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Alonzo Russell a fantasy football work in progress

Leading up to the 2016 NFL Draft, each day NFL Fantasy will profile a prospect who could make a splash in fantasy next season. Today's subject is former Toledo wide receiver Alonzo Russell.

I declined to see "Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice" on opening weekend. Mostly because I had low expectations for the film. Judging by some of the early reviews, the movie is even failing to reach that low bar. But it has made me think of days when director Zack Snyder wasn't being completely pilloried by the moviegoing public. I was reminded of Watchmen. It wasn't the greatest flick, but it had potential and really popped in some spots. Yet after it was all over, you couldn't help but wonder if it should have been better.

That brings me to Alzono Russell. On paper, so much about the Toledo prospect looks like it has the makings of a blockbuster. On film, there are moments when you can see that there is a quality receiver looking to get out. But when it's all over, you're left with an underwhelming feeling.


» Good size and speed
» Quick off the line of scrimmage
» Excels in short/intermediate routes
» Good hand technique

So many things about Russell would portend to him being a pass-catching star at the next level. Standing 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds with nearly 34-inch long arms, he has the frame to be a top-notch NFL wideout. It also doesn't hurt that Russell logged a 4.47-second 40-yard dash at Toledo's pro day (compared to a 4.54 at the combine). As far as physical specimen go, Russell belongs in the same conversation with many of the top wideouts in the class.

Russell's tape might not be a lot of "oh wow!" moments, but there are plenty of times when you see the ability needed to be a productive secondary receiver in the league. He shows quick twitch movements at the snap, getting off the line of scrimmage in a hurry. When given space, he eats up the cushion quickly and when defenders play up, Russell finds a way to shake loose to get into his route.

Russell is at his best with intermediate patterns, forcing defensive backs to commit before he breaks off the route and changes directions. Once he gets open, his hand placement is usually on point eschewing opportunities to catch the ball with his body. That's definitely a plus.


» Average hands
» Not great with contested catches
» Regressed statistically during college career

Russell might excel at getting his hands into position to catch the football, but squeezing the rock was an issue at times. He had a bigger problem with drops than you'd like to see from any prospect. To make matters worse, Russell wasn't great at making contested catches. It was an area in which Russell himself admitted that he could stand to improve.

While stats don't tell a player's full story, it's notable (and a little disconcerting) that Russell's numbers appeared to regress during his time at Toledo. The numbers he posted as a senior were worse than his freshman totals. In four years, Russell had six 100-yard receiving games, but none after his sophomore season. It's not uncommon for some players to have lesser numbers in their final college campaign, but Russell's step back was far too large to ignore.

Ideal fantasy fits

Russell's lot in his NFL life will be as a complementary (read: third or fourth) receiver on a team with a solid offense. With Larry Fitzgerald getting long in the tooth, there could eventually be a change in the depth chart in Arizona. Working in an Aaron Rodgers-led offense is never a bad thing for receivers and Russell could fill the role originally intended for James Jones last season -- y'know before all the injuries and stuff.

The Jaguars obviously have a pair of talented young receivers, but who couldn't use a little wideout depth in a passing league? The same goes with the Steelers, who now have a slot open with Martavis Bryant sidelined for the 2016 season.

Early fantasy draft projection

There is some potential with Russell, but he's going to be a project wherever he lands. As such, there won't be much reason to draft him even in dynasty leagues. In redraft situations, there's no need to consider him at all.

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Marcas Grant is a fantasy editor for Follow him on Twitter @MarcasG.

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