Fins Fantasy: Projecting Kenny Stills’ Fantasy Value for 2015
In this series of articles, I, your devilishly handsome writer, will be providing analysis on the potential of every Dolphins’ player that could provide significant impact this upcoming fantasy football season. The major factors that go into fantasy production will be separated into the categories: Player Skill, Systematic Fit, Production Consistency, and Injury History. Listen to me and you just might create the best fantasy football team to not win a championship. Trust me, I know. I’ve done it for 3 straight years.
In 2014 Kenny Stills had 63 receptions for 931 yards and 3 touchdowns in 15 games. He ranked 36th among Fantasy Wide Receivers with 110.9 fantasy points.
Kenny Stills was brought to Miami for one thing, and one thing only: improving Ryan Tannehill’s deep game by replacing Mike Wallace as the team’s speedster. Luckily for Tannehill, Kenny Stills is the man that Mike Wallace simply never was for the Dolphins. For one, that he won’t fill Wallace’s role as the NFL’s version of a 15-year-old locked in a permanent state of teenage angst. That being said, Kenny Stills has the potential to be as good of a receiver as Wallace, if not even better for Miami. Stills is the epitome of a deep-threat, with a solid build at 6 feet tall (190lbs), and blazing speed (4.38 40 yard dash time) for a receiver of his size.
Even more impressive than his physical traits are his hands and his overall receiving ability. His future as a deep threat was apparent in his rookie season with the Saints when he capitalized on his limited opportunities, and totaled over 600 yards and 5 TDs on 32 receptions, at 20 yards per catch. What I like so much about his fantasy prospects this year is that he clearly showed improvement and diversification of his game from year one to year two. Even at a glance, one can tell that Kenny Stills possesses elite awareness and hands for someone who has been in the league for merely two years. His 78.8% catch rate on targets coming his way was good for 4th best among wide receivers, and even more importantly, his 64.3% catch rate on deep throws was the highest in the league.
A good deal of his efficiency can be attributed to the presence of Drew Brees, but ultimately most of the credit can be attributed to Stills himself. The only real weakness in his game is his still developing route tree, and his release off the line of scrimmage, particularly in the red zone. Neither issue is particularly bad, and both are likely to improve as Stills gains experience.
To me, it looks as though Kenny Stills will be a great fit in Bill Lazor’s offense. Even in the event that Kenny Stills is relegated behind DeVante Parker and Jarvis Landry on the depth chart, he will be seeing the field enough to make an impact. Bill Lazor employs 3+ wide receiver sets very frequently, and Stills will be the team’s best shot to stretch the field on a play-by-play basis. Lazor also could use his noted offensive creativity to help get Stills out in space where he can do a great deal of damage to a defense. The issues mentioned in the previous paragraph could also be covered up by the presence of DeVante Parker as a red zone option, and Jarvis Landry as a route runner. “Hey Kenny, you know that cool thing you do where you run straight and a dude tries to follow you? Yeah, do that.”
The only concern I have for Stills’ production is Ryan Tannehill’s inconsistent deep ball accuracy. Although, I think it likely that a large part of Tannehill’s lack of development in the deep ball game is attributable to Mike Wallace’s general refusal to adjust to a pass and obvious lack of effort. Either way, Kenny Stills will capitalize on any opportunity he’s given, and in this offense I see him getting plenty. Yes, take your lunch money young man.
As is the case with most deep-threat wide receivers, Kenny Stills is very much a boom or bust prospect. When your primary job is stretching the field, there are likely to be games with reduced touches as a result of fewer opportunities downfield. There are going to be games when the defense, particularly if that defense has a great secondary, makes receivers beat them with crossing routes and screens. In games like this, receivers like Kenny Stills suffer as the defense limits their opportunities downfield.
By no means is Kenny Stills an inconsistent player, but the fantasy point discrepancy between his good games and his bad games is going to be larger than average. For example, in his game against the Steelers, Stills put up 162 yards and a TD against a fairly weak Steelers secondary. The very next week he put up a mere 23 yards against a significantly stronger Panthers defense. A capable fantasy owner can reduce the damage of inconsistent fantasy production by putting in players based on matchup, rather than just the player’s ability alone.
Stills missed week one last year due to a quad injury, but it was the only game that he has missed thus far in his NFL career. Nothing in his recent history leads me to believe that Kenny Stills is an injury risk.
At worst, I see Kenny Stills as a high risk, high reward player on a week to week basis at the number 3 WR or Flex slot in a fantasy lineup. But when it comes to players that show legitimate talent and skill, I tend to be positive in terms of my outlook. I see Kenny Stills taking the next step as he continues to develop his game as more than just a team’s designated field stretcher. I have him pegged for just over 1,000 yards receiving, and somewhere between 5 and 8 touchdowns (in the best case scenario). Numbers of that caliber would make him a low-end 2nd Wide Receiver, or a high-end 3rd Wide Receiver. Whatever the case, Kenny Stills will likely be a late round steal that will pay dividends for owners that understand fantasy football and tend to employ players on a matchup based system.