With the 2014 wide receiver class looking like one of the best in history and the depressing 2016 class still lending itself to Rookie Derangement, it’s easy to forget about 2015’s ultra-athletic prospects. Athleticism tends to be an overrated element of WR evaluation, but drafters are always on the lookout for upside players who might fall through the ADP cracks. If I’m going to invest in an opportunity-based breakout from a player with questionable production, I strongly prefer a Martavis Bryant type.1
The 2015 class provides us at least seven possibilities when trying to populate our rosters with breakout WR candidates of the freak athlete variety.
No. 1 Sammie Coates
Just How Athletic Is He? Coates posted a 41-inch vertical, a 4.43 forty, and a 6.98 three-cone at 212 pounds. That earned him a 97th Percentile SPARQ. He might be the second most athletic fantasy-relevant receiver in the NFL after Julio Jones.
Why He’ll Break Out: Coates had a tremendous sophomore season at Auburn. Had he been draft-eligible, he could have moved on with impressive comps.
Because he posted such an elite peak season and declared as an underclassman, FO gave him the second best Playmaker Score in the entire 2015 class. Perhaps even more than his athleticism and 2013’s fleeting production, Coates inherits tremendous opportunity with Martavis Bryant’s suspension.
Why He Won’t: Coates’ career msYDs of 0.24 is below Kevin Cole’s threshold for success, and he made little impact as a rookie before flashing in their playoff loss. Rookie year performance is a key indicator of future year breakouts, leaving Coates in a dispiriting cohort of similar players.
No. 2 Chris Conley
Just How Athletic Is He? Conley is an entirely different breed of athlete with a 4.35 forty and 45-inch vertical at 213 pounds. He scored a 93.4 in the Megatron index.
Why He’ll Break Out: Rich Hribar details why he was undervalued as a prospect. Conley didn’t make much noise as a rookie, but he’s expected to start opposite Jeremy Maclin this season with Albert Wilson moving to the slot.
No. 3 Breshad Perriman
Just How Athletic Is He?
Why He’ll Break Out: Last year I suggested Perriman was a younger version of Kevin White. His final season production comps argue for selecting him everywhere.
Why He Won’t: Will he ever be healthy? Perriman’s recent ACL scare follows a rookie year lost to a strained PCL. He may be the least reliable player in the entire fantasy universe.
No. 4 Dorial Green-Beckham
Just How Athletic Is He?
For what it’s worth, I think it’s defensible to claim that a mix of agility and speed would make a player the most athletic. Chris Conley did really well on the vertical leap and broad, but those are essentially testing the same thing. Agility and speed are slightly more different components of athleticism. – Frank DuPont, DGB Might Secretly Be the Most Athletic Rookie WR
Green-Beckham sports the best combination of scaled speed and scaled agility in a class loaded with athletic firepower.
