2014 Fantasy Football Sleeper Candidate: Kenny Stills
One of the most common mistakes that fantasy football owners make is falling in love with rookies with great upside. While there is nothing wrong with that, it can lead to overlooking better options and ultimately costing someone a league championship. The situation that I just mentioned is exactly what’s happening within the New Orleans Saints receiving corps.
Most people are still raving about rookie Brandin Cooks, but you’ll likely have to reach for him in your drafts due to the fanfare. In fairness to Cooks, he has earned and deserved his current hype. His senior year campaign as an Oregon State Beaver was a spectacular one, as he compiled a Pac-12 best of 128 receptions for an NCAA-leading 1,730 yards and 16 touchdowns. This led to him being a consensus All-American, Biletnikoff Award winner and a first-round draft pick. If his blazing speed and statistical prowess weren’t enough hype-building factors, then his performances during the 2014 NFL preseason so far have definitely helped to increase the hype. His average draft position currently sits at No. 101, which means that he’s being selected around the same time that players such as Eric Decker, Sammy Watkins and Terrance Williams.
All three of the aforementioned receivers project to get more yards and touchdowns than Cooks. However, at least from the 50-plus mock drafts and in the daily real drafts that I’ve done, Cooks almost always gets selected before Decker, Watkins and Williams. It’s slightly understandable if this happened in a PPR league, but that would be a slight stretch even in that scoring format. Despite how exciting he may be for fantasy owners to consider, including myself, we must all remember that it’s a dangerous proposition relying on a rookie, regardless of his upside.
Now, when it comes to Kenny Stills, he already provides better value as his ADP is 162 and will look to build on a 32 catch, 641 yard rookie season where he also caught five touchdowns. While dealing with a crowded passing option situation, Stills still managed to record 75 yards or more in four games. Additionally, he posted a ridiculous yards-per-catch average of 20, which ranked him No. 1 in the entire league. Stills has great speed to be a deep threat, and he will benefit from the absence of Lance Moore and Darren Sproles, as a good chunk of their targets will now become his.
Drew Brees and the Saints’ coaching staff have also made it clear that they plan to get Stills much more involved this season as the team’s No. 2 WR. As the third or fourth option in their high-powered passing attack, Stills could be a safe bet to finish the 2014 season with at least 50 catches, 900 yards and seven touchdowns.
As stated earlier, the hype behind the electric rookie Cooks is perfectly understandable. However, the chances of him ultimately outperforming Stills are slim. It would be wise to take advantage of this knowledge in your fantasy football drafts and avoid reaching for a WR3 when you can get the WR2 on the same team by an average of four to five rounds later. It’s time to hop off of the hype train, get on the right train, and draft Stills as a super-sexy, late-round fantasy receiver.
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