Archive for the ‘Wes Welker’ Category

It’s with great hesitancy that we’re proclaiming in late January that Wes Welker will be available for hire on the open market in two months. That’s a lot of days, hours, and minutes for both the player and the Patriots’ front office to contemplate their next move.

But here’s a number which doesn’t bode well for Welker’s future in New England: $11.4 million.

That’s how much it will cost to use a franchise tag on him for the second straight year after he was franchised last spring, and then delayed signing his tender until the middle of the summer. He played this year under a fully guaranteed $9.5 million contract, and now the increased value of the tag is a hefty chunk of cap space to dedicate to a receiver who will blow out 32 candles on a birthday cake with rainbow sprinkles during this offseason. That age is also why New England has shown little desire to commit to Welker long term, despite his consistently stupid numbers.

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Here's Welker's position coach. This explains everything.

Shhhhh, don’t tell anyone.

What could possibly be worth some brief words on Wes Welker? He was great. He’s always been great. He’s the greatest there ever was and the greatest there ever will be.

Well, sure. He was pretty good during the regular season this year. He had 1,354 receiving yards with six touchdowns, and that yardage easily led all Patriots pass catchers.

Cool, but there was also this…

Now, the reaction here is to point to Welker’s high number of targets, and as we saw last year with Roddy White, there seems to be a correlation of some kind between the amount of times a receiver is asked to catch a ball, and the amount of times he then drops said ball. Crazy, yes.

And sure, Welker was indeed targeted often, finishing with 174 targets according to ESPN. But that puts him in fourth, behind Brandon Marshall, Reggie Wayne, and Calvin Johnson. It’s not close either, as Welker was 20 targets behind both Wayne and Marshall, and 31 behind Johnson. His target volume didn’t significantly increase over last year either, as Tom Brady threw his way 172 times in 2011.

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Internal competition, injuries, and bitterness over contract disputes all come into play in this week’s edition of Fantasy Insomnia as we search for deep sleepers you’ll want on your watch list…

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You’ll quickly notice a theme in this week’s Sunday preview. No, not depression over the demise of Jelena. I’ve tried to suppress that, and carry on. Life, it’s not easy.

Something else will become obvious quickly. The common theme is a Patriot, a charging Buffalo, and a fantasy. That’s not a description of your dream last night in which you saved the scantily-clad damsel on the charging Buffalo ridden by a crazed Patriot.

Actually, what follows may be disappointing by comparison.

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Wes Welker led the NFL in receptions last year, and it wasn’t close. He had 1,569 receiving yards — putting him behind only Calvin Johnson in that category — and while that’s a pretty sexy number, for fantasy purposes the far more appealing crooked figures were those 122 receptions, which placed him well ahead of Roddy White, who was second with 100.

The fantasy points lie in the yardage, and the resulting touchdowns (Welker scored nine times in 2011), but in our game which provides so very few avenues for security, and even fewer assurances that production won’t fade, Welker’s exceedingly high volume of targets and receptions gave that feeling of safety.

Sure, we knew that with the Patriots increasingly shifting their focus in the passing game to Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski, Welker’s numbers could suffer slightly. But the assumption — or at least my assumption that’s still not necessarily incorrect — was that the tight end shift alone wouldn’t be enough by itself to lower Welker’s value over the course of an entire season. His slot skills and abilities as a small, shifty receiver are too unique, and Welker was still able to lead the league in receptions while Gronk busted records last year, and the two TEs had 2,237 receiving yards combined.

So we’ve already seen that the Patriots’ tight end dominance alone has a negligible impact on Welker’s production. But combine Gronk and Hernandez with the introduction of Brandon Lloyd, and what happens? Week 1 of that experiment produced a volcano of suck.

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