2022 Finding ‘The Next Deebo’ (Indianapolis vs. Houston) -- March Madness Tourney
Same Intro each day: We all know what the phrase ‘next Deebo’ means – a player who works at one position primarily but takes on a second position (in-game) beyond just a random 1-2-3 carries or targets…that they become a real dual-threat option for their team, and thus a great producer for Fantasy Football.
Before there was ‘Deebo’ (midway through the 2021 season), there was ‘Cordarrelle’ as the breakout WR who started also taking a good workload at RB…so much so he became the team’s lead RB, but then got all but dropped on his WR aspect.
Before ‘Cordarrelle’ there was Curtis Samuel trying to breakthrough as a ‘nails’ WR in 2020, but also a guy taking 3-5 carries a game in CMC’s absence and looking like he might make the turn – but then he went to Washington in free agency, got hurt, and barely played/impacted in 2021.
Before Samuel there was everyone looking for the ‘next Tyreek’. We might forget that Tyreek started out as a low target WR taking 1-2 carries a game, and then taking every carry for a 50+ yard TD…then he was converted over from random WR/RB to main WR, and they stopped pushing him in the running game the past two years (definitely don’t get that guy the ball more, whatever you do).
We’ve had some promising guys try to breakdown this ‘Deebo’ wall, but Cordarrelle really was the one who kicked in that door to start 2021 season (then ATL went away from it)…after the door was kicked in, then Deebo ran right through it 2nd-half of 2021 and became the ultimate/best dual threat of our lifetimes – so much so every analyst is running around saying certain players ‘can be their Deebo’, and you’re going to get sick of hearing about it they say it so much now. But credit to Deebo (really, credit to Kyle Shanahan) the ‘Deebo’ role is a thing now…I think some teams are going to copy because of its success, as they should…as they should’ve created it years ago. It’s the evolution of the game – players/weapons who you don’t know where they’re gonna lineup or what they’re going to do, and they’ll draw plenty of mismatches to expose.
With that in mind, we’re going to have a ‘next Deebo’ tournament/FFM daily series for the next few weeks during March Madness time.
I am going to nominate one player from each NFL team to be the possible ‘next Deebo’…the ‘their Deebo’ hopeful. I’ll explain why I choose that player, and why not others if there was a close option – and then like March Madness, we’ll pit two of them against each other/state the case and I’ll choose a winner…the one most likely to be used as ‘the next Deebo’ for the 2022 season.
We’ll go by division, matchups by 2021 record (so #1 v. #4, #2 v. #3 in the division), one matchup/winner declared each day into April until we have one AFC rep and one NFC rep and then we’ll declare a final ‘Super Bowl of Deebo’ winner.
Now, San Francisco has their own Deebo already…so he is not in this tournament. For the SF slot, there will be a play-in game between two current draft prospect options. Unsigned free agents will be an option for the team they were last on in 2021, so like a heavy Final Four favorite, but current free agent (as of this writing), Cordarrelle Patterson, will be an option for Atlanta. Got it? Good. Let’s go…
Today’s Matchup = AFC South: HOU vs. IND
WR Ashton Dulin, IND
RB David Johnson, HOU
Ashton Dulin is a 6’1”/215 4th-year WR out of Malone College…a UDFA grab by the Colts in 2019. He ran a 4.43 40-time at his NFL Combine, back when that was impressive for a WR prospect…especially one from a nowhere college. He also posted a 38” vertical with a 7.00 flat three-cone. He has the physical profile of a guy who can run the ball from WR.
Frank Reich is sensing it to – as a sparsely used WR the past two seasons, Dulin has taken 5 carries on jet sweeps for 43 yards (8.6 ypc) and a TD…a 37-yard TD run in Week 16 last season. He’s also returned 17 kicks over his three-year career for a respectable 25.8 yards per return. Dulin’s play time/snaps slowly creeped higher as the 2021 season went on…he might be a starter in 2021.
And then there’s David Johnson…the best receiving back in the NFL, who barely gets featured as such. DJ has caught 273 passes in 7 seasons for 2,758 yards and 18 TDs. He’s not a screen pass only kinda back out of the backfield. No…he’s running wheel routes and over-the-middle slot routes and sometimes just straight up flanker go deep plays. The problem is his teams/coaches the past few years are idiots (he’s somehow been with the last two one-and-done coaches in the league, at Arizona and Houston) and they’d only utilize him 1-2-3x a game in the passing game and mostly just keep him on ice.
Johnson is a weapon waiting to be deployed. A guy who could have been an NFL starting, Pro Bowl WR had he chosen that route…and a guy who at one time was the single best back in the game. The juice is still there, from what I see on tape. He just needs an offensive mind to put it back to use (Tampa…Tompa Bay???).
Dulin is seeing T.Y. Hilton and Zach Pascal go this offseason, so there’s an opening for him to get to the starting lineup in 2022…but the Colts may draft better challengers to start over him at WR. But as it stands now there is a better and better chance Dulin might have some kind of breakout in 2022.
David Johnson is still a free agent at this point of the offseason (as of this writing)…which is better for him to be thought of as a possible ‘next Deebo’ in 2022 than if he stayed with Houston. Hopefully, a team with a plan for him signs him and gets one of the great bargains of the 2022 offseason.
Because DJ is so proven on the run and in the passing game, he’s my winner here despite his up-in-the-air status on where he’ll play this season.
WINNER = David Johnson, who goes onto the Sweet 16 to face A.J. Brown.
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