Will Fuller: First Round Pick, Fantasy Dud

by Tim Talmadge ·

In my last PlayerProfiler article, I looked at Ravens Wide Receiver Michael Campanaro and explored the idea of analyzing WR metrics to get an idea of their expected position in the NFL.  I believe the best way to understand how a player will translate to the next level is by valuing traits rather than putting all players under one umbrella.

If you aren’t familiar with the positions I’m referencing, here’s a quick breakdown:

X or Split End: Often the team’s top field stretcher.  Must be able to beat one on one coverage and avoid being pressed.

Z or Flanker: Doesn’t necessarily need great athleticism .  Typically an exceptional route runner.  “Production is everything.”

Y or Slot: Lines up inside.  Strong Agility Score is a virtual requirement.  Usually suited for smaller and quicker players.

So what role does Will Fuller fit best?  Let’s use the Rotoviz Box Score Scout to get an idea..

willfullercomps

Will Fuller looks like the typical stretch X receiver.  But does that look like the player that could be the first WR drafted in this class?  Sadly, recently news has come out suggesting just that he will be the first receiver selected.

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Will Fuller Advanced Metrics Profile

Since 2007 a WR that ran a 4.3 forty has gone in the first round every year except 2010.  That year appears to be an outlier though as studs Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas were the only first rounders in that draft and they went in the later half.   Considering Will Fuller is one of only two players to run that fast at the combine, the odds appear to be in his favor to be selected highly in this year’s NFL Draft.

HOW DOES HE STACK UP TO PAST 1ST ROUNDERS?

With that in mind, I thought it would be a fun exercise to look at all the WR’s that ran in the 4.3’s and were drafted in the 1st round to see how Fuller compares to these players (credit to PlayerProfiler’s Data Analysis Tool).

Full Name Height Weight YPR DR BRAge SPARQ-x 40-Yard Agility Catch Radius Vertical
A.J. Jenkins 6′ 0″ 192 lbs 14.2   55.2% 20.9 115.1 4.39 10.85 10.26 38.5
Brandin Cooks 5′ 10″ 189 lbs 13.5    38.9% 18.9 132.9 4.33 10.57 10.17 36
Breshad Perriman 6′ 2″ 212 lbs 20.9   36.6% 20 -0 4.3 -0 -0 36.5
Calvin Johnson 6′ 5″ 236 lbs 15.8   55.3% 19.9 -0 4.35 -0 -0 42.5
Darrius Heyward-Bey 6′ 2″ 210 lbs 14.5   30.6% 19.5 126.2 4.3 10.98 10.36 38.5
Julio Jones 6′ 3″ 220 lbs 14.5   34.4% 19.6 122.1 4.39 10.91 10.37 38.5
Kevin White 6′ 3″ 215 lbs 13.3   36.8% 21.2 135.1 4.35 11.06 10.25 36.5
Phillip Dorsett 5′ 10″ 185 lbs 24.2   32.6% 19.7 117 4.33 10.81 10.08 37
Robert Meachem 6′ 2″ 215 lbs 18.3   41.8% 21.9 117.7 4.39 11.28 10.16 37.5
Tavon Austin 5′ 8″ 174 lbs 11.3   28.7% 19.5 -0 4.34 -0 -0 32
Will Fuller 6′ 0″ 186 lbs   20.3   46.7% 20.4 104 4.32 11.2 9.93 33.5

Will Fuller‘s best comparables from this group look like A.J. Jenkins, Brandin Cooks and Phillip Dorsett.  But out of this group he has the worst SPARQ-x Score, Agility Score, Vertical Jump, and Catch Radius.

His 48th percentile Agility Score would indicate he may be a one dimensional player and in that dimension he will need to win jump balls but his size and Vertical Jump point to that being a red flag as well.  In comparison to this list of players, his bust potential is high.

Jon Moore’s Phenom Index , a predictive tool for NFL success, does have him listed in the top 10 of this class.  Seeing that gave me pause about being down on him but then I created a list of comparable players from 2008-2015 and it only reinforced my concerns.

Name Height Weight Phenom Index Draft Year
Will Fuller 6’0 186 1.94 2016
Kevin Ogletree 6’1 198 1.96 2009
Mario Manningham 6’0 185 1.95 2008
Kyle Williams 5’10 186 1.95 2010
Odell Beckham 5’11 198 1.92 2014

The fact that Odell Beckham appears on this list will get some people all hot and bothered but these Phenom Index scores are about the only way they’re comparable.  OBJ was a player many thought was undersized but due to his elite athleticism and exceptionally large hands he was able to overcome that.  Will Fuller is even lighter than Beckham, has hands that are almost two inches smaller and if you compare their profiles you can see that it isn’t particularly close.

If you somehow convinced yourself that Will Fuller‘s ceiling is outer space, his floor is also bottomless.  Mario Manningham is the only receiver out of this group that ever sniffed relevancy and that was just for one season, finishing as the WR19 in 2010.

Kevin Ogletree is the guy everyone spent a significant percentage of their free agent auction budget on after his week one outburst way back in 2012, only to crawl back in his hole for the rest of the year and career.  While Kyle Williams is only remembered because he fumbled a kick return and cost the 49ers a trip to the Superbowl — not exactly a who’s who of household names.

CONCLUSION

Will Fuller is not a first round-caliber NFL Draft prospect.  However, Fuller will be a first round pick, because NFL teams covet sub-4.35 field stretchers  selection because of his speed.  Dynasty owners have a tendency to follow what NFL General Managers tell them about these players and select day-1 skill position players in the first round of dynasty rookie drafts using similarly-proportioned draft capital.  Don’t be that guy.

Will Fuller supporters will point to his impressive production share numbers as a reason to believe in his potential, but I’m of the belief that College Dominator Rating might not be as predictive for players that fit the stretch-X profile.  His touchdowns per game are a positive for his outlook, which is why I’m not totally writing him off, but the evidence suggests he is just as likely to top out as a rich man’s Kenny Stills role player.

These type of players have a place in the league, but they don’t have a strong history of consistently contributing to fantasy championships.  To me, ceilings are important when you know they are attainable, but floors matter more when drafting the unknowns, the rookie prospects.  History has a good track record for predicting the future, and it says to avoid Will Fuller at his expected post-draft dynasty ADP.


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