Cameron Meredith Fantasy 2017
Last season Chicago Bears wide receiver Cameron Meredith had more top 10 PPR finishes than Demaryius Thomas, Alshon Jeffery, and Brandon Marshall combined. Kyle Borgognoni, Editor-in-Chief, of the Fantasy Footballers podcast tweeted this statistical nugget back in January. During the fantasy football playoffs (Weeks 14 through 16) he was a difference maker. Meredith produced 2.79 fantasy points per reception and averaged a target share of 28.4 percent during that time frame. What kind of production can you expect from him in 2017?
This article provides you a line of sight on six things you should know about Cameron Meredith as you head into fantasy football drafts this summer.
1. Meredith’s Player Profiler Metrics and 2016 Production
The former Illinois State quarterback turned wide receiver went undrafted in 2015. Meredith’s opportunity to shine was created due to an injury to Alshon Jeffery and Kevin White. He has all of the physical tools to be successful in the NFL as evidenced by Player Profiler. Meredith ranked in the 95th percentile in catch radius, 86th in agility, and 88th in burst score. The 6’3, 200- pound wide receiver ranked in the 73rd percentile in Player Profiler’s SPARQ-X (An approximation of Nike’s SPARQ Rating. An acronym that stands for speed, power, agility, reaction, and quickness) which measures athleticism.
Meredith led all of the Bears wide receivers in snaps played with 702. He was targeted by a pass attempt on 14% of them which was the same target percentage that Alshon Jeffery had in 2016. Meredith began playing 80 percent or more of the offensive snaps in Week 5 on. He ranked ninth in the NFL last year in the Pro Football Focus metric Yards Per Route Run (2.09). Here is a game by game breakdown of Meredith’s statistical production.
Meredith is also a very good route runner and has a high football IQ when it comes to adjusting coverage. He only had two drops last season and excels at yards after the catch. Meredith was named the best double-move route runner in the NFL by Pro Football Focus in 2016.
He has the ability to attack opposing defenses vertically. Meredith caught seven of 10 targets and scored four touchdowns on passes traveling 20 or more yards.
— NFL (@NFL) October 9, 2016
2. The Bears Quarterback Problem
Ryan Pace, the Bears general manager, shocked most of the NFL world by trading up from the number three overall to select Mitchell Trubisky at number two overall in the 2017 draft. The Bears also signed Mike Glennon in free agency to a contract which includes $18.5 million guaranteed. One would assume this move solidified him as the Bears starting quarterback in 2017, but then the Bears traded three draft picks to land Trubisky. Pace has been adamant that there is no quarterback competition.
#Bears GM Ryan Pace says there is no quarterback competition in 2017
— Zach Zaidman (@ZachZaidman) April 28, 2017
The reality is that Glennon and Trubisky are unproven commodities and this could negatively impact Meredith’s outlook in 2017. Here is a visual of Glennon’s career statistical production:
Lance Zierlein is a sports talk show host on KMBE 790 AM in Houston, Texas. He is also NFL draft analyst and content provider for NFL.com. Zierlein is responsible for writing the strengths and weaknesses for over 500 draft profiles each season. Here is his take on Trubisky:
Trubisky is a high-end quarterback prospect who possesses NFL size, a big arm and the ability to throw with accuracy from the pocket or on the move. Despite playing in a spread-based offense, he’s a full-field reader who does a very good job of getting an early read on the safeties before crafting his course of action. Trubisky will have to become much more pocket aware and do a better job of recognizing and attacking blitzes to back NFL defensive coordinators off. He hasn’t put all the pieces together yet, but the puzzle is all right in front. Trubisky projects as a good starting quarterback with a high floor and the potential to be great.
3. The Opportunity to be the No. 1 wide receiver
Will Kevin White ever be able to live up to everyone’s expectations? He has only played four career NFL games after being drafted seventh overall by the Bears in the 2015 NFL Draft. Hope is not a winning fantasy football strategy.
