The “From Reality to Fantasy” series of posts take an in-depth look at young NFL players. Partnering with my co-host Fantasy Sports Analyst, Dr. Roto from the NFL RedZone Report, you will get my perspective on the “reality” of each player profiled, meaning how the player played in college and how I think he’ll transition to the NFL game.
Dr. Roto will then give his Fantasy Football spin on how to look at the player from a fantasy team owners perspective. Doc will tell you where these guys should be drafted in your fantasy league, what type leagues gives the most value on them, and how soon they should contribute. Enjoy as we cover every aspect from Reality to Fantasy on these NFL players.
In 2011, I listed Leonard Hankerson as the third best wide receiver prospect in the draft. After AJ Green and Julio Jones, I felt that it was Hankerson who most likely had what it took to be a difference maker in the NFL. I was surprised to see Hankerson last until the third round of the 2011 NFL Draft. When he did get into camp with the Washington Redskins, there were reports that Leonard had gotten in Mike Shanahan’s dog house. It took most of his rookie season to work himself onto the field. Finally, the day before Halloween, Hankerson got his treat in the form of his first NFL reception.
The next week he increased his catches to four, with 34 receiving yards in his first start. He was getting comfortable within the offense and the speed of the NFL game. Everything was setup perfectly for him to make his return to Miami, the city where he had played his college ball and put up some stats better than former alums like, Michael Irvin, Andre Johnson, and Reggie Wayne. While back in Miami to face the Dolphins in only his second career start, Hankerson hauled in eight receptions for 106 yards. As the game was winding down and it appeared that Hankerson had finally arrived, he departed. Leonard was tackled after a short reception and he injured his hip on the play. Hankerson was placed on injured reserve and missed the rest of the season. There’s no reason to believe that he won’t come back completely healthy for his sophomore campaign. He had surgery on the torn labrum in his hip and plans on being full go for Washington’s training camp.
I briefly mentioned the impressive stats that Hankerson put up while at the U. He did this despite the lack of a quality starting quarterback. You may say he actually had the same handicap his first season with the Redskins. Washington has looked to fix that problem this offseason. With the addition of RG3, Hankerson should see his value skyrocket. It wasn’t just the quarterback play that Washington has added around Leonard. Hankerson played with a lot of speed surrounding him while at Miami but Pierre Garcon is speed plus talent. I do believe the Redskins overpaid for Garcon but nonetheless he’s on the roster and he will be beneficial to Griffin and Hankerson.
Griffin will be used in the same manner that Jay Cutler was used in Denver. It’s a perfect offense for him. One of the best things that Robert did in college was hit Kendall Wright in stride on the deep ball. Garcon will give him the option to peel the top off the defense. Roy Helu will be back with Tim Hightower and Evan Royster. The two second year backs will continue to develop and Hightower is good for his four yards per carry. He won’t do anything extraordinary but he won’t have to. Helu will be the variable that mixes everything up and keeps the defense on their toes. All of the running backs will have bigger holes and a wider margin for error as the defenses will have to account for Robert Griffin III on bootleg and play action plays and the fear of getting sucked underneath, only to be beat deep by Garcon.
What does that have to do with Leonard Hankerson? He benefits from each and every thing listed in the last paragraph. Defenses will be concerned about giving up the home run ball. They’ll have to defend the run game. They’ll have to defend the bootlegs and the fear of Griffin running. Where will they sacrifice coverage?
The intermediate routes… Hankerson will have favorable match ups throughout every game. He will feast off the middle of the field, the seam, the outs, the slants, and when he lulls them asleep he will display his 4.4 speed on the 9 route. While at Miami, former Dolphins’ great, Mark Duper tremendously improved Hankerson’s hands and routes. He has the whole repertoire of routes and moves to fit perfectly in this offense and for the first time, he has the quarterback to take full advantage of them. There have been people who have said that Leonard lacks ideal hands but this was due to a lack of focus, not quality of hands. As he continues to develop into a professional, this will be fixed. The Leonard Hankerson stock is one that you want to buy early.
Dr. Roto’s Fantasy Football Spin
If I drafted WRs according to which players carry themselves with the most on field braggadocio, then Leonard Hankerson would be close to the top of my list. But since I need to use categories such as receptions, receiving yards, and TD, he does little to help my team. Wide receivers like Hankerson are what I call “dime a dozen” guys. I draft a bunch of them late in my draft and hope that one of them shows something early in the season and ends up making an impact. Is Hankerson much better than Brandon LaFell? Probably not. Is he better than Titus Young? No. Even worse is that he has a rookie QB throwing him the ball. Don’t get me wrong–I love RG III but do I think that any Redskin is going to have 1,000 yards receiving this year? I highly doubt it.
The Redskins also signed Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan this off-season. That makes for huddles with a bunch of guys are begging for the ball. Most of all, I have lost all confidence in the Shanahans. Mike has lost about three steps since leaving Denver and his son has been a disaster at OC. As for Hankerson, I know Jayson has a hankering for him, so I will look at him at some point during my draft. It just won’t be until I have four receivers already on my team.