Texas Tech Receivers in the Post-Crabtree Era: An Evaluation

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Texas Tech Receivers in the Post-Crabtree Era: An Evaluation

It was fun while it lasted, but Michael Crabtree is gone.  He will now grace fantasy rosters in the NFL. 

In his two seasons in Lubbock, the All-American registered 231 catches for 3,127 yards and 41 touchdowns. 

Also departing is Eric “The Elf” Morris.  The diminutive one scored 20 touchdowns of his own over the past two years.

So, who is left to catch the plethora of Red Raider passes in 2009?

Cast of Characters

Detron Lewis (WR) (junior - 2009)
Edward Britton (WR) (senior)
Tramain Swindall (WR) (sophomore)
Lyle Leong (WR) (junior)
Rashad Hawk (WR)(sophomore)
Jacoby Franks (WR) (junior)
Todd Walker (WR) (senior)
Aaron Fisher (WR) (freshman)
Eric Ward (WR) (freshman)

What’s the scoop?

There will be a new signal caller in Lubbock this fall—likely Taylor Potts—but coach Mike Leach returns and the philosophy will remain the same.  The Red Raiders are going to throw, throw, throw again this year. 

But who will be catching the balls in this aerial attack?  How many receivers will be worth drafting in college fantasy football leagues?

To answer those questions, the first thing to do is glance back at recent history. 

Below are the top Red Raider receivers over the past five years.  During that time frame, Tech has produced four Top 10 fantasy wide receivers (highlighted in red below).  That’s nearly one Top 10 receiver per year. 

There are seven Tech receivers in the next tier (highlighted in blue).  In a normal year, those receivers would fall in the range of a top 25-40 fantasy WR.

2007 Michael Crabtree 134 1962 22 328.20
2008 Michael Crabtree 97 1165 19 230.50
2006 Joel Filani 91 1300 13 208.00
2004 Jarrett Hicks 76 1177 13 195.70
2007 Danny Amendola 109 1245 6 160.50
2006 Robert Johnson 89 871 11 153.10
2005 Joel Filani 65 1048 8 152.80
2005 Jarrett Hicks 65 850 10 145.00
2004 Trey Haverty 77 1019 6 137.90
2008 Eric Morris 74 771 9 131.10
2007 Eric Morris 75 767 9 130.70
2005 Robert Johnson 67 951 4 119.10
2008 Detron Lewis 76 913 3 109.30

What does this mean? 

Well, it probably means that Texas Tech will produce two starting fantasy wide receivers this fall. One has a good chance to be a Top 10 guy, while the other will be in that 25-40 range.

So, who has the best chance to fill those roles?  Here are last year’s stats (departing players in red):

Michael Crabtree 97 1165 19
Detron Lewis 76 913 3
Eric Morris 74 771 9
Edward Britton 35 577 6
Tramain Swindall 46 561 2
Baron Batch 45 449 1
Shannon Woods 36 397 2
Lyle Leong 18 206 3
Adam James 15 159 1
Rashad Hawk 5 65 0
Jacoby Franks 6 58 0
Todd Walker 7 37 0
Brik Brinker 1 5 0
Ryan Hale 1 4 1
Stephen Hamby 1 3 0
Aaron Crawford 2 1 0
Totals 465 5371 47

Who’s gone?

Obviously, Crabtree and Morris are huge losses.  That’s 3,600 receiving yards and 61 touchdowns (from just the past two seasons) walking out the door.  Running back Shannon Woods also departs, but we’ll deal with the RB’s in another article.

Who’s back?

There are four main receivers returning from last season, plus a promising freshman.

Detron Lewis is the top returning yardage guy.  He had 76 receptions but only found paydirt on three occasions.  That is a concern.  Perhaps with scoring machines Crabtree and Morris out of the picture, Lewis will find his way into the endzone more often this season.  Lewis looks to be the safest fantasy pick of the bunch. 

Edward Britton’s production decreased from the 2007 to 2008 seasons.  He only had four games on the year with more than 50 receiving yards.  He did have a nice bowl game, posting 5-87-2.  Britton will be a senior this fall, so there is no mystery with him.  What you see is what you get.  And what you get is more likely to be a complementary receiver than a feature one in 2009.

Tramain Swindall put together a nice freshman season last year (stats above).  With a full offseason to hone his skills, this will be a telling year for Swindall.  With his 6'3" frame, he would make a nice red zone target.

Junior-to-be Lyle Leong is an intriguing case.  He caught all three of his touchdown passes in one game last fall, against Kansas State.  After logging 15 and 18 receptions in his first two years, can Leong make the jump into the 60-70 catch range this season?

Incoming freshman Eric Ward fits the role of “Mr. Potential” in this group.  Scout.com’s No. 16 ranked WR coming out of high school, he surprisingly decommited from Oklahoma at the last minute and signed on with the Red Raiders.  His reason: “I wanted to get a degree,” citing OU’s conference-worst 46 percent graduation rate.  Ouch.  Ward enrolled early and will participate in spring drills, which is a plus.  We like what we are hearing about young Mr. Ward.

If your fantasy draft was today (03/25/09)...

Given that the Red Raiders will be breaking in a new QB, this could be a “down year” for the receiving corps.  Granted, a down year for Tech is better than a good year for 90 percent of the other schools in the country. 

Maybe it’s because we have a case of “Crabtree withdrawal,” but we aren’t in love with this group of receivers.  As we mentioned earlier, Detron Lewis seems to be the safest pick of the bunch.  We currently have him ranked in the No. 10-15 WR range, but admit that his lack of touchdowns worries us a bit. 

After Lewis, it’s a crapshoot. 

This is isn’t what fantasy owners want to hear, but in year 1 A.C. (After Crabtree), the Red Raiders could very easily go back to their spread-the-ball-around ways. 

Britton, Swindall, and Leong will all get drafted in most fantasy leagues based on the logo on their helmet, but we wouldn’t recommend grabbing one of these guys until the very late rounds. 

If our draft was today, we’d consider rolling the dice with with freshman Eric Ward in the hopes that he lives up to the hype.

We’ll be watching this group closely during the spring to see if one catches our eye and changes our opinion.

Todd DeVries is the founder of CollegeFootballGeek.com, your premier resource for college fantasy football information. Check us out.

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