the real deal, unseating the guys in front of him may not be as difficult as it seems today. Earlier this offseason, I looked at the most comparable rookie seasons to Valdes-Scantling’s, and the results were not encouraging. 

Checking the RotoViz Screener for St. Brown’s most comparable rookie seasons, we get warm bodies like Cody CoreJustin Gage, Josh Morgan, along with one ray of hope in Brandon Marshall.

That’s a roundabout way of saying that while Kumerow may not be much of a prospect, Valdes-Scantling and St. Brown probably aren’t either. They’re popular targets mostly because they’re attached to Rodgers, but so is Kumerow.

How to Play It

Between those WRs, plus Adams and Allison, plus Aaron Jones and a returning Jimmy Graham, there are a lot of mouths to feed in Green Bay.

I don’t love Kumerow’s chances of making a fantasy impact in 2019; however, we should probably start paying attention. His ADP is non-existent in Bestball10 drafts and it’s sitting at 317th overall in deeper FFPC leagues.

After averaging 60.6 yards per game in his eight outings, Allison is getting the most heat of the bunch, but he averaged less than 20 yards per game over his previous two seasons, and I’m not willing to spend a top-150 pick on him.

I like buying the cheapest option in these muddy situations, and that’s Kumerow, who does have some demonstrated upside if things break right.

In shorter leagues, you can leave him on the wire for now, but in deeper redraft, best ball, and dynasty leagues, it’s time to get him on the roster.

Image Credit: Larry Radloff/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Jake Kumerow.

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  1. All numbers are per-game.  (back)

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