2021 Dynasty/Fantasy Preseason Wk3 Game Analysis: Dolphins 29, Bengals 26 (Subscriber Extra Notes *DYNASTY DEEP SLEEPER ALERT*)
OK, I teased in the game report that there was a lesser-name WR from this game who is a better NFL WR prospect than Ja’Marr Chase. And I am not joking or trying to get a rise out of you. I’m serious.
Preston Williams is a better WR than Ja’Marr Chase or used to be…maybe still is…but several injuries later and possible off-field issues later – we lost Preston. I hope he rallies back. Preston Williams blew up his rookie preseason and went on to be the Miami #1 WR on opening damn day 2019. Why, he even caught his bubble screens (and all other passes) in this rookie preseason.
But I said the mystery player wasn’t Preston Williams.
And it isn’t.
It’s Miami’s 2nd-year WR from Arkansas State, Kirk Merritt.
Let me re-introduce Merritt by just listing his 2020 Arkansas State Pro Day (and we have to take some of this with a grain off salt, but same for Chase’s Pro Day):
6’0”/210 (6‘0”/201 Chase)
4.33 40-time (4.34 Chase)
45.5” Vertical (41.0” Chase)
23 bench press reps (skipped like punk, Chase)
11’3” broad jump (11’0” broad jump)
4.02 short shuttle (3.99 Chase)
Merritt is like Ja’Marr in many ways, physically…only Merritt is catching passes thrown his way, and Chase cannot catch bubble screens or any other type of pass right now.
From this game (rough video so you may have to watch twice)…
Merritt’s best catch: https://youtu.be/W9gu9763CE8
Merritt’s long TD where he smokes a legit NFL CB: https://youtu.be/4DS6nX_3tmw
Chase’s contribution in this game: https://youtu.be/RVr4dfgGpxE
Why hasn’t Merritt garnered any talk or why no 2020 draft hype, etc.? Trouble off the field.
2015 Attended/played for Oregon. Left after the season for ‘personal reasons’
2016 Joined Texas A&M…dismissed for indecent exposure on campus.
2017 Went to East Mississippi Community College (also known as ‘Last Chance U.)
2018 Arkansas State 83-1,005-7 (13gm)
2019 Arkansas State 70-806-12, 27.7 KR avg and a KR TD
2020 UDFA Miami – cut/put on practice squad, went onto the active roster 2x in 2020 and back down to the P-Squad in-between
Merritt is a very raw, but highly athletic – and he appears to be more confident and aggressive this preseason. Definitely playing better than Ja’Marr Chase. Miami has been sticking by him all the way since they signed him in 2020, and everything has been clean off-the-field the past two NFL years and his final two college seasons.
In this game, Merritt caught a long TD but also caught another pass and just fell short of a second TD. His best catch was his leaping grab on a ball that was way overthrown and looked like it had already gone by him – he not only caught the pass reaching backwards, but landed on his feet, broke a tackle and made extra yards.
This preseason, Merritt has caught 6 passes for 110 yards and 2 TDs (all the last 2 games).
Merritt is nearly the same body/physical gifts as Ja’Marr Chase, but playing much better, much more aggressive right now. Merritt is like a Deebo Samuel/Terry McLaurin hybrid for a physical comparison…thick, powerful like Deebo with the downfield speed of McLaurin.
We’ll have to see how Merritt progresses when facing better coverage, and he’s still developing – but if you think Ja’Marr Chase is something…you should consider his clone, who comes at a zero-price tag.
I can say Merritt is equal to/better than Chase all I want, and no one will believe me…and Miami might even cut Merritt today and try to put him on the practice squad…and if Miami keeps him, he’ll likely not play much at all this season (while Chase auto starts). All I’m saying is, if you think Chase is great…Merritt is a similar human, who is playing better football in 2021 right now. Maybe talent wins out in the end and Merritt comes out of nowhere.