Coby Fleener will be a low-end TE1 and
weapon for Drew Brees but be careful not to overdraft him.
Since Jimmy Grahamís breakout 2011 season, the tight end position
in the Saints offense has been clearly in the crosshairs of fantasy
owners. Naturally, when Graham was sent packing to Seattle last
off-season, we all wondered if Sean Peytonís secret man-crush
Josh Hill would step into Grahamís role and blast off to fantasy
stardom. Someone sure stepped up to slide into the top 10 at the
position, but it wasnít Hill, it was 12-year veteran Ben Watson.
Watson, and his 74-835-6 line headed northeast to Baltimore, so
Coby Fleener was signed away from Indianapolis to fill the playmaking
gap in the New Orleans offense. Can the former second rounder, who
has annually been a fantasy mirage, finally materialize into a fantasy
asset after years of mediocrity?
Fleener is one lucky dude. After catching passes from Andrew Luck
for several years at Stanford and then for four more years in the
pros, he heads off to New Orleans to catch passes from future Hall
of Famer Drew Brees. The guys throwing him the ball have never been
a problem, so why hasnít Fleener ever become more than a role
player? Aside from his 51-catch, 8-touchdown season of 2014, Fleener
hasnít produced enough to be considered on a fantasy roster.
Most will say his one-dimensional game, and presence of Dwayne Allen
were the reasons for the muted statistics in Indy. I think heís
just a very inefficient player, and his statistics bear that out.
Fleener has only caught 58 percent of the targets in his career,
a number well below the tight ends in the top 10 who catch 70 percent-plus
of their targets. Chemistry certainly isnít the culprit, as
Fleener was catching passes from the same guy for almost 10 years.
Heck, he even had his college offensive coordinator for a few seasons
The pass catcher market was very lean this off-season and it was
inevitable that players were going to be paid for their potential
rather than production. The Saints, with the loss of Watson to the
Ravens and the release of Marques
Colston, nabbed Fleener for 5-years, 36 million the first week
of free agency. Back on a pass heavy offense, and out of the shadow
of Allen, Fleener should absolutely be a big part of the weekly
game plan for New Orleans. He is coming off three straight 50-plus
catch seasons so heís at least demonstrated upside. But there is
something gnawing at me forcing me to temper my expectations. Maybe
itís the fact Indy seemed to make very little effort to resign Fleener,
and instead signed an injury prone teammate to a more lucrative
contract. Fleener also made waves with some comments about ex-teammates
in his introductory press conference with New Orleans giving some
creeping doubt to his mental game as well.
Fleener reminds me a lot of Ladarius Green, a player I profiled
a couple weeks ago; young, athletic, and finally sprung loose from
the various shackles of their former team. But one thing Iíve
learned from listening, following, and observing the NFL, is that
good players find a way to get on the field and make an impact.
Fleener is well worth consideration, especially at wide open fantasy
position like tight end, but Iím more inclined to wait, than
overdraft a player like this. Find a round youíd be comfortable
drafting him for value, and let someone else overdraft for potential.