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Spotlight: Santonio Holmes

posted by Will Grant on Aug 5th

Will Grant's thoughts

After four solid seasons with Pittsburgh, culminating in 1250 yard, five TD season, Santonio Holmes signed five-year, $45 Million contract with the Jets in 2010. The Jets were looking for a receiver to take their passing game to the next level. Instead, Holmes has done more complaining than elevating, and his prospects for this season don't look much better.

Role with the Jets
A team doesn't commit nine million dollars a year to a player without expecting him to put up some elite stats. However with Braylon Edwards and Dustin Keller in the mix back in 2010, Holmes finished tied for fourth on the team with just 52 receptions for the season. The Jets also ran for almost 2000 yards that year with Shonn Greene and LaDanian Tomlinson in the backfield. Clearly the Jets didn't get their money's worth in 2010.

Last season, the expectation was higher though. Quarterback Mark Sanchez had few seasons under his belt to really become comfortable with the offense, and Braylon Edwards have moved on. Holmes was the clear cut #1 receiver on the team, with Plaxico Burress coming straight from a prison cell to the starting lineup opposite Holmes. Tomlinson's role was dramatically reduced and the Jets even backed off their commitment to the run. Holmes responded with one less reception and almost 100 fewer receiving yards despite playing in four additional games. Despite hauling in eight TD receptions, his second season was a bust by most standards.

To make matters worse, he and Sanchez were openly fighting both in the locker room and in the press. Many folks expected Holmes to be traded or released during the off-season, but his contract made that cost prohibitive.

Holmes and the Jets in 2012
So the Jets committed to keeping Holmes, and he made an effort to repair some of the damage with his team. He's in camp and ready to play, and looking forward to putting the last season behind him. He's easily the best receiver on the team, and that only helps his case in looking to rebound after posting some of the lowest numbers of his career.

The problem is that the Jets are facing a ton of other challenges aside from hoping Holmes can screw his head on right. Statistically Mark Sanchez posted the best numbers of his career in 2011. The Jets rewarded him by bringing the Tim Tebow circus to town. Now instead of focusing on improving from last season, Sanchez will be trying to keep his job while Tebow tries to prove the he can be an NFL quarterback.

Even worse for Holmes and the passing game, the Jets have publicly stated that they plan to return to the ground and pound running game from 2010. Between a QB controversy and a commitment to run the ball, that doesn't leave much room for Holmes to take it up a notch.


  • Easily the most talented receiver on the roster
  • Has shown signs of big play ability, and still manages to find the end zone a lot despite average reception totals
  • Commitment to run and Tebow at QB could see defenses bring more to the line of scrimmage, opening up Holmes to make big plays down the field


  • Just one 1000+ yard season in his six year career, and coming off two seasons with only 50 receptions
  • If the Jets can't spread the ball around, Holmes will face the top cornerbacks and double-teams all season long
  • QB controversy and commitment to run could mean significantly fewer passing yards

Final thoughts

It's hard to think of Holmes as anything more than a WR3 for your fantasy team. The 1250 yard season from 2009 looks more like a fluke than an expectation, and the Jets are talking about running the ball even MORE. The QB controversy has trouble written all over it, and neither Sanchez nor Tebow are going to throw for 4,000 yards. Holmes might have some limited value if he falls into the WR40 range, simply because he's going to score seven or eight times. But he's not a guy that you can count on from week to week, and looks like more risk than reward this season.

Quotations from the message board thread

To view the entire Player Spotlight thread (there's a ton of fantastic commentary in there), click here.

Solorca said:

I think that Holmes is underrated going into this season. While I don't think he'll put up insanely high numbers, I think it's pretty likely that he puts up solid WR3 level stats and can probably be picked up for cheaper than that. Even if Tebow takes over, I think he'll get plenty of attention as he's the best WR target on the team (Hill will take some time to develop).

Dragon1952 said:

Holmes missed the first 4 games due to suspension in his first year (2010) with the Jets and playing with a 2nd yr QB netted 52 catches on 95 targets for 746 yds and 6 TDs.

In 2011, with no training camp, he netted 51 catches on 101 targets for 654 yds and 8 TD's. Sanchez' completion percentage has raised slightly each year from 53.9 to 54.8 to 56.8. His attempts, yardage and TD's have all increased year to year also. I know they want to run more, but it's still to be seen how much Sparano and Tebow and any OL changes they've made might help. Regardless, I don't see the total passing declining much from 3500 yds and 26 TDs.

Burress and Tomlinson will be gone along with their combined 87 receptions, 1000+ yds and 10 TD's. So they've got Stephen Hill and Chaz Shilens now, and maybe a few more for Keller and Kerley. I just don't see how Holmes' absolute bottom floor can be less than 6-7TD's, with it more likely being 8-10. If Sanchez continues to improve on his accuracy, and the new play-calling and OL shuffling can help him out to boot, I don't see why that 50% completion rate to Holmes can't improve quite a bit.

I mean, come on. He had 6 TD's in 12 games in 2010, his 1st year in a new system with a 2nd yr QB and missing the first 4 games. And no training camp in his 2nd year with 8 TD's. How can people be predicting just 6 TD's in his first real "normal" year.

FF Ninja said:

I think the Jets realized that passing the ball is not their identity which is why they switched to a more grinding OC in Sparano. They've emphasized the passing game more each year and the results have been worse. I think this year they get back to running the ball and playing defense. In 2009, they threw the ball 389 times and had the RBs rush 534 times. In 2011, they threw the ball 545 times and had the RBs rush 397 times. I don't think we see either this year, but probably somewhere in the middle. Maybe 500 passes and 440 RB rushes. Actually with Tebow running a few packages a game, maybe he dips out of both pots and we only see 480 passes and 420 RB rushes.

But this thread is about Holmes and I think this shift won't hurt him a whole lot. He should see 100 targets again, maybe even 120, but that's unlikely. Even if he saw 120, catch % has a strong correlation to QB comp % and Holmes isn't running the short routes, so I think at best we're looking at 55%, so a 66 reception ceiling does not sound very appealing around his ADP. I mean, 50-66 receptions will likely land him in WR3 territory by year's end, but we all want to think we're drafting a potential WR2 when we're drafting our WR3 and it would take a small miracle for that to happen with Holmes. I think most likely we're looking at 55 receptions, 14 ypr, 770 yds, 6 TD which likely equates to a low-end WR3 matching up with his current WR34 ADP.

Santonio Holmes projections

Will Grant48648800
Message board consensus65934600