2022 Finding ‘The Next Deebo’ (College Prospect/SF spot vs. Arizona) -- March Madness Tourney
Same Intro each day: We all know what the phrase ‘next Deebo’ means – a player who works at one position primarily but takes on a second position (in-game) beyond just a random 1-2-3 carries or targets…that they become a real dual-threat option for their team, and thus a great producer for Fantasy Football.
Before there was ‘Deebo’ (midway through the 2021 season), there was ‘Cordarrelle’ as the breakout WR who started also taking a good workload at RB…so much so he became the team’s lead RB, but then got all but dropped on his WR aspect.
Before ‘Cordarrelle’ there was Curtis Samuel trying to breakthrough as a ‘nails’ WR in 2020, but also a guy taking 3-5 carries a game in CMC’s absence and looking like he might make the turn – but then he went to Washington in free agency, got hurt, and barely played/impacted in 2021.
Before Samuel there was everyone looking for the ‘next Tyreek’. We might forget that Tyreek started out as a low target WR taking 1-2 carries a game, and then taking every carry for a 50+ yard TD…then he was converted over from random WR/RB to main WR, and they stopped pushing him in the running game the past two years (definitely don’t get that guy the ball more, whatever you do).
We’ve had some promising guys try to breakdown this ‘Deebo’ wall, but Cordarrelle really was the one who kicked in that door to start 2021 season (then ATL went away from it)…after the door was kicked in, then Deebo ran right through it 2nd-half of 2021 and became the ultimate/best dual threat of our lifetimes – so much so every analyst is running around saying certain players ‘can be their Deebo’, and you’re going to get sick of hearing about it they say it so much now. But credit to Deebo (really, credit to Kyle Shanahan) the ‘Deebo’ role is a thing now…I think some teams are going to copy because of its success, as they should…as they should’ve created it years ago. It’s the evolution of the game – players/weapons who you don’t know where they’re gonna lineup or what they’re going to do, and they’ll draw plenty of mismatches to expose.
With that in mind, we’re going to have a ‘next Deebo’ tournament/FFM daily series for the next few weeks during March Madness time.
I am going to nominate one player from each NFL team to be the possible ‘next Deebo’…the ‘their Deebo’ hopeful. I’ll explain why I choose that player, and why not others if there was a close option – and then like March Madness, we’ll pit two of them against each other/state the case and I’ll choose a winner…the one most likely to be used as ‘the next Deebo’ for the 2022 season.
We’ll go by division, matchups by 2021 record (so #1 v. #4, #2 v. #3 in the division), one matchup/winner declared each day into April until we have one AFC rep and one NFC rep and then we’ll declare a final ‘Super Bowl of Deebo’ winner.
Now, San Francisco has their own Deebo already…so he is not in this tournament. For the SF slot, there will be a play-in game between two current draft prospect options. Unsigned free agents will be an option for the team they were last on in 2021, so like a heavy Final Four favorite, but current free agent (as of this writing), Cordarrelle Patterson, will be an option for Atlanta. Got it? Good. Let’s go…
Today’s Matchup: NFC West: Arizona vs. College Play-In Winner
WR Rondale Moore, ARI
WR Wan’Dale Robinson, Kentucky/rookie
Wan’Dale defeated Connor Heyward in the rookie play-in spot for where the 49ers would be, except we’re trying to find the next Deebo…so San Fran has theirs already. So, two rookies vied for this spot. Now Wan’Dale faces Rondale Moore.
Wan’Dale was a tailback and WR for Nebraska, splitting time between the spots and producing – 914 yards receiving with 3 TDs, 580 yards rushing and 4 TDs in two seasons. He was like a scatback, an Andre Ellington type RB…not great, but feisty/college OK. He grad transferred to Kentucky and focused on WR and was a huge producer in his debut in the SEC -- top 3 in the SEC in receptions and yards.
Rondale Moore was one of the best looking smaller, weapon WRs that I have ever scouted coming out of college in 2021 – one of the toughest, fastest, best after the catch guys I’d seen at the smaller package of 5/7”/185. All that is great, but he was up and down as an NFL rookie, and seemed to lose what made him special in college just a few games into the NFL season. I’m still not sure what happened. I plan to re-look at the NFL tape this spring/summer.
However, Rondale did take 18 carries in his rookie/2021 season…Kliff obviously could see the potential of Moore with the ball in his hands…some. 18 rushes for 76 yards in 2021…meh, but 18 rushes in 14 games and was legit lining up in the backfield as a tailback sometimes and seeing 2-3 carries a game at points. Plus, he’s a helluva slot/underneath/weapon WR. Had 11 catches in a game Week 11 (with McCoy). Had a 7-114-1 game in Week 2. After Week 2, I thought a star was born…but he kinda fizzled/disappeared a bit after. Looking at the game logs -- he had a better 2021 than I remembered, because it started so nice then slowed…but looking at the raw data, it wasn’t bad for a part-time rookie.
Because we saw Kliff actually put Rondale in the backfield immediately, and because Kliff comes from the Shanahan-McVay tree…he’ll likely desire to copy Shanahan’s Deebo thing as best he can. And we don't know where Wan'Dale will wind up and how he'll really be used...Rondale seems like a more sure thing in 2022. Because of that, and because I believe Rondale could be a star in the NFL…I go with Rondale over Wan'Dale in the rhyming game.
WINNER = Rondale Moore, and he will face D.K. Metcalf in the NFC West finals/Sweet 16.
Photo credit: PeakDill