You know, I know this steak doesn’t exist. I know that when I put it in my mouth, the Matrix is telling my brain that it is juicy and delicious. After nine years, you know what I realize? [Takes a bite of steak] Ignorance is bliss.
In all likelihood, Chiefs wide receiver Albert Wilson will never exist in the world of fantasy football relevance; considering that he was an undrafted (underrated?) player out of a Sun Belt school, that isn’t a bold assumption.
However, despite this backstory, what I’ve recently learned about Albert Wilson makes me want to live in a blissfully ignorant world. I know that it doesn’t make sense for me to write optimistic things about him, but I’ll be damned if there isn’t something to see here.
After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends, you never add Albert Wilson to your dynasty rosters and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the Albert Wilson rabbit-hole goes. Remember, all I’m offering is the truth. Nothing more.
The glitches in the Matrix
When it comes to evaluating college wide receiver prospects, I am obsessed with age-adjusted performance. In case you missed it, consider checking out the 50 most precocious college receiver seasons of the decade. I love to evaluate their performance for every season of their career and identify guys who were outstanding at a young age. The glitch in this Matrix is that for guys like Wilson, who played for three seasons with an FCS program (Georgia State transitioned to FBS in his fourth year), I have to proactively go find his FCS statistics. This exercise made sense for a small-school, size-speed specimen like Charles Johnson, but for a 5’9 202lb guy like Albert Wilson, I figured it could wait.
Oops. As it turns out, Wilson was utterly ridiculous at a very young age in college, accounting for more than 40 percent of his team’s receiving yards at both age 19 and age 20. But, more on that in a minute.
Another glitch with Wilson is that Georgia State re-classified to FBS program status during his senior year, which means that Wilson’s intriguing 2013 stats don’t show up in the Sports-Reference play index. In other words, if I want to look up other players who have posted seasons with 1,000+ receiving yards and 200+ rushing yards, like Albert did in 2013, he won’t appear in that search. Here’s what I mean:
Props to Shawn Siegele, Matt Freedman (who touched on Wilson in his latest Wideout Report) and Russell Clay for waking me up to the relevance of college rushing stats by wide receivers.
Not a bad list, huh? I’d say that list captures just about all the premium smaller receivers in recent years, with the exception of Percy Harvin and TY Hilton, who barely missed the receiving yards threshold. Wilson should be on that list for his 2013 in which he went for 1177 receiving yards and 251 rush yards.
Related to these rushing stats, probably another glitch with Wilson is that despite his minimal height, his weight of 200+ lbs is actually quite respectable and, like Brandin Cooks, gives him a very solid Body Mass Index (BMI). In fact, there is probably a case to be made that Wilson is built more like a running back than a wide receiver, which brings us to his most successful comparables, based on similar body type (weight between 192-202lbs and BMI over 28). *Pick 270 means they were undrafted.
|WR||Draft||Pick||College||F Age||Ht||Wt||40||Bench||Vert||Broad||Shuttle||3Cone||Speed Score||BMI|
|Albert Wilson||2014||270||Georgia St||21.5||69.4||202||4.43||10||37.5||123||4.21||7.00||104.9||29.8|
|Pierre Garcon||2008||205||Mt Union||21.4||71.9||210||4.42||20||36.5||125||4.19||6.90||110.0||28.6|
|Golden Tate||2010||60||Notre Dame||21.4||70.3||199||4.42||17||35.0||120||4.34||7.12||104.3||28.6|
With the exception of bench press reps and draft position, this cohort is strikingly similar. Note that while draft pick is a tremendously significant predictor of future success, I am okay with the disparity here. My thought process is that a lot of lowly drafted, or undrafted, players never pan out because they never get the opportunity. In the case of Victor Cruz and Pierre Garcon, they were able to get on the field and their talent took over. I think the same applies to Wilson, who has been getting starter reps for the Chiefs over the past two weeks. Now that he’s on the field, I’m less worried about his undrafted status.
