Anytime a player’s value plummets, I get interested. After all, the motto of this series is “buy at funerals and sell at birthdays.”
This series is about finding assets who are being undervalued. Knowing the market and being willing to take chances on players who appear to be heading in the wrong direction can result in massive gains. Every player — even someone I don’t think is very good — is valuable at the right price.
A year ago, Keenan Allen was featured in this series — although it didn’t technically have a fancy name like Bargain Shopping. Allen was a fourth-round pick in startup drafts, because there seemed to be a misunderstanding about his 2014 season, which most people perceived as a disappointment. Now, Allen is a borderline first-round selection in startup drafts.
Last September, right before the start of the season, I penned a piece recommending Doug Martin as a nice buy-low option. He was the RB25 at the time, and his value has skyrocketed in the past 12 months.
There’s really no secret formula to this. It’s looking at assets whose value has fallen, investigating why it’s slipped and trying to figure out if their value is due for a swing upwards. Of course, it’s not always going to work out as well as it did with Allen and Martin, but there are deals to be had right now.
This off-season we’ve already looked at an older player who is still productive, an athletic freak who is buried on the depth chart and a running back who had a much better 2015 campaign than most people think.
Today, if you missed the headline, we’re looking Austin Seferian-Jenkins, a once-valued player who fell on hard times this summer. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ tight end has seen his value crater this off-season, and his reduced cost makes him an enticing asset.
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What’s Going On?
Heading into this off-season, Seferian-Jenkins was expected to assume a fairly significant role in an up-and-coming Bucs’ attack. After getting a solid rookie season from Jameis Winston, things were looking up in Tampa. With Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson on the outside and two good running backs, all the offense needed was a seam-splitting force in the middle of the field.
Seferian-Jenkins was the perfect guy for the job — until he wasn’t.
He had a nightmare summer, getting kicked out of practice by new Head Coach Dirk Koetter and getting demoted to a second-string role behind undrafted tight end Cameron Brate. It didn’t seem like one of those motivational tactics, either. There was real, meaningful chatter about Tampa Bay being done with Seferian-Jenkins, who they took in the second round in 2014.
Naturally, Seferian-Jenkins’ value took a hit. In February, when everything was peachy, he was the seventh tight end off the board, per our startup ADP data. In August, he had slipped all the way down to TE15 in our August staff startup mocks.
Rays of Hope
It sounds cliche, but the demotion and dismissal from practice seems to have impacted Seferian-Jenkins in a positive way.
Koetter has praised him, saying, “All you can ask (of) a player when he gets moved down is that he competes and does better and tries to get back up there, and he’s done that.”
It was reported Seferian-Jenkins had gained ground on Brate, and then he started the Bucs’ third preseason game, proving those reports to be true.
With the off-season troubles apparently behind him, we can safely assume Seferian-Jenkins is going to get on the field this fall. Obviously, it’s up to him — and his play — to ensure he stays there. Fortunately, the dude is a very talented player.
Talent for Days
It’s safe to expect any second-round pick to have a lot of promise, and Seferian-Jenkins checks off a bunch of the boxes. He’s 6-foot-5, 262 pounds, and he’s a big-time athlete.
Seferian-Jenkins was the 38th overall pick and first tight end taken in the 2014 NFL Draft for a reason: he’s a really talented football player.
He does more than test well, too.
Seferian-Jenkins has played 12 games over two seasons, totaling 42 catches for 559 yards and six scores. He was a legitimate red-zone weapon last season, scoring four touchdowns on 18 receptions.
He’s played well when he’s been on the field. Of course, the problem has been staying on the field. After a nine-game rookie year, Seferian-Jenkins started just three games last season.
Honestly, he’s pretty similar to Jordan Reed. A year ago, Reed could have been described as a talented but frustrating asset who struggled with injuries — all of which fits for Seferian-Jenkins. Reed missed 12 games in his first two seasons, but in 2015, Reed stayed (relatively) healthy, playing 14 games and putting up monster numbers.
I can’t promise you Seferian-Jenkins will stay healthy this year, but if he does, he could have a similar type of breakout. Plus, with his price cheapened, it’s now a much more reasonable asking price to assume the risk, and it’s not going to crush you if it doesn’t work out.
Time to Pounce
The previous section was great and all, but it’s not what makes Seferian-Jenkins so attractive right now. His price is what has my attention.
Earlier in the spring, his immense upside was baked into his cost as he was knocking on the door of being a top-five tight end. Now, after a troubled off-season, Seferian-Jenkins can be had for a pretty large discount.
It seems like the dynasty community has been a little slow to recognize his resurgence over the past month. It’s fair. At some point, all the potential in the world doesn’t mean squat if the player is a backup tight end.
However, it appears those days are going to be a thing of the past very soon — if they’re not already — and the upside here is through the roof.
Evans is the obvious top dog in the passing game, and it should be that way for a long time. The second spot on the totem pole is far less concrete. Jackson — who himself is a solid, cheap buy right now — is in line for a bounce-back year in 2016, but he’s also 33 years old. While Charles Sims is good in the passing-game, he’s unlikely to ever see enough targets to be the team’s true second option.
Seferian-Jenkins can be that player.
Everything which made him so enticing earlier this spring — his ability, athleticism and impending opportunity in an ascending offense — is still there. While Seferian-Jenkins didn’t make things easy on himself this summer, he actually did us a favor. His troubles significantly cheapened his price tag, allowing us to acquire a very talented player at a fraction of the cost.
The time to do so is now, before Seferian-Jenkins seizes an every-down role and starts producing. Once that happens, the clearance sticker will be removed.