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Price Check: Jordan Cameron

Jordan_Cameron

Talk about skyrocketing value. Jordan Cameron’s ADP and trade value have ballooned over the last few weeks. He’s gone from a player commonly ranked around the 20th to 25th tight end to a guy comfortably slated in the 10th to 15th range. The rise is mostly due to recent comments from the Browns’ coaching staff that have led fantasy owners to speculate about Cameron’s ceiling given his athletic ability, as well the Browns’ new offensive scheme under head coach Rob Chudzinski.

Specifically, Coach Chudzinski recently spoke about the Browns’ new offense stating, “This is an offense that has featured tight ends and tight ends have always been a big part of it. [Cameron] has the skill set that fits.”

The offensive scheme that both Chudzinski and new offensive coordinator Norv Turner run is very favorable to tight ends. Historically, it highlighted the skills and facilitated premium production from players like Tony Gonzalez, Greg Olsen, Kellen Winslow and Antonio Gates.

Based on this, Cameron’s situation and fantasy prospects are trending upward.  The rise in value doesn’t come without its skeptics, though. Some suggest to cash in on an “inflated” value speculating that Cameron is not likely to meet lofty expectations. I believe he’s worth every bit of the price he currently commands and may even still be a bargain given his upside.

Here’s why:

The Continued Hybrid Tight End Trend

Thanks to the likes of Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski, pass catching tight ends continue to become fixtures of NFL offenses. A wide receiver in a tight end’s body is gold. The ability to create mismatches across the middle against linebackers who are unable to keep up and safeties who can’t compete from a size perspective is invaluable – it creates another dimension for teams. Offenses continue to exploit this and, in turn, this type of player is a prime target for dynasty owners.

In particular, tight ends with a basketball background are the best candidates to fit the mold of a ‘move tight-end’ given their natural explosiveness and size/speed combination. Cameron is just that. He’s a former college basketball player who is extremely athletic. Given his background and ability, he’s a solid candidate to follow in the path of other former basketball players like Antonio Gates and Jimmy Graham within this offense.

Athleticism / Measurables

Cameron has all the measurables to succeed as a pass catching tight end. With the aforementioned basketball background, he possesses the athleticism and explosiveness required. In particular, his numbers compare favorably to some of the more athletic tight ends in NFL history:

Player

HT

WT

40 time

Vertical

Broad

3 cone

Jordan Cameron

6’5″

254

4.53

37.5

9’11”

6.82

Jimmy Graham

6’6″

260

4.56

38.5

12’0″

6.9

Rob Gronkowski

6’6″

258

4.68

33.5

9’11”

7.18

Kyle Rudolph

6’6″

259

4.83

34.5

9’5″

7.24

Jason Witten

6’6″

264

4.65

31

NA

NA

Jermichael Finley

6’4″

243

4.82

27.5

9’9″

7.15

Aaron Hernandez

6’2″

245

4.64

33

9’3″

6.83

Note (1): The above is based on combine/pro day performances. However, the information for Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates is not readily available and not included.

There are a few things to highlight in the above:

  • Other than Graham, Cameron is the most explosive (broad / vertical)
  • Cameron is the fastest (40 time)
  • Cameron exhibited the most agility/quickness (3 cone)
  • Cameron most closely compares to Graham, Gronkowski, and Rudolph from a size perspective
  • Cameron’s numbers compare favorably to Gronkowski’s and Rudolph’s

Cameron’s measurables are there and are a positive indicator given the above comparison.

Opportunity

Cameron also has an opportunity for significant snaps in 2013 after the Browns decided not to add a significant tight end via the NFL Draft or free agency. The speculation throughout the off-season was they would, but the only competition added was Kellen Davis and Gary Barnidge. While Barnidge played with Chudzinski in Carolina last season suggesting he may favor his skills, the lack of meaningful adds at tight end is sign of confidence in Cameron for 2013.

Tight End Friendly Offense                 

As mentioned earlier, the Browns’ new offense is extremely favorable to tight ends. Specifically, the offensive scheme is a vertical offense that feeds off of the tight end working the middle of the field via seam and crossing routes. These are perfect routes for a hybrid tight end to exploit.

