A New Beginning?
Considered one of the gems of the free agent class of 2014, Eric Decker was a hot commodity this offseason. The former third-round pick signed a lucrative deal with the New York Jets as he will try to prove to the football community that he is done being second fiddle and is ready to become a true number one receiver. There is no doubt that Decker is an upgrade over the recently departed Santonio Holmes, but if you are expecting a repeat of 2013 stats for Decker I’m sadly here to disappoint you.
Decker does have a few things going for him in 2014:
- Throughout his career, he has gotten better and better each year.
- In 2012, his first season with Peyton Manning, he turned 85 receptions into 1,064 yards and 13 touchdowns.
- Last year he caught a couple more passes and racked up an impressive 1,288 receiving yards.
- Even though he was always a number two receiver at best, a two-year average of over 1,000 receiving yards and double digit touchdowns is nothing to scoff over.
Now that he is in New York, he is the bona fide number one receiver and should get even more targets than he is use to. To some people, things may be looking up for Decker, but now the bad news…
Over the past two seasons, Decker has put up stellar statistics, but this was while playing with arguably one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time in Peyton Manning. If we were to take a look back at Decker’s stats in 2011, there was a noticeable difference in his production.
2011 stats = 95 targets, 44 receptions, 612 yards, 8 TDs
These stats are certainly a bit off from his production when playing with Manning. A case can be made that in 2011 he played with one of the worst passing quarterbacks in NFL history, one who won a game completing only 2 passes (and yes Tim Tebow won a game in 2011 against the Chiefs completing 2 of 8 passes). That all being said, Geno Smith and Mike Vick aren’t exactly the most efficient quarterbacks either. Geno had a completion percent last year of 55% while Vick’s career completion percent is only 56%.
To put things in perspective, Manning’s completion percent last season was 68% with a career completion percent of 66%. On top of going to a team with a less efficient quarterback, Decker is also going to a team that doesn’t like to pass the ball as often as his previous team. Last season the Jets attempted 480 passes while the Broncos attempted a whopping 675 passes. Keep in mind, there were many more times the Jets were playing catch up as the broncos were comfortably ahead in many of their games and weren’t required to throw the ball.
Fuel to the Fire
Now the news gets even worse for Decker. While becoming the number one passing option on a new team is great since it means he should get more opportunities, it also means he now gets to compete against opposing team’s top corners. Here is where I become very skeptical of Decker’s fantasy value in 2014:
- Just in the AFC East alone, he will have to face two games apiece against pro-bowlers Darrelle Revis and Brent Grimes.
- Even Buffalo has some young up-and-coming corners on their roster.
- Outside of the division, Decker will match up with guys like Aqib Talib (DEN) and Charles Tillman (CHI) among others.
Let’s not forget he also has a reality TV show keeping him busy which has the potential to take his focus away from the game. In this writer’s personal opinion, Decker will be lucky to be a WR3 bordering on WR4 in fantasy leagues this upcoming season.
Buyer beware of Eric Decker.
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