UDFA Dynasty Sleeper K.D. Cannon 2017

Updated: K.D. Cannon Was Just Cut by the 49ers.

A big-name undrafted free agent out of Baylor, Cannon was cut immediately after rookie minicamp. Assuming he is healthy and isn’t dealing with an undisclosed off-field incident, we suspect Cannon will be claimed off waivers. A one-trick speedster, Cannon has drawn comparisons to Chargers WR Travis Benjamin. – RotoWorld

When it comes to having the coolest name of any player drafted or signed after the draft, K.D. Cannon wins hands down. But exactly who is K.D. Cannon? If you live on the West Coast, more specifically San Francisco, you will automatically recognize the name of the freshly signed undrafted free agent. Outside of that unless you’re a Baylor fan, you need more information.

Potentially one of the biggest sleepers that will more than likely remain on the undrafted boards of fantasy drafts as well, unless you’re in a dynasty league which will be talked about later, Cannon should at least entice a flier for those that go running back heavy in the early rounds of drafts.

John Ross was the receiver that got all of the hype in the draft, running a record-setting 4.22 40-yard dash. The funny thing about it is, Cannon finished just .19 seconds behind Ross making him the third-fastest receiver in the draft.

Taking a look at the college resumes shows the reason Ross was drafted so highly was strictly due to his wheels and ability to become a burner down the field, something Cannon can also do with ease. One advantage Cannon has over Ross? Ross has had surgery to both of his knees, tearing his left ACL in 2015.

The former Washington standout came back to finish his senior year, recording 1,150 receiving yards to go with 17 touchdowns. He also chipped in another 102 yards and a score on the ground. Meanwhile, Cannon wrapped up his junior season with more impressive stats through the air. Cannon accounted for fewer touchdowns, but racked up 1,215 yards through the air, ranking him 20th among qualifying FBS receiving leaders last season.

Where did Ross rank? A whole six spots behind Cannon sitting on 82.1 yards per game, while Cannon went off for 101.3 per contest. Outside of Ross’ senior season at Washington, he failed to crack 500 yards his freshman and sophomore seasons, compiling a career-high 371 yards his sophomore campaign. Cannon, on the other hand, accounted for 1,030 yards his freshman year to go with eight touchdowns. He came back his sophomore season and only had 868 yards, but the 1,215 he had his junior year proved he was for real.

So why did Cannon go undrafted? Pro Football Focus points to a limited route tree, average hands, ineffectiveness on special teams and his yards per reception (5.2 on screens in 2016 according to pro football focus.)

The pros that the pro football focus experts point to outweigh the bad, however. According to them Cannon has legit speed, good acceleration, should have success with vertical routes, is a deep threat, does a nice job tracking and adjusting to the ball in the air and forced 12 missed tackles on 87 catches in 2016.

Sure, Cannon might not be coming from an ideal system, and while he may need some time to develop with his route tree, what San Francisco really needs is a burner and that’s what they got for practically peanuts. The 49ers stole Cannon, paying him $45,000 with a $5,000 bonus and $40,000 guaranteed. In other words, he is a very poor man’s, John Ross.

Believe it or not, the 49ers should be better at the quarterback position this season with Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley competing for the starting job. That’s not to mention all of the speculation that Kirk Cousins may be lured over to San Francisco in free agency in the very near future.

Another advantage for the 6 foot tall, 180-pound rookie coming into training camp is receiver depth. Outside of freshly signed Pierre Garcon, the 49ers don’t have a single wideout on the roster that has registered a 1,000-yard season. Jeremy Kerley has the second most career yards on the team with 2,892 in seven seasons.

The fact San Fran was outscored 480-309 by opponents last year and finished with a 2-14 record also bodes well for Cannon’s sleeper value. With the 49ers playing catch up late in games for the majority of the season, he will see plenty of opportunities to real in meaningless yards, but yet productive stats for any fantasy owner. One late game bomb for 40 yards and a score gives you a solid week of production out of the rookie.

With Garcon drawing the attention of defensive backs and no scouting report out yet on Cannon at the pro level, early season success for the former Baylor speedster could be in the works.

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Dynasty Upside

Check out Jody Smith’s 2017 Dynasty Rankings

As stated above, Kirk Cousins has at least a 50/50 chance of being lured in by the 49ers come season’s end. With Kyle Shanahan now behind the reigns in the Bay Area, a chance to have a Matty Ice-esque season is enough to at least make any want-to-be franchise quarterback have a second or even third thought about his final destination.

With Cousins showing he isn’t afraid to sling the rock, resurrecting DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon’s careers, he can surely make a star or at least legitimate weapon out of Cannon. Cousins has already proved he can take a no-name receiver such as Jamison Crowder and make him a dark horse candidate to break top 25 numbers.

Give Cannon time to develop his routes and get adjusted to the NFL’s style of play which very much favors the deep ball and quarterbacks in general. If the talk of Cousins bringing his cannon to the Bay Area to sling to Cannon gets more serious as the season winds down, don’t hesitate to grab the Baylor product. This season may be your first and last chance to claim a future WR 1.

 

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About the author

Ethan Lillard

Ethan Lillard

Ethan is a lifelong sports fan and has been involved in sports for as long as he can remember. He played football in high school and was a part of two Class 3A State Championship football teams in Illinois at Illini West High School. He is currently the sports editor at the Hancock County Journal-Pilot in Carthage, IL and is trying to get more involved in fantasy and professional sports journalism. Ethan has played fantasy football since he was 14 years old and considers himself an admitted fantasy addict, but sees no problem with this. He competes annually in fantasy football, basketball and baseball leagues with his friends and has even accomplished a three-peat in one of his football leagues, winning three-straight seasons. He nearly had another three-peat in the same span in another league, but got third in 2015. Writing about and covering sports is his passion. After entering the sports journalism field in 2015, Ethan knew covering sports was his calling and will never turn back.

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