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REWIND – Reviewing My Very Deep Sleeper Series from 2018 (S3, E4 Derek Carrier)

June 21, 2019 5:24 PM
June 22, 2019 8:47 AM

REWIND – Reviewing My Very Deep Sleeper Series from 2018

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.

I've been hoping Derek Carrier might get over for a while now, but no such luck...especially in 2018. Long NFL career, but done absolutely nothing for fantasy. I had hoped he'd catch Jon Gruden's attention like Darren Waller (another past VDS) did, but Carrier was his typical 2nd-TE self in 2018. I thought Jared Cook might disappoint and open the door for Carrier, but instead Cook had one of his best seasons of his erratic career.

I promise. No more talk of Derek Carrier as a sleeper from me. I am retiring him with Virgil Green.

So far, my first four VDS candidates of 2018 did not payoff. Albert Wilson started to pop last season, and then got hurt. The dry spell continues with one of my biggest letdowns of 2018 in Episode #5 review tomorrow.

For now, read my eulogy for Derek Carrier from 2018...because it's the last I'm going to speak about him for fantasy:

From my 2018 report...

Derek Carrier, now tight end Oakland, has been in the league for six seasons and has not mattered for fantasy for more than maybe when he was a ‘deep sleeper’ starter for one week with Washington in 2015. Carrier has scored one career TD in 50 game appearances. He doesn’t seem to have much of a resume to become a fantasy producer out of the blue in 2018.

Remember, this isn’t ‘deep sleepers’…it’s very deep sleepers. We are reaching to the lowest depth of the rankings to find a needle in a haystack. I have three reasons/theme why Carrier might have his needle in the haystack moment, finally, in 2018…

1: The Measurables…

Those who have danced with Carrier in the past for fantasy, deeper roster leagues, likely recall he had some pretty fantastic workout numbers coming out of Beloit College in 2012…he was an analytics superstar (on paper).

6’3”+/238, a 4.50 40-time with a stunning 6.65 three-cone and 4.08 shuttle time. 238-pound people should be able to move like that. He also sported a 38.0” vertical.

He was a WR/TE, more WR in college…a dominant one for his tiny school/conference. He was not drafted but got an undrafted free agent look with Oakland. He slimmed down and worked as a 225+ pound, tall, fast, quick, athletic wide receiver. He looked pretty good in the preseason in brief appearances but did not make the 53-man roster. Eventually, the Eagles claimed him and bulked him up to a 245-250+ pound tight end for them later his rookie season.

Watching Carrier in his preseason work and limited time in the pros, you could see he had a little bounce in his step; a better than average ‘movement’ tight end. A willing blocker but could get downfield and catch passes – quick enough to run crisp routes with a nice leaping ability to fight defenders for the ball when needed.

Carrier has some athleticism to offer in the passing game. There’s a foundation of something here for a fantasy tight end prospect.

2: The NFL Dot Connection…

After his rookie 2012 season, the 49ers poached him from the Eagles and he became a useful backup tight end with a little special teams work. In 2015, the Washington Redskins traded the 49ers for Carrier and backed up Jordan Reed. Carrier worked as a TE/FB option for Washington, but most importantly he worked with Sean McVay for two years (2015-2016). In 2017, Sean McVay became a head coach for the Rams, and made a trade to acquire Carrier.

Apparently, Carrier has made an impression on his coaches…

Washington, with Jay Gruden and Sean McVay in place, traded for Carrier in 2015.

In 2017, Sean McVay traded for Carrier right before the start of the season.

In 2018, Carrier became a free agent and he was signed by Oakland to a nice 3-year/$7M deal. And who is running the Raiders? Jon Gruden…mentor/confidant of brother Jay and his protégée Sean McVay. Carrier arrives to Oakland with some gravitas, a history with this tight circle of coaches.

3: Salary Cap Management…

Who is the Raiders current ‘starter’ at tight end? Jared Cook. Veteran Jared Cook…a guy who usually disappoints the expectations wherever he goes. Cook definitely doesn’t roll off the tongue when you speak of the NFL’s top tight ends or fantasy TE1 candidates.

Jared Cook also makes $5.7M dollars this season…or could be released without a CAP hit/penalty.

The Raiders are one of the bottom 10 teams in the league right now for extra CAP space this season. The Raiders could (today) about double the size of their current CAP space by releasing Jared Cook.

Is Jared Cook worth $5.7M this season? Does he deserve to be one of the 10 highest paid Raiders in 2018?

Would Derek Carrier step in as a starter and be as good or better than Cook in 2018? I say, “Yes.”

If Jon Gruden agrees that Carrier is as-good or better than Cook, but a better financial play as well…then Derek Carrier may be a few months away from being the #1 tight end on the Oakland Raiders – a Raider team wanting to become more physical, ‘change the culture’, etc., under Gruden…and Carrier fills that ‘scrapper’ role better than Cook does.

If Carrier becomes the de-facto starting TE for Oakland in 2018…with his athleticism and experience…could he be a shock low-end TE1 for fantasy? If starting in Oakland with no Jared Cook pushing him for touches, based on today’s depth chart…A top 10-15 fantasy TE outcome is not a crazy proposition.

The Derek Carrier very deep sleeper scenario is a sweet economic proposition for those in deep roster leagues right now because I’m sure Carrier is sitting for free among the available player pool. The cost to take a look is almost zero. The payoff could be surprising.

It’s a quasi-Trey Burton situation to try to put it into context – slightly undersized, athletic tight end toils away for a while as a backup and then finally ‘gets his day’. Carrier might fall backwards into his day in a few weeks/months if Jared Cook is released…and then sudden fantasy value appears.

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About R.C. Fischer

R.C. Fischer is a fantasy football player analyst for Fantasy Football Metrics and College Football Metrics. 

Email rc4metrics@gmail.com

Learn more about RC and the Fantasy Football Metrics system >>