Every year, fantasy footballers witness a guy that comes out of nowhere and emerges into fantasy relevance. Once this begins to occur, owners rush to the waiver wire, hoping to add them to their roster. I like to refer to these guys as Waiver Wire Darlings.
In 2012, there may not have been a bigger darling than Cecil Shorts.
Shorts hit the scene last year, catching 55 balls for 979 yards and seven scores. Prior to his breakout 2012 campaign, he had two career catches for 30 yards and a touchdown. I’m a big fan of Shorts’ game. At 6’0″, 200 lbs, he isn’t the biggest wide receiver, but he is feisty at the line, causing difficulty for corners to bump him off. There is a heck of a lot of Steve Smith in his game, and it shows when out on the field. From a fantasy perspective, Shorts was pretty darn good, finishing with the 21-most fantasy points among wide receivers. An impressive number is that he also finished inside the top ten among receivers in fantasy points per snap. He was a little bit of everything for fantasy owners. He provided home run potential, posting long catches of 81, 67, 59, 52 and 42 yards. Shorts was also a little bit of a possession guy, posting five games with at least five catches.
So, I clearly love Shorts, but last year’s emergence isn’t even close to his ceiling.
Right now, I have Shorts as my 26th ranked wideout in fantasy, but may be persuading myself to move him up while writing this. The problem is that wide receiver is just so darn deep this year. Anyway, Shorts has some things in his fantasy favor heading into 2013. First, Justin Blackmon has been suspended for the first four games of the season, so Shorts will be the go-to guy in the Jags passing attack. I like Shorts even more if Chad Henne, not Blaine Gabbert, is named the team’s starting quarterback out of training camp. Why? I mean, both aren’t exactly quality quarterbacks. Fair, but it’s all about preference, and last year, Henne made it pretty clear that he preferred Shorts in the passing game. In nine starts as the Jags signal caller, he targeted Shorts a whopping 88 times, including five games where he targeted him over 10 times. That sort of volume, despite how bad the quarterback may be, is very relevant when it comes to fantasy football and cannot be ignored. Keep in mind, Shorts is still just 25-years old and can only progress from here.
Let’s just hope Gabbert isn’t under center come September.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.