REWIND – Reviewing My Very Deep Sleeper Series from 2018 (S3, E10 Cordarrelle Patterson)
My wildly popular ‘Very Deep Sleeper’ series was brought back by FantasyPros for its fourth season. In celebration, and preparation, and review – I’m going to post last year’s series, 17 articles in all, daily with new commentary for 2019.
My concept of the VDS series was to take a look at a dozen or so players who were way off the grid (like way off the grid/very deep ADPs or not even showing in top 100-150+ positionally on FantasyPros) for the upcoming fantasy season and try and make a case for them as shocking breakouts that year. I hoped if just one panned out each year that would be pretty amazing…these are like taking half court shots in basketball.
Well, we have had that one-a-season success and then some. The VDS series gave birth to Tyrell Williams eons before most people knew who he was. Given-up-for-dead Tyler Boyd was a sweet hit from our VDS series last preseason. A number of players have emerged from the VDS series…even if it was a year or two later. My goal is to educate on the player, at a minimum, and then hope 1-2 of them really pop at some point.
Let’s look back at the 2018 season, in the order they were published…and I’ll add some commentary from ‘the now’ as I’ve re-read it.
Another year (2018), another season where Cordarrelle Patterson is completely underutilized. This past season did add a twist – he was the Patriots starting/main tail back Weeks 8 and 9…remember that? How crazy was that?
Aside from his short stint as lead, emergency tail back, Patterson was back to his familiar 0-3 targets and 0-1 carries per game. It has happened in Minnesota, Oakland, and New England in his career…I assume it will in Chicago in 2019. Fool me once, shame on me…fool me six seasons in-a-row, I’m an idiot.
I will not speak of Patterson as a sleeper for 2019, which means he’ll become a breakout star…
What I was pitching about a year ago on CP…
What if the New England Patriots staff finally ‘gets it’ with Cordarrelle Patterson? I know, I know…he was a hot name years ago, never panning out to be worthy of his first-round draft pick status way back in 2013. Some of us reading this have dabbled in Patterson in the past and were left high and dry. Others have not seen any reason to play with him – and have never regretted it.
Why, three teams and six years into the league later, would I dredge up this name looking for fantasy gold? It feels like this ship has sailed and the Patriots have better WRs to work with ahead of Patterson.
The case for Patterson is not so much ‘this time he shines and seizes the day’ as it is a tale of the sheer stupidity – there’s no other word for it, and I’ll prove it to you – of NFL coaching staffs. Patterson now lands with the smartest head coach in the NFL. He doesn’t ‘land’ actually – he was purposefully traded for. Why did they pursue him? Was it just for his special teams’ work (and that would be enough reason)? Upon trading for Patterson, Belichick called up his newest acquisition right after the deal was made and said to him…
“I don’t know what you’ve been through in the past, but, basically, we get the job done here,” Patterson says Belichick told the wide receiver. “We’re gonna make you the player that you should be.”
What is the player Patterson should be? The answer to that question is everything for his fantasy sleeper potential.
You might recall there was a time that Norv Turner (CP’s second-year offensive coordinator when the prior year’s coaching staff was dismissed) compared Patterson to Randy Moss. Patterson was thrust into a #1 WR role to start 2014, but quickly got into a Mike Zimmer doghouse that he couldn’t get out of until late in his Vikings’ tenure (2016), and he wasn’t ever a featured offensive player.
Patterson’s high crime for which he ended up in a doghouse was the claim that he was not a great route runner, according to Zimmer…and that narrative seeped into fantasy GMs’ belief systems. Suddenly, everyone was an expert on Patterson – “Can’t run proper routes, can’t get open,” we all parroted. Bill Belichick told Patterson, “We’re gonna make you the player that you should be.”
Patterson isn’t the next Moss, and I don’t believe that’s what Belichick sees either. If Patterson is not a #1-2 wide receiver, then what kind of player ‘should he be’?
Patterson is not a #1-2 WR – he never was. He’s an ‘offensive weapon.’ He’s more Tyreek Hill than Antonio Brown. Patterson’s on-field performance/success has been screaming out for more attention, more touches, and yet the NFL has been deaf to it.
Bill Belichick is usually pretty savvy on such things. He takes other teams’ misused, written-off wide receivers and spins gold (Wes Welker, Chris Hogan are names that come to mind recently).
Patterson’s on-field performance, what he has to offer, and how his own coaches have ignored it is the single most perplexing thing I’ve seen studying and writing about in football over the past decade. He has carried a football on jet sweeps or as a tailback, etc., 44 times in five NFL seasons…and he’s scored six TDs – one rushing TD every 7.3 carries. And it’s not just one-yard plunges that any ballcarrier could prosper on – every NFL rushing TD he has is 30 yards or longer, an average of 45.8 yards per rushing TD.