Markus Wheaton and Kendall Wright have not been overly productive in their NFL careers. Wheaton has averaged 46.75 targets, 377 receiving yards, and two touchdowns over his four-year career. He has played in 47 out of a possible 64 games since entering the NFL. Wright has averaged 87.6 targets, 648.8 receiving yards, and 3.6 touchdowns over his five-year NFL career. He has played in 66 out of a possible 80 games. Wheaton and Wright’s short-term contracts suggest the Bears have low expectations for their productivity.
Here are details on Wheaton and Wright’s contracts directly from Spotrac.com:
Markus Wheaton signed a 2 year, $11,000,000 contract with the Chicago Bears, including a $1,500,000 signing bonus, $6,000,000 guaranteed, and an average annual salary of $5,500,000. In 2017, Wheaton will earn a base salary of $3,000,000, a signing bonus of $1,500,000 and a roster bonus of $1,500,000, while carrying a cap hit of $5,250,000 and a dead cap value of $6,000,000.
Kendall Wright signed a 1 year, $2,000,000 contract with the Chicago Bears, including a $250,000 signing bonus, $1,000,000 guaranteed, and an average annual salary of $2,000,000. In 2017, Wright will earn a base salary of $1,250,000, a signing bonus of $250,000 and a roster bonus of $343,750, while carrying a cap hit of $1,843,750 and a dead cap value of $1,000,000.
Meredith’s competition and the decisions of the Bears front office suggest they expect him to step into the spotlight in 2017. Here is what Pace had to say about Meredith at the NFL owner’s meeting:
I’m excited about Cam. I just see him getting better and better. Cam’s a guy with a lot of upside.
4. Negative Game Flow could benefit Meredith
General Manager Pace has not addressed the Bears defensive line and the secondary has been tinkered with so much this offseason that there could be a new starter at every position.
There is always an opportunity for offensive players in defensive chaos and Meredith stands to benefit if game script allows it. What if the Bears coaching staff lean on the running game and its offensive line?
5. The Threat of the Bears Offensive Line and Jordan Howard
Jordan Howard finished as the RB9 last season and helped many owners win fantasy football leagues with his breakout. He played 654 offensive snaps and touched the football or was targeted on 46 percent of them. The Bears interior offensive line (Pro Bowlers Kyle Long and Josh Sitton, along with Cody Whitehair) have the potential to be the NFL’s best interior offensive line in 2017 if they all stay healthy. The Bears will look to improve at tackle internally since the 2017 draft class was viewed as weak for offensive tackles.
The Bears ranked eighth in adjusted line yards (4.17) and fifth in open field yards (1.06) according to Football Outsiders. The high ranking for both suggests that the Bears offensive line and Jordan Howard are equally carrying the running game and are not dependent on another. I anticipate the quarterback situation heading into this season and the success that the running game had in 2016 could result in the Bears could leaning more on Howard in 2017. This would represent a threat to Meredith’s fantasy value this season.
6. Meredith’s 2017 Projection
Here is a projection I created for Meredith using the RotoViz Projection Machine. It is a tool that uses a top-down approach that begins with the team scoring margins and play calling tendencies, and ends with projecting usage shares for offensive skill positions. I analyzed Meredith’s production from Week 5 to Week 17 in order to create my assumptions.
Meredith would have finished as a top-15 fantasy wide receiver last season with 248.53 PPR (points per reception) points.
The Bottom Line
What’s the verdict on Meredith heading into this season? He can be viewed as a solid WR3 who could provide WR2 upside any given week. Meredith can be drafted in the 10th round of 12-team PPR fantasy football leagues.
His strengths and opportunities outweigh the weaknesses and threats. As a result, it’s rare to find a player with a reasonable floor and this much upside in the 9th round of fantasy drafts. What was the a-ha moment for you after reading this article? What are other players in the later rounds you excited about in 2017? Please leave a comment below or better yet reach out to me via Twitter @EricNMoody.