For many Chicago Bears fans, Kellen Davis is a diamond-in-the-rough. Many fans view him as a viable receiving threat that the Bears simply did not utilize in 2011.
For fantasy owners, however, Kellen Davis is the type of player that many struggle to get a solid read on.
That's why I'm here today. I want to discuss the sleeper potential in Kellen Davis, not just because I think he'll be a sleeper, but obviously why.
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Really, it's worth a look.
Picking Apart the Changes:
I've noticed that I have been putting a lot of focus towards Chicago as a whole, and rightfully so. The Bears were already deadly enough before Jay Cutler went down last year, but now, they are even more seemingly deadlier on paper in 2012.
A big proponent is the sea change that happened in the windy city.
Mike Tice takes over for Mike Martz. Mike Martz has always been known for stretching defenses with vertical threats and taking advantage of the weakest matchup. What he is also known for is the fact that a TE is usually NOT a part of the equation.
Still, by the end of the 2011 season, Davis hauled in 18 catches for 206 yards and five freaking TDs.
In the "new" system, Tice wants to reincorporate a run first approach. This will obviously increase RB Matt Forte's potential value, but it also adds to Kellen Davis' potential fantasy ceiling—we'll get to the why in a minute.
The other major change is removing the 7-step drop that Chicago deployed in 2011.
When you have a base three-wide set that is designed to attack vertically, the 7-step drop becomes paramount. Tice wants Cutler to hang on to the ball less, and use ALL of his passing options to move the ball in tandem with his ground attack—enter in the 3 and 5-step drop focus.
When you revert to a quick release style offense, the TE NOW becomes paramount.
Putting It All Together:
Kellen Davis is certainly an interesting individual for any fantasy owner to consider. Despite playing in a system that did not focus on the TE from a passing standpoint (in 2011), he often got a lot of the first and second looks from Cutler.
In the newly forming system, the Bears will have to rely on Davis more than they ever have, and why not, at 6'7" 267 pounds they basically have their own version of Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski.
Just follow the leads if you don't buy into this thus far. The Chicago Tribune not only mentions the noticeable change in the offense—with more focus on the TE—but also points out that Mike Tice was a former TE who understands the offensive value of the position.
That means fantasy sleeper potential for a guy who already caught 5 TDs on just 18 catches in 2011.
The first and second reads aspect I mentioned above came from Davis himself, and he "hopes to have" anywhere from 40-60 catches at the minimum this season.
See what I'm getting at?
Does that mean you shouldn't buy into this hype? Absolutely not.
This is a player who is averaging out as the 36th ranked TE at this point of the year, but it's only July. That means the chances of ANYONE drafting this guy is slim and none—unless you're reading this of course.
Davis is going to gain more media steam, but most will figure the Bears to run with a three wide-set that is really only focused around one marquee wide-out in Brandon Marshall.
Still think Davis isn't going to be on the map?
The Bears need another option aside from Earl Bennett who is expected to play the slot. The Bears need another passing option to offset RB Matt Forte's role in the passing game, and they certainly need a giant red-zone target who can run the gamut over the middle.
How many linebackers do you know of that can effectively cover a TE this big for four full quarters? Exactly.
If you're lucky enough to grab a solid TE 1 in your draft—and their really is only a few—drafting Davis on the back edge of your draft will make into one of the most savvy owners of the 2012 season.
Passing on him—even as a late-round flier—only means you're gonna miss out, and don't think the waiver wire will help you after a few weeks of realizing I was right all along.
Play your cards right at draft time, put Kellen Davis on your cheat sheets, and make sure you add him to your team. You can thank me after the 2012 fantasy football season is over.