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Second and Third Year Player Development: Week Six

In this weekly column, I explore some young players who haven’t made much of a consistent impact to date. Some players may be available on your waiver wire, some may be available via a cheap or moderate trade. Acquiring any of these players could decide how well your dynasty or keeper team does for the next few years.

Jeremy Kerley, WR NYJ

This second year wide receiver out of TCU was known more as a return specialist than a number one target on an NFL team before this season. Injuries to Santonio Holmes (injured reserve) and Dustin Keller (nagging hamstring) suddenly have thrust him into the spotlight on one of the biggest stages aka The Big Apple with Tim Tebow, Rex Ryan and the gang.

Kerley is a diminutive 5′ 9″ 188 pounds who only ran a 4.59 40 time at the combine. That has not stopped him from making an impact this season with 18 receptions for 315 yards and two touchdowns with 29 targets after five games. I know it is easy to say, but he has a bit of Carolina’s Steve Smith in him. He has the same type of swagger and is fearless running down the middle of the field while playing bigger than his size.

This former horned frog receiver is a very fluid receiver and uses his quick hips to get in and out of breaks. He used his time as a returner to get proficient at making people miss. Against the Colts, he was targeted early, but was over thrown by Mark Sanchez. A few players later, he ran behind the line of scrimmage for a nice pick play that gave him a free release which let him go up the field untouched for a nine yard gain. The Jets tend to throw him the ball in the flat then let his quickness take over evading would be tacklers. He was targeted six times against the Colts with three receptions for 24 yards. This lack of targets was more a result of the efficiency of the Jets running game and being up three scores in the second half.

I value him as a WR3 or WR4 this season as his touches are very game plan dependent. Hopefully next season, the Jets will find a true WR1 to occupy defenses so he can work underneath. Kerley has the talent to become a great WR3 or flex option that may grow into a WR2 with the right offensive coordinator.

Denarius Moore, WR OAK

Now many of you will say, “hey Denarius Moore” doesn’t belong on this list. I wish that were true, but as an owner who can’t trust him week-to-week, I disagree. Let’s face facts, he is extremely inconsistent and that aggravates the heck out of many of his current owners. Moore has all the talent in the world and a quarterback that supposedly loves him in Carson Palmer. I’m excited about his five receptions, 104 yards and a touchdown on nine targets against the Falcons. Hopefully this is a trend as he isn’t putting up those kind of numbers each week. This is demonstrated by his 17 catches for 287 yards and two touchdowns after five games with 35 targets.

Moore’s first catch against those Falcons was a beautiful 49 yard sideline bucket grab. He shielded the ball away from the defender and used his hands to cradle the ball while tapping his toes just inside the line. Later on, Moore used his elite quickness and vision while ducking a clothesline tackle and escaped for a 25 yard touchdown. I am, at times, reminded of the Predator alien when I watch him play. He glides effortlessly across the field with almost chameleon like adaptability. If Palmer was more on target, he would have caught an additional two passes for another 40+ yards.

It looked like disaster struck when Asante Samuel knocked him down with a helmet to helmet hit in the fourth quarter. Showing grit, Moore held onto the ball and jumped back on the gridiron two plays later . Not even Samuel’s 79 yard interception return for a touchdown, a pass that would have went for a Moore touchdown, would break him. He kept on making plays with a nice sideline reception at the two minute warning to keep the Raiders in the game.

Moore takes pride in his run blocking as he usually takes out the first defender and attempts to move on to knock down the next man. His crisp route running is very effective while running crossing patterns as these help him slip the defensive back and turn downfield. If he had more consistency, Moore would be a WR2 with the possibility of a WR1 in a dynasty league. At this time, he is more of a WR3 with the upside as a WR1.5. However, do not buy him after a great game. Wait and trade for him on his next uninspiring three catches for 35 yard week.

Jacquizz Rodgers, RB ATL

Coming out of Oregon State last year, many pundits showed excitement about this fireplug running back, but the resurgence of Michael Turner has prevented any meaningful playing time. He has been unfairly compared to the likes of Ray Rice, MJD and Darren Sproles. Unlike those running backs, he isn’t as thick, sudden, or heavy legged as they are. Rodgers is more of a finesse runner which works against him as the Falcons offensive line is adept at power based blocking for Turner.

Rodgers works better in space as he can make the first guy miss. On both of his rushing attempts against Oakland, he was pinned down for a total of minus two yards. This is partly due to the defense knowing that he was getting the ball and that he did not have space to make people miss with bodies at his feet. Through the first six games, he has 77 yards on 31 carries which doesn’t bode well for him as an inside runner.

The passing game is another matter. Rodgers bailed out Matt Ryan a couple of times catching three passes for 21 yards on four targets against the Raiders. He was explosive, kept his legs churning, and used a good spin move to gain extra yardage. As a pass blocker, he does a good job stepping into pass rushers and delivering a punch. With his limited playing time, his lack of concentration was clear when he dropped a screen pass that should have gone for a 20 yard gain. On the last drive, he was used in place of Turner and was one of the reasons that the Falcons were able to make the game winning kick.

I was hoping he would be a bigger factor this year. It’s looking more like he is a RB4 or RB5 this year that may grow into an RB3 once Turner is out of Atlanta (hopefully next season). Rodgers’ struggles with hard-nosed short yardage work is discouraging which may lead to a time share wherever he plays. I have my reservations that he will ever become a full-time fantasy back with his lack of size and inside running concerns like Houston’s Justin Forsett.

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9 years ago

I’m with you on Quizz. And RB3s are a dime a dozen really. I’m pretty sure I’d have him on the low end of RB3s. He just isn’t really elusive enough to overcome his other physical disadvantages. My bet is he gets sort of the Leon Washington treatment – very few carries and returning Ks. I think ATL is in serious need of a legit feature back. That could be a very juicy rookie pick next year.

Phil Phipps
9 years ago

Picked up Kerley and a 2013 1st for Greg Jennings, feeling even better after reading that….

Travis Schneweis
9 years ago

What do you think of Jermichael Finley vs. Martellus Bennett’s Dynasty outlook now that we are a few weeks into the season? I have the opportunity to trade one of them to an owner that just lost Fred Davis for the season. I was thinking about pairing either Finley or Bennett with Dez Bryant to land A.J. Green. What are your thoughts on that? All opinions are welcome.

Thanks!

Matthew Russo
Reply to  Travis Schneweis
9 years ago

Hey Travis,

If you can put together a package based on Finley and get A.J. Green in return you should do that asap. I traded for Finley in the off season and so far this year he’s been a dog and called out the best QB in the game (Rodgers) saying “it takes two”. I’m down on Finley big time,

Matt

Travis Schneweis
Reply to  Matthew Russo
9 years ago

ya, i can’t decide on Finley. He is a freak athlete, but you can’t call out your QB like that.

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