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Spotlight: Robert Meachem

posted by Steve Holloway on Jul 23rd


Steve Holloway's thoughts

Setting the Stage
Robert Meachem played collegiately at Tennessee, redshirting his freshman season following a knee injury. He caught 25 passes as a redshirt freshman in 2004 and followed that up with 29 catches as a sophomore. He finally had an outstanding year as a junior when he led the team with 71 receptions. His three year totals were 125 catches for 2,140 yards and 17 TDs. After declaring early for the draft, he was taken by the Saints with the 27th pick in the first round. Similar to his start in college though, he was unable to play his entire rookie year following knee surgery. Despite his lofty draft status, he was consistently outplayed by seventh round pick Marques Colston and undrafted Lance Moore. He spent the majority of his time with the Saints underachieving, being a somewhat lightly targeted role player that specialized in quick wide receiver screens and deep routes. Over the four seasons that he played with the Saints, he was in 62 games with 223 targets and caught 141 passes for 2,269 yards and 23 TDs. He signed a four year contract for $26 Million, with $14 Million guaranteed with the Chargers this off-season. Many forecast him as Vincent Jackson's replacement for the Chargers.

Malcom Floyd is a native Californian that was lightly recruited and played four seasons collegiately for Wyoming, from 1999-2004. He totaled 186 receptions for 2,411 yards and 14 TDs. Floyd was not invited to the Combine, nor was he drafted. He worked his way off the practice squad and onto the roster and has now persevered through seven seasons with the Chargers. Over the most recent three seasons, he has provided consistent production for the Chargers. Floyd signed a two year contract with the team in 2011 for $5 Million and will earn $2 Million this season before becoming a free agent next year. An interesting tidbit about Malcom Floyd is that both his father and older brother are also named Malcolm, but notice the slightly different spelling.

Floyd's career has been much longer than Meachem's, but a review of each of their stats over the past three seasons should provide the best comparison of recent production and perhaps the optimum gage on their opportunities for the upcoming season.

Year Name Gms Tgts Recs Catch% RecYds YPR TDs Rank
09 Meachem 16 64 45 70.3 722 16.0 9 22
09 Floyd 16 76 45 59.2 776 17.2 1 54
10 Meachem 16 66 44 66.7 638 14.5 5 45
10 Floyd 11 77 37 48.0 717 19.4 6 36
11 Meachem 16 73 40 54.8 620 15.5 6 44
11 Floyd 12 70 43 61.4 856 19.9 5 32
Totals Meachem 48 203 129 63.2 1,980 15.3 20
Totals Floyd 39 223 125 56.1 2,349 18.8 12

Surprisingly, Floyd has been the more productive receiver with more targets per game, more receptions per game and a significant advantage in yards per reception rate. Meachem only leads in catch percentage and TDs. Since Brees is more accurate and completes a greater percentage of his passes than Rivers, the catch percentage differential is not surprising.

Looking Forward to 2012
The Chargers have a new offensive coordinator, promoting Hal Hunter to replace retiring Clarence Shelmon. However, many expect that this year's offensive scheme will be much like what the Chargers have run the past couple of years. A year ago the Chargers finished sixth in yards per game and tied for fifth in points per game. The rushing component of the offense was pitiful in 2009 ranking 31st in yards per game, but improved to finish 15th and 16th respectively in 2010 and 2011. Their passing offense on the other hand has been solid ranking fifth, second and sixth in 2009-2012. The team is expecting consistent running game production this season from Ryan Mathews, but the offense will continue to revolve around the arm of Philip Rivers.

Most prognosticators seem to project that Meachem has the best chance to lead the Chargers at the wide receiver position. He has a current ADP of WR31 and 80 overall. However, with the Saints, he rarely was matched against the top cornerbacks and he never took a leadership role on the team. Floyd has a current ADP of WR37 and 106 overall, so even though the same statements also apply to him, he can be drafted two to three rounds later. Floyd did finish really strong a year ago, catching TD passes in each of the final three games and totaling 18 receptions for 318 yards with those 3 TDs.

Positives

  • First round talent that was paid well as a free agent this offseason
  • Better catch percentage over the past three seasons, but Brees is more accurate than Rivers
  • More TD receptions on fewer targets

Negatives

  • Played in this system and with Rivers all his career
  • His 6-foot 5 frame is well suited for red zone targets
  • Much higher ypa the past three years even though Meachem seen as the deep target guy

Final thoughts

An opportunity is definitively available for the wide receivers in the Chargers' passing offense and for fantasy owners in 2012. Rivers has passed for over 4,000 yards the past four consecutive seasons and over 4,600 the past two. Long time top receiver Vincent Jackson and his 114 targets have moved on to Tampa Bay. Although Antonio Gates is supposed to finally be healthy, he has missed nine games over the past two seasons and is 32 years old so he could again miss games this campaign.

