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I wouldn’t be writing this if Da’Rick Rogers had had a full rookie campaign as a starting wide receiver in the Indianapolis Colts’ offense.
It would all go without saying.
Fantasy footballers, including daily gamers still grinding in the NFL’s postseason, would’ve understood Rogers’ potential months ago had he played anything close to 16 games.
I think Rogers, as the Colts prepare for the Kansas City Chiefs in the first round of the playoffs, will prove a preeminent daily fantasy bargain this week, and perhaps beyond.
The Colts went as far as waiving the 2013 draftnik favorite (6’3″, 209 pounds, and an NFL Combine stud) in September after Rogers failed to make the Bills’ roster in August. Colts’ coaches, after finally re-signing the rookie in October, kept him in the purgatory of the team’s practice squad even after Reggie Wayne’s season-ending injury.
Rogers was finally, at long last, inserted into Indy’s starting lineup in Week 14 against the Bengals. Here’s what he did in four games as a starter opposite T.Y. Hilton.
There’s not a whole lot here outside the Bengals’ game, in which Rogers roasted veteran Adam Jones on a quick slant for a 69-yard score. I think the most hopeful takeaway is that, besides the Week 17 matchup against Jacksonville that saw Hilton featured for the first time in more than a month, Rogers has seen consistent looks from Andrew Luck.
Remember: Rogers toiled away on Indy’s practice squad for most of the 2013 campaign. Whatever chemistry he’s built with Luck has been over the past month. Rogers’ production, in that context, is quite impressive.
Rogers, lest we forget, is a big body with great potential as a red zone threat. It’s simply the nature of big, fast pass catchers. If I’m going to roll the daily gaming dice on a cheap option, I’m going to invest in a guy who could easily turn two of his five or six targets into touchdowns.
What of the playoff matchup against Kansas City? Once an impressive secondary benefiting from the front seven’s consistent pressure on the quarterback, the Chiefs cover guys were brutalized in the season’s second half. Only seven defenses allow more passing yards per game (247.6) than the Chiefs, thanks in part to back-to-back statistical nukes dropped by Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers.
Opponents clearly understand that the Chiefs’ secondary is the team’s soft underbelly, throwing an average of 37 passes against Kansas City — the seventh most in the NFL. Even hardcore Kansas City partisans know their teams’ weakness can be found in the defense’s leaky back end.
The Chiefs’ coverage struggles are reflected in their cornerbacks’ Pro Football Focus ratings. Sean Smith has the unit’s best coverage rating, coming in at 58th out of a qualifying 110 cornerbacks. Marcus Cooper comes in at 77th, and Brandon Flowers an abysmal 96th in coverage. This all speaks well of the prospects of every Colts’ pass catcher this week. It’s gotten quite ugly for that trio.
I’ve been wrong on a Colts’ receiver’s prospects this year. Take that for whatever it’s worth.
Whatever you think of Rogers and his various struggles in his young NFL career, this much is undeniable: he’s carved out a role in Andrew Luck’s offense and he goes against a secondary this week that is, by any definition, borderline woeful.
My most conservative projection for Rogers against the Chiefs is 3.5 receptions for 46.9 yards and .4 touchdowns. That comes out to 10.5 fantasy points in daily fantasy football PPR leagues. Even that safe projection would justify the rookie’s salary on most daily fantasy sites in the first week of the playoffs.
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