This edition of my fantasy football sleeper series features Robert Meachem, a guy who has yet to live up to expectations since being drafted as the 27th-overall pick in the 2007 NFL Draft. Our own Kurt Turner wrote a quick synopsis on Meachem in his "You Won’t Believe These Sleepers" article, but I'd like to take that info and expand on it and give you a few reasons why Meachem's fantasy value is currently at an all-time high.
First, let's get some of his bad history out of the way.
Meachem's time in New Orleans is a forgettable one. He missed all of his rookie season after undergoing knee surgery right before the start of the 2007 season. In the four years he did play, he couldn't top more than 45 catches. Meachem's lack of production can be blamed on his injury history and the fact that the Saints had a plethora of other options in the offense that quarterback Drew Brees was able to utilize, including Reggie Bush, Lance Moore and Marques Colston.
Entering free agency, I didn't have high hopes that Meachem would be anything more than a role player on another team. The Chargers changed all that after signing him to a four-year, $25.9 million contract. A deal that also included $14 million in guaranteed money. The Rams and Bills had some interest in Meachem as well. But with Philip Rivers throwing him the ball, the Chargers give him the best chance to shine as a fantasy prospect. And after losing Vincent Jackson in free agency to the Buccaneers, Meachem becomes the team's No. 1 receiver behind tight end Antonio Gates.
So what do I expect of Meachem this year? If he can stay healthy, a lot. Head coach Norv Turner spoke highly of Meachem, stating:
“He’s a No. 1 receiver. He’s a guy that has big-play ability. He can be a complete receiver. Obviously he’s been in an offense where they spread the ball around to a lot of people. I think he’s a guy along the line of players we’ve had that can be an 18 yards a catch guy and be a very, very productive player.”
As far as fantasy value: I don't expect 100+ catches. Meachem's value will come from his yards, with his ability to stretch the field, and from touchdowns. But 60-70 catches, 1000-1100 yards and 6-8 touchdowns is easily attainable, which would make Meachem a strong WR2 in both PPR and non-PPR leagues.