Andy Isabella has yet to become a household name. But since becoming a full-time starter in 2016, he’s been one of the most productive wide receivers in college football, leading the nation in yards receiving (1,698) in 2018. Should dynasty owners be willing to invest substantial draft capital in Isabella come time for rookie drafts this summer?
THE EARLY YEARS
Isabella was a lightly recruited two-star prospect from Mayfield, Ohio. He committed to the University of Massachusetts in 2015 and played in 10 games as a freshman but had just two receptions, primarily playing a role on special teams. Isabella made a massive jump as a sophomore, however, finishing with a 62-801-7 receiving line. He accounted for 26 percent of the Minutemen’s yards and TDs receiving, narrowly missing an important production threshold found to be predictive of future success.
2017 AND BEYOND
Isabella made another sizable jump as a junior in 2017, ending with a 65-1,020-10 receiving line. He crossed the aforementioned 0.30 Dominator Rating we typically look for in WR prospects accounting for 33 percent of his team’s receiving production. And as a senior in 2018, Isabella became one of just 16 players this century to finish a season with at least 100 receptions, 1,600 yards receiving, and 13 TDs.
Concerns about the level of competition Isabella faced are valid and should, to some extent, factor into any evaluation of a smaller-school prospect. But even with that in mind, Isabella’s incredibly strong statistical profile is his likely meal ticket into the NFL.
We’ve already touched a bit on the importance of production for WR prospects. And we know that Isabella’s raw stats are incredible. But if we adjust that production based on age we gain even more perspective. Thanks to research from Anthony Amico and others at RotoViz, we know breakout age for WRs is an important aspect of prospect analysis. Isabella’s breakout age (21.3) falls on the less successful side of the initial split in Amico’s tree, but his career TD production and yards per reception place him in a cohort of past prospects that have finished as a WR2 or better at least once in their first three seasons 33 percent of the time:
On the other hand, Isabella will play his rookie season as a 23-year-old. That’s a relatively bad sign based on prior research done by Blair Andrews, as younger prospects tend to produce more fantasy points, all else being equal.
Isabella’s frame (5 feet 8 inches , 186 pounds) is another potential reason for concern. If he finishes with a 200-point PPR season in his first three NFL years he’d become just the third WR his size or smaller to do so this century joining Steve Smith Sr. and Lance Moore.
Isabella’s eventual draft position, which is another crucial component in any prospect evaluation, will be telling. If he runs a sub-4.3 forty yard dash as he claims he can, he’ll instantly shoot up draft boards in April and increase his chances for success based on historical draft data. In the right offensive system Isabella could easily become a viable fantasy option, particularly in PPR formats, and is likely worth a second-round rookie pick in dynasty drafts. If he runs well and gets drafted earlier than we expect, he could rise even higher.