Player Round Table (Devin Hester)
By FBG Staff; Hosted by Maurile Tremblay
August 6th, 2010

Here at Footballguys.com, we have Spotlights and Faceoffs. Those features are fairly comprehensive, but they are limited to viewpoints from either one or two writers. Some players need a little more commentary. We have opened up the dialog and asked our staff to leave their thoughts on these players and what is expected from them in 2010. Here, discussion centers around WR Devin Hester.

Maurile Tremblay: The Bears' passing offense is tough to project since Mike Martz will make many changes from last year. Hester will likely start at flanker, with Knox at split end and Aromashodu in the slot. Earl Bennett and Juaquin Iglesias are in the running for a decent amount of playing time as well.

Knox and Hester both have big-play ability, but Aromashodu runs better patterns and has better hands than either of them. He also has great chemistry with Cutler. And it doesn't matter that he's considered the third receiver - in a Mike Martz offense, the "third" WR can lead the team in receptions. (See: Mike Furrey, 2006 Detroit Lions.)

I would not say that Hester is overpriced at his current ADP. But of the Bears' WRs, my money is on Aromashodu to be the best value.

Andy Hicks: One or two of the Bears WRs should be fantasy gold this season; the tough part is figuring out which one(s). Mike Martz and Jay Cutler both love to throw the ball. I like Aromashodu's prospects because of his rapport with Cutler, but he had only 24 catches last season compared to Hester's 57, Bennett's 54, and Knox's 45. On the whole, I think Hester's ADP is fair. He's a high-risk, high-reward fantasy prospect and his ADP appropriately reflects that.

Will Grant: A complex offense will actually work against Hester. He has always had issues learning the offense and running precise routes. He's much better on fly and corner routes, where his speed and shiftiness can get him into open space quickly. He has never been good at beating the jam and once you knock him off his route, it takes a second for him to get back on his game. A guy with his speed and agility should have a higher career YPC average than 13.4.

In the new Mike Martz offense, if they move Hester back to the fly routes and the deep corners where he can match up one on one with slower corners, he could become their 'big play' receiver. However, he's not going to catch 80 passes in a season. He's just not that type of receiver.

Sigmund Bloom: Hester was on pace for 82 catches through the first half of last season...

Will Grant: And over his final four games, he averaged just over two receptions per game.

With Johnny Knox, Devin Aromashodu, Earl Bennett and Greg Olsen on the field, I expect Jay Cutler to spread the ball around a lot. In the new offense, I expect Hester's receptions to go down, but his YPC (and hopefully TDs) to go up.

Sigmund Bloom: Hester was banged up in the last part of the season. If you think he can't be an 80-catch receiver because he can't stay healthy for a whole season, that's one thing, but he was Cutler's go-to guy for the first two months of the season, with one five-game stretch where he notched 34 catches. This was also in his first season as a starting WR. And he has a head start on the Mike Martz offense after working with Ike Bruce this offseason. Add to that the Chicago Sun-Times assertion that Martz "has big plans" for Hester, and 80 catches may end being conservative when the dust settles if Hester stays healthy.

Will Grant: Hester's been on the offensive side of the ball for two seasons now, and he has only 108 receptions in 28 games. Granted, Kyle Orton was throwing the ball the first season compared with Jay Cutler last season, but Hester's reception percentage only jumped from 55% to 62% and his YPC only improved from 13.0 to 13.3. At that rate, he'll need 130 targets to hit 80 receptions - 40 more than his career best.

If we assume 350 pass completions on the season for the Bears, a rough breakout looks something like this:

    100 receptions to the running backs: Taylor, Forte, Bell and Wolfe.
  • 60 receptions to the tight ends: Olsen, Clark, Davis and Manumaleuna
  • 190 receptions are left for the Wide Receivers.
  • If Hester has 80 of those, that only leaves 110 for everyone else.

    Earl Bennett, Johnny Knox and Devin Aromashodu had 123 last season. Knox and Bennett had 99 of them. Aromashodu had 22 in the last four games.

    I guess if you play with the numbers enough, you can make it happen. I just don't see that significant of an improvement for Hester without any improvement by anyone else.

    I think that the new Chicago offense will spread the ball around to all of these guys and nobody will finish with more than 65 receptions for the season.

    Andy Hicks: I don't think I'm the only one concerned about Greg Olsen this year.

    We saw how Vernon Davis was used in San Francisco when Martz was there and we saw how Davis responded last season. Martz does not like using the tight end as a receiver, no matter how good a receiver he is.

    To me there are only four guys in the mix: Knox, Aromashodu, Hester and Bennett.

    Bennett looks like a contributor rather than a star, while the other three could each have very big seasons. I acknowledge the concerns with Hester, but I think his big-play ability makes up for them.

    Will Grant: Oh I totally agree about Olsen. I only brought him up to say that he's one of the reasons that I believe that Cutler is going to spread the ball around. I don't think he's going to be a 60-catch guy this season, but he's not going to go away, either. Cutler is going to look to him from time to time. He's going to look to Chester Taylor from time to time... and Matt Forte and the other guys I mentioned.

    Jeff Pasquino: At WR43, this is crazy value for what could be the top WR in a Mike Martz offense. As the season gets closer, especially if Hester starts showing during training camp and preseason that he is going to be the top target, his ascension up the draft chart will likely follow.

    Say what you will about his durability or the other candidates stealing looks from Cutler, there is little reason not to expect well over 100 passes heading towards Hester this year. Cutler has never met a pass play call he did not like, and now Mike Martz is going to feed that beast with regularity this season. Hester has to pace himself to last all 16 games, but 4-6 catches a week does not seem like a heavy workload as he grows into the top target role.

    I don't think 70-1000-5 type numbers seem out of reach here, which would be a steal for someone drafted as a fantasy WR4 this season. That sound more like WR3 with WR2 upside, so again this is a great value play and I fully expect his ADP to rise.

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