Impact Analysis: Jeremy Shockey, New Orleans Saints

by Eric McClung on July 24, 2008 @ 14:31:53 PDT

 


Fantasy owners who have drafted New Orleans Saints tight end Jeremy Shockey should expect to see a great return on their selection following his change of address. The New York Giants have traded the disgruntled Shockey to arguably the best possible destination for him and fantasy owners alike, as he joins a dynamic passing offense that sorely needed a tight end.

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Solid play and a big Super Bowl moment by Shockey's former backup, Giants tight end Kevin Boss, made it easy for Giants management and fans to waive goodbye to Shockey. Of course, compiling a greatest hits list that included telling the media your team got outcoached, hitting a child in the stands with a cup of ice and getting into a shouting match with the general manager likely didn't help matters either.

On the positive side, the trade reunites Shockey with Saints head coach Sean Payton, who was the Giants offensive coordinator during Shockey's highly successful rookie season. Shockey set careers highs and led all tight ends with 74 receptions and 894 receiving yards during that 2002 campaign. Shockey currently carries an average draft position (ADP) around the middle of the eighth round, but look for him to move up draft boards as the trade makes Shockey a top-10 fantasy tight end with upside.

The Big Easy

Teaming up with Payton and quarterback Drew Brees may well equal big success in the Big Easy for Shockey. Brees is coming off back-to-back 4,000-yard seasons and enters the 2008 campaign with a star tight end for the first time as a member of the Saints. Brees, a former teammate of San Diego Chargers tight end Antonio Gates, is no stranger to taking advantage of the type of big target Shockey offers.

Indeed, Gates' most successful seasons, 2004 and 2005, were both while Brees was still on the West Coast. As the top receiving option in San Diego, Gates averaged 85 catches, 1,033 yards and 11.5 touchdowns per year during those two seasons. Although it's unrealistic to assume Shockey, likely the second or third option in the passing game behind receiver Marques Colston and halfback Reggie Bush, would be able to match those totals, it does offer a lot of promise. While Brees can reward a talented tight end, there has been a lack of talent at the position during Brees' tenure in New Orleans, which has been responsible for a lack of production.

In 2006, tight end Mark Campbell paced the position with a meager 18 receptions for 164 yards. As a group, New Orleans tight ends accounted for just 45 catches, 411 yards and one touchdown. By contrast, Shockey totaled 66 receptions for 623 yards with seven scores in '06.

Things improved significantly in 2007 following the arrival of tight end Eric Johnson, who hauled in 48 passes for 378 yards and a pair of touchdowns as part of a 76-catch, 710-yard effort from the position overall. In a down year, Shockey still managed 57 catches, 619 yards and three touchdowns during his 14 games played.

Fantasy football outlook

While the move to New Orleans' pass-happy offense (the Saints averaged nearly 73 more passing yards per game than the Giants last season) should certainly benefit Shockey's fantasy standing, he is not without risk. In what would be his last game for the Giants, Shockey fractured his fibula and sustained a serious ankle injury. By all accounts the leg and ankle are fine; he should be ready for training camp. However, health is always a concern with Shockey, who has never played all 16 games in a season and has routinely played banged up with one aliment or another.

Shockey provides a great value on draft day, assuming he can dodge the injury bug. Consider the seventh-year pro a strong No. 1 option at the position, but do make sure you invest in a quality backup tight end in case Shockey once again misses time in 2008.

The signing of Shockey effectively ruins any value Johnson (ankle) had as a fantasy reserve, and he is no longer worth drafting. He is actually in jeopardy of making the roster, too.

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About Eric McClung

Eric McClung has been profiled by the FSWA for covering the fantasy sports spectrum and is a three-time award finalist. Over the years, he's made several appearances in print and on radio. McClung began contributing to KFFL in 2008 and currently serves as one of KFFL's featured fantasy NASCAR experts. He's also captured the fantasy football championship in the KFFL staff league twice.

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