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2nd year sleeper: Nick Toon, Saints
via northernstar.info
via northernstar.info

Everyone loves rookies; they’re new and shiny and the possibilities seem limitless.  Unfortunately, they’re also expensive.  You know who I love?  I love the 2nd year guys.  They’re forgotten and cheap, but have a leg up because they already know the offense.  This series looks at players from the 2012 NFL Draft who you need to know and track throughout the summer.  In case you missed them, check out my articles on other 2nd year guys: Stephen Hill, Brian Quick, Rueben RandleAJ Jenkins.

For each of the past three seasons Drew Brees has finished 2nd in the NFL in passing attempts.  Consequently, the New Orleans Saints passing game has served as a gold mine for fantasy football players.  In 2013, I am predicting a gold rush.  Thanks to some turnover in their wide receiver corp.—nearly 750 snaps are available—and a trio of 30+ year old receivers, there is room for a young receiver to step up.  Here’s guessing that Nick Toon can fill that void. 

Taken with the 122nd pick of the 2012 draft, Nick Toon is the 2nd highest drafted receiver in the eight year Sean Payton era.  Unfortunately he missed the entire 2012 season after having surgery to repair a bone in his foot, thus making him a ‘redshirt rookie.’  Since we have no NFL data to leverage, let’s revisit his college production and his workout performance to see why the Saints liked him so much in the first place.

The Rare Measurables

Player Ht. Wt. 40yd Bench V Jump B Jump Explosion
Nick Toon 73.9 215 4.43 18 39 130 169

The striking thing about Toon’s workout performance is the blend of size, speed, and explosion.  Yes, he is the 2nd biggest receiver on the Saints’ roster, but there’s more to this story.  As you read in this article, an explosion score of 170 is elite, and even more so when it comes to 6’2” 215lb guys.  The story gets more interesting when you consider how that leaping ability and strength may have helped him succeed in the red zone in college.

The Interesting College Production

Nick Toon isn’t a true RotoViz darling, but he’s interesting enough.  During Russell Wilson’s epic 2011 college season, Toon captured 30% market share of yards and 31% market share of touchdowns.  These numbers don’t indicate an elite prospect, but what is interesting is his red zone performance.  Using this awesome app, I compared Toon’s college production to a couple of standout pro receivers.  Looking at the heat map below, you will see Toon posted the best two RZTD seasons among an elite group of NFL touchdown hounds: Jordy Nelson, Eric Decker, and Dwayne Bowe.  Also, his 10.4 YPT indicate that he makes the most of his targets.  Really, he’s not far from passing the Decker test.

toon

So that you can understand how AMAZING a 73% red zone TD rate is, consider that it ranks 3rd among EVERY COLLEGE RECEIVER performance since 2005 (min 10 rz targets).  That’s 3rd out of several thousand qualifying seasons.  Wow.

If you want to do your own red zone scouting, you can use this app.

The Conclusion

Nick Toon has the interesting physical traits and an NFL pedigree (his father, Al Toon, was a receiver for the Jets).  Yes, his college resume could have been stronger, but his red zone performance was off the charts as the #1 target for Wisconsin.  Now, imagine how much more effective he could be with NFL defenses leaving him to be a 3rd option behind Jimmy Graham and Marques Colston.  At the very least, he could be a lethal red zone target; at best he could fill the vacant WR spot in New Orleans.  Robert Meachem and Marques Colston both had career years in their 2nd seasons with the Saints.  Will Nick Toon be next to join the crowd?  Given his bargain-bin price, there’s only profit to be made as you track him throughout the summer.

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