Posted 24 April 2013 - 08:16 AM
I think 2011 is a prime example of Casey's upside.
At the beginning of 2011, Arian Foster was dealing with a hamstring injury, which meant that Ben Tate was getting the bulk of the carries for the Texans during the first few weeks of the regular season.
Ben Tate's stats during the initial 3 weeks that Foster mostly didn't play during (Foster had 10 carries for 33 rushing yards and 2 receptions for 7 receiving yards during Week 2, before re-aggravating his hammy and getting pulled again):
Week 1: 24 carries / 116 rushing yards / 1 rushing TD (0 receptions)
[fellow backup HB Derrick Ward also got 11 carries for 39 rushing yards and 1 rushing TD that particular week, was somewhat of a timeshare]
Week 2: 23 carries / 103 rushing yards / 4 receptions / 32 receiving yards
Week 3: 19 carries / 82 rushing yards / 1 reception / 8 receiving yards
[Derrick Ward did not touch the ball during Weeks 2 and 3...actually, he didn't touch the ball again after Week 1 until Week 7]
Week 1: 3 receptions / 29 receiving yards [no Foster this entire game]
Week 2: did not receive any touches [remember, Foster was in the lineup for part of this game]
Week 3: 5 receptions / 126 receiving yards / 1 receiving TD / 1 rush / 11 rushing yards
Fast forward through the season again until the final week, Week 17, where Arian Foster was rested (did not play at all).
Week 17: 16 carries / 97 rushing yards / 1 rushing TD / 4 receptions / 24 receiving yards
Week 17: 12 carries / 50 rushing yards / 0 receptions (2 incomplete passes thrown to Ward)
Week 17: 7 receptions / 91 receiving yards
So I definitely think that his story is more a case of under-use than lack of talent. He was basically buried behind Arian Foster, Ben Tate, Derrick Ward, and Owen Daniels, and last year add Justin Forsett to that list.
Given a prime opportunity, he could easily be a sleeper TE next season.
The note I'll make regarding that though is clearly I have no idea how Chip Kelly runs his offense, either in the NFL or college (I don't watch any college football). I'd have to go look up a ton of info on that before I could say that Casey has breakout potential in that new offense with any certainty.
That said, beyond the unknowns of how that offense works, there's also the fact that Celek really isn't a shabby TE. However, Celek's best season came in 2009 with McNabb at the helm, not Vick. Ever since Vick's been the starter, his TE's stats have dropped considerably since instead of using the TE as the release valve that he is supposed to be when a play breaks down, Vick instead frequently opts to run for it himself.
2009: 76 receptions / 971 receiving yards / 8 receiving TDs
2010: 42 receptions / 511 receiving yards / 4 receiving TDs
2011: 62 receptions / 811 receiving yards / 5 receiving TDs
2012: 57 receptions / 684 receiving yards / 1 receiving TD
I believe Celek also dealt with a few nagging injuries during the years with Vick (concussion, plus surgery to repair a torn labrum in his hip as well as a sports hernia).
Regardless, to me James Casey's contract has all the inklings of a coach putting together a very specific roster for a very unique offense. If he says he's going to use Casey as the joker TE, I think that's more than likely the gameplan.
Could Casey and Celek both cannibalize each other's value? Possibly, but I think you read the tea leaves and draft Casey late regardless, just like other breakout TE's in the past. He's one of the prime sleeper TE's in this year's draft, if you put together all the indications.
2014 Rotoworld Mock Draft Real League - 14-Team 0.5 PPR + ALL TDs = 6PTs:
QB : Matthew Stafford.......(03.13)............. RB - Adrian Peterson......(01.03)
WR1: Malcom Floyd...........(14.14)............. RB - Matt Asiata..........(UD.FA)
WR2: Eddie Royal............(UD.FA)............. RB - Juwan Thompson.......(16.12)
RB1: Arian Foster...........(01.11)............. RB - Damien Williams......(16.10)
RB2: Eddie Lacy.............(01.05)............. RB - LaMichael James......(UD.FA)
FLEX1: RB Branden Oliver....(UD.FA)............. TE - Austin Sef-Jenkins...(UD.FA)
FLEX2: RB Steven Jackson....(04.02)............. WR - Donte Moncrief.......(UD.FA)
TE : Travis Kelce...........(15.12)............. WR/IR Marquess Wilson.....(UD.FA)