Apr 12, 2010
It’s been a pretty wild offseason, and it got wilder late Sunday night, when the Steelers traded troubled wideout Santonio Holmes to the Jets for a 5th round pick.
Clearly, the Jets got Holmes at a major discount (the 155th pick of the draft) for a reason. Actually, it’s a few reasons. He has myriad of off-the-field issues the last five years, is in the final year of his contract and the Steelers don’t want to pay him, and he’s facing a 4-game suspension to start the 2010 season.
For the Steelers, they now have a need at WR. Third-year wideout Limas Sweed has been a major disappointment, and if he makes the team it’ll probably be only because Holmes was moved. He cannot be counted on, but this move will probably extend his stay and give him another chance to make an impact. Hines Ward’s 34 years old, so the Steelers don’t have much for the future. Look for them to draft a wideout in one of the first three rounds, perhaps in the 1st round. It will be interesting to see which WR they take. Dez Bryant with the 18th pick would be extremely tempting if he slides that far, but that would be a little risky given his potential attitude issues and their recent history with problem players. Demaryius Thomas could be a legit #1 down the road, but he’s a player who has tangible downside. Arrelious Benn is more about size and power than he is speed and might be a good fit. Golden Tate would also be a good fit. The good news for Pittsburgh is that this is a solid draft in terms of depth, so they should get a quality player even if they hold off on taking one in the 1st round. My guess is they do not take a WR in the 1st and instead address the position in the 2nd or 3rd round.
Ward is getting up there, and he’s taken a major pounding, but his value gets a nice boost with this Holmes move because there are now 79 catches and 1248 yards missing from their offense. Ward has excellent chemistry with QB Ben Roethlisberger and should be leaned on even more. If healthy all year, he should be a lock to catch 100+ passes this year. And certainly, second-year man Mike Wallace gets a major boost in value. Unless the Steelers draft someone like Bryant, Benn, etc. in the 1st round, Wallace should be a good bet to replace Holmes in the starting lineup. Despite his fantastic success in 2009, it’s premature to believe Wallace will immediately grow into a starter role on the outside and enjoy consistent success. Keep in mind there’s a big difference between seriously challenging a defense as a #3, as Wallace did last year, and consistently producing as a starter on the outside. His weekly matchups will be much tougher, as he often worked against nickel or dime corners last year. But Wallace has enough size at 6’0” to excel as a featured receiver and he’s proven to be a nice deep threat. I probably wouldn’t rely on him as my #3, but he should be a very good pick for depth in 2010. If Wallace is moved into the starting lineup, the Steelers can then slide Antwaan Randle-El right back into the slot, so they are in good shape there. Veteran Arnaz Battle can also play the slot and fill in for Ward if he goes down, so it looks like the Steelers were preparing to rid themselves of Holmes for a little while now and picked up Randle-El and Battle in free agency preparing for a move. Trading Holmes should also help TE Heath Miller’s value. Holmes was a frequent target in the middle of the field, and Miller’s role should expand a bit in the intermediate area. This move should solidify Miller as a viable fantasy starter in 2010. The one player whose value does take a hit is Roethlisberger. Holmes may not have been a fantasy juggernaut in 2009, but he was pretty damn good, and while he did have a few lapses in concentration at times, he was pretty consistent in terms of his production. Roethlisberger has always looked for Holmes when he was in trouble, and he will miss that playmaking safety valve.
Added: This move should be good news for RB Rashard Mendenhall. The Steelers want to run the ball more anyway, and there should be even more reason to look to pound the ball on the ground with a high-end receiver in Holmes out of the mix. Mendenhall is very talented, young, and capable of carrying the offense more so than he did last year. He’s a little scary in that he’s not a player who always showcases his best and fumbles, but I still think he’s a really nice pick this year late in the 1st round, and one with little downside if healthy. It’s time for OC Bruce Arians to pound the rock more.
As for the Jets, I have to go back to my old theory about the offseason in the NFL: if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Now the Jets have a legit Pro Bowl caliber receiver in Holmes to team with Jericho Cotchery, Braylon Edwards, and Dustin Keller, not to mention three quality backs in Shonn Greene, LaDainian Tomlinson, and Leon Washington, assuming Washington is healthy.
On the surface, things are looking up for the Jet offense, but I wouldn’t expect the world. There are potential headaches here with Edwards, who is still having serious issues catching the ball, and Holmes, who seems to be a bit of a ticking time bomb and who had some lapses last year on the field. The addition of Holmes actually hurts Keller simply because there’s another mouth to feed in the passing game. Keller could certainly still emerge as a very active player for QB Mark Sanchez, but I just can’t see him being a major go-to guy with all these other receivers in the mix. I would think Cotchery will be used in the slot, where his size will be well utilized and his lack of speed less of an issue. When you include guys like Tomlinson and Washington, that’s a lot of guys who want the ball, and it’s going to be tough to keep everyone happy. Sure, all these weapons look great on paper for Sanchez, but I’d still view him as a lower-end backup. This is still a player who was 38th in the league in fantasy points per game the final eight games of the season. He looked lost more often than he looked to be in command, and he threw only 4 TD passes in those final eight games. You would think the team wants to throw more with all these receivers, but I’m not sure Sanchez is ready for the offense to be opened up, and they are certainly equipped to run the ball and ton, and they should run the ball a ton.
Clearly, there are now a ton of weapons on the Jet roster, and it all looks good on paper. But again, it seems too good to be true. I’m concerned about too many options pining for the ball and I find it hard to believe anyone will emerge as a true go-to guy in the passing game. The addition of Holmes could also take a little away from their running game.
In short, while we should see some big plays, I’m not feeling great about the Jet players. I’d be a little wary about all their options, with the exception of possibly Shonn Greene.
Here’s how I’d rank all their players from a fantasy perspective.
- Shonn Greene
- Dustin Keller
- Jerricho Cotchery – Most reliable WR
- Braylon Edwards – At least he should see fewer double teams
- LaDainian Tomlinson
- Mark Sanchez
- Santonio Holmes
- Leon Washington – Pending health update