Yeah, I know. It’s definitely April, and it’s definitely the third week of free agency when we’re finding reasons to be worried about Julian Edelman. But underestimating the importance of the seemingly more minor offseason shuffling can lead to overlooking fantasy value mining opportunities, and therefore also chances to make your friends, family, and pastor look foolish. Don’t ever do that.
That brings us to the tale of Julian Edelman. You know him as a Patriot, because he’s only ever been a Patriot. You also know him mostly as a kick returner, because that was his primary role until this past season when he started to receive more targets, taking them away from Wes Welker. Of course, that happened before he suffered multiple injuries which resulted in eight missed games, with his season eventually ending in Week 13 due to a fractured foot.
Still, there was deep, and therefore cheap flex value to be found with our boy Edelman. While playing in just half a season, he posted three games with 50 or more receiving yards, a total he had eclipsed just once since 2009. Most importantly for flexing fun, he scored three times, meaning all but one of his four career touchdowns came during the 2012 season. In leagues that count kick return stats, he brings some added tasty gravy there, as Edelman also had a punt return score.
He’s a free agent now, and if we assume he’s healthy for training camp — and there’s no indication his foot won’t be healed — the soon-to-be 27-year-old could quickly continue his ascent. All he has to do is, you know, re-sign, and bow to the Patriot way. The Pats signed Danny Amendola to be the new Welker, and therefore Edelman has lost his slot role. But beyond Amendola, there’s a whole lot of meh on the Patriots’ wide receiver depth chart between Donald Jones and Michael Jenkins, the latter being slower than molasses drenched in oil.
There’s an opportunity for growth in New England then, especially with the frequent use of spread formations. And Edelman may be about to walk away from that, while also robbing us of a stealth waiver wire play, and a chance to make other people look stupid.
Edelman visited with the Giants yesterday, according to USA Today’s Mike Garafolo. It’s a location where he’d be drained of receiving opportunities again while being reduced to a punt returner. I’m making an assumption there: that one Victor Cruz re-signs at some point this summer. In that little setup, Edelman would be firmly behind Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, and likely also Reuben Randle while fighting for snaps with recently-acquired Louis Murphy. He’d be depth, the kind of depth that replaces Ramses Barden. And he’d be reduced to an afterthought again while losing any shred of the ascending fantasy value he gained with the Patriots’ offseason moves.
Lamenting about Julian Edelman is the epitome of reaching. But whether it’s during the draft in deep leagues, or in-season on the wire, we need fantasy football reaching opportunities, because guys fall down and bones break. And dare I say it, but if the stars continue to align in the proper formation, Edelman could easily have sleeper status in New England. Don’t do us like this, Julian.