So in case you haven’t heard, RotoViz favorite Danario Alexander was lost for the season to an ACL tear. This will raise his knee surgery tally to approximately 432,396 and also leaves a hole at receiver for the Chargers. But while DX going down is no doubt a huge disappointment for all parties involved, I began to wonder if any other San Diego body has had their stock increase as a result. You know what they say; one player’s bad luck is another one’s opportunity.
My first thought when I heard Alexander was going down for the season was that the door now swings wide open for Vincent Brown to take on a prominent role. Film guys love Brown because he passes the eye test, but most of us at RotoViz remain skeptical because of Brown’s below-average speed and small frame. Add me to that list of skeptics; in the last 30 years only two receivers with slower than 4.60 40 times have found success at the NFL level. The two most notable examples – Jerry Rice and Anquan Boldin – were two and three inches taller than Brown, respectively. The loss of Alexander obviously gives Brown a better opportunity to be productive, but history probably gives Brown long odds to be a true #1 WR in the NFL. Brown has also been injured for most of his young career, so there’s concern regarding his ability to stay on the field for a whole season. At his current ADP of 108 it’s still best to look elsewhere.
Speaking of slow receivers…
Any argument against drafting Brown can be said for the rookie Keenan Allen as well. Allen’s 40 time was less than impressive at the combine (4.71) and he’s coming off a string of injuries in his own right. Jon Moore’s extensive work on PAC-12 receivers and how they’ve struggled to become viable NFL receivers since 2008 also makes a strong case against drafting the Cal product. Chargers head coach Mike McCoy has even come out and addressed Allen’s overall rawness.
“Like every other young players he’s got a lot to learn,” he said in an article from the Chargers team website. “He’s got a long ways to go and he’ll be the first one to tell you that.”
I’m not saying Allen won’t turn into a viable NFL receiver down the road, but this year’s fantasy prospects don’t look very good for Mr Allen.
Close the Gates
It’s not unlikely that Alexander’s injury will result in an uptick of targets for Antonio Gates this year. Rivers has historically had great chemistry with Gates, and losing a 6’5” target in DX will likely cause Phil to default to his favorite target in the red zone. That said, it’s still hard to recommend drafting Gates at his current ADP and with his obvious decline.
Punching the Rivers-Gates connection into the QB/Receiver Efficiency App reveals some startling data:
Gates is rapidly trending downward, and while some of that may not be his fault (Philip Rivers may also be declining just as quickly), you’d be better off drafting somebody that is younger, cheaper and more durable than the oft-injured Gates.
Verdict: Run away, far away.
Don’t Call it a Comeback, I’ve Been Here for Years
So with Alexander down, Allen not ready and Brown not likely to turn into a viable primary NFL receiver, Malcom Floyd is left standing. Floyd has always had some fantasy value – he’s a 6’5” vertical threat that has a career 9.83 AYA with Rivers throwing to him.
Floyd also, despite being the 58rd receiver off the board in most standard leagues, is slated to be the #1 receiver for San Diego.
I realize both Rivers and Floyd are on the decline, but getting a team’s top target in round 12 is not a bad gig. Especially when you consider how Floyd stacks up in the WR Sim Score App.
Malcom Floyd (ADP 150.6, WR #58)
Miles Austin (ADP 74.7, WR #33)
Anquan Boldin (ADP 84, WR #29)
*All ADP predictions courtesy of Fantasy Football Calculator
Floyd could have roughly the same season as Anquan Boldin and Miles Austin at a fraction of the cost. He also did well in the red zone in 2012, finishing seventh in red zone fantasy points per target in 2012 for qualifying receivers. Alexander being lost for the season will only further elevate Floyd as a preferred target, both in the red zone and between the twenties. Floyd has never broken 850 yards in a season and this is shaping up to be his best opportunity to do so. He’s worth a late round pick even with his spotty health record and advanced age.
Verdict: Target in round 11 or later