Here is the historical tight end production under Chudzinski/Turner with this scheme:

Player

Year

Coach

Team

G

Targets

Rec

Rec Yards

TDs

% Team Targets*

Antonio Gates

2009

Turner / Chudzinski

SD

16

114

79

1157

8

22%

Antonio Gates

2010

Turner / Chudzinski

SD

10

65

50

782

10

17%

Antonio Gates

2006

Chudzinski

SD

16

114

71

924

9

24%

Antonio Gates

2005

Chudzinski

SD

15

140

89

1101

10

27%

Greg Olsen

2012

Chudzinski

CAR

16

104

69

843

5

21%

Kellen Winslow

2007

Chudzinski

CLE

16

148

82

1106

5

27%

Kellen Winslow

2008

Chudzinski

CLE

10

82

43

428

3

26%

* For seasons with less than 16 games, attempts in games the player participated in were used.

It’s apparent the tight end in this offense receives roughly 20% of the team’s targets (if not more) – that’s a staggering number in the context of the entire league. In 2012, only four tight ends breached the 20% threshold (Graham, Jason Witten, Greg Olsen, and Gonzalez). The average across the league was 15% with 22% being the maximum. In addition, all the listed players above finished within the top eight tight ends for fantasy purposes in both average points per game and total points.

With Cameron set to be a starter, it’s reasonable to expect a high volume of targets and catches meaning significant potential beginning in 2013.

2013 Projection

In the interest of evaluating what the direct implications of the above may be to Cameron in 2013, let’s sketch out a rough projection. Based on the above, assuming 20% of the team’s targets and making conservative assumptions here is where we can expect:

Overal Team Pass Attempts: 550 attemptsDAD4Madi01

Targets: 110 targets

Catches: 66 receptions

Yards: 726 yards

TD: 4

Fantasy Points: 163

2012 Fantasy Finish: Top 12 in PPG and total points

Note the following assumptions:

  • Pass attempts are based on the average pass attempts for NFL teams in 2012. This is also consistent with the Browns’ attempts of 566 in 2012.
  • Catch % assumed is 60%. This is consistent with Cameron’s 65% in 2012
  • YPC assumed to be 11 yards which is consistent with Cameron’s 2012 performance, but lower than the YPC typically for tight ends in this offensive scheme

If his targets reach 25%, we could be looking at a top seven finish on a PPG basis with over 900 yards receiving. That leaves a range of roughly 65 to 80 receptions and 725 to 900 yards receiving.

Given the conservative assumptions in the above, it would appear that a top 12 finish is a baseline for Cameron in 2013. There is tremendous potential here.

Summary

While some suggest that there is pure hype surrounding Cameron, given the historical performance of tight ends in this scheme, as well as Cameron’s athletic ability, he is worth the price.

It’s not a stretch to suggest he’ll finish in the top ten in 2013.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @SteveWyremski

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17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. Eric Hardter

    May 19, 2013 at 6:59 am

    The measurables are all there, but it’s the production that worries me. At USC, Cameron only caught 16 total passes. Thus far in the pros, he’s only tallied 26 receptions in two years. His rapid off-season ascension is due solely to situation.

    I respect Steve’s track record (just read his previous articles for evidence) for predicting breakouts, but if I owned Cameron I’d be selling right now. Too many question marks for me.

    • Chris_R

      May 19, 2013 at 7:36 am

      Jimmy Graham never caught the ball at Miami either, sometimes it’s all about projections. What had he shown in College to make him a sure thing? I’m buying anywhere I can. His price isn’t that high because he’s still cheaper then getting Eifert in the late 1st and he should out produce the rookie this year. I think you are rolling the dice a bit much if you are trying to start him but if you have Antonio Gates, Tony G, Witten, or a mid level TE like Keller or Pitta I think Cameron provides enough upside on the bench to gamble on.

      Most of these TE’s are raw, former basketball players who have little to no College production, but if the coaching staff has this confidence in him knowing they plan on utilizing the TE that’s pretty telling.

      • Eric Hardter

        May 19, 2013 at 7:42 am

        That’s a fair point, but I’d say Graham showed a bit more than Cameron in his first two years in the league.

