I am sure you know by now why Roger Lewis is a hot name in our game. Odell Beckham Jr., Brandon Marshall, Sterling Shepard, and Dwayne Harris all left the New York Giants Week 5 game due to injury. Lewis was literally the only healthy wide receiver remaining by the end of the game. Some were more serious than others – Harris has already been ruled out for the season and Beckham may not be far behind. Brandon Marshall and Sterling Shepard’s injuries are not as dire, but since Shepard is a re-aggravation of an August injury it would be best to prepare as if his absence will be multiple weeks. Marshall? Well, the 33 year-old has managed just one touchdown with no games over 70 yards since this time last year. Even if he returns healthy relatively soon, especially given the current state of the 0-5 Giants, opportunities to young players will be prioritized. All of that leads us to how owner’s should address Lewis on waivers this week. Unfortunately, it’s not a simple answer..
No undrafted free agent is alike, but Lewis has common traits to many of them. He has off the field baggage — scary off the field baggage. He isn’t a freakish talent, those ones usually get drafted despite baggage, but his tape and college production were consistently strong enough that he was in the discussion to be drafted anyway. Most importantly, he was extremely raw in regards to his actual play at the wide receiver position. This was ultimately his deal breaker draft day – he consistently made big plays down field, but outside of the 2-3 deep routes he ran, he was usually just tasked with bubble screens. Such a limited arsenal can be productive in college, but it’s difficult to translate to the pros.
Despite the limitations, he turned heads early in camp 2016 and provided enough periodic splash plays throughout August to stick around (unlike most undrafted free agents) and it was really only due to one skill – ball skills. Ball skills can be taught, but they’re more instinctual than anything. They’re a case of you either having them or not and Lewis has them. They were on display on his touchdown Week 5:
Most of the highlights you will find prior to this one look fairly similar too. They don’t look like anything special, they look very natural, but that’s a good thing. He consistently beats his opponent one-on-one in tight situations, 50/50 balls seem to be that new buzz word. They’re not 50/50 balls for Lewis because he wins so often.
Those skills are great in small doses as a role player. Thing is, now he may be tasked with being one of the feature receivers. If he’s going to be a fantasy asset down the stretch then he needs to show more. What he’s shown so far in the pros isn’t a whole lot different than what he showed as an amateur. Does he have more weapons developed for deployment? Usually I come from an add now, ask questions later point of view, but in Lewis’ case – look at his upcoming schedule:
Week 6: At Denver
Week 7: vs. Seattle
Week 8: BYE
Two of the league’s best defenses and then a bye week? If you are in the market for Lewis you cannot consider using him until November and even then, it’s largely based on how well he performed against two of the defensive Titans of the league. His poor schedule does not minimize his intrigue though. He has already shown he can do one trick very well and he has not shown that’s the extent of his skill set. The next two weeks will be tremendous challenges and even with increased volume he will not be a good start, but his performance will go a long way towards determining his utilization down the stretch. Ultimately, that’s where your sights are with Lewis – November and beyond.
This brings us back to the beginning in this not being a simple answer – the answers are “if-then statements.“ If you are in a deep league then you need to stash him now. If it’s a league that uses an auction budget then you cannot spend it all, but he is worth a significant chunk. If you are in a league that does not reset waiver priority and you’re near the top then you need to pass. If you’re in a league that rewards big plays and not receptions then that answer may be different. And if you are in a shallower league then you need to pass. You’re not passing for good though, it is just for now. Twelve of the league’s 32 teams are on Bye Weeks 8 and 9, so owners will be looking to shed weak links for one week band aids. Unless he produces the next two weeks, and betting odds say he won’t, then there’s a very strong chance he is dropped before Week 8. That’s your buying window; either while he’s on bye or immediately after. Use that roster spot on something else…for now.
This Flavor of the Week is a Green Banana
It isn’t any good right now. It probably won’t be anytime soon either. There’s really no way of knowing if it will be any good once ripened. And the store doesn’t have anything other than green bananas right now. So just leave banana-less and come back another time when the bananas are a bit more yellow.