I've come to the realization that I may truly be the only Miami Dolphin fan who believes that Anthony Fasano is a "starter" in the NFL. What I going to attempt to do is state my case as to why I believe this to be true.
Now before we get into the heart of the post, let me take this time to state what I feel the differences are between a "starter in the NFL" and a "superstar in the NFL".
When I think of a NFL "starter" I picture a player who is going to show up and put in work, a player who the team can count on and who the coaches can depend on to contribute, a player who will give you all he has for 60 whole minutes and will do the most with the opportunities that are presented to him. To me that is a NFL "starter". On the flip side when I think of a NFL "superstar" I picture a player who can change the game at any given time, a player who opposing defenses will have to game plan for a week before the game, a player who knows how to play his position yet takes it to a whole another level. To me that is a NFL "superstar" and Anthony Fasano is NOT and will NOT be that type of player. Having said that, Anthony Fasano IS and WILL continue to be a "starter" in the NFL.
I figured if I was going to make a statement like this I at least needed some sort of evidence to back up my claim. So I decided to do a little research, but before I started my research I wanted to find some other TE who have been in the league for the same amount of time Fasano has (6 seasons) and who were still playing in the league. The list was short, especially players who had noticeable names, but I was able to gather a few names up:
Kellen Winslow Jr. (he has played in the NFL for 8 seasons but his first 2 seasons he had a total of 5 receptions so I figured that I would just go ahead and not count those, plus he played for the Browns)
I then added up all of their receptions, total yards, and touchdowns and then divided it by 6. Now math is not one of my strong suits but I believe this is the method used for finding averages. Basically I'm using all 6 players career averages and then putting them side-by-side to get a clearer picture of where exactly Anthony Fasano fits.
27 REC - 340 YDS - 12.5 AVG - 3 TD
50 REC - 633 YDS - 12.6 AVG - 5 TD
49 REC - 608 YDS - 12.4 AVG - 3 TD
Kellen Winslow Jr:
72 REC - 797 YDS - 11.0 AVG - 3 TD
36 REC - 447 YDS - 12.4 AVG - 2 TD
18 REC - 227 YDS - 12.6 AVG - 2 TD
Out of this list there is only 1 "superstar" and that is Vernon Davis. The others fall into the category of NFL "starters".
As you can clearly see Fasano has one of the lowest averages for yards per season, but if you also look closer you will also notice that he one of the lowest averages for receptions per seasons. Now this could be due to any number of factors or variables ranging from his ability to get open to the offensives schemes that he has played in. However, the biggest factor for his averages (in my opinion) is due to the fact that his best attribute is blocking and the fact that up until now his main responsibility was to be a blocking tight end. So much so that I even considered docking his entire season last year due to the fact that he was basically our de-facto right tackle.
For me here is where I have a problem with the medias/fan perception of Fasano, when compared to Joel Dreessen most NFL fans I talk to are quick to tell me that Dreessen is a far superior TE than Fasano. However when you look their numbers they suggest otherwise. But that doesn't stop Rotoworld from saying this:
"A fine all-around tight end, Dreessen has received high marks from Pro Football Focus for receiving and blocking the past couple of years. He's also proven capable of high-end TE2 fantasy numbers while filling in for Owen Daniels."
Yet they have this to say about Fasano:
"New coach Joe Philbin is installing an up-tempo West Coast scheme that doesn't particularly suit the 6'4/255 Fasano. Even if he holds off athletic rookie Michael Egnew, there won't be much upside here. Fasano's best skill remains blocking."
If I'm not mistaking didn't Dreessen play in a WCO offense his entire time in Houston (even when Sherman was OC in 2007)? So let me get this straight Dreessen plays in a WCO offense for 5 out of his 6 years in the NFL and has lower averages in receptions, yards, and touchdowns than Fasano but yet he's a "proven capable of high-end TE2" and Fasano whose career averages in receptions,yards, and touchdowns are higher than Dreessens' doesn't have "much upside". Where is the consistency?
But I digress.
Right now there are a lot of things that remain unclear to us the fans, but the one thing we can all say with some confidence is that the Miami Dolphins have entered a new era. Changes are happening both offensively and defensively and in 2012 the Miami Dolphins will be putting a product on the field that we have never seen before. Whether this product is good or bad is yet to be seen, but we can all agree it will be new. One of the biggest changes happening this year is doing so on the offensive side of the ball, where Fasano will be asked to do something that up until now he has never been known to do - establish himself as a legitimate pass catching TE.
"He caught the ball well and found a way to get open. I don't know what his (40-yard dash) time is, but he found a way to find seams in the coverage and he has some instincts as a route runner," Philbin said of Fasano. "He has very good hands; we like the way he catches the football and finds a way to get open. (And) he can block on the line of scrimmage. He's going to be a good player and I'm looking forward to watching his development."
Is Fasano up for the challenge? That is yet to be seen as well.
Nevertheless, I will make the argument that if we were to clearly go by Fasano's career averages over the last 6 seasons, wouldn't it be safe to assume that if given the opportunity to have somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 receptions in 2012 (which I think is realistic) he may well have a good shot at having a 500+ yard season and 3+ touchdowns season. Now this estimated figure is not jaw dropping and by no means does this even put him in the conversation of today's top tightends, but a 500+ yard season with 3+ touchdowns at least puts him into the category of NFL "starter". Doesn't it?
Well if your answer is yes, then you will be happy to know that Fasano has already had this type of season in 2010 when he had 39 receptions for 528 yards (13.5 AVG) and 4 touchdowns.