Dynasty Purgatory: Santonio Holmes

A few months ago in his weekly Stock Report, Ryan McDowell broached the concept of roster cloggers.  As Ryan stated, these are the types of players “stuck on the end of your bench who are not actually deserving of a roster spot.”  In these cases, it’s an easy fix:  open up a bottle of Drano and rid your team of any and all obstructions! 

What about players whose roster candidacy isn’t so black and white?  You know, the types of clogs that might loosen up and drift away on their own accord, requiring nothing more than time and patience.  Instead of taking a hardline approach, these are the types of situations where we need to make like EL James and view them in shades of grey.

I’m referring to the players on our rosters who for various reasons are currently devalued, maybe even to the point of benching, but are not worthy of banishment to the waiver wire.  It’s almost as if they exist in a state of “roster purgatory.”  For whatever reason, these players just didn’t have the year(s) we were expecting, but they still carry value and name recognition.  If we were to overzealously drop these guys, they wouldn’t stay unclaimed for long.

Since the off-season is officially upon us, roster evaluation and maintenance moves to the critical forefront of our dynasty ownership obligations.  As such, this is an optimal time to consider those stuck in roster purgatory, and what we should do with them.  In that spirit, this semi-regular column will analyze players with clouded futures, and attempt to clarify and valuate their future prospects.  The second installment of this series will cover wide receiver Santonio Holmes.

Previous Installments

Philip Rivers

The Essentials

Age:  28 (will be 29 before the 2013 season)

Teams:  Pittsburgh Steelers (2006 – 2009), New York Jets (2010 – present)

Years in the NFL:  Seven

Three-Year Statistical Arc


































Holmes was traded to the receiver-deficient Jets following his 2009 season in Pittsburgh, his fourth (and final) year with the Steelers.  While he didn’t enjoy the same success he did in black and gold (no season with fewer than 821 yards), he still managed to account for 21.8% of the Jets’ 3,420 receiving yards, despite missing four games due to suspension.  He also led the team in targets per game, with 7.8.

The low point in Holmes’ career was 2011, as he set career worsts in receiving yards and yards per catch, and recorded only two more receptions than the 49 he had during his rookie season in 2006.  In fact, he had 12.3% fewer receiving yards than in 2010, despite playing in 25% more games.  In 2012, Holmes was on pace for career highs in targets per game (10.3) and receptions (80), and would have had nearly 1,100 receiving yards.  Unfortunately, he suffered a Lisfranc foot injury in week 4, prematurely ending his season.

Reasons to Keep the Faith

1.  The Skills that Pay the Bills:  Lost in Holmes’ many “antics” (covered below) is the fact he’s a very talented receiver.  He is still the same guy who was named most valuable player of Super Bowl XLIII, after catching nine passes for 131 and the game-winning touchdown.  He followed that up by catching 79 passes for 1,248 yards in the 2009 season.  While it hasn’t been seen in the box scores the past few years, Holmes’ talent is undeniable.

2.  Spara-NO!:  The Jets recently fired one-and-done offensive coordinator Tony Sparano, after he “led” the 2012 offense to an aggregate 3,178 passing yards (198.6 per game).  Head coach Rex Ryan has implied his intention to move away from the “ground and pound” offense he’s preferred for the past few years, which could lead to more opportunities for the Jets’ pass catchers.

3.  Dark Mark:  Ironically, to Jets fans, quarterback Mark Sanchez is currently on par with “He Who Must Not Be Named.”  In his four years under center, Sanchez has ranked #23, #16, #15 and #26 in terms of total passing yards, never throwing for more than 3,474 in a single season.  As Larry Fitzgerald can attest to, terrible quarterback play can ruin even a great receiver’s production.  Fortunately, Ryan has guaranteed a “wide open” quarterback competition and hasn’t ruled out improving the position via free agency.

4.  Opportunity Knocks:  Despite missing twelve games last season, Holmes still amazingly had the sixth most receptions on the team.  In fact, receiver Jeremy Kerley (56 receptions) was the only player on the team to catch more than 30 passes.  While rookie speedster Stephen Hill will return healthy, the Jets are likely to lose tight end Dustin Keller to free agency.  When Holmes returns in 2013, it will likely be as the team’s top target.

5.  What Have You Done for Me Lately?:  As mentioned above, Holmes was on track for his best season since 2009 before he was injured last year, despite the shoddy quarterback play.  Turning 29 in March, Holmes should still have a few years of potential high-end WR2 production remaining.