|NAME||SCHOOL||WT||FORTY||CONE||SPD SCORE||Scaled Agility||Scaled Speed||CMB||Source|
|DORIAL GREEN BECKHAM||OKLAHOMA||237||4.49||6.89||117||71||75||146||C|
|KEVIN WHITE||WEST VIRGINIA||215||4.35||6.92||120||66||80||146||C|
|DARREN WALLER||GEORGIA TECH||238||4.46||7.07||120||60||80||140||C|
|DAMIERE BYRD||SOUTH CAROLINA||173||4.27||6.59||104||80||55||135||PD|
|TYRELL WILLIAMS||WESTERN OREGON||204||4.43||6.74||106||75||58||133||PD|
|GEORGE FARMER||SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA||213||4.4||7||114||61||71||132||PD|
|PHILLIP DORSETT||MIAMI FL||185||4.33||6.7||105||75||57||132||C|
|PHILLIP DORSETT||MIAMI FL||185||4.28||6.85||110||66||65||131||PD|
|TRE MCBRIDE||WILLIAM MARY||210||4.41||6.96||111||63||66||129||C|
|CAMERON MEREDITH||ILLINOIS STATE||207||4.49||6.71||102||77||52||129||PD|
|DEANDRE CARTER||SACRAMENTO STATE||185||4.44||6.64||95||78||42||120||PD|
|SHAKIM PHILLIPS||BOSTON COLLEGE||204||4.43||6.97||106||61||58||119||PD|
|EVAN SPENCER||OHIO STATE||208||4.45||7.03||106||58||58||116||PD|
|MARIO ALFORD||WEST VIRGINIA||180||4.43||6.64||93||78||38||116||C|
|NEAL STERLING||MONMOUTH NJ||238||4.63||7.07||104||60||55||115||PD|
|JAKE KUMEROW||WISCONSIN WHITEWATER||209||4.54||6.9||98||66||46||112||PD|
|DAVARIS DANIELS||NOTRE DAME||201||4.53||6.81||95||70||42||112||PD|
|JUSTIN HARDY||EAST CAROLINA||192||4.56||6.63||89||80||32||112||C|
|KEITH MUMPHERY||MICHIGAN STATE||215||4.54||7.07||101||57||51||108||C|
|TYLER LOCKETT||KANSAS STATE||182||4.4||6.89||97||63||45||108||C|
|VINCE MAYLE||WASHINGTON STATE||224||4.67||6.93||94||66||40||106||C|
|LUCKY WHITEHEAD||FLORIDA ATLANTIC||179||4.39||6.89||96||62||43||105||PD|
|JACKIE WILLIAMS||CENTRAL FLORIDA||190||4.65||6.58||81||83||20||103||PD|
|DARON BROWN||NORTHERN ILLINOIS||205||4.54||7.04||97||57||45||102||C|
|DEZ LEWIS||CENTRAL ARKANSAS||214||4.58||7.11||97||54||45||99||C|
|RANNELL HALL||CENTRAL FLORIDA||198||4.6||6.86||88||67||31||98||C|
|DEVANTE DAVIS||NEVADA LAS VEGAS||220||4.57||7.25||101||46||51||97||C|
|KEVONTE MARTIN MANLEY||IOWA||198||4.58||6.94||90||62||34||96||PD|
|TITUS DAVIS||CENTRAL MICHIGAN||196||4.51||7.14||95||50||42||92||C|
|RASHAD GREENE||FLORIDA STATE||182||4.53||6.88||86||63||28||91||C|
|KENNY COOK||GARDNER WEBB||208||4.6||7.13||93||52||38||90||PD|
|MALCOME KENNEDY||TEXAS A M||207||4.62||7.1||91||54||35||89||C|
|JJ NELSON||ALABAMA BIRMINGHAM||156||4.28||7.02||93||51||38||89||PD|
|TONY LIPPETT||MICHIGAN STATE||192||4.61||6.92||85||62||26||88||C|
|ANDRE DAVIS||SOUTH FLORIDA||211||4.68||7.09||88||55||31||86||PD|
|ANTHONY JOHNSON||WEST TEXAS AM||199||4.64||7.06||86||55||28||83||PD|
|RJ HARRIS||NEW HAMPSHIRE||191||4.52||7.23||92||43||37||80||PD|
|MATT MILLER||BOISE STATE||220||4.78||7.12||84||54||25||79||PD|
|EZELL RUFFIN||SAN DIEGO STATE||218||4.68||7.35||91||40||35||75||C|
|MARQUEZ CLARK||CENTRAL OKLAHOMA||179||4.56||7.07||83||51||23||74||C|
|RICKY COLLINS||TEXAS A M COMMERCE||198||4.53||7.43||94||32||40||72||PD|
|VERNON JOHNSON||TEXAS A M COMMERCE||196||4.56||7.37||91||36||35||71||PD|
|JOSH HARPER||FRESNO STATE||191||4.64||7.15||82||48||22||70||C|
|JAMEON LEWIS||MISSISSIPPI STATE||188||4.65||7.21||80||44||18||62||PD|
Why He’ll Break Out: DGB’s collegiate misadventures, previous production, and impending situation are all eerily similar to that of a recent mega-breakout as he entered his league-winning season.