To understand how the college careers of these players relate, I’ve mapped out each of their college seasons based on age and market share of team’s receiving yards in games played. Note that the trendline represents how 150-point fantasy receivers fared in their college days.
Relative to his offense, Albert Wilson was the most dominant in the cohort at ages 19, 20 and 21, and was above the trendline for all three of those years. Amazingly, over that three year span (2011-2013) Wilson accounted for an otherworldly 42 percent of Georgia State’s receiving yards. Honestly, at that level, I almost don’t care about the possibility that Wilson was merely the best among a bunch of lousy options at Georgia State; my research leads me to believe that young dominance like this at any level is related to a higher probability of success in the NFL.
Speaking of which, remember earlier when I said we would revisit Wilson’s age-adjusted score? Simply put, if I had known about Wilson when I wrote my 50 most precocious college receiver seasons article, he would have appeared on the list twice, with his 2011 season appearing in the top 10. And for anyone who is concerned about Wilson’s market share stats being deceiving, as they can be in some offensive schemes, consider that for his career he had 3,190 receiving yards and 23 touchdowns. Here is list of all the players I could find who had 3,000+ and 20+ for their careers and played their final season at age 22 or younger.
|WR||Draft||Overall||NFL Team||College||F Age||CAR Rec||CAR Rec Yds||CAR Avg||CAR Rec TD|
|Justin Blackmon||2012||5||Jaguars||Oklahoma State||22||253||3564||14.1||40|
|Tavon Austin||2013||8||Rams||West Virginia||21.8||288||3413||11.9||29|
|Michael Crabtree||2009||10||49ers||Texas Tech||21.3||231||3127||13.5||41|
|Brandin Cooks||2014||20||Saints||Oregon State||20.3||226||3272||14.5||24|
|Titus Young||2011||44||Lions||Boise State||21.4||204||3063||15||25|
|Alshon Jeffery||2012||45||Bears||South Carolina||21.9||183||3042||16.6||23|
|Davante Adams||2014||53||Packers||Fresno State||21||233||3031||13||38|
|Laurent Robinson||2007||75||Falcons||Illinois State||21.6||192||3007||15.7||29|
|Derek Hagan||2006||82||Dolphins||Arizona State||21.3||258||3939||15.3||27|
|Vincent Brown||2011||82||Chargers||San Diego State||21.9||209||3110||14.9||23|
|Antonio Brown||2010||195||Steelers||Central Michigan||21.5||305||3199||10.5||22|
|Pierre Garcon||2008||205||Colts||Mount Union||21.4||202||3363||16.6||47|
|Marquess Wilson||2013||236||Bears||Washington State||20.3||189||3207||17||23|
|Chris Williams||2009||270||UDFA||New Mexico State||21.3||246||3565||14.5||32|
|Jeff Fuller||2012||270||UDFA||Texas A&M||21.7||233||3092||13.3||34|
|Albert Wilson||2014||270||UDFA||Georgia State||21.5||175||3190||18.2||23|
The Chiefs top five wide receivers are:
Dwayne Bowe – turns 31 in 2015 and is due $10M.
Donnie Avery – turns 31 in 2015 and will be in the final season of his contract.
Albert Wilson – turns 23 in 2015 and is under contract through 2016.
Jason Avant – free agent in 2015.
Junior Hemingway – free agent in 2015.
I’d say there is a great chance that Wilson and Avery are the only two on the roster next year. Yes, the Chiefs like to use their tight ends and running backs a lot in the passing game, but it’s not like Andy Reid hates receivers. In his final four seasons in Philadelphia he had two 700+ wide receivers on each of those teams. I think KC has just been such receiver waste land that he’s leaned on those other positions lately.
So, why has it taken so long for Albert Wilson to surface as a prospect to know? I think a combination of his college team’s situation, a historically great class of receivers and his 5’9 height have made it easy to overlook him. Now that he’s getting playing time, owners should consider adding him in dynasty leagues that roster more than 20 offensive players. Wilson’s young dominance, athleticism and outstanding production make him a great low-cost addition.