Chip Kelly has been known to use his TE, and at the time of acquiring Casey he referred to him as his "joker". THe reports are that Kelly wants to use Casey like the Patriots use Aaron Hernandez. Kelly's run-first zone read offense creates holes in the middle of the field as defenders try to collapse the run. Casey has shown he has soft hands, and while Oregon TE Colt Lyerla didn't catch a ton of balls, his impact was felt as nearly all of his catches went for good yards. It seems that all of Lyerla's catches went for first downs or touchdowns.
As a self-proclaimed TE hater, I always wait until the last possible moment to draft one on draft day. I'm assuming nobody else in any league under 18 teams or two TE formats will be looking at this guy, so his price tag is easy to swallow. But will his return be worth anything, or will he live down to his draft day price?
Casey is an interesting player. Had he stayed at Rice one more year he was going to be their starting QB. Very versatile. As a Texans fan I was hoping we'd be able to retain him, but he obviously couldn't turn down that contract. That was kind of a shocker. The general feeling is that they way overpaid for him (not because he's not good but 3yr/$14.5m is a LOT for a guy who was a FB/3rd TE last year), but when you overpay for a guy it's because you like him and you have plans for him. I think he's a real sleeper this year based solely on talent, versatility, and that contract. I don't know much about Chip Kelly's system, but there are 8 million guaranteed reasons why he'll probably find a way to incorporate Casey often.
Off topic a bit, but I'm the same way with TEs. I think Bennett is another guy worth grabbing late.
Celek is no slouch. I'm seeing he and Casey cancelling each other out fantasy-wise. Similar to Dreessen and Tamme in DEN. Combine their stats and you have an impressive line but separate you're looking at a huge headache.
2014 RW Mock Real League: 14-team, 0.5 PPR, All TDs 6 pts
***Follow along this season in the "Your League" forum on RW***
QB: Big Ben
RB1: Frank Gore (5.06)
RB2: Lamar Miller
WR1: Calvin Johnson (1.06)
WR2: Julio Jones (2.09)
W/R/T: Roddy White
W/R/T: Golden Tate (7.06)
TE: Eric Ebron
DEF: DET DST
K: Dan Carpenter
Bench: PHI DST, Keenan Allen (3.06), , Carlos Hyde, Harry Douglas (11.06), Kenny Stills, Andy Dalton, KaDeem Carey (14.09), Nick Foles (8.09), James White (12.09), Eli Manning (13.06), CLE DST (15.06), Danny Woodhead (6.09), Steven Hauschka, K, SEA (16.09), Heath Miller (10.09)
I agree that Celek is no slouch, but this sure appears to be the case of a new HC coming in and bringing in his guy. In the case of Tamme and Dreessen, they were both brought in by the new coaching staff at the same time and paid very similarly to each other (3yr/8.5m vs. 3yr/9.0m). 3yr/14.5m was an aggressive play by Philly - almost as much as Tamme + Dreessen combined. Makes me think they plan to utilize him a lot.
FFNinja, that's how I feel about Casey too. While Celek has been an unexciting yet serviceable fantasy TE in years past, I feel that Philly paid to much to not use Casey in some crazy way. The Oregon TE was versatile enough to be used as a power rusher in Kelly's offense, and while I don't expect Casey to wrest away many carries from Lesean and Bryce Brown, I think Kelly likes the fact that he could potentially use Casey as a runner if needed to, along with the abilty to use him as a blocking TE and fullback in addition to a receiver. I'm not so sure that translates into fantasy potential though.
You're right. He could be paying to use him in all those other roles which don't yield fantasy points. Impossible to know right now, but given how late he is going, I think he's an easy target in deep leagues. If I was playing in a league with only 5 bench spots (which I wouldn't do), then he's not draftable, but in deep leagues, he's worth a shot.
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]
James Casey: 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).
James Casey: 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.
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)