Hakeem Nicks was an absolute bust in fantasy football last year. Like any player who has dealt with any injuries, missed games or erratic play, experts labeled him with caution tape leading into 2013 fantasy football drafts.
But people really didn’t listen. The end result was watching the New York Giants start in an 0-6 hole and Nicks, on a contract year, did nothing to help them get out of it. Whether he was hurt, disinterested, couldn’t help that Eli Manning was terrible or just lost a step - that doesn’t really matter. The point is the guy didn’t get the job done.
That’s actually an understatement. Nicks was flat out bad.
Nicks has always had a history of injuries and inconsistent fundamentals, but his routes, timing and hands were all performed at an all-time low in 2013. It surely didn’t help the Giants, while his shaky play resulted in 56 catches for 896 yards. At first glance, that’s pretty solid and he was even good for 16 yards per catch. But then there is the zero touchdowns.
That goose egg is pretty hard to get over. Seriously, considering his talent and the fact that he was in a contract year, Nicks scoring not a single touchdown has to be pretty alarming.
Now he’s with the Indianapolis Colts, in yet another contract season and facing the same potential season from hell. After all, he’s third on the receiver totem pole, as T.Y. Hilton and Reggie Wayne are almost certain to stick as the top two receivers in two-wide receiver sets. That doesn’t mean Nicks has no fantasy value, but it certainly hinders it.
A very "run of the mill" camp and preseason don’t help his odds of suddenly stepping up and going nuts, either. In fact, Nicks was so average this summer that it’s possible the Colts use more double-tight end looks just to give themselves a little more stability on the field.
Again, none of this means Nicks won’t get on the field, and this by itself also doesn’t mean he can’t produce. The injuries and inconsistency are starting to pile up, though. Nicks has never played a full season in his career, hasn’t topped 60 catches or three touchdowns in the past two years and doesn’t appear poised to break any of his negative trends.
Then again, perhaps this change of scenery is exactly what he needs. Maybe operating as a quiet third option in a hopefully more pass-oriented Colts offense will help open things up for him. Logic does support the notion that life would be made easier on him.
Even with fewer opportunities, a guy with great size and ball skills like Nicks can still return terrific value if he can put up good touchdown numbers. Recent history doesn’t suggest that will be the case in 2014, but his past and talent doesn’t rule it out just yet, either.
Nicks still has a chance to pay off as a fantasy steal in drafts. We need to find that fine line between risk and value, though, and make sure we’re not using him as a starter or banking on him too much. If we can do that, Nicks could surprise us as a WR3 or a useful Flex play.
We just need to exercise caution with a guy like Nicks. He still has the talent and situation to be productive, but he also has the makings of another debacle like Darrius Heyward-Bey was a year ago. Draft him at your own risk.
This post comes from Justin Becker of FantasyFootballOverdose.com. You can follow him on Twitter @NBAandNFLInfo or on the Fantasy Football Overdose Google+ Page, and for more NFL Fantasy Football Projections visit Fantasy Football Overdose.