Green-Beckham is also one of two risky breakout candidates with absolutely massive upside.
Why He Won’t: DGB never crested a 25 percent yardage share at Missouri and only managed 14 percent of the targets as a rookie in Tennessee’s woebegone offense. Although the Titans coaches are being lambasted for demoting him for the ultra-productive Tajae Sharpe, it’s possible he’s just a bigger version of Justin Hunter.
No. 5 Devin Funchess
Just How Athletic Is He? The fantasy world was floored by Derrick Henry‘s 4.54 forty and 37-inch vertical at 247 pounds. Weighing that much actually looks like a negative for RBs,3 but huge WRs tend to have outsized production. At 6-feet-4 and 232 pounds, Funchess jumped 38.5 inches at the 2015 combine. He then ran a reported 4.47 forty and managed a 6.98 three-cone at his pro day. When it comes to pro day results, skepticism is warranted, but Funchess may be a better athlete than Henry.
Why He’ll Break Out: The Panthers intend to move Funchess ahead of Ted Ginn and Corey Brown this season, providing the opportunity necessary for him to become the next Brandon Marshall, Demaryius Thomas, or Vincent Jackson.
Why He Won’t: If your WR projection system emphasizes college touchdowns and rookie receiving yards, then don’t overthink it. Funchess sucks.
No. 6 Kevin White
Just How Athletic Is He? White blazed to a 4.35 forty, slid under the 7-second bar in the 3-cone at 6.92, and jumped 36.5 inches, extremely well-rounded athleticism indeed for a 6-foot-2, 215-pound receiver.
Why He’ll Break Out: White is a big time physical specimen who went for 109-1447-10 at West Virginia right before being taken No. 7 overall. He should see plenty of targets and relatively little defensive attention opposite Alshon Jeffery.
No. 7 Phillip Dorsett
Just How Athletic Is He? Dorsett ripped off a 4.33 forty, 6.7 three-cone, and 37-inch vertical at the NFL combine and then bettered those numbers with a 4.28 forty, 38-inch vertical, and 10-foot-9 broad jump at his pro day.
Why He’ll Break Out: Dorsett was guaranteed plenty of opportunity when Ryan Grigson selected him with the No. 29 pick in the 2015 draft. Departures in Indianapolis have vacated 161 targets, and I’ve argued that fantasy owners are choosing the wrong breakout candidate by selecting Donte Moncrief so early in drafts.
Why He Won’t: He fails in the two key production areas – college career market share of yards (0.19) and rookie receiving yards (225).
The Big Picture
I’ve provided the pros and cons for each of the receivers, but it’s also incumbent upon me to draw a few conclusions. For that, we must also consider price.
With Green-Beckham’s ADP dropping after his underwhelming performance at OTAs, White remains the only WR with a prohibitive price tag. Meanwhile, Conley sticks out as the only WR with the type of production that precludes even a late round flyer. My current tactics rely on diversification between Funchess, Perriman, Dorsett, Coates, and Green-Beckham in the early double-digit range.
I recently traded for Perriman and Funchess during the RotoViz Dynasty League rookie draft, selected Coates during the Scott Fish Bowl, and landed Perriman, Funchess, and DGB in a recent MFL10 where I used the All-In WR Approach to Cover a RB-RB Start.
- If for no other reason than unproductive players with poor athleticism don’t get the myriad chances provided to unproductive players with elite athleticism. (back)
- Last year Maclin finished as WR16 while Travis Kelce checked in at TE8. (back)
- Although to be fair, it’s the size/speed combination drafters like, not either attribute in isolation. (back)
- Just look at Charles Rodgers, David Terrell, Darrius Heyward-Bey, and Tavon Austin. You could even include Michael Crabtree unless you feel like owners are satisfied with the production they’ve gotten from him. (back)