If you start to look into it, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more interesting story, athletically, than that of Patriots’ wide receiver Chris Hogan. Football and all major American sports for that matter have many athletes who excelled at other sports, the pinnacle, of course, being players like Bo Jackson, Deion Sanders and Brian Jordan who played both professional football and major league baseball at the same time. Dave Winfield, drafted by MLB, NFL, NBA and ABA teams might also fit the bill. Hogan excelled in both lacrosse and football in high school and elected to play lacrosse in college at Penn State. Hogan graduated college in 3 years and with a season of eligibility remaining he decided to return to football, enrolling at Monmouth, an FCS school, for a final run at football. He isn’t the first pro football player to crossover from lacrosse as all-time great running back Jim Brown is regarded as one of college lacrosse’s greatest players as well, so there is some history between both sports.
In his one season at Monmouth, Hogan was originally supposed to be a wide receiver, but injuries led to him playing two ways- playing both cornerback and wide receiver at the same time. In another fascinating twist, in his first start at cornerback, Hogan snatched 2 interceptions. He didn’t light up the scoreboard at any position, but as a 2-way player who also excelled on special teams, the athletic upside was clearly there for Hogan.
Here’s a brief bio and breakdown from his profile during his time at Monmouth: http://www.monmouthhawks.com/ViewArticle.dbml?ATCLID=204975944/web/*/
He went undrafted in 2011 but was eventually signed as an undrafted free agent by the San Francisco 49ers who eventually released him. He then was signed and released by the Giants and Dolphins as well, landing on both of their practice squads for a short time. He never saw playing time in 2011, but he was signed by the Buffalo Bills in 2012 and saw the field for the first time with them in 2013. While never truly breaking out, he was a solid contributor for them but was eventually signed by the New England Patriots following the 2015 season. He showed a few flashes in his limited touches and had been on my radar for a few years. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what the phrase means, but you’ll often hear players described as a “Patriot guy” and that is written all over Hogan. I believe it to be unselfish, versatile, athletic players who can play multiple positions and are excellent route runners. Look at players who excel in the system, Julian Edelman was a college quarterback and Wes Welker- WES FRICKING WELKER!- led the league in receptions and was second in receiving yards twice.
Hogan topped the 100-yard mark twice this past season and had a huge breakout game in front of the entire country in the AFC Championship game against the Steelers where he caught 9 of his 12 targets for 180 yards and 2 touchdowns. As a result from this past season, it sure looks like his career is on the upswing. He’s behind Edelman and Gronk in the pecking order here, and you could argue Malcolm Mitchell is also currently ascending the depth chart as well. The one positive to take away from all this is that this offense has shown an ability in the past to support multiple receivers, so don’t let that scare you off of him just yet. I would, however, keep an eye on what the Pats do during the offseason at receiver. Since the time of this writing Martellus Bennett has signed with the Packers, and the Patriots traded for both Dwayne Allen and Brandin Cooks, So they are loading up on weapons for the 2017 season- and we still have the draft to look forward to. Let’s not forget that Michael Floyd’s return isn’t out of the question and who knows what positions they’ll address via the draft since Martellus Bennett jumped ship and signed with the Packers in free agency and Gronk’s health has to be somewhat of a concern. Even with the acquisition of Dwayne Allen via trade, the decisions they make from this point forward will have an enormous impact on whether or not Hogan is the newly anointed #3 WR in this offense or if he is buried on the depth chart. One positive note for Hogan: Danny Amendola is entering the final year of his contract, and his release could free up approximately 7 million dollars in cap space for the team if need be. The addition of Cooks to this roster just might make that move a necessity. In the best case scenario, Hogan might be the 4th option in the passing game behind Gronk, Edelman & Cooks and that isn’t even factoring in the running backs involvement in the passing game. The one major upside though is that the Patriots are a game plan based team, and if they feel like Hogan presents the best matchup against a given opponent, they’ll target him 10+ times in a given week, the problem then becomes trying to pick out which week that is going to be. I still think he’s worth a stash on your bench because if Edelman or Cooks get injured, it’s a safe bet that Hogan will be getting those extra snaps and targets. The recent moves by the Pats bump his value down a bit compared to where it was a few weeks ago, but as for now, we wait for the draft and see if he gets bumped down even further.
In terms of fantasy football, well, the upside is clearly there. Hogan topped 14 PPR points in 4 of 18 games played so he’s shown he can be a contributor. At the same time, he also had four games where he scored 4 points or less. So, until he is given a defined role, he’s hard to trust completely at the time of this writing. He’s a fine player to stash on your bench both in dynasty and redraft and could be a weekly matchup winner in best ball leagues. He’s 29 years old, and if things break his way, he could have a nice little 3-to-4-year run left in him with the Patriots who seem to love having him on the team and is under contract through the 2018 season. He should be on your radar all offseason and be aware of what else the Pats have going on at tight end and receiver, as well as that, will have an impact on his opportunities heading into the 2017 fantasy season. He’s definitely worth a stash. Currently, according to MFL, he’s the 52nd wide receiver being taken off the board and is being drafted right around the end of the 11th round or early in the 12th round. Those numbers are sure to climb with Cooks now rising to the top of the roster here. However, if you absolutely must have him, you’ll probably have to reach and grab him in the 10th round, which might be a stretch, but given the potential for upside, it might be a good stash. I’d consider him a late-round, must own handcuff if you already have Cooks or Edelman.