        My other fear is that Chud/Turner want to focus on a deep-ball attack in regards to the TE position. However, his career YPC average stands at 10.0, and he’s still only caught 20 of 39 passes, good for 51.3%. You could argue “look at the QB play,” but really, will it get significantly better?

        With the presences of Gordon/Little/Bess and T-Rich siphoning receptions, I just don’t see the production matching the hype. Maybe I’ll be wrong, but it’s not a gamble I want to take.

        • Eric Hardter

          May 19, 2013 at 7:44 am

          Clarification…51.3% is from this past year. Career catch percentage is 50%.

          • Steve Wyremski

            May 19, 2013 at 10:36 am

            I see 64.5% (20 of 31) for 2012 in PFF’s stats (I see that’s different from MFL’s) – not sure which of the two is most accurate but I know PFF has a count / audit process.

            RE: production – I get that, but Gates, for example, didn’t play college football and only played high school football. Graham (as the previous poster mentioned) didn’t have the college production either. It’s something to take note of, I agree, but I don’t think that’s a reason to write him off.

            Why the YPC doesn’t concern me is because that may have been a function of the current offense. With this new offense, the focus is much longer plays down the seam for a TE. I would expect his YPC to increase.

            Separately, I think the rapid increase in value is due to a bit more than situation. It was known out of college that Cameron was going to need time to develop due to his lack of college production and basketball background. Many were still high on him because of the measurables at the time.

            Despite that Gates/Graham broke out in year 2, a similar thing that happened with both Graham and Gates in that they needed time.

  2. mikey b

    May 19, 2013 at 8:22 am

    Nice work Steve! This guy is a free agent in our league and will be available come draft day. He’s one of the guys on my targets list. The TE in our league is a vital scoring position and I just dealt Witten away. I’m lacking here now but came out with Lynch so I have no regrets there. Where do you think is a good spot to land this guy? Not sure how the other owners would value him either. The caveat is you can only have 3 starting TE’s on your roster and I have 2. There are 5 teams (including mine) that have room to snag him for there 3rd starter. I think he’s the best available non rookie TE and believe he has what it takes to break out. He has the things that can’t be taught like size, speed and ups which are crucial for TE’s these days. Look forward to hear what you have to say, thanks!

  3. Matt Peach

    May 19, 2013 at 9:24 am

    Good article. He’s available in my dynasty rookie draft. Is early second round too early to insure I get him?

    • Steve Wyremski

      May 19, 2013 at 10:24 am

      I’d be comfortable taking him at that spot.

      I’ve offered two 2014 seconds (which are likely to be high next year). That’s about equivalent to an early second this year in my eyes.

      • Eric Kassor

        May 19, 2013 at 10:54 am

        Wow 2 2014 seconds, I think you now own some Cameron.

        • Steve Wyremski

          May 19, 2013 at 11:01 am

          Nope! Was rejected.

          I owned him in a majority of my leagues, but the few I didnt – still try to purchase now and have been unsuccessful thus far. I’m just going to have to up the ante.

  4. Derek Kirby

    May 19, 2013 at 10:46 am

    Do you like him better than Ladarius Greene or Rod Housler? I own Graham in 2 leagues and Rudolph in 1, but I’m looking to find that top 10 #2 ! ( I’m greedy) never know when you may need them! Also, Im eyeing Jordan Reed-Wash too, think he fell Into a perfect long term situation! Thoughts?

  5. Eric Kassor

    May 19, 2013 at 10:52 am

    Couple the depth at TE with his lack of production over 1st 2 years thus far and I’m not all that excited about Cameron. If his measureables matched his talent he surely would have found a more prominent role in the offense last year.

    Are you guys doing a series on players where your picks deviate from the pack? For instance I saw Chad Scott make an argument for Pead recently. Not sure I’m on the train but its good to see you guys out there taking a stance.

    • Steve Wyremski

      May 19, 2013 at 11:22 am

      Yes, Chad Scott is doing a periodical article on rankings outliers.

    • Josh

      May 20, 2013 at 2:06 am

      You underestimate the terrible coaching of Shurmer and his archaic offense.

  6. Ray

    May 19, 2013 at 7:32 pm

    This article simply confirms I will take Eifert at 1.7

    THX!!

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