With rookie mini-camps underway it’s understandable that my thoughts drifted towards my youth recently. Or that could just be because the years are flying by and I pine for those days of long ago. As fate would have it (or just the fact it always seems to be on somewhere in the world) the 1985 classic John Hughes film ‘The Breakfast Club’ came on television.
For those too young to remember, it was centered around some students forced into a Saturday morning detention session and how even though some were considered misfits, nerds or thugs they could come together. The cast consisted mainly of ‘America’s Sweetheart’ (at the time anyway) Molly Ringwald along with ‘what’s this 40-year-old doing in high school?’ Judd Nelson and ‘when did he get so tall?’ Anthony Michael Hall. As I recall, there was also some Sheen/Estevez hybrid in it as well but that family has gotten enough hype over the years.
The movie ends with the haunting 80’s classic “Don’t You Forget About Me” by Simple Minds. If you are too young to remember it’s original run, the song had a bit of a resurgence a few years ago due to the movie ‘Pitch Perfect.’ Yes. Old Uncle Waldo is one hip cat that knows his pop culture.
Where is this headed for fantasy purposes one may ask? One would be right to ask such a question and here’s the gist of this article. Here are a few players that come to mind when I look to grab players at a position of value later in drafts due to their being overlooked.
The misfits of detention if you will.
David Cobb, RB, TENNESSEE TITANS- It would be very easy to move on from Cobb considering the disappointment his rookie season provided and the offseason moves the Titans have made. A calf injury suffered in preseason would land Cobb on the Injured Reserve/Designated for return list and ultimately cost him the first 10 weeks of the season. To add insult to injury (pun intended) in his first two games back, Cobb would gain five yards on his first seven carries. Not exactly the debut that owners who had been waiting for his return were hoping for, although, by that point it’s highly unlikely they were starting him.
Week 17 would be the high point for Cobb as he posted 73 rushing yards on 19 carries and scored his lone touchdown of the season. He would finish with a less than scintillating (I am being very kind here) 146 rushing yards and minus-2 receiving yards. Yes, that would be less than zero receiving yards on a single reception. Ugh. The Titans were so impressed by their rushing attack that they promptly acquired DeMarco Murray and then followed that up by drafting Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry out of Alabama. Not exactly the sort of news that Cobb needed to hear after spending an offseason trying to lose weight and gain more explosiveness. In a matter of months, Cobb went from the front runner to win the starting job to number three on the depth chart.
So why does he make the “Don’t You Forget About Me” list? It’s simple. The kid still has the quickness and ability to hit the hole and go on to become a very good NFL (and fantasy) running back. His receiving skills are underrated as he actually caught 33 balls in his final two years at the University of Minnesota and he has reliable hands in the passing game. It’s the two players in front of Cobb that give us hope moving forward.
Much has been made of Derrick Henry’s upright running style and the dangers it could bring at the next level with the hits he will endure from bigger faster and stronger defenders. Henry is also coming off a year in which he carried the ball 395 times and comes from a school known for putting it’s players through a grueling practice routine that can put added wear and tear on the body.
While DeMarco Murray is saying all the right things about the selection of Henry in the draft, he wasn’t exactly a happy camper when asked to share carries last season in Philadelphia. Whether or not he can actually bring a positive attitude to the situation could factor into his production as a pouting Murray was not a useful back last season finishing outside the top 15 in scoring. We must also factor in the amount of carries he has had in recent seasons.
Back in 2014, he carried the ball 393 times and has amassed 803 carries over the last three years. That’s a lot of tread off the tires and Murray has battled an array of injuries throughout his career playing 16 games only once. It’s not as if we can predict injuries but we can glean some things from a players history so missing a game or two or three is never out of the question when evaluating Murray. Let’s just say that Cobb sits behind two backs that have taken a lot of abuse in recent seasons and that’s not a terrible place to be. There is also the possibility that the Titans are able to ship Cobb to a RB-needy team like the Miami Dolphins or San Diego Chargers which could boost his fantasy value.
Dynasty league owners should not give up on Cobb just yet as there are scenarios in which he can still be a fantasy factor. While he can be avoided in redraft leagues (unless they have huge rosters) make sure to keep his name at the top of waiver wire options should anything happen to Murray or Henry.
Kendall Wright, WR, TENNESSEE TITANS
We stick with the Titans here as I see this as an ascending offensive unit heading into the 2016 season. They have a talented young QB in Marcus Mariota who should continue to improve in his second season. The Titans also have the opportunity to field a staunch running game with a stacked backfield. They also have one of the premier players at the TE position in Delanie Walker who will help Mariota take the next step. Which brings us to the WR corps.
Much off the offseason chatter has centered around the acquisition of Rishard Matthews who is coming off a career year as well as the expectations for second year WR Dorial Green-Beckham. There hasn’t been a lot of buzz surrounding Kendall Wright as he enters his fifth NFL campaign. It’s not surprising considering that Wright has been a disappointment over the past two seasons missing eight games due to injury and totaling only 93 receptions in that time. When you consider that back in 2013, Wright posted top-20 numbers in PPR scoring hauling in 94 passes for over 1,000 receiving yards it’s particularly frustrating for anyone that owned him in 2014 or 2015.
There is a silver lining as Wright did manage to post six receiving touchdowns in 2014 despite missing a pair of games and catching passes from the terrible trio of Zach Mettenberger, Charlie Whitehurst and Jake Locker. In fact Wright has caught nine touchdowns in the last two injury-marred seasons after putting up only six in his first two years. It’s too early to give up on a player that will turn 27 in November and has proven he can be productive when healthy.
A recent report by titansonline.com seems to indicate that head coach Mike Mularkey echoes that sentiment. Mularkey recently said Kendall Wright “has potential that still has not been pulled out of him.” He went on to say, “Every offseason you hope that he recognizes that, what his capabilities are, and how bad he wants to see it as much as we do when the season starts.” In a recent Nashville Tennessean report, Mularkey stated that he is “expecting a lot” from Wright. It’s apparent that Wright has the coaches support and will have the opportunity to carve out a role in the passing game.
There have also been reports of late that Green-Beckham is dealing with a hamstring issue and we never like to hear that regarding a WR. Yes, there is plenty of time for the youngster to get back to 100% but these are injuries that tend to linger. Let’s also keep in mind that despite missing six games last year, Wright finished tied for the team lead in receptions by WRs with 36. Wright will have to battle Green-Beckham, Matthews as well as Delanie Walker for targets but does provide the veteran presence and route running skills a young QB covets. His main value lies in PPR formats where he has a ceiling of low-end WR3/flex value. Currently ranked outside the top 50, Wright is absolutely poised to outperform his draft position.