Reasons to Abandon Ship

1.  Child’s Play:  I first addressed Holmes’ petulance in my piece about Players We Despise.  Some of his transgressions include badmouthing teammates to the media and also dogging it on the field to the point where he was benched at the end of a close 2011 clash against Miami.  In fact, despite being selected in the first round, Holmes was traded to the Jets for a measly fifth round pick, as the Steelers were sick of his attitude.

2.  Siren’s Song:  In addition to his childish antics, Holmes has also had a few run-ins with the law.  These include drug charges and allegations of domestic assault, which were dropped.  Also, while not a criminal matter, Holmes has been accused of accepting money from an agent while he was in college, which is a clear violation of NCAA rules.  Suffice it to say, due to questions concerning his character, attempts to acquire Holmes are not devoid of risk.

3.  Hollow Man:  Despite his talent, Holmes’ game has holes that potentially preclude him from achieving fantasy stardom.  He has never caught more than 79 passes in a season and averages fewer than four receptions per game for his career, tanking his value in PPR leagues.  He’s also never scored more than eight times in a season, and has averaged only one touchdown per every 2.6 games during his career.

4.  The Shallow End:  Known primarily as a deep threat during his time with the Steelers, Holmes has seen his yards-per-catch average plummet since joining the Jets.  On the aggregate, since switching teams this average has dropped by a full 2.7 yards (16.3 versus 13.6).  This can be directly attributed to downgrading from cannon-armed Ben Roethlisberger to Sanchez’ popgun.  While Rex Ryan has vowed an open quarterback competition, there are no guarantees that Holmes won’t be saddled with Sanchez for one more season.

5.  Signed, Sealed and Delivered:  Holmes signed his most recent contract before the 2011 season, potentially locking him in a Jets uniform through 2015 (guaranteed money through 2013).  This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as long as the Jets pursue improvement at quarterback.  Unfortunately, it’s been getting tougher and tougher to take Rex Ryan at his word.  If the Jets remain run-heavy and don’t receive upgraded play under center, Holmes could be stuck in a fantasy black hole through his age-31 season.

Conclusion and Recommendation

Holmes is a tantalizing talent, but the numerous red flags detailed above are clearly torpedoing his dynasty prospects.  In fact, in several DLF startup mock drafts currently taking place, Holmes is routinely being drafted outside of the top 50 receivers.  Looking at his recent numbers combined with the risk factors, it’s truthfully not hard to understand.

However, we dynasty owners pride ourselves on being a forward-thinking bunch, always trying to stay one step ahead of the game.  When I see a player like Holmes whose prior production (with competent quarterback play) doesn’t align with his current ADP and trade value, I want to pounce for the right price.  On the field, Holmes should be at that theoretical point in his career where his talent and experience mesh perfectly to maximize production.

Therefore, the suggestion here is to send out a lowball offer for Holmes, especially in non-PPR leagues or leagues in which the scoring system is more yardage-centric.  Even if you are rebuffed initially, there’s a good chance that after a little haggling, the Holmes owner will be willing to deal a guy he probably doesn’t like all that much.  Correspondingly, Holmes’ owners should sit tight and avoid the desire to give up on the guy.  If he lives up to his potential and lets his on-field play do the talking (instead of his mouth for a change), he could easily settle in as your WR2 or WR3 for the foreseeable future.

Follow me on Twitter @EDH_27

Eric Hardter

Eric Hardter

Senior Writer at Dynasty League Football
Eric is a Boston College chemistry grad school survivor with a minor in dynasty football, as well as the DLF Mailman and Podcast analyst.He prefers to utilize both statistics and sarcasm whenever possible, believes in process over results and thinks "Hot Takes" are the scourge of the fantasy landscape.

You can find his (typically strong and hopefully reasonable) opinions on Twitter at@EDH_27.
Eric Hardter

Latest posts by Eric Hardter (see all)



  1. Wesley Wood

    January 14, 2013 at 6:36 am

    I play in a 12 team PPR league and the owner of Holmes dropped him after he got injured. I pick him up for pocket change out of free agency and am happy was/am happy to stash him till next season. Can’t pass up a free starter like that.

    • BAMNation

      January 16, 2013 at 3:23 am

      same here and placed him on IR to not impact my roster…

  2. luke deighton

    January 14, 2013 at 6:04 pm

    Gotta love having the first two players spotlighted in dynasty purgatory on the same 32 teamer

    Gonna be a great series but!

  3. Vince Barkman

    January 14, 2013 at 6:26 pm

    I managed to acquire him for a 2nd round pick in 2013 after he was hurt. I think it was a pick well spent.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

To Top