Frantic over Fleener[the_ad id=”63198″]It is an almost unavoidable situation in the early part of the season when a player that you drafted performs below your expectations. This isn’t a negative reflection upon you, but it does test your patience. Wins in fantasy are crucial and that makes it difficult when choosing between your pride in a draft pick and the possibility of another poor week. Coby Fleener of the Saints is one of the best examples of a player performing below expectations in this early 2016 season.
If you own Fleener then I’m in good company because I own him in a few leagues as well. Week one was bad and week two considering the matchup was even worse. Most folks might have had intentions of benching him this week until they noticed that he is playing the Falcons tonight. The Falcons have been the best matchup for tight ends in this early season. In the first two games of this season, the Falcons have surrendered 15 receptions for 138 yards and 3 touchdowns to opposing tight ends. After looking over those numbers one might start to justify starting him or at the very least not dropping him. A slow start from a promising player is painful enough but to cut bait on a player early only to see them turn it around is even worse. When looking over some slow starts from some other players in New Orleans it could provide some optimism that you may finally see a return on your draft day investment.
Although the Saints offense has long been considered fantasy friendly it hasn’t always started off all that great. Brandin Cooks was expected to be a breakout player in 2015 for the Saints and he too started off slower than expected. His first four games were difficult to watch as he only had one game of at least 75 yards receiving and no touchdowns. From week 5 on was a role reversal as he had seven games of 75 or more yards receiving. Life after week 4 was also an uptick on touchdowns as he went on to score nine touchdowns which included five touchdowns between weeks 8 and 10. Another glaring improvement from Cooks as the season got going was his catch percentage. In the first four weeks Cooks never caught more than 50% of his targets but moving forward he finished the season with 11 games in which his percentage of targets caught was over 50%.
Another player to keep in mind when trying to stay positive in regards to Fleener’s is last years Saints tight end Ben Watson. It was also a painful start for Watson who averaged four targets in his first four games. For the rest of the season, Watson’s target averaged shot up to about seven targets a game. His yards per game in weeks 1 thru 4 was a worrisome 25.7 while the rest of the way was much more acceptable with 60.1 yards per game. Much like Cooks he had no touchdowns in his first games but proceeded to put up 6 touchdowns the rest of the way. Both Watson and Cooks would help support an idea that these Saints receivers may just get off to slow starts.
The other thing that might ease your nerves is the defenses in which they’re playing. The Saints first two opponents from this season (standard scoring) have given up 36.2 points to the tight end position. The next two opponents for the Saints have given up 56 points to the tight end. Six out of the next ten matchups for the Saints are going up against defenses that currently rank in top 12 most favorable matchups for tight ends. Defensive rankings at this point should be taken with a grain of salt of course but not completely ignored. Let’s not forget that a large part of the strategy in fantasy is the matchup.
The purpose of this piece is not intended to force your hand in regards to Fleener. Some folks are dropping him and some are carrying more than one tight end as they try to wait it out. The intent of this piece is to paint the picture that perhaps Fleener is one of those players that can get out of his early season woes. Judging by the numbers provided in this piece, I’m chalk-ing up this slow start to growing pains with Brees. All quarterbacks have to be comfortable enough with a pass catcher to have trust in feeding him the ball. Most folks had hoped that last week would be the breakout for Fleener as they got lost in the hype of the Saints/Giants mat-chup. Most had forgotten at that point that Brees tends to struggle on the road and I think all of us understandably had underestimated the Giants defense. Maybe a matchup against the worst team verse the tight end and at home where Brees notoriously plays better is all that Fleener needs to get going. Hopefully for fantasy owner’s sake that can start tonight against Atlanta in the Superdome.
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Mike is a hardcore fantasy football fan. He has been doing serious writing for a couple of years now and loves finding the next big sleeper that no one is talking about. He also isn’t afraid to go against the grain and predict the next big bust. The fantasy community is as strong as ever and Mike is ready to help you win a title!