Very Deep Sleeper: Tanner McEvoy (Fantasy Football)
R.C. Fischer discusses deep sleeper candidate and Seattle Seahawks WR/TE Tanner McEvoy.
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Before you consider the possibilities with Tanner McEvoy in Seattle, I might need to properly introduce you to one of the more interesting backstories to hit an NFL roster last season (2016).
The story starts off on a rocky path. The 6’5.7″/230 McEvoy was initially a scholarship QB for South Carolina. He redshirted in 2011. In the summer of 2012, McEvoy is arrested for speeding and underage alcohol consumption. Soon after his arrest, he decided to transfer from the Gamecocks to tiny Arizona Western where he dominates as a quarterback.
McEvoy draws the attention of Wisconsin, and he transfers there as a quarterback prospect but the talented athlete also gets a look as a safety. You don’t see many QB/Safety hybrids.
In 2013, as a sophomore, McEvoy plays sporadically on defense for the Badgers – 27 tackles, four PDs, and an interception.
The 2014 season brings about a new wrinkle. McEvoy becomes the main quarterback (last year he was a DB) for Wisconsin to start the season, but he struggles, completing 58.0% of his passes, throwing for five TDs with six picks. However, he excels as a runner/mobile QB – 574 yards rushing and six TDs. He runs for a career-high 158 yards against Bowling Green State among his starts. Wisconsin makes a change midseason and McEvoy is then used sparingly, almost exclusively as a red zone weapon/gimmick as a running QB, or not used at all.
In 2015, McEvoy goes in yet another direction – he’s now a very tall/athletic wide receiver who also can run the ball (as a wildcat QB), but is also an impact defensive player at safety. For the season, McEvoy catches 10 passes, rushes for 132 yards and two TDs, and has 42 tackles with a second0best in the Big Ten six interceptions.
The giant safety, wildcat quarterback, tall/athletic/inexperienced wide receiver garners little/no interest from the NFL scouting community in 2016. He is not extended an NFL Combine invite. He is not drafted in 2016. He is given an undrafted free agent tryout with Seattle. The Seahawks decide to add to McEvoy’s unique resume, working him as a tight end.
McEvoy is so good in training camp, as a rookie, he sees time in preseason games and shines, helping win a preseason game with a Hail Mary TD grab against the Chiefs. He’s so good in the 2016 preseason, in fact, that he forces Seattle to place him on the opening day 53-man roster. The college QB-WR-S prospect is now an NFL TE/WR hybrid.
McEvoy plays a few snaps in the season opener in 2016. In Week 3, he sees a target. In Week 4, he makes his first catch – a 42-yard TD. McEvoy had never caught a TD pass in college. His first NFL grab is for a score. He’s used sporadically (most always as a flanker/WR) for Seattle all 2016. He’s a No. 4-to-5 WR option, usually in for obvious passing downs or when a big target was desired for a red zone look. McEvoy caught nine passes (11 targets) for 140 yards and two TDs as a TE/WR hybrid for the Seahawks in 2016.
So, how will Tanner McEvoy matter in 2017 for fantasy?
I don’t know, but it was a cool story, right?
I get it. Jimmy Graham is there, so becoming a starting tight end is out. Doug Baldwin is the main target WR, and nothing is changing that. Tyler Lockett is back healthy. Paul Richardson is making noise. Who cares about Tanner McEvoy in this deep mix?
I wouldn’t rule out McEvoy as an opening day starter in three WR sets in 2017. I get that Seattle loves Baldwin-Lockett-Richardson-Kearse. They are all talented, but they are also very similar creatures, and many of them are injury-prone. They are mostly smaller, speedy, frail receiver options. What if Seattle decides to ignore Jermaine Kearse and what if Paul Richardson gets banged up for the thousandth time? Why not explore what a talented, nearly 6’6″ wide receiver might bring to the offensive game planning? McEvoy is not just a ‘big target,’ there are some Jordy Nelson–Adam Thielen-like possibilities — great hands, size, smart routes. And perhaps like Thielen ignored initially.
You would care about McEvoy in a split second if Jimmy Graham went down again because it might precipitate McEvoy used as a passing game weapon at tight end. In a world in love with the possibilities of rookies Evan Engram, Gerald Everett, and Bucky Hodges (among others) as new age passing game, athletic tight end weapons, why not get excited about McEvoy’s future as well?
McEvoy’s development is something to watch this preseason – how and where he is working in the Seattle offense. Come September 2017, McEvoy might be the team’s No. 3 wide receiver. He might be a passing game tight end if Graham gets re-injured. He might be pressed into a split status as a WR-TE-SS hybrid if a defensive crisis hits. How many points does your fantasy league give for tackles and interceptions made by your tight end or wide receiver? I’m just sayin’…
Perhaps, McEvoy is again sporadically used in 2017. He would still be a dynasty story for 2018+. Look at some of the guys you might have taken at the end of your dynasty rookie draft. Is McEvoy a more intriguing prospect to sit on than some of your-late round rookie grabs?
Tanner McEvoy is a unique talent to pay attention to this preseason.
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