Each year in fantasy football there are always a few receivers that seemingly come out of nowhere and dominate every single waiver wire report, target report, and weekly WR ranking report—like Jonathan Baldwin.
This year we have already seen what players such as Giants receiver Victor Cruz and Ravens receiver Torrey Smith can offer up fantasy owners, but both of these players began their "fantasy football career" as simple waiver wire mention with sleeper potential.
Were owners tentative the first time they read a suggestion to pick them up? Sure they were, but they were also the majority that missed out when more aggressive owners ran out and grabbed Cruz and Smith ahead of time which is why I mentioned Baldwin BEFORE he had a chance to prove anything at all.
So how did I know? That's not important, but let's take a look at what is important.
NFL Strategy vs. Fantasy Strategy:
Fantasy football is based on real-time football for those of you who still haven't yet cracked that nut—and yes, there are still a few people out there who don't get that.
The reason why this is important is because one has to understand why the Chiefs drafted Baldwin, and what their original plans were with him before the locker-room brawl with RB Thomas Jones that left Baldwin with a broken thumb.
The idea, then, was to hopefully feature Baldwin on the outside opposite of Dwayne Bowe. The thinking was, with an already solid ground game, and a featured deep receiver, the Chiefs would find the offense that escaped them all last year.
Well, it was good in theory, anyway.
The plan now is to have Baldwin running primarily out of the the slot, mainly thanks to not only his ability to dominate the position, but also fellow teammate's rise to success—Steve Breaston—as a quality outside possession receiver.
The Chiefs have what they want; a multidimensional offense that can move the ball in various ways, which helps fantasy owners tremendously.
Defenses have no choice but to dedicate coverage to Breaston and Bowe,while also respecting the emergence of RB Jackie Battle which leaves Baldwin with numerous opportunities on the open field ALA Wes Welker.
No really, how else do you think Welker does EVERYTHING he does in a game?
But is a rising player with a ton of opportunities the only reason to consider Baldwin a sleeper?
You Want Stats? You Got 'Um!
Jonathan Baldwin put up some impressive numbers as a Big East receiver for Pittsburgh, and he did so in just three years, which is one of the reasons why Kansas City drafted him.
College sports often give fantasy owners a nice foundational basis for statistical projections each year, but numbers alone aren't the only thing to be factored in.
For now, take a look at what he did do at PITT.[table “107” not found /]
The additional aspect about Baldwin's impressive numbers is the fact that there are several teams in that Big East conference—in 2010 at least— that had top-notch pass defenses such as Louisville, Cincinnati and especially West Virginia.
In other words, the kid played well against top-notch competition.
But those days are over, and what really matters is the statistical information below on the Chiefs' next three opponents, so eat up you hungry little monkeys![table “108” not found /]
OK, now before your mouth fills up with curious foam over the initial pass rankings, pay attention to the TDs, and more importantly, the 20 plus and 40 plus statistical line, because that is a small example that helps you understand the defense your player is facing.
Not only do receivers score on these teams, but each team gives up an obscene amount of 20 plus yard plays, meaning, if the opposition tries their best to contain the outside receiver, the slot receiver is still burning them for a ton of yards, minus the RB and TE who also factor into the equation.
These teams can't seem to stop any sort of offensive attack through the air, whether it be the deep-ball, or if a quarterback decides to play pitch and catch, but to do that, you need a quality slot receiver—again, like Baldwin.
The moral of the story?
I could've easily said to just run out grab Baldwin because " I feel he's a good pickup" with a small explanation, but not only did I already do that before he played Monday night, I decided to get more involved for you guys.
The guy already entered the NFL with a ton of talent and the showing to back it, he already had—and has so more now—the total confidence of the coaching staff, but with the added "technical support" I have complied here toady, it helps YOU to better understand why Bladwin is a great waiver wire grab...and that's what we're here for at FK!
To be a little more specific, Baldwin has slightly more upside in PPR leagues as he does in Standard Scoring, and/or modified TD leagues making his initial value relative.
I do promise, however, to keep these sleeper articles shorter, going forward :)