Operating from the massive shadow cast by Josh Doctson, TCU wideout Kolby Listenbee found his niche as the deep threat in the Horned Frogs' offense. After posting the second-fastest 40-yard dash time at the combine, more eyes could be turning Listenbee's way as a home-run threat. I dove in to the tape to see if fantasy fans should be paying attention as well.
» Elite deep speed
» Quick off the line
» Multiple moves to beat press/man at the line
» Tracks the ball and adjusts well to errant throws
Lining up across the field from Josh Doctson often left Listenbee in the shadows, but he was able to make a name for himself thanks to his knack for getting open deep. Listenbee led the team with 19.9 yards per reception, consistently beating man-to-man coverage for big plays. Listenbee was able to get open a lot, but it didn't turn into targets (which is understandable, given Doctson being the No. 1). Listenbee's strong combine performance (second in 40-yard dash, tied fourth in broad jump among wideouts) confirmed for scouts what they saw on tape -- Listenbee can fly.
While Listenbee is tied for the smallest hands in the 2016 crop of wide receivers at 8-1/4 inches, he seems to be a natural pass-catcher who is capable of making adjustments and tough catches on errant throws. He's also great at tracking the deep ball, and shows some savvy in using subtle contact and patience at the top of his routes to create separation right before the ball arrives.
» Slight frame for his height, needs more strength
» Doesn't know how to use speed to set up intermediate routes
» Lack of effort in run support
» Footwork in route-running needs work
While Listenbee's speed is his trump card, it also appears to be the only card he can play right now. While he's able to win deep consistently, his speed almost serves as a detriment anytime he's asked to run an intermediate or comeback route, as his footwork is labored getting in and out of his breaks as he tries to slow down.
Another knock on Listenbee is his slight frame (197 pounds) for being 6-foot-1, though it appears he has added bulk since the start of his senior season when the team had him listed at 183 pounds. That's a good sign for his NFL future, as he'll need to add functional strength to help beat press corners and fight for contested catches as a pro.
Ideal NFL fantasy fits
Calvin Johnson's retirement underscores the Lions need to start adding depth to their pass-catching corps. Listenbee's speed could allow him to get snaps early and stretch the field while Golden Tate does the dirty work underneath. The Falcons offense was sorely lacking speed last season outside of Julio Jones. With Justin Hardy potentially earning more reps as a full-time player in the slot, Listenbee could help keep defenses honest deep and divert attention from Jones. Houston has an all-world receiver in DeAndre Hopkins, but need complementary pieces around him. Listenbee would add an explosive element to that offense, as deep speed has never been Nuk's cup of tea to begin with.
Early fantasy draft projection
As the saying goes, "You can't teach speed," which bodes well for Listenbee's NFL and fantasy future. He'll likely enter the NFL as a one-trick pony, but when his one trick is scoring deep touchdowns it's worth some attention in fantasy. He won't be a name to call on draft day, but he's certainly one to keep an eye on as the season progresses for his boom-or-bust nature. Not unlike the speedy Tyler Lockett was in 2015, Listenbee could become a nice DFS play or matchup-based play if he's able to develop his game through the early portions of the season. Dynasty owners will likely have plenty of other names to call ahead of Listenbee, but those in need of his skill set could maybe grab him with one of the final picks of rookie drafts.