Deion Sanders did it. Bo Jackson did it. Why couldn’t LeBron James also be successful in two different sports? Fantasy football in itself is imaginary, so why can’t we have some fun by stretching our imagination a bit by pretending that LeBron James, the greatest active basketball player in the world, is in our fantasy draft pool?
There are numerous legitimate reasons to believe that LeBron wouldn’t cut it in the NFL: he flops too much, football speed is much different than basketball speed, he has been away from football for too long, or he doesn’t have a true position.
However, it is impossible to ignore the fact that he is one of the greatest athletes to ever step foot on this planet. Not only is LeBron a 6-foot-8, 250-pound brute, but also he has the intelligence, stamina, explosiveness, competitive fire, work ethic, and passion necessary to take his talents to the gridiron.
What position would he play? Wide receiver? Tight end? Quarterback? Field goal blocking specialist? Let’s go with either a receiver or tight end, since LeBron was an all-state wide receiver in his sophomore and junior years of high school. In two years of playing at St. Vincent-St. Mary in Ohio, he compiled a total of 99 receptions for 1,912 yards and 27 touchdowns, (Calvin Johnson had only 74 receptions for 1,382 yards and 18 touchdowns in his final two years of high school) and set records that still stand. He attracted attention from the likes of Notre Dame and Ohio State until he made the decision to pursue basketball.
How does LeBron’s superhuman physique stack up with the superhuman physiques of today’s NFL?
LeBron James 6’8” 250 lbs
Jimmy Graham 6’7” 265 lbs
Rob Gronkowski 6’6’’ 265 lbs
Tony Gonzalez 6’5” 250 lbs
Calvin Johnson 6’5” 235 lbs
Vincent Jackson 6’5” 230 lbs
AJ Green 6’4’’ 210 lbs
Vernon Davis 6’3” 250 lbs
As you can see, LeBron has several inches on the tallest wide receivers in the game. Tight ends may have a bit more beef on them, but LeBron makes up for that with speed and explosiveness. If LeBron lined up at wide receiver, would opponents really trust their 5’11’’, 190-pound cornerback to guard him? LeBron would have a field day. Any one-on-one scenario on the outside would be an enormous mismatch.
If he lined up at tight end, could a linebacker truly keep up with LeBron’s straight-line speed and 44-inch vertical? By the way, his 44-inch vertical would rank in the top 10 highest verticals of all time in the NFL combine. Add that to 6 feet 8 inches worth of pure athleticism, and you have an unstoppable force that would make any secondary wet their pants.
Now how would all of LeBron’s NFL potential translate into his fantasy football draft position? Due to having the upmost respect of Megatron, I will not put LeBron in the same sentence as him. Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski (when healthy) have proved themselves enough as well to solidify their positions ahead of LeBron.
After Megatron, Graham, and Gronk, the highest rated receivers left on the board are A.J. Green, Dez Bryant, and Brandon Marshall. These three guys are absolute studs as well. I don’t quite have the guts to throw LeBron in the mix with those guys. However, I would feel comfortable tossing LeBron’s name in with the likes of Julio Jones, Demaryius Thomas, Roddy White, Andre Johnson, and Larry Fitzgerald, assuming someone like Mark “Butt Fumble” Sanchez isn’t LeBron’s quarterback. This grouping of wide receivers is currently being drafted in the late 2nd round to late 3rd round. I would stick LeBron in the middle of the 3rd round.
I can’t help it but assume LeBron would be the go-to guy in the red zone, no matter what team he was on or how many players were guarding him. I would expect a plethora of back-shoulder fade touchdowns. For the year, I would predict 910 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns for LeBron, giving him 175 fantasy points, which is equivalent with other receivers going in the third round.
Your initial thought is most likely “no way” or “good joke”. However, don’t undervalue LeBron too fast. Sure, he might need time to adjust to route running and catching a ball that is shaped quite differently than a basketball, but he is a world-class athlete with supernatural athletic ability. I would absolutely take my chances on LeBron. If we were drafting for a keeper league, dare I say I would project him as a late first round or early second round pick?
Okay, enough dreaming. Let’s get back to real life fantasy football…