What Should We Do With Mohamed Sanu in Fantasy Football?
Mohamed Sanu benefitted from a fairly weak crop of wide receiver free agents this offseason.
He signed a five-year, $35.5 million contract with the Atlanta Falcons, which pays him the 23rd-highest average annual salary among receivers, per Spotrac.
Knowing that the Falcons called the eighth-most pass plays in the league last year, and given the size of the investment placed in Sanu, it would seem that he will have the opportunity to produce useful fantasy numbers this year.
So why is Sanu being drafted on average, at the end of the 11th round, as the 53rd wide receiver off of the board (per Fantasy Football Calculator)?
Replacing an All-Timer
After 11 seasons, former Falcons receiver Roddy White just could not produce like a number-two wide receiver any longer. White, a four-time Pro Bowler, had six seasons where he was a top-14 fantasy wide receiver, but he caught only 43 passes for 506 yards and 3 touchdowns in 2015.
How will Sanu manage as an alternative?
To breakdown the data, let's dig into our Net Expected Points (NEP) metric, which measures a player's efficiency compared to expectation-level.
More specifically, I used our wide-receiver-specific NEP metrics -- Reception NEP per target, Target NEP per target and Reception Success Rate -- to compare White and Sanu in 2015. Ranks below are among 93 receivers with at least 45 targets in 2015.
|2015||Roddy White||Mohamed Sanu|
|Reception NEP per Target||0.65||0.63|
|Reception NEP per Target Rank||65th||67th|
|Target NEP per Target||0.14||0.17|
|Target NEP per Target Rank||77th||73rd|
|Reception Success Rate||81.40%||81.82%|
|Reception Success Rate Rank||66th||65th|
It's probably safe to say that not only were Roddy White and Mohamed Sanu statistically similar but that both were pretty awful in 2015.
Both players ranked in the bottom third in Reception NEP per target, Target NEP per target, and Reception Success Rate.
Sanu, who will go from playing alongside A.J. Green to Julio Jones, should be comfortable lining up opposite a Pro Bowl wide receiver, but if he couldn't thrive in Cincinnati, why should we expect anything different in Atlanta?
Analyzing Sanu's Value
GIven Sanu's 2015 performance, it's probably safe to to be down on his prospects for the upcoming season, but is he a player who you should take a flyer on?
Other players drafted in his range, including Vincent Jackson and Devin Funchess, are clearly coming off seasons in which they performed more efficiently than Sanu. Jackson (0.84) and Funchess (0.71) outpaced the league-average Reception NEP per target rate for receivers, and we already know that Sanu (0.63) didn't reach that mark.
Making matters worse, he doesn't project to be a significant part of the offense. Our initial projections see him tallying 54 catches for 658 yards and 3.42 touchdowns, finishing as the WR54 in PPR formats.
Sanu may surprise us all and become a perfect complement to Julio Jones, but given the company he's keeping on draft boards and his poor metrics, he is not someone to reach for in fantasy drafts this season.