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Fantasy Football: Miles Austin and 2013’s Top Pass Droppers

Ricky Sanders Staff Writer May 23, 2014 4:48PM EDT
Greg Little, recently released by the Cleveland Browns, has been claimed by the Oakland Raiders

Typically, I like to lead my offseason notes with a big name player. A Johnny Manziel obscene gesture, Rob Gronkowski club photo, or the next chapter in the ongoing Richard Sherman/Michael Crabtree feud would be the preferred plan of action. Unfortunately, it’s the offseason and those situations are momentarily tame. For that reason, Greg Little, you are the headliner! Enjoy it while it lasts…….

Although Little, by himself may not present an interesting topic, his drop rate is another story. By no stretch of the imagination does Little possess hands made of Velcro, but his drop percentage has decreased in back-to-back seasons. In 2011, Little tied for second in football with 12 drops. Of all the players who recorded at least 50 receptions, his 9.9 percent drop rate trailed only Jermichael Finley (12.0 percent). If you limit the field to receivers with over 60 receptions or 100 targets, Little’s drop rate blew away the competition. He actually improved significantly in 2012 by reducing his drop rate to 6.5 percent. Last season, he again took a small stride and reduced that number to 6.1 percent. Still, 6.1 percent is nothing to write home about as Little ranked 21st among all players with at least 40 receptions in drop rate. Here were the players that produced worse rates (in order): Reggie Bush (11.4), Davone Bess (10.5), Shane Vereen (10.1), Tavon Austin (10.1), Le’Veon Bell (9.1), Wes Welker (9.0), Santana Moss (9.0), Joique Bell (8.7), Cecil Shorts (8.1), Jamaal Charles (7.7), Mohamed Sanu (7.7), Chris Johnson (7.7), Fred Jackson (7.6), Brandon Marshall (7.3), Brandon LaFell (7.0), Denarius Moore (7.0), Jared Cook (7.0), Stevie Johnson (6.9), Donnie Avery (6.9) and Knowshon Moreno (6.8). It is interesting how so many backs made the list and finished two of the top three. As for Little, he will present nearly zero Fantasy value this year buried behind James Jones, Denarius Moore and Rod Streater on the depth chart, at the very least. Even if the team suffers a plethora of injuries, adding a receiver that struggles to catch a football is not a recommended Fantasy strategy (not to mention their selection of quarterbacks).

Miles Austin signs with the Cleveland Browns who may have lost Josh Gordon for the season

Miles Austin's hamstring problems make him a risky signing by the Browns. Photo Credit: USPRESSWIRE

Miles Austin's hamstring problems make him a risky signing by the Browns. Photo Credit: USPRESSWIRE

I’m not sure I agree with you 100% on your police work there, Lou,” a memorable line from the movie Fargo, can and should be posed in a similar fashion to Cleveland Browns general manager Ray Farmer. His detective work was a little questionable considering news of Josh Gordon’s suspension became public in the middle of the NFL draft. In reality, the Browns probably became aware of the situation well before the announcement. Still, the Browns chose to ignore the position in the draft and held off on any additions for the past week and a half. After the extended inactivity, the Browns signed ex-Cowboys receiver Miles Austin. Santonio Holmes and Austin clearly were the best two receivers available in the open market (which doesn’t say very much about the talent available) so the Browns had to scoop one of them up. The question is whether or not it’s a smart move to rely on a 29-year-old receiver with chronic hamstring problems. Like I said before, only slightly altered, “I’m not sure I agree with you 100 percent on your GM work there, Ray.”

Receivers like Cody Latimer, Donte Moncrief, and Shaq Evans were taken after the 50th overall pick and should prove to be quality pro receivers. Even if the plan was to sign a veteran like Austin, why not supplement him with a young, up-and-coming playmaker just in case he falls apart? When Austin predictably suffers an injury mid-season, can you really rely on pizza-saving Nate Burleson or 5’7 Andrew Hawkins as your number one target besides Jordan Cameron? Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel certainly would have appreciated a stronger supporting cast heading into 2014, but as they say, “thems be the breaks.” The Browns will need to rely on both Austin’s health and Ben Tate to lead a strong run game in order for the team to be a productive offense next season. If his health holds up, Austin must then prove his skills were not in fact diminished last season. Austin’s 5.0 yards-per-target were by far the worst of his career and down almost three (2.9) yards from 2012. Coincidentally, his YPT in 2011 and 2012 were absolutely identical (7.9). Even those two seasons provided diminished outputs compared to the two previous where he put up at least 69 receptions, 1,041 yards, 7 TDs and 8.7 YPT in each. The point of all these numbers: his production last season, or lack thereof, suggests he is far from the Fantasy receiver he once was even when healthy. Ray Farmer will absolutely have a share in the blame if this passing offense proves to be one of the worst in football.

Quick Hitters

  • Jaguars GM Dave Caldwell is “insisting” Chad Henne will open the season as the starting quarterback; then he huffed, and he puffed and he blew the little pig’s house down (with smoke). Get it? He was blowing smoke, ah never mind, bad attempt at a joke. Regardless of how funny a joke can possibly be, that references a lame children’s story, the funniest part of the tidbit is the Jaguars insistence on lying to themselves. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it 100 times: Blake Bortles is far superior to Henne and will not take much time to dethrone him. Whether that will take until Week 1, Week 5, etc. remains to be seen, but Henne will not be running the show when 2014 is all said and done.
  • Arian Foster has declared himself “healthy and ready to go,” which likely suggest he’s headed for a bounce-back season. Foster will likely fall to the second round of your Fantasy draft, which will present excellent value. He played all of last season hurt but we have all seen what a healthy Foster can do. The man is scary good and should put up a trademark Foster season next year, if his health holds up.
  • Buccaneers management is changing their tune on Mike Glennon, after initially naming Josh McCown the starter immediately after signing him. The team now suggests they “are sold” on Glennon as the quarterback of the future and will give him his fair shot. Yeah, right. The organization is just trying to build his confidence, especially knowing that McCown is 34-years-old and has an expiration date in the near future. McCown, will start and will hopefully look to duplicate the success he had last season with his new twin tower duo of Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans, similar to the one he had last year of Alshon Jeffrey and Brandon Marshall. McCown is a high-end number two Fantasy QB, with the upside of a low-end number one.

 

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