Player Points - Robert Meachem
By Chase Stuart
April 27th, 2010

In 2009, Robert Meachem caught 45 passes for 722 yards and 9 touchdowns in 16 games. While that was good enough to make him the 25th best fantasy WR, the truly extraordinary feat was that Meachem did it all on just 64 targets. The former Tennessee Volunteer averaged 2.5 fantasy points per target in 2009, the most of any WR in the past eight years (minimum 50 targets). So what does that mean for next year?

Well, maybe nothing. In 2006, Devery Henderson averaged 2.3 FP/T; the next season he averaged 1.7 FP/T and in 2008 he averaged 2.0 FP/T. More importantly, though, Henderson never ranked among the top 40 fantasy wide receivers. Since Drew Brees (and Reggie Bush) arrived in New Orleans in 2006, the Saints have had one of their receivers put up huge per-target numbers in every season except for 2007. Brees, perhaps the most accurate passer in the league, has had great success taking advantage of his third and fourth receivers facing single coverage against nickel and dime backs. But that doesn't necessarily mean those players will see an increased role the next season and continue to dominate starting corners.

From 2002 to 2008, twelve receivers had between 40 and 90 targets, saw at least 3.5 targets points per game, and scored at least 1.9 fantasy points per target. On average, those players had 67 targets, caught 42 passes for 738 yards and scored 7.8 touchdowns in 14.0 games. Those dozen receivers had pretty similar numbers to those that Meachem produced last year; they averaged 10.3 FP/G, slightly higher than Meachem's 2009 average.

The next season, those players averaged 9.4 fantasy points per game as a group. Two of the twelve, Greg Jennings in 2007-2008 and Javon Walker in 2003-2004 season, improved enough to land in the top five in the following season. But only two more, Randy Moss and Plaxico Burress in 2004-2005, ranked in the top 30 the next season. Five more players -- Dennis Northcutt (2002-2003), Lee Evans (2004-2005), Santonio Holmes (2007-2008), David Givens (2003-2004) and Deverey Henderson (2008-2009 versions) -- were in the WR30-WR45 range the next season, making them WR4s on good fantasy teams. And then there are the cautionary tales of Reggie Williams, Devery Henderson (2006-2007 version) and Jerry Porter -- they faded into fantasy obscurity the next season. Kelly Campbell, the ex-Vikings receiver, also fits the description: he averaged 2.2 fantasy points per target in 2003 on 44 targets (but with just 2.8 targets per game, he missed the cutoff for this study) but never had any fantasy relevance. Patrick Crayton in 2006 (outside of the scope with just 3.0 targets per game) had 2.0 fantasy points per target on 48 targets for the Cowboys playing behind Terrell Owens and Terry Glenn; when Glenn had pre-season surgery that would cost him the 2007 season, Crayton improved his numbers but his fantasy points per target predictably dropped as defenses paid more attention to him. He was the 35th best fantasy WR in 2007.

So what does it all mean? It doesn't mean Meachem will be a bust in 2010 or that he'll even be overvalued. But it should serve as a reminder that Meachem wouldn't become the first player to score a bunch of fantasy points on a small number of targets, and then not blow up the next season. And with Marques Colston, Devery Henderson, Jeremy Shockey and Reggie Bush still on the team, there may be too many mouths to feed for Meachem to have anything more than a solid but unspectacular season like many of the players in the preceding paragraph.

Questions, suggestions and comments are always welcome to stuart@footballguys.com.