Fantasy Football: Devin Aromashodu Is Poised To Have a Breakout Season

Chris DiLeoCorrespondent IApril 21, 2010

CHICAGO - DECEMBER 28: Devin Aromashodu #19 of the Chicago Bears catches the game-winning touchdown pass against the Minnesota Vikings at Soldier Field on December 28, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Vikings 36-30 in overtime. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Devin Aromashodu was selected by the Miami Dolphins in the seventh round of the 2006 NFL Draft.  He spent the first three years of his NFL career bouncing around practice squads in Indianapolis, Washington, and Houston

In 2009, he was a member of the Chicago Bears and finally got an opportunity for significant playing time towards the end of the regular season.  He made the most of this opportunity by compiling 22 receptions for 282 yards and four touchdowns over the final four games.

After an impressive 2009 preseason, Aromashodu was slated to be the Bears’ third wide receiver to begin the regular season.  However, a quadriceps injury suffered during practice several days before opening day sidelined him for the first few weeks of the year. 

In his absence, receiver Johnny Knox exhibited big-play ability from the slot and he was able to seize hold of the position, keeping Aromashodu on the inactive list for most of the games leading up to his breakout weeks. 

Although it was injuries to Devin Hester (calf) and Knox (ankle) which ultimately got Aromashodu into the starting lineup over the final four games, it has been reported that quarterback Jay Cutler was lobbying offensive coordinator Ron Turner the entire season to get Aromashodu on the field for game days.
In fact, Cutler was praising Aromashodu the entire preseason, raving about his combination of size and speed, and also commended his ability to go up in a crowd and haul in the football.  The rapport built between these two was evident during training camp, and during those final four games it was clear that Aromashodu was Cutler’s favorite target. 
 At 6’2” and 201 pounds, Aromashodu is currently the tallest wide receiver on the team.  When considering that Cutler enjoyed the luxury of having 6’4” Brandon Marshall as a target during his years in Denver, it is no wonder that he appreciates the size of Aromashodu, since no other Bears receiver is taller than 6’0”.
Heading into 2010, Aromashodu is poised to have a fantastic season.  New offensive coordinator Mike Martz will bring his pass-happy offensive scheme into Chicago which makes certain there will be plenty of passing targets to go around.  While the depth chart has yet to be determined under Martz, it seems probable that Aromashodu will earn a starting role, and play on the outside.
Martz has already hinted that Hester will be more of a slot receiver in his offense, and that is consistent with his philosophy of wanting his fastest players in that position.  Knox and possession receiver Earl Bennett will likely compete for the No. 2 receiver role. 
Tight ends in this offense are primarily blockers and do not have much use in the passing game, which bodes poorly for Greg Olsen, but it does increase the likelihood that Aromashodu’s size makes him a primary red zone target.
Critics of Aromashodu will point out that he has done very little so far in the NFL, and his four big games of last year may have been more of a fluke than a sign of things to come. 
Keep in mind, however, that although he saw little game action while being a member of the practice squad in Indianapolis during the 2006 and 2007 seasons, he was still gaining valuable experience while learning from Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne.  Wayne was so impressed with Aromashodu that he took him under his wing and was eager to be his mentor.
Wayne was recently quoted by The Chicago Tribune as saying:  “ I think he can make it as a starter and a big-time guy in this league because he works hard…they just have to give him the opportunity. If they give him the opportunity, he'll be able to show everyone what he can do."  That is a pretty good endorsement from one of the premier wide receivers in the game today.
The main concern regarding Aromashodu’s outlook for 2010 is whether he can master Martz’s enormous and complex playbook.  In order to lock down a starting position, he must be able to learn all the plays and be able to execute them properly.  If he can succeed in doing that, he will have tremendous upside in fantasy leagues. 
In most current fantasy rankings, he is considered no better than a fourth or fifth fantasy receiver.  There is a possibility that by the time fantasy drafts begin in August, he will become a popular sleeper candidate, and a lot will depend on how he performs in training camp and the preseason. 
If he does indeed earn a starting role, do not be afraid to target him as a No. 3 fantasy receiver.  If his average draft position is much lower than that, then by all means wait even longer before drafting him. 
Do not be surprised, however, if Aromashodu flirts with borderline No. 1 fantasy wide receiver numbers by season’s end. That is a very bold statement, but a real possibility considering the type of offense he will be playing in, and the fact he has a talented quarterback who looks his way early and often. 
He may not achieve such a lofty projection, but feel confident that he will outperform his draft position, and at the very least be a nice value pick at wide receiver.
He will be only 26 years-old to start the season, so he is a good option in keeper/dynasty leagues.  Considering his upside, he is worth stashing as a reserve even if you are not overly optimistic about his outlook since he can be acquired rather cheaply.
One last thing, if you decide to pull the trigger on Aromashodu in fantasy drafts this season, make sure you know how to say his name.  It’s pronounced:  uh-ROME-uh-shuh-do.
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