Devin Funchess is an incredible buy low candidate in any format right now, but at just 22-years old, he is especially attractive in dynasty leagues.
Devin Funchess‘ redraft ADP has been on the rise this summer sitting at ADP 137 at time of writing. Young wide receivers are all the rage right now, but Funchess has gone largely overlooked despite checking all the boxes as a prospect. Age adjusted production fiends and #TeamBigWR should be fighting over Funchess like the Starks and Lannisters fight over the Iron Throne, but they seem more interested in channeling their inner Melisandre to revive Kevin White and Breshad Perriman. No need for blood magic here, go buy Devin Funchess now.
Devin Funchess is young, athletic, cheap, and is tied to a young superstar QB in Cam Newton. He possesses the size, athletic ability, and draft capital all dynasty owners covet. Funchess battled a hamstring problem early and failed to immediately step in and replace Kelvin Benjamin’s production, leading many fantasy owners to mistakenly write him off as a bust. Through his first eight games he only secured 10 receptions and one touchdown, but finished strong with 21 catches and four touchdowns over his last eight games, including a breakthrough week 17 performance with 7 catches on 8 targets for 120 yards and a touchdown. He became increasingly efficient as the season wore on and he became more comfortable in the offense. After his first six games as a professional, Funchess was looking at just six catches and six drops with no touchdowns and a 4.1 yards per target. Over his next 10 games, Funchess had 25 receptions and just two drops with 5 TDs and a gaudy 9.1 yards per target.Although Kelvin Benjamin is returning in 2016, he was extremely inefficient his rookie year evidenced by a -3.5 Production Premium (No. 58 among NFL wide receivers). Benjamin’s raw numbers both in college and the pros were buoyed by volume and tremendous QB play from both Jameis Winston and Cam Newton. Some may not be aware Benjamin is 3+ years older than Devin Funchess and was two years older during his rookie season than Funchess was during his rookie campaign.
Kelvin Benjamin is now entering his 3rd year in the league coming off a lost season from an ACL tear last summer. Looking ahead, Benjamin will already be a free agent in 2018 as a 27 year old. Given his inefficiency his rookie year, his injury history, unique build for the position and relative advanced age, it would not at all be surprising if the Panthers let Benjamin walk, having drafted his heir apparent last year in the second round in Devin Funchess and having made the Super Bowl without him. With Cam Newton commanding a nine figure deal and a large chunk of their cap for the foreseeable future, the Panthers will have to make some tough decisions and Benjamin could be one of them. Benjamin’s second contract would take him well into his 30s, a scary thought for someone who relies so much on his size to compensate for his very pedestrian athleticism.
The rest of the Panthers WR depth chart is shaky at best. Corey Brown, Ted Ginn Jr., Damiere Byrd and Stephen Hill are all set to be free agents after this year. Keyarris Garrett, an undrafted free agent, is a favorite of draft twitter and owns a very exciting profile as well. Garrett, like Funchess, combines size, athleticism and production like few others. Devin Funchess and Keyarris Garrett is lethal dynasty stack combination right now given their situation, talent and QB. Funchess has also been drawing rave reviews all summer for his hard work and progress. The Panthers feature a plethora of big WRs but Funchess is unique in his ability to line up at all three WR spots – flanker, split end and the slot. This versatility is raises both his floor and his ceiling, in 2016 and beyond.
At age-21, Devin Funchess was the second youngest WR in the entire league in 2015 besides Amari Cooper. He is younger than many of the 2016 rookie WR class including Josh Doctson, Sterling Shepard, Michael Thomas and others with the added benefit of having 19 NFL games (16 regular season and 3 postseason) of experience under his belt already. Although age adjusted production and breakout age are commonly used metrics for examining college resumes, they sometimes go overlooked in the NFL. Both his experience and efficient production as a 21 year old professional are noteworthy. Funchess’s 19.4 Breakout Age (83rd-percentile) and his 41.4-percent College Dominator Rating (80th-percentile) are impressive check marks on his profile.
Devin Funchess share of receiving yards and touchdowns at Michigan are even more impressive when you consider Funchess only played WR for one year after converting from tight end. Michigan also ran an extremely run based offense with Denard Robinson, an NFL running back, throwing passes to Funchess. Like Michigan, Carolina’s run heavy offense (27th in the league in pass attempts) held back Funchess’s raw counting numbers and fantasy points, masking his effectiveness as a player but providing savvy owners with a buying opportunity.
