Who the heck is James Casey? He is a 6’3″, 240-lb. rookie TE that was drafted in the fifth round out of Rice University. He is also that rare fantasy gem is that is a virtual unknown, that could be thrust into national prominence as early as this week’s game. Here is why.
The Houston Texans love to utilize their TEs in the passing game. For proof just look at rising star Owen Daniels’ career stats to date. As a rookie he caught 34 passes, upped that to 63 the next season and 70 last year. This year he was on pace to shatter his personal bests across the board and had been anointed the best TE in the game by several well known pundits, before suffering a torn ACL in Week 8 against Buffalo.
In that same game James Casey caught the only two passes of his NFL career before he too hurt his knee, albeit a less significant injury. Still, it required surgery and he missed the Week 9 game against Indianapolis, leaving veteran Joel Dreessen as the only viable threat in Daniels’ stead for that game.
Dreessen responded with two catches for 15 yards, not impressive fantasy stats but remember this guy is their primary long snapper and has 27 career receptions in four years of action. Not only is he not suited to be an every down player but in the NFL you simply don’t risk the health of players at key positions. Dreessen was clearly a stop gap for one game, even if he is still listed as the No.1 TE on the depth chart as I write.
James Casey on the other hand brings a whole lot more to the table. He is a 25-year old rookie for a reason—he spent three years in the White Sox farm system before retiring from baseball to enroll at Rice to play football. This guy is a gifted athlete, as evidenced by the fact that he played seven different positions for the Rice Owls in 2007 on his way to earning Conference USA consensus all-freshman honors.
In 2008 Casey lined up mostly as a WR and finished second in the nation with 111 receptions before entering the NFL draft after only two seasons of college ball. Yeah, I think I would turn pro at that point too.
So here are we are entering Week 11 of the NFL season. The Texans need a TE to take a pro bowler’s spot in the lineup. Daniels’ best asset is his athleticism, and Casey fits the mold. If you need a TE, I wouldn’t hesitate to pick him up and insert him into your lineup right away.
There is no need to take my word for it, just read what coach Gary Kubiak had to say: “He’ll become a big part of what we’re doing here over the course of the next seven weeks.”
Although it is a calculated risk to stick someone sight-unseen into your starting lineup, if rolling the dice is part of your DNA then this is about as plug-n-play as it gets.
This article also appears on Undrafteds.com