Kenny Stills might not be a big name yet in the fantasy football world, but that’s about to change. The New Orleans Saints selected Stills 144th overall in the 2013 NFL Draft, and he didn’t disappoint last year. Stills managed to accumulate 641 yards and five TDs despite being targeted only 51 times last season, and I expect those numbers to rise sharply in 2014.
This offseason, the Saints released Lance Moore and traded Darren Sproles to the Philadelphia Eagles. The Saints’ WR corps is always relevant to fantasy because of Drew Brees and his amazing arm, but it’s often hard to predict which WR to draft because Brees spreads the ball around so much. Here’s a quick breakdown of how much Brees targeted each of his receivers in 2013.
As you can see, Stills drew only eight percent of Brees’ targets last year while Moore and Sproles drew a combined 22 percent of his total targets. With the departure of Moore and Sproles, that leaves a great opportunity for someone to fill that gap. I think that someone will be none other than Kenny Stills.
Now, I don’t believe that Stills will claim all of those targets, as Pierre Thomas is sure to receive a large portion of the receptions that Sproles had last year. Additionally, there are rumblings that the Saints want to become more of a ball control offense and have Brees pass a little less. Personally, I’ll believe that when I see it. There’s absolutely no reason for head coach Sean Payton to rein in Brees, just like there’s no reason the Denver Broncos should rein in Peyton Manning.
But if Stills even gets half of the targets that Moore got and a quarter of Sproles’ former targets, that’s about 45 additional targets. If he does see that kind of minimal increase, Stills will almost double his 2013 targets with 96 balls thrown to him. Assuming he catches about 63 percent of his targets like last season, Stills would hypothetically grab 60 receptions.
It’s unlikely that Stills will retain his league-leading average of 20.0 YPC, but I don’t want him to hold that. The Saints so far have used Stills mainly as a deep threat due to his speed and elusiveness, but he has the potential to be so much more. At 6-foot and weighing almost 200-pounds, he can be a threat in the red zone and all over the field.
Right now, Stills is being drafted on average in the 11th round. If all goes well, I could see Stills finishing the 2014 season with over 1,200 yards and eight TDs. That would be a steal if he can live up to his potential, and you wouldn’t be losing much if he even just matches his 2013 production.
Star wide receivers often times show potential in their rookie years and then break out in their second season. Josh Gordon only had 800 yards and five TDs in his rookie season, and he was drafted later than the eighth round in most leagues last year. Don’t miss out on Kenny Stills’ breakout season in 2014.