A common misconception with Devin Funchess is that he’s a bad athlete. A lot of people (myself included) were quick to write off Funchess after his combine. A converted tight end with a 4.70 40-yard dash from his combine? Pass. Well, not so fast. Much was made of his disappointing combine 40 time but his pro day time of 4.48 puts him in a whole different category. Now we know combine times are typically machine timed and pro days are usually hand timed, and playerprofiler.com accounts for this by typically adjusting 0.05 seconds off a pro day time to account for hand timing/human error, but Funchess’s 0.22 second difference between the two is one of the larger gaps in the database. The truth is somewhere in between. Funchess spent the three weeks in between the combine and pro day with Jim Kielbaso, a strength and conditioning consultant for Michigan. Kielbaso was able to adjust his starting stance and immediately improved his 40 times the second day after they started working together. They also tweaked his footwork out of the gate and stopped him from overstriding. The results were significant and probably a better representation of his true speed. Especially at his height it makes sense intuitively that Funchess could struggle accelerating to top speed after starting with a hand on the ground.
A deeper look into his profile reveals even more athleticism. Devin Funchess‘ size (6-4, 232-pounds), 4.60 40-yard dash (27th-percentile), and Height Adjusted Speed Score (HaSS) of 107.9 (86th-percentile), are all very similar to Kelvin Benjamin’s profile. Benjamin stands at 6-5, 240-pounds and he ran a 4.61 40 yard dash (24th-percentile) which translates to a 112.1 HaSS (92nd-percentile). Like deep sleeper Brian Quick, Devin Funchess is one of the rare NFL wide receivers who posted a College Dominator Rating above 40-percent and a HaSS above the 80th-percentile.
Continuing the Kelvin Benjamin comparison, the other aspects of their respective advanced metrics profiles show clear advantages for Devin Funchess with a superior 126.5 Burst Score (78th-percentile), a 11.46 Agility Score (18th-percentile), a 10.16 Catch Radius (79th-percentile) and a 107.8 SPARQ-x (54th-percentile). All these metrics outweigh Benjamin’s 114.8 Burst Score (17th-percentile), 11.72 Agility Score (5th-percentile), 9.98 Catch Radius (48th-percentile), and a dismal 98.2 SPARQ-x (24th-percentile). How many fantasy owners would have guessed Funchess’s Catch Radius and Burst Scores were that much better than pre-ACL tear Kelvin Benjamin?
Kelvin Benjamin’s efficiency numbers from 2014 also back up the lack of explosiveness. Although he was No. 5 in the league in targets, Benjamin was mired by inefficiency, especially in the red zone, supposedly his calling card. Benjamin posted a 22.2-percent red zone catch rate (No. 80 in the league), a 50-percent Catch Rate (No. 88 in the league) and a 6.9 yards per target (#83 in the league).
On the other hand, Devin Funchess was more efficient in his more limited role (41.4% snap share) during his rookie season. Funchess only averaged about 15 routes run per game but was able to collect 26.2% targets per route, about one target every four routes ran. This was good for ninth in the league behind some very impressive company – Alshon Jeffrey, Steve Smith, Antonio Brown, Mike Evans, Demaryius Thomas, DeAndre Hopkins, and Jarvis Landry are the only WRs to best Funchess in this metric. This is backed up by Funchess’s 14.8% Hog Rate (#22 in the league).
Devin Funchess also rates very favorably in Pro Football Focus’s WRER (Wide Receiver Efficiency Rating). WRER factors in aDOT (average depth of target), targets per route run, catch rate on catchable balls, and YAC. In fact, Funchess posted the best WRER score for any rookie WR last year, even beating out the almighty Amari Cooper and the still underrated Stefon Diggs. Funchess ranked 21st in the whole league in WRER and 7th among WRs who did not play more than 50% of snaps.
Per Rotoviz.com, of all Cam Newton’s receivers who have received at least 50 targets lifetime, Devin Funchess is second all time in adjusted yards per attempt at 8.4 yard per target. This is over two full yards ahead of Kelvin Benjamin’s career rate of 6.3 yard per target. Funchess also posted over 2.0 fantasy points per target on his final 51 targets, which is impressive for a 21-year old considering top-24 WRs averaged 1.85 fantasy points per target in 2015.
Over the last few years we’ve seen young WRs valued more than ever. 2015 was the first season that the top 24 wrs outscored the top 24 rbs in PPR. Dynasty owners have adjusted, valuing WRs more than ever. Most productive young WRs are gone in the first two or three rounds of startup drafts but Devin Funchess is available much later. The perception of Funchess is held back by misguided concerns over athleticism and his raw counting numbers. The perception of Benjamin is propped up by raw counting numbers/volume and an immense frame. The rest of the WR corps are soon to be free agents. Dorial Green-Beckham is still going 50 picks before Devin Funchess despite being taken just one pick before Funchess in the NFL draft and being a full year older than Funchess with more competition for targets, an inferior quarterback and serious concerns about his work ethic.