Ashley Lelie NFL Stats
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Ashley Lelie NFL Game Log
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Free Agent Team Injury Report
After the 49ers brought in Isaac Bruce and Bryant Johnson this offseason, Lelie is currently fourth on the depth chart and provides little fantasy value at this point.
The 49ers signed Lelie to a two-year deal but his chance to be the go-to guy that he has always wanted to be, in an up-and-coming offense, may have vanished when they made a draft-day trade for Darrell Jackson. Lelie failed to live up to his ability in both Denver and Atlanta and missed all of OTAs with a strained right quadriceps. That injury opened the door for third-round pick Jason Hill to see more time at the X receiver spot, where Lelie is slated to line up, putting additional on Lelie to succeed. The 49ers offense should be better this year so a strong training camp and preseason should allow Lelie to line up as a starter opposite Jackson.
With the trade for Javon Walker and the presence of Rod Smith, Lelie is the odd man out in Denver, and to protest his status and encourage the Broncos to trade him, he was a no-show at the team’s spring minicamp. Lelie is upset because his targets fell from 107 in 2004 to 88 last season, and with Walker on board, that number would decline even more steeply in Denver this season. Although his targets declined, Lelie made the most of them, averaging a very respectable 8.8 yards per, thanks to his 18.3 average per catch. And that was after averaging a whopping 20 yards per catch in 2004. Lelie has great downfield speed, and at 6-3 can go up over defenders to snatch the ball out of the air. Lelie’s not a great route-runner though, and he’s not tough enough to go over the middle consistently. Lelie’s value this season will depend, of course, on whether he gets traded.
Despite catching just 50 percent of the passes thrown to him, Lelie was the best per-pass producer in the NFL last season (among the 39 receivers with 100 targets or more), averaging a whopping 10.1 yards per pass, thanks to his robust 20-yard per catch average. To put that in perspective, consider that Peyton Manning, who led the league (and was second all time in per-pass efficiency among QBs with 450 or more passes), averaged just 9.1 yards per passing attempt. Calling Lelie’s number was more productive on a per-play basis than anyone’s, and it was a good deal more effective than the average Manning pass play. Of course, Lelie caught just 54 passes while Manning threw 497, so consider Lelie to be like the guy who hits .450 in April, while Manning hit .400 for the season.
Still, Lelie showed he could get behind defenses with five catches for 40 or more yards and 21 plays (tied for third) of 20 or more yards, despite his low reception total. At 6-3, 200 pounds and with excellent speed, good leaping ability and outstanding body control, Lelie should continue to make big plays downfield. He’ll need to improve his route running if he expects to be an elite receiver, but the talent and the physical tools are there.
So much for all those 2003 breakout predictions. Lelie regressed last year. He struggled to get open, catching just 46 percent of the 81 passes thrown to him. He has a long way to climb to be even a mediocre fantasy receiver. The retirements of Shannon Sharpe and Ed McCaffery should help, however. Additionally, Lelie took head coach Mike Shanahan's challenge at the end of the season to heart. He's been working out in an effort to improve and reported to Dove Valley a month earlier than the rest of the team. His hard work should pay off.
Lelie is a WR that is primed to potentially break out if he wins the starting job over the aging Ed McCaffrey. Lelie has worked with the first team offense during the mini camps while McCaffrey recovers from off-season Hernia surgery. This situation bears keeping a close eye on during the July and August preseason camps and games.