Kenny Stills Is Going to Win Fantasy Football Championships This Season
Four weeks and a Brandin Cooks injury later, and Stills is in a position to do serious work for your fake football squad in the fantasy playoffs.
Stills has 15 targets, 13 receptions, 260 yards and a score over his last two games -- contests without the rookie Cooks. Stills has now seen fewer than six targets in just one of the Saints' last five games. Stills, somehow, is still available in roughly 40% of fantasy leagues.
That needs to change.
A Fantasy Playoff Stud?
Stills was a popular late-round fantasy selection entering 2014, but an early-season injury slowed the start of his year. He failed to reached a double-digit PPR game in his first four games of the season, snagging five targets just once over that time. In fact, Stills never saw more than five targets in a game until Week 9 against the Carolina Panthers.
But since and including Week 9, Stills is averaging 6.6 targets per game, a number he failed to reach in each of his first six games.
What's odd is that Kenny Stills really isn't seeing the field a whole lot more than he did at the start of the season. You can take a look at his snap count and percentages below, courtesy of FantasyData.com.
The Saints hate fantasy football given their personnel rotations, resulting in no single player gobbling up volume. But given Week 9 was when Stills started to see more looks from Drew Brees, you can see he really wasn't seeing a higher percentage of team snaps. From Weeks 2 through 8, Stills was on the field for 54.8% of the snaps. From Week 9 through Week 13, that number's shifted to just 57.1%.
So the question still remains - why is Kenny Stills seeing more volume despite being on the field a relatively similar amount of time?
The answer to this question may be pretty straightforward. First, over the last two games, Brandin Cooks has been sidelined. Though Stills' snap count hasn't changed, having one fewer dynamic target on the field is only going to force Drew Brees to look his way. It's no coincidence that two of Stills' top-three games this year have come over the last two weeks, which is the exact same time Cooks left the field for the year.
Second, and less quantifiable, all of this could be health-related. Remember, Stills was battling a quad injury to start the year so, naturally, as the season has moved forward, Stills has gotten healthier.
Lastly, the Saints' schedule has been much more wide receiver-friendly of late. Stills' two games with more than six targets this season were against Carolina (23rd against the pass according to our Net Expected Points-driven pass defense metric) and Baltimore (20th, and they continue to drop without cornerback Jimmy Smith). His big game last week came against a Pittsburgh secondary that's struggled this year as well.
And that's where we get to this idea that Kenny Stills is going to win you a fantasy championship this year. The Saints get Carolina this weekend (again, Stills saw eight targets against them a few weeks back), followed by Chicago and Atlanta. Each of these teams rank in the bottom 10 against the pass according to our metrics, and none rank higher than 24th in terms of fantasy points against to the wide receiver position.
Even if Stills continues to see a low snap count, as a fantasy owner, I'd continue to expect WR2 production.