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Kerl route: New York’s best kept secret?

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A USA Today article from May 11, revealed some of America’s best kept secret restaurants and bars. Among them was Atlantic City’s Chef Vola, which was described with the following sentence: “The unmarked establishment is located in the basement of a house and welcomes only those with the right connections.”

Now, I don’t live anywhere near Atlantic City and have been to New York City just once in my lifetime, so I would be the last person to look to for restaurant and bar advice in the Big Apple region. However, I am Italian, and based on my restaurant hopping experience in the upper Midwest, it is fact that the best Italian eats exist in small dining rooms that are underdogs to big chains.

New York Jets wide receiver Jeremy Kerley defines the small dining room with the big chain shadow, in more than one way. He is my latest fantasy underdog.


TRENDING UP

In 2011 Kerley played in 14 games and was targeted 46 times. He caught 29 passes for 314 yards while averaging 10.8 yards per catch. He also scored one touchdown and moved the chains 19 times. In 2012 Kerley played in all 16 games and was targeted 96 times. He caught 56 passes for 827 yards while averaged 14.8 yards per catch. He scored two touchdowns and moved the sticks 31 times.

Receptions: Up 48.3 percent
Targets: Up 53.0 percent
Yards: Up 62.3 percent
Touchdowns: Up 50.0 percent
First downs: Up 38.7 percent

DEPTH PROBLEM

The Jets core of wide receivers is thin at best. Stephen Hill still seems to be combating swelling in his surgically repaired right knee, which is never a good sign - just ask former Houston Texans running back Domanick Davis-Williams. Santonio Holmes is rehabbing the most severe kind of Lisfranc fracture a player can develop. And Clyde Gates, the next closest thing to competition, is dealing with a nagging hamstring injury.

Kerley himself has had a tweaked heel at times during mini-camps, but overall it hasn’t kept him off the practice field. He remains the only surefire receiver new offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg can truly count on to be ready for the start of the season at this point.

SIZE DOESN’T MATTER

The depth problem noted above has put a ton of weight on Kerley’s shoulders this offseason in mini-camps. During organized team activities Kerley was spotted at every receiver position on the field and really carried the load for the first team offense. In fact, he was so heavily relied on, that Mornhinweg asked him the famous, “Are we pushing you too hard?” The answer was an obvious no, accompanied by the thought that the workload wasn’t too big for the undersized receiver.

CUE SANTANA MOSS

In 2003, a third-year 5-foot-10 wide receiver named Santana Moss emerged as not only the New York Jets top option, but as a fantasy superstar as well. That season, Moss finished in the top-10 in total fantasy points (Blue Shark League format) with 242. Ironically, he did it with two average quarterbacks, Chad Pennington and Vinny Testaverde, throwing him the football.

Ten years later Kerley may be on the verge of a Moss replication. Like Moss was, Kerley is an explosive playmaker who has had success as a punt returner. Like Moss was, Kerley is stuck in the middle of a hot mess at a position that continues to evolve. And like Moss was, Kerley is being viewed as an early season bench warmer.

VERSATILITY

Like so many successful current and former slot-bodied receivers - Randall Cobb and Hines Ward come to mind - Kerley has played the quarterback position in his storied past. In fact, while under center in high school, he led the Hutto football team to its first Texas state championship game.

While at TCU in 2010, Kerley was one of three finalists for the Paul Hornung Award, an award given to the most versatile player in college football. In his first two seasons (2011 and 2012) as a Jet, Kerley has completed two 40-plus yard passes. He has a career quarterback rating of 118.8.

Moving forward, Kerley’s ability to sling the ball down the field and overall versatility will make him a dangerous weapon in 2013, especially with the Jets short on playmakers at all the major positions. It’s too early yet to name him the next Randall Cobb, but it certainly isn’t unreasonable to believe that the Jets could replicate some of things the Green Bay Packers have done with Cobb.

VALUE VS. POTENTIAL

With a current average draft position of 231.31 (85 overall among receivers), Kerley’s value doesn’t even exist in a 16-18 round 12-team league. This is perfect news for fantasy owners looking for a no-risk, high-reward late-round underdog ready to bring out an inner Moss. Draft him and stash him! You won’t regret it.

Eric Huber is a Senior Writer for Fantasysharks.com and is a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association (FSWA). Email him your thoughts ehuber@fantasysharks.com or follow him on Twitter @EricHuber12