If you’ve listened to any the offseason Sports Wunderkind Podcasts or read Jon Moore’s excellent piece on Nick Toon, you are aware that he is a gifted athlete in special circumstances. It isn’t every day that a 6’2 receiver with 4.42 speed is drafted into an offense featuring a historically accurate quarterback and an offensive mastermind coach. Effectively, Toon, son of former All-Pro wide receiver Al Toon, is in a perfect situation to succeed.
Right now, Toon is clearly behind Marques Colston, Lance and Jimmy Graham in the pecking order. Toon did not play at all last year due to injury, but it is my belief that he will end up out producing Lance Moore and Joe Morgan, easily. Lance Moore is the Saints’ WR2, in both fantasy and real life, at the moment; but take a quick look at his production next to that of the departed Robert Meachem and Devery Henderson.
The Saints have historically had room for multiple fantasy relevant options.
The short term is mostly irrelevant to this discussion, however. Marques Colston is going to be a fantasy WR1 in 2013, as he has been for years now. Moore will be his usual WR2/WR3 (albeit closer to a WR3) self, and Jimmy Graham will be THE TE1. But moving forward, Colston is 30 years old and soon enough, there will be a void for those targets and redzone looks and Toon is an ideal replacement candidate. Moore has effectively had 2 outlier seasons: One where he posted 10 touchdowns, and last year where he leapfrogged his career 12 yards per catch to post his 1,000 yard season. Moore’s best finish as a fantasy WR was 13th in 2008. However, his targets per game have hovered in between 5.5 and 6.5 over the last 3 seasons. What makes Toon immediately interesting is that even including Meachem’s 20 target rookie year, the now-absent Meachem and Henderson combined for 115.25 targets per year, or 7.2 per game. Some of that was filled by Moore last year, taking some of Meachem’s targets, and Jimmy Graham is certain to be the most heavily targeted player. However, in the interim, Toon is highly capable of filling both Meachem and Henderson’s role as outside receiver who can play with Moore in the slot and Colston on the opposite side. While Moore and Morgan will be involved, it appears to me that Toon is a better fit to replace the production and targets of the 2 departed flanker receivers.
Here is some data comparing the two players:
|Height||Weight||40||Broad Jump||Vertical||College YPC||TDS|
That data is really basic for a few reasons. Colston played at Hofstra, pre-2006, so his statistics aren’t available for our college career graphs. Additionally, Toon never posted official short shuttle or three cone times. Generally, however, the players seem pretty comparable. Colston a bit taller and slower, but slightly more productive. Toon is a bit shorter, but appears to be more explosive and able to get to the same balls that Colston is.
The reason Toon being 2 inches shorter than Colston doesn’t bother me is really pretty simple: he is INCREDIBLE in the redzone. Look at his College Career Graph for Red Zone TD Rate.
Above 70% on 89 targets over the course of a season on a run first team in the Big 10 is really good. Again, we don’t have access to Colston’s college numbers, but what we are seeing is that Toon is capable of doing what Colston does for the New Orleans offense.
Drew Brees is 34, meaning he most likely has 3 to 5 years left of really solid production. Marques Colston is 30 years old, meaning that he is probably only capable of 2 more years of elite production. With Jimmy Graham locked up for the foreseeable future and the general replaceablility of slot wide receivers, the X wide receiver position in the Saints offense is the position up for grabs at the tail end of Bree’s creating fantasy goodness. Not only is Toon ready for a breakout, but in a prime position to succeed. Provided the Saints don’t draft another similar physically profiled wide receiver next year (they didn’t in the most recent draft), it seems that the Saints are telling us pretty clearly that they are ready for Marques Colston to lose a step, but not to have the team lose production.