So pretty funny story about how I came up with this article…..I was at work and really had to go to the bathroom……so I’m standing there at the urinal peeing and all of a sudden – BAM! A thought pops into my mind out of nowhere that had nothing to do with my job and nothing to do with peeing. I think to myself…..”Eric Decker is going to be a bust next year”. Not really sure why I was thinking of Eric Decker when I had my junk in my hand, but I’ve experienced weirder things probably. Anyways, let’s take a look.
Eric Decker was basically in one of the best situations you can ask for if you’re a Wide Receiver in the NFL. You’ve got a QB throwing you the ball that could be argued as the best of all time, you’ve got a big, strong and fast WR opposite you who will likely take the defense’s best CB with him and you’ve got one of the best slot WRs in the game with a young talented tight end just for lulz. Long story short, you’re part of one of the most prolific offenses in NFL history. Now what would happen if that all changed?? I’m here to say that if Eric Decker leaves Denver (which seems fairly likely since he will command quite the payday as a free agent) then his stats will suffer. It really depends on where he lands, but for him to repeat the numbers he did this year in an offense that isn’t with Peyton Manning, seems fairly unlikely in my books.
First off, his year end stats looked good, with him finishing at the WR9 in 0.5 PPR (trying to have a middle ground between standard and PPR) including Week 17. That said, just over 19% of his total points came in that one game where he had 4 TDs. Sound familiar? Think of Doug Martin in 2012. Even in a fairly crowded offense filled with fantasy stars, Decker had career highs in Targets, Receptions and Receiving yards. Do you think he will have that with one of the likely places he will land? I definitely do not.
Fake Pigskin Exclusive: Join Monkey Knife Fight and Get an Instant 100% Deposit Match PLUS a Free $5 Game!
Looking to his QB Peyton Manning, he had 192 pass attempts inside the 20 (most in the league among QBs), or what some of us like to call the Red Zone. The Red Zone is Ricky’s favourite area of the field, just for future reference. Manning also lead the league in pass attempts inside the 10 yard line, AND inside the 5 yard line. Given these stats, I think Decker had more than his fair share of chances inside the red zone. He was actually 3rd in targets inside the 20, 3rd in targets inside the 10, and 2nd in targets inside the 5 among WRs. My reasoning here is that I don’t think he will get those same chances in another offense, likely because most other offenses (with the exception of a few) won’t be visiting the red zone quite as often as Denver did in 2013. Peyton Manning led the league in pass attempts, completions, passing yards and passing TDs as well. I mean, how often do QBs throw for over 5000 yards and 50+ TDs? I just feel like his situation was too good in 2013 that he is going to disappoint fantasy teams that draft him high. If he goes to a team that doesn’t have a quality #1 WR, he may struggle as he could be the team’s best offensive weapon and garner extra attention from opposing defenses, which wasn’t the case in Denver when the opposing defense had 3 other offensive weapons to worry about besides him. The last point I want to make in relation to Manning on the offense is that according to PFF, Denver had the 2nd best pass blocking unit in the league – giving Manning solid time to let plays develop and find the open receiver; a trait that the next team Decker plays with likely will not have.
I’m going to go through a few more stats that show me some issues with Decker’s consistency that make me worry even more (according to 0.5 PPR scoring of course). In 7 of the 16 games he played in during the 2013 season, he had under 10 points. I feel like that’s a few too many crappy games for my liking. In 9 of his 16 games, he had under 15 points – not exactly a guy I want to invest a good pick in for a WR. His 4 TD game that scored him over 45 points in Week 13 definitely skewed his final year totals; not to mention he only had 3 TDs during the season up to that point. Consistency in fantasy players is my one of my favourite attributes and can definitely skew me towards or away from a player. The last negative point I have to say against Eric Decker is that he had 9 games in the fantasy season without a TD. Again, for me that is too many.
It’s not all negative for Mr. Decker in 2014. He may land in a spot where he could be a #2 guy with an established QB and get a lot of favourable match ups. I realize as I write this that its late February and it could be quite a while before we know where he ends up and all the free agents and draft picks have been signed. He may be a solid option as a WR2 or strong WR3 just due to volume and being the #1 guy. There’s a lot that we don’t know and won’t know. But at this point, I don’t like his outlook to repeat his numbers and land in the top 10 for WRs in 2014.
A quick last point here – according to Spotrac.com here are the 10 teams with the most cap room as of this writing (I figure these are potential landing spots for Decker): Cleveland, Oakland, Indy, Jacksonville, Miami, Minnesota, Green Bay, Washington, Cincinnati, and the New York Jets. There’s 4-5 teams in those 10 that have an established QB where he could really benefit. However, those teams basically already have fairly solid WR corps and would be smarter spending their money elsewhere. If he lands in Cleveland, he could be very solid but you have to consider the QB situation there. Oakland, Jacksonville and Minnesota are teams he could very well land on, but the QB situations and overall offensive outlooks are pretty poor in my opinion. As for the Jets, well that whole place is a circus now with talks of Michael Vick landing there and Geno Smith playing fairly poorly in his rookie season.
Overall, I think if Decker leaves Denver and plays elsewhere, his fantasy stats are going to suffer. If he stays in Denver, he may regress a little bit anyways because really, can Peyton Manning have another record setting year?