Being forced to make the choice between Meachem and Floyd reminds me of the grail knight quote from the 1989 film, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, when he stated "You must choose. But choose wisely, for as the true grail will bring you life, the false grail will take it from you". A third consideration and possibly the best one would be to draft neither. These two may take turns being productive and you never get the right one in your fantasy line-up at the right time. The Chargers also have Vincent Brown, a second year player drafted in the third round last year and added two other free agent receivers in the off-season. Both Eddie Royal and Roscoe Parrish have excellent quickness and could be effectively used as slot receivers. There is a real possibility that the team's wide receivers collectively produce numbers that could keep Rivers in the top ten quarterbacks without any of them being consistent enough to be an every week starter for fantasy teams.


Quotations from the message board thread

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

az_prof said:

I figure Floyd will do about what he did last year. His role is not changing. He isn't changing position. And Meachem was brought in to fill the VJax role. So I don't see an uptick or down tick, unless he gets hurt. People need to remember that he is 31. Is there a WR in the history of the NFL who never had achieved a 1000 yard season and did it post 30? I seriously doubt it. I doubt that Floyd is good enough to be the first.

I'll go with a repeat of last year: 45/850/5

Meachem is a former first round pick who at 28 is in his prime. He also has never had a 1000 yards but I think he has the talent, the role (VJax's by all accounts from Coaches), and the QB to do it. If you tally the total LOST production of VJax and Tolbert, it has to go somewhere. I don't see it going to Floyd. I don't see Gates increasing his production that much at his age. Matthews will get a bit more, but he had 50 receptions last year--is he really going to catch 70? I doubt it. Brown will improve on his 19 receptions, but even if he catches 40, there is still a lot on the table for the WR1 in that offense, which is Meachem.

People underestimate his ability because he had high expectations as first round pick and then took a year to deal with an injury and to adapt to the NFL game. People said he had bad hands coming out of college; but his catch % has been above average, especially for a guy who runs deep routes. Then people said he could only run deep routes, but in the Meachem thread that claim is rebutted. Norv Turner himself has observed that Meachem can run the full route tree and has exceeded expectations so far; he simply was not asked to run those routes in NO. He has break away speed, good hands, and good size. What's not to like?

He catches 70 out of the 114 receptions the team lost between VJax and Tolbert. That still leaves 40 receptions for Brown, which would be a big leap for him, and and another 4 for Matthews, which would give him 54. Gates and Floyd I expect to do similar as last year.

Ministry of Pain said:

Meachem is poised to do what others have done in the past. I look at him as a possible Joe Horn type of guy who will change teams as he enters his prime. The team he left did not want to keep him long term, much like the Chiefs felt there was no long term future on their roster for Horn. I think folks are going to kick themselves for not drafting him as the WR30-WR40 off the board. He is clearly going to be one of the 1st options for Rivers. The fact he has a big gun arm QB like Rivers will help to exploit his talents. Brees was deadly accurate but he does not have the biggest arm in the league, not a knock on Brees but he is about precision. I think Rivers is going to enjoy playing long ball with Meachem. Floyd is now 31 and we have seen the best he can do and it is a far cry from a WR1.

Meachem will garner somewhere in the neighborhood of about 6-10 targets a week depending on the opponent and whether the Bolts are playing catch up or not. I think 120 targets is a reasonable expectation. If he can catch about 57-60% of those targets he should easily rack up 65-70 balls, 1,000 yards, 7-8 TDs.

Just Win Baby said:

Meachem: 65/1050/8
Floyd: 60/975/4

There is definite upside above these numbers if any of Gates or Mathews gets hurt. And upside for Meachem if Floyd gets hurt, and vice versa.

Meachem clearly seems like the play here IMO, for a few reasons. First, he is a good red zone target despite not being targeted frequently in the red zone in New Orleans (I posted the data in the other Meachem thread). Meanwhile, he also scored a lot of TDs from outside the red zone. And all of the other primary San Diego targets (Gates, Floyd, and Mathews) have had some difficulty staying healthy and on the field.

That said, Floyd may also be a nice upside play given his likely low price.

I don't think any other San Diego WRs will have useful value unless there are injuries, maybe multiple injuries.


Robert Meachem projections

RECRECYDRECTDRSHYDRSHTD
Steve Holloway55850600
Message board consensus681033800