Rebound Radar: Chris Herndon
Rebound radar is an off-season column dedicated to players that @itsharristime expects to rebound for the 2020 season. These are players that are buy-low candidates in dynasty and will cost you little draft capital in upcoming season long drafts. In Best Ball, these are late round fliers that could pay big dividends in 2020. The methodology for selecting these players is based on historical production, situation, and, athletic testing and ability. Enjoy!
For those of you that are not familiar, the “Bridge to Herndon” strategy for re-draft in 2019 was this: draft the suspended Chris Herndon and hope for TE1-2 production upon his return in Week 5. Herndon’s breakout second half in 2018, and his usage in the slot made Herndon an ideal late round sleeper in 2019 drafts.
Well, that return happened, and, upon that return, Herndon was immediately injured. The Bridge to Herndon came crumbling down just as fast as he came back. Who injures a hamstring working out on their own? For those that didn’t have a breakout late round TE to lean on (see one Darren Waller), the outlook at TE would have been bleak in 2019.
Herndon was a surprise mid season breakout in 2018, accruing a 10-plus percent target share and/or 60% of the team's snaps in seven games from Week 9 on. He was the #1 rookie TE in 2018, outperforming fellow rookies Dallas Goedert, Mike Gesicki, Mark Andrews and Hayden Hurst in virtually all categories.
With that tantalizing sample size from 2018, Herndon was by all intents and purposes a late round flyer in 2019 given the announcement of his suspension to start the season in early July. Herndon didn’t even hold an ADP for 2019 on fantasyfootballcalculator.com for 2019 and should fly thoroughly under the radar in 2020.
What is also encouraging was the usage of journeyman TE Ryan Griffin in place of the suspended/injured Herndon. Griffin (6’6, 247 lbs), accounted for the fifth-most snaps at his position last year and ran passing routes on over 60% of offensive plays (good for 15th at the TE position), commanded over 10% of all targets, and correlated this usage to fantasy production. Griffin averaged 7.4 FP/G, good for TE18 on the season.
Now, my logic is this. Give that similar type of usage and opportunity to an explosive athlete like Herndon, what are the possibilities? Looking at a fairly even sample size of Herndon in 2018 vs Griffin in 2019, Herndon (12.4 yards per reception) outperforms Griffin (9.4) while not getting the same type of quality passes from rookie Sam Darnold; only 2.8 percent of Herndon’s targets from Darnold, for example, were deemed ‘on target’ while 8.1 percent of Griffin’s were charted as such. The additional YPR for Herndon would allude to his superior athleticism to Griffin and, given continued improvement by Darnold in year 3, an overall increase in production from Herndon could be expected given the opportunity.
Does Herndon get the opportunity to shine in 2020, or will this be a time share with Griffin? Herndon is right now a throw in for dynasty deals, and at the unpredictable and unstable position of TE, I suggest you have him added to every dynasty proposal this off-season. For redraft, I may not even take him in standard 15 round drafts. Wait to snag him on waivers when the timeshare reveals itself in New York. This might not be the case in deeper leagues, as Herndon is currently holding an ADP of 15.02 in 2020. Be wary in your sharper leagues as someone might have their eyes on Herndon as a sleeper TE breakout.
I’d also keep an eye on Griffin, as the timeshare might swing in his favour. In Best-Ball, I’d throw a dart Herndon’s way in the 17-18th round. Herndon can be this year’s Darren Waller, especially with Robby Anderson's departure. Those targets need to be eaten up. Could Gase be imaginative enough to utilize 2-TE sets? If Griffin plays the role of blocking TE, and Herndon’s slot usage rivals that of his rookie season and can take some targets away from slot monster Jamison Crowder (70% snaps from the slot in 2019) , the upside potential is there for Herndon.
At his near non-existent ADP, and the volatility at the TE position, what’s the risk?
A special thanks to John Daigle @notJDaigle for always giving back to the fantasy football community. John is a must follow, and a pillar at www.rotoworld.com. In every podcast, article and piece of content he creates, his passion and love for the game of football shows through. Daigle is one of the good ones!