Santonio Holmes to the Jets
How much personal baggage do you need to be carrying to go from Super Bowl hero to nearly being released, while still in the prime of your playing years? Santonio Holmes attempted to answer that question this offseason; the 26-year-old receiver was dealt to the New York Jets for a mere fifth-round draft pick, shortly after his involvement in an alleged assault at an Orlando nightclub was revealed and days before a four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy was announced.
Holmes’ 79-1,248-5 last year ranked him 15th among fantasy wideouts, building on his strong 2008 postseason after a somewhat disappointing regular slate. It was the second time in the past three years he ranked in the top 20 at his position—great news for Ben Roethlisberger, as with Hines Ward aging and Limas Sweed perpetually injured it wasn’t like the Steelers were overflowing with receivers.
But by early April the Steelers had grown weary of Holmes’ penchant for showing up in police reports: in addition to admitting he sold drugs as a teen in Florida, Holmes’ record also sported arrests for disorderly conduct, domestic violence and assault, and possession of marijuana. Still reeling from Roethlisberger’s off-the-field shenanigans, the Steelers were quick to cut ties with Holmes following the Orlando incident; in fact, reports indicated that had Pittsburgh not found a willing trading partner, they would have flat-out released the Super Bowl XLIII MVP.
Enter the Jets, one game away from the Super Bowl a year ago and ready to push all their chips to the center of the table. They tossed a fifth-round pick Pittsburgh’s way to add Holmes to a receiving corps that already included Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery. Seems like overkill for a team that threw the ball 50 times fewer than any other NFL club last year, but when you consider that no Jets wideout played in all 16 games a year ago and both Holmes and Edwards are already slated for league-mandated vacations this year maybe they’re not all that deep at the position.
Then again, even if you build in 20 percent increases for Mark Sanchez from his rookie year to his sophomore campaign, there simply doesn’t project to be a deep well of stats for receivers to draw from. Add in the emerging Dustin Keller and a competent pass-catching back in LaDainian Tomlinson, and Holmes will have to cannibalize numbers from Edwards and Cotchery just to have relevance.
He’ll also be starting behind the eight ball right out of the gate, missing the first four games of the season due to his violation of the substance abuse policy. That’s valuable time for Sanchez to grow comfortable throwing to... well, someone other than Holmes. It’s tough to recommend keeping a wide receiver on a run-first team on your roster for one-third of the season knowing full well you won’t get a thing from him, so unless your redraft league has a large roster or you’re just incredibly patient Holmes doesn’t warrant your attention. After all, even when he returns you’re looking at maybe 500-600 yards and 3-4 TDs in a dozen games.
In redraft leagues the reward isn’t worth the risk, but dynasty leaguers could absorb a bit more risk and stash Holmes on their roster in hopes he a) inks a long-term deal to stay in New York and become Sanchez’s go-to guy and b) doesn’t entangle himself in another off-the-field screw-up that might warrant a full year’s suspension.
Hey, there’s always a chance.