Fantasy Football: Eric Decker, The Jets, And The Infinite Sadness

Eric Decker
Eric Decker
Matthew Emmons USA TODAY Sports

I asked last month why everyone hated Eric Decker, fantasy football’s ninth highest scoring wide receiver in 2013.

Decker, who on Thursday inked a five-year deal with the New York Jets, is still un-hateable in a vacuum. In New York, however, he’s more than hateable.

This deal is as bad for Decker’s fantasy prospects as it is good for his big, fat checking account. He’s now trapped in a conservative (bad) offense with a second-year quarterback who looked horrendous for much of 2013, and he’ll have six games against Darrelle Revis, Brent Grimes, and Leodis McKelvin (or Stephon Gilmore).

Those three cornerbacks were Pro Football Focus’s No. 1, 2, and 17 corners in 2013, respectively. Decker would go from facing No. 2 and 3 cornerbacks in Peyton’s Perfect Machine to possibly being shadowed by a trio of the league’s most fearsome cover guys. He’d also (presumably) square off against every defense’s top corner.

Only the Bucs passed for fewer yards than the Jets in 2013, as New York didn’t even sniff 200 aerial yards per contest. Peyton Manning had almost as many completions as Geno Smith had attempts.

It’s really the worst of all worlds.

Unless, of course, you factor in the impact of becoming a team’s No. 1 pass-catching option, instead of second or third in the pecking order. There are some aspects of this signing that the value-seeking fantasy owner should note before placing Decker into their Do Not Draft bin for 2014.

Decker comes to an offense that saw a regular cavalry of replacement level wide receivers — including Greg Salas, Clyde Gates, and a gimpy Santonio Holmes — take almost 2,000 total snaps. The top Gang Green receiver, Jeremy Kerley, saw 63 targets, which ranked 70th. Even the woeful Vincent Brown had more looks in 2013.

The hope, fantasy wise, is that Decker goes from an efficient machine or a red zone threat — posting top-10 numbers while seeing the 19th most receiver targets — to the complete opposite: a target glutton whose numbers are artificially inflated by our good old friend, volume.

I’m not comparing the following receivers to Decker or his new situation in New York, but massive jumps in target volume have done wonders for guys like Pierre Garcon, Stevie Johnson, and Brandon Lloyd. You don’t have to be a dominant force if you’re being force fed the pigskin at every turn.

We’ve learned that lesson before, and I think there’s a decent chance we’ll learn it again with Decker in 2014. The Jets would first have to move away from the ball-control offense they stuck to last year. A Michael Vick signing might do just that.

RotoViz’s fantasy points over par (FPOP) — a great measure of efficiency — tells a hopeful story about Decker’s production. Decker posted a hefty .31 FPOP per target during the 2013 season, right in line with his career FPOP of .30. Calvin Johnson’s 2013 FPOP was .33, though that has a lot to do with the massive amount of defensive attention Megatron sees without any viable receivers in Detroit, while Decker often gets single coverage.

Dez Bryant finished 2013 with an FPOP per target of .16. Larry Fitzgerald posted an FPOP of .08. Andre Johnson finished at -0.01.

Everyone is a value sometime, and I don’t see Decker’s current average draft position (ADP) of WR24 inching up anytime soon. That ADP, in fact, is a safe bet to drop, and maybe precipitously over the next few months. I’m a buyer if Decker drops into the 30s, where I think he can offer some fantasy equity.

Otherwise, I’m out of the Decker business.

author avatar
C.D. Carter Fantasy Football Analyst
C.D. Carter is a reporter, author of zombie stories, writer for The Fake Football and XN Sports. Fantasy Sports Writers Association member. His work  has been featured in the New York Times.