You know what you might want to do NFL? Why don’t you give that guy a few more carries and see what magic might happen? I’m not proposing Patterson become a 20+ carry a game workhorse, but how about a steady one to two carries a game?
In 2014, working with Zimmer-Turner as their #1 WR on Opening Day, Patterson took three carries for 102 yards including a 67-yard TD run. Guess how many carries he had the next week? Zero! Guess how many carries he had the following four games after his 102-yard rushing effort in Week 1? One carry.
In the 2015 season, further in the doghouse, he got two carries the entire season. He also returned two kicks for TDs that year. In 2016, Patterson came out of the doghouse some and caught 3.8 passes per game over a 13-game stretch, but only saw seven carries (for 42 yards) that season.
In 2017, he went to Oakland. In Week 2, he lined up at tailback and popped a 43-yard TD run. He saw two carries the next week (Week 3), just one carry the next week (Week 4), and then nothing the next week (Week 5). Week 6, he was back playing a little tailback, he popped a 47-yard TD run. Through six weeks of the 2017 season, CP had 10 carries for 124 yards (12.4 YPC) and two 40+ yard TD runs lining up as a tailback.
How great a weapon was that for Oakland to have! And they were starting to figure it out and work him like a wide receiver some plays and like a running back others. It was finally happening — the Raiders were prospering from this unique weapon.
Patterson did not get one carry the following five weeks after his long TD run in Week 6 and saw only three more carries the final 10 games for Oakland after a blazing beginning. Only in the NFL could a coach possess a golden goose and demand it stop laying golden eggs because it doesn’t fit the traditional egg-laying playbook the offensive coordinator copied from his mentor who designed offenses in the 1970s and 80s. You’d think no one could be as dumb as to see a player like Patterson, who has a history of success back to college when it comes running the ball for long TDs (three long rushing TDs on 25 carries in college…one TD every 8.3 carries, just like his NFL pace). These coaches see them run for these fantastic, long scores – and then decide to stop using him.
No one could be that dumb…except the head coach and offensive coordinators in Minnesota and Oakland. It’s a sickness I see in the NFL all the time – they are allergic to successful things that aren’t ‘inside the box’ they’ve built. And now, Patterson arrives, via trade on purpose, to the one coach who stands head and shoulders above any other in the league with his proclamation: “We’re gonna make you the player that you should be.”
What might Belichick mean? Did he mean 25-40 offensive snaps per game on offense instead of 2-10 (so everyone knows to watch him when he sporadically enters the game)? What if that means one to three carries and four to eight targets a game – a Tyreek Hill 2016 treatment?
Patterson can give you at least flex-worthy fantasy numbers playing only 50% of the offensive snaps because he’s a home-run hitter and one of the most efficient, successful runners in the history of the NFL, and he’s one of the best returners of the decade. He has screamed big-play success over and over – and has been on teams that invented new ways NOT to use him.
What if the ignoring and stupidity is about to end? What if serious offensive plans for Patterson are being designed?
The Patriots are about to roll out Hogan and Jordan Matthews as their #1-2 WRs for Week 1. Julian Edelman would have completed the trio of starters, but he’s suspended for four weeks. There is a sudden vacuum for a WR to step up for more touches right away. You think it’s going to be Malcolm Mitchell? He’s good but hasn’t proven anything and is always hurt. Phillip Dorsett? He’s awful. Kenny Britt? Really?
The door is open for a short-passing game option to receive more touches, and Patterson can play that game…he can take short passes and turn them into significant gains. He’s tough enough to work in traffic – a Pro Bowl special teams returner and gunner/defender. As a WR/offensive weapon, he can lineup in the slot, as a flanker, or as a tailback. He brings options, diversity, and confusion on every snap, along with proven success in making big plays.
I don’t believe Bill Belichick traded for CP and spoke the words, “We’re gonna make you the player that you should be” just to sit Patterson on the bench and use him as a return man only – that’s the player Patterson HAS ALREADY BEEN. If Belichick makes Patterson into “…the player that he SHOULD BE” then there is a fantasy opportunity there. And it’s one worth a lot more than the #136 ranked PPR WR on FantasyPros’ ECR.
Are you willing to bet on Patterson’s proven talents + Bill Belichick’s coaching prowess and his promise to Patterson? Those have been two pretty bankable ‘things’ the past few years.
In Bill We Trust…
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