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Are fantasy managers in good hands with Will Fuller?

Leading up to the 2016 NFL Draft, each day NFL Fantasy will profile a prospect (or two) who could make a splash in fantasy next season. Today's subject is former Notre Dame wide receiver Will Fuller.

Read enough about Will Fuller across the interwebs and the name that keeps coming up is Ted Ginn. Sure, Ginn might have had decent fantasy totals last season (WR26) but he was also always a Twitter punchline for his (ahem!) inconsistency catching the football. Lest we paint Fuller with a similar brush, I dove into some of his game tape to get a better picture.


» Fast, fast, fast!
» Changes route speeds to gain cushion
» Quick, easy acceleration

Fuller's greatest asset is his speed. He ran the second-fastest 40-yard dash at the combine behind only Georgia running back Keith Marshall. That speed is readily apparent on tape as Fuller made his bones at Notre Dame running past defenders for a slew of big plays on his way to averaging 20.3 yards per reception.

That ability to stretch the defense meant that Fuller was often given plenty of cushion from opposing defensive backs. He was frequently able to use that to his advantage to make plays underneath in the passing game. Fuller was adept at breaking off routes to get open for short and intermediate throws. The offense also featured him effectively on bubble screens, allowing him to quickly get the ball in his hands and use his blazing speed.


» Drops, drops, drops!
» Limited route tree
» Willing, but weak, run blocker

When Fuller had the ball in his hands, he was über-dangerous. The problem was being able to get the ball in his hands. While the issue of Fuller's drops might be a little overstated, it's also more of a concern than Michael Irvin might be willing to admit. Fuller's tendency to catch the ball with his body, rather than his hands, was a prime culprit for his dilemma. It also led to Fuller often trying to run under deep throws rather than going up to get them ... well, that and his underwhelming 33.5-inch vertical jump.

Looking deeper, it would seem that Fuller only excelled at running well ... deeper. Whether it was based on his role in the offense or a lack of proficiency, Fuller was fairly limited in the routes he ran for the Fighting Irish. That doesn't mean he can't learn more, but it would be nice to see some expansion in that area. As for his skills off the ball, Fuller isn't afraid to engage when blocking on run plays; it's just that he isn't particularly good at it.

Ideal fantasy fits

Right now, Fuller's best value is as a deep threat, which means he's not likely to be a primary receiver in anyone's offense. With the inconsistent Terrance Williams entering the final year of his contract, Fuller could compete for snaps opposite Dez Bryant. Similarly, the Eagles could use a speed burner to go along with Jordan Matthews and Nelson Agholor in Doug Pederson's new-look offense. No one really knows what the Browns are doing at quarterback, but it looks like there's a chance that Josh Gordon will return to the field this season. How about pairing him up with a burner who can stretch the defense and make things easier for Gordon and 2015 tight end darling Gary Barnidge? Maybe a nice trio for Carson Wentz to throw to?

Early fantasy draft projection

As is the case with most home run hitters, Fuller is likely to strike out a few times. But since you can't teach speed, he'll definitely find his way onto an NFL field sooner rather than later. However, for fantasy purposes he's going to be a feast-or-famine option. His ability (in the right offense) could make him worth a mid-round pick in dynasty drafts but Fuller won't be anything more than a late-round flier in most redraft leagues.

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

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