Stop me if you’ve heard these statistics thrown out there this offseason in fantasy news: “Last season, Kenny Stills ranked third in the league in catch percentage (minimum 50 receptions). His 14.8 yards per reception was the most of anyone with at least a 70% catch rate. The only other players that had at least 14 yards per catch and a 70% catch rate last year were Odell Beckham Jr and Randall Cobb.”
Stills re-location to the high-powered Miami offense, with offensive coordinator/wizard Bill Lazor at the helm for a second consecutive campaign, has generated plenty of buzz this offseason. The dynamic playmaker is going on average as the 45th wide receiver off the board, according to MyFantasyLeague.com’s average draft position data. That’s behind wideouts like Donte Moncrief, Cody Latimer and Kendall Wright, which is why Stills is garnering “sleeper appeal” in the fantasy community.
There is just one small problem with that line of thinking, which these fantasy analysts don’t seem to be taking into account. Reality. Anyone who considers Stills a sleeper has no idea what they are talking about. Let’s start out with the obvious problem, Ryan Tannehill.
Stills is without question, one of the better deep threats in the game, but that means nothing because Tannehill is one of the worst deep ball passers in the league. Last season, Tannehill (despite having a weapon like Mike Wallace at his disposal) completed just four (seriously) passes over 40 yards. The only quarterback (minimum 300 attempts) who completed less was Alex Smith, who frankly, didn’t throw a touchdown pass to a wide receiver all season.
If you think it’s a small sample aberration, think again. According to ESPN Stats and Information, Tannehill registered a completion percentage of just 26.5% on throws over 20 yards, which was the fourth-worst mark of any signal caller last season. The stats (and frankly, just watching Tannehill every week) paint a picture of a quarterback who struggles to attack down the field, which is exactly where Stills provides the most value. Factor in the offseason additions of DeVante Parker, Greg Jennings and Jordan Cameron, all of whom will syphon away targets from Stills and there is virtually nothing to like at all.
Stills value is predicated on the deep ball, which is going to be impacted significantly by going from Drew Brees to Tannehill. Don’t believe me, let’s go to the tape. A significant factor in Stills exorbitantly high catch percentage last season was the low degree of difficulty on some of his receptions. While he does have some difficult receptions on his resume, it’s hard to deny that a large majority of the time, he was wide open a majority of the time on deep throws for Brees last season in the Bayou.
In a vacuum, Stills is the perfect gamble from a fantasy perspective. There is virtually no downside taking a risk that late in a draft, but when you look at some of the names currently being selected around him (and behind him in some cases) like Brandon LaFell, Roddy White, Eric Decker, Vincent Jackson, Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald, selecting Stills makes zero sense at all. All of the veterans listed above aren’t sexy names, but you know what they have that Stills doesn’t? Guaranteed targets.
Advanced Sports Logic’s “The Machine” isn’t a Stills believer either. He grades out as the 57th-best fantasy wideout in The Machine’s blended projections. For the record, LaFell, White, Jackson, Boldin and Fitzgerald all rank ahead of Stills in The Machine’s projections as well. The logic behind targeting Stills as a sleeper isn’t flawed. However, there are too many risks associated with him to even consider drafting him where he’s currently going off the board in most drafts. If the overall goal is to extract as much value as possible on draft day, Stills represents a massive bust relative to the other options at the position that will likely still be available.
Stay tuned to ASL for the most comprehensive fantasy updates and most updated sporting news!