Jermaine Gresham: Dark horse fantasy candidate

DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 10: Jermaine Gresham
DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 10: Jermaine Gresham /

Jermaine Gresham could surprise the fantasy football world with new circumstances surrounding him and the Arizona Cardinals.

Jermaine Gresham is a shell of his former self since signing with the Arizona Cardinals three years ago.  He plays 14 games a year, but the production he showed in Cincinnati is double that of his production in Arizona.

He was tied for second in receptions for the Cardinals at 33, but he was only targeted 46 times ranking sixth. Yet, he led the team in catch percentage in 2017 catching 71.7% of the passes (in order for a player to rank, had to play 5 games).  Why was Gresham not a bigger plan of the Cardinals offense since his arrival?

Since signing with the Cardinals, Jermaine Gresham never eclipsed the 40 receptions, 400 yards, or the 3 touchdowns plateaus. In Cincinnati, those marks would be career lows for Gresham.

The only difference between the two teams is the coaching philosophy. In Cincinnati, he was a part of an aerial attack, posting solid tight end numbers.

While in Arizona,  Arians relegated Gresham to mainly a blocking role shrinking his stat line. Now, his role should be mainly as a receiver with a new staff coming in.

Cardinals brass has brought in Mike McCoy as offensive coordinator and he wants to pass the ball. McCoy’s last notable tight end averaged 97 targets, 63 receptions, 717 yards, and 7 touchdowns over four years. That tight end was Antonio Gates.

The comparison between the two tight ends would be unfair, but the 97 targets can provide insight.  The 97 targets signals play-calling, and Jermaine Gresham never benefitted from that kind of play calls.

Why Jermaine Greshman is poised for his best season yet

If Jermaine Gresham received 97 targets at his 2017 catch percentage, he would have 69 receptions.  That’s a bevy of opportunities for yards and touchdowns for Gresham. Mike McCoy’s offense can handle a vertical tight end and give ample chances to them, but there is another reason Gresham can return to form.

Steve Keim brought in Sam Bradford during free agency to replace the retired Carson Palmer. Bradford was Jermaine Gresham’s college quarterback, drafted in the same 2010 draft as Gresham, twenty picks apart.

If they had the chemistry to become first-round picks together, then they can rekindle it in Arizona. The real question is how many games will Bradford play?

That number will directly affect Gresham’s production. If Bradford lasts, I expect Gresham to be a solid number two or three option for the offense.

Jermaine Gresham is playing under the radar. The previous staff buried his receiving abilities, making everyone forget that he can catch the ball.

Next: Mike McCoy's problem with David Johnson

Staking claim as the top ball-catcher, reuniting with an old friend and a change in offensive philosophy give hope to Gresham for a rebirth. These factors are stoking the coals for an explosive return to prominence for Gresham.