Dynasty Buy Low: 3 Reasons You Want to Own Devin Funchess
Did you know that Devin Funchess only played 44 percent of the Carolina Panthers offensive snaps last season? He was targeted on 12 percent of those 492 snaps and finished with 58 targets, 23 receptions, 371 yards, and four touchdowns. Funchess’ production declined across all major statistical categories from his rookie to second season. Did you know he posted the worst drop rate among wide receivers with 50 or more targets? Funchess dropped six of his 29 catchable passes from Cam Newton. On a positive note, none of his drops were on passes of 20 yards or more, and Funchess led the team with 4.7 yards after the catch, according to Pro Football Focus.
The Panthers front office moves in free agency and the NFL Draft suggests that Funchess is being positioned for a larger role in 2017. They released veteran wide receivers, Ted Ginn and Corey Brown. The front office also used their first two draft picks on Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey and Ohio State wide receiver Curtis Samuel. These moves suggest the Panthers front office and coaching staff believe Funchess can emerge in 2017 as the number two receiving weapon for Cam Newton. This article in our Dynasty Buy Low series will share with you three reasons you should invest in shares of Funchess heading into the 2017 season.
FUNCHESS’ DYNASTY ADP
Funchess’ dynasty ADP has been on a downward trend since May of this year. This could be a result of the Panthers drafting Samuel. He profiles more as a slot receiver but has the skillset to run the with the football and line up anywhere on the field.
There are other factors that should be considered when evaluating Funchess’ value in 2017. Panthers quarterback Cam Newton faced the blitz on 40 percent of his drop backs, which led the NFL, and had a quarterback rating of 70.8 on those plays. He was sacked 36 times and constantly under pressure, which impacted his statistical production. Newton’s average yards per completion dropped from 7.75 in 2015 to a career-low 6.88 in 2016. He also saw a reduction in touchdowns from 35 to 19. The Panthers running game (2,822 rushing yards) was also less productive last season than it was in 2015 (2,822). All of these factors negatively impact Funchess’ 2016. Panthers head coach Ron Rivera has been vocal this offseason about limiting the hits Newton takes in 2017. He has also mentioned that the offense will emphasize the quick pass. Running more two tight end sets is also something the Panthers could do to help Newton. The team has 148 targets (Ginn and Brown) to replace, and Funchess stands to benefit as the Panthers’ No. 2 WR. He is in a prime position to break out.
FUNCHESS IS ABOUT TO ENTER HIS PHYSICAL PRIME
Age and athleticism are critical variables in determining improvement or regression. Co-Founder of Apex Fantasy Leagues, and RotoViz writer Mike Braude, wrote an article last year about the peak age of an NFL WR. He set a baseline at 1,200 yards from scrimmage and seven TDs. This provided a sample size of 150 players from 1990 to 2015. One big takeaway was that players age 25 to 29 accounted for 60.7 percent of the peak seasons in the sample.
Funchess turned 23 on May 21st. He’s close to entering his physical prime, and I anticipate his statistical production (Snaps played, targets, catch rate, and receiving yards) to continue to trend up. It would be prudent to invest sooner rather than later.
Kelvin Benjamin is the Panthers number one WR. His inconsistent production, struggles with weight, and inability to separate from defensive backs at the NFL level are well documented. Benjamin has not developed into the alpha receiver the Panthers front office hoped he could be. This presents an opportunity that is ripe for the taking for Funchess, which brings me to my next point.
BENJAMIN HAS NOT MET EXPECTATIONS
Benjamin produced 49 percent of his fantasy points in Weeks 1, 2, 16 and 17 in 2016. He has averaged around nine fantasy points per game since Week 3. This perfectly illustrates Benjamin’s week-to-week inconsistencies. Funchess is physically gifted. He is in the 86th percentile in height-adjusted speed score, and the 78th percentile in burst score. The best comparable player to Funchess using Player Profiler’s advanced stats and metrics is Brandon Marshall.
There are many parallels with investing in the stock market and building a dynasty team in fantasy football and recency bias is one of them. It is where investors evaluate their portfolio performance based on recent results or on their view of recent results and make the wrong conclusions that lead to poor decisions about how the stock market behaves. Funchess has the characteristics of a value stock. A company with solid fundamentals that is priced below its peers, based on analysis of price/earnings ratio, yield, and other factors. Funchess is in a position where he may play the highest number of snaps and have the highest target share of his career. Would you prefer to pay a discount now or a premium later?
We are only a season removed from the Panthers offense leading the NFL with 2.40 points per drive and QB Newton being selected as the NFL’s Most Valuable Player. All of the stars are aligning for Funchess to outperform his ADP as the Panthers number two WR. I recommend you trade for him in your dynasty league with the expectation of seeing a return on your investment within one to two seasons. Funchess’ trade value, according to the RotoViz dynasty trade app is currently at seven points. What do you have to lose?
All of these reasons support my case for dynasty owners to buy low on Devin Funchess. What was most useful for you? Please leave a comment below or better yet reach out to me via Twitter @EricNMoody.