We continue our annual 32-part Summer Sleeper series where DLF scribes identify a lightly-touted player on each NFL roster who may be worthy of your consideration. Our subjects all have varying levels of “sleeperness,” but each merits a bit of in-depth discussion here in the Premium Content section.
To help everybody along, we are going to be categorizing our sleepers under one of three headings:
- Super Deep Sleepers – Players who aren’t roster-worthy in 12-team leagues, but are still worth keeping an eye on.
- Deep Sleepers – An end of the roster player who is more often than not on the waiver wire in 12-team leagues.
- Sleeper – A likely rostered player who makes for a good trade target. Their startup ADP puts them out of the top-175 or so.
Because we aren’t going give you the likes of mainstream sleepers like Tyler Lockett or Carlos Hyde, most of these players will undoubtedly fizzle. All we are asking is for you to keep an open mind and perhaps be willing to make room for one of these players on your bench. You never know when the next Willie Snead is going to spring up. Feel free to add your own thoughts about our choice for the designated sleeper, or nominate one of your own in the comments below.
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Cole Wick, TE
Category: Super Deep Sleeper
If you have been playing close attention to training camp buzz across the NFL, there’s probably a decent chance you heard the name Cole Wick coming out of the Detroit Lions camp. You also probably responded the same way I did when first seeing his name arise.
Don’t feel bad about not knowing who Cole Wick is. That is, unless you follow the University of Incarnate Word’s football team (yes, it is a real college in case you were about to google it). So let me dive in and help uncover this mystery man playing tight end in the motor city.
Listed at 6’6’’ 255 lbs, Wick certainly has the size of an NFL tight end. The undrafted rookie became the starter at the University of Incarnate Word his junior year. I know what you’re thinking: “if this guy is getting buzz in training camp, Wick must’ve dominated in college being he went to such a small school.” Well, if this is your inclination, you would be wrong. Between his junior and senior year, Cole Wick tallied a total of 31 catches for 468 yards and three touchdowns. Not exactly eye popping stats. This is in large part due to the fact that Wick was mostly utilized as a blocking tight end. However, it’s still worth noting his stats, considering most NFL prospects from small schools were dominant at their respective colleges.
Fortunately, I was able to find a couple of videos online highlighting Cole Wick’s play at University of Incarnate Word. After watching these videos, I will share with you the things I saw to try and paint a picture of the type of player he is. First, you can see why he was considered a blocking tight end. He is a very willing blocker and shows off the strength he possesses, as several times I saw him absolutely pancake the defender. He doesn’t give up on plays he’s not necessarily involved in either. There were a couple of clips of Wick coming all the way across the field to put a block on one of the defenders even when the run went the opposite side of where he was on the gridiron. However, blocking doesn’t accumulate any fantasy points; so I doubt his blocking skills interest you too much.
The real question is, can he catch? And there were a couple positives I saw in these videos. The biggest thing I liked when watching Wick was that he looked quite natural while catching the football. He seemed to have good hands, and never looked awkward when reeling the ball in. His catch radius is also evident, as there were a couple plays in particular where the quarterback greatly overthrew him, yet Wick was able to high point the ball while in traffic and still come down with the catch. While I wouldn’t say his route running looked like anything special, it did look sufficient enough to where he was able to gain separation from defenders in his routes.
One thing Cole Wick is not, is a burner or field stretcher by any means. In fact, I don’t recall seeing a single catch beyond 20 yards or so. Where he made all his catches was in the short and intermediate routes, especially in the middle of the field. While he was often able to gain a few more yards after the catch, this was another area which proved his speed (or lack thereof). Even in the open field, it rarely took long for him to get caught from behind by defenders. Overall, his hands and and catching ability were what stood out the most to me.
So, is Cole Wick worth picking up off of waivers in deep dynasty leagues? Personally, I think he is better be left on the waiver wire. While it is certainly cool that this complete unknown was being talked about during the Lions’ training camp, I wouldn’t jump the gun and add him right now. But because he was being talked about so highly during training camp, some going so far as to claim that Wick was one of the offensive standout players, his name is one to at least keep in the back of your mind.The odds are just too stacked against him to make any sort of fantasy impact in the near future.
Eric Ebron was a high first round pick a couple seasons ago, and whether you are a fan or not, Ebron is going to be given every opportunity to be the starter this season. I’m sure the Detroit Lions are hoping he’ll not just be the starter this season, but breakthrough and be the starting tight end for years to come. The Lions have too much of an investment in Ebron to not get every chance to prove himself. There’s nothing too spectacular behind Ebron, but Brandon Pettigrew is still with the team as well. Plus historically rookie tight ends rarely ever make an immediate impact in the NFL, let alone an undrafted rookie tight end. So while Cole Wick is a nice story, he’s not worthy of a dynasty roster spot at this time in my opinion. We still don’t even know if Wick will make the team in the end. He may be destined to the practice squad. Perhaps down the road, we’ll hear his name being brought up again. Maybe then, he’ll be worth a more serious consideration. For now though, leave him on the waiver wire. But hey, at least now you know who the heck Cole Wick is!