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Saints Rookie Kenny Stills Fantasy Forecast

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Kenny StillsKenny Stills Fantasy 2013

The son of a former NFL player, it’s hard to see Kenny Stills not having a long and productive NFL career – especially given the fact that he’ll be catching passes and soaking up knowledge from Drew Brees right out of the gate.

The wide receiver position was among the deepest in the 2013 NFL Draft. In all, 28 receivers were drafted, including 16 ahead of Kenny Stills. Of those 16, only DeAndre Hopkins, Cordarrelle Patterson and Tavon Austin sit at the top of their respective team’s depth charts.

Stills was taken by the New Orleans Saints with the 144th overall pick in the 5th Round. While at the University of Oklahoma, he teamed up with Ryan Broyles to form one of the most prolific collegiate receiving duos in recent memory. In perhaps the most impressive game of his collegiate career, Stills caught seven passes for 125 yards and a touchdown against then fifth-ranked Florida State in 2011. During much of that game, he was operating in the vicinity of cornerback Xavier Rhodes, the 25th overall pick in 2013 by the Minnesota Vikings. On one play where Rhodes was in man coverage against him, Stills burned him on a stop-and-go route down the left sideline for 38 yards.

Despite his late-round draft selection, Kenny Stills’ skillset puts him in position to offer some immediate production in the Crescent City.

Sitting at the No. 1 and No. 2 receiver spots for the Saints are two 1,000 yard receivers from a season ago: Marques Colston and Lance Moore. After that, only veteran journeyman Courtney Roby as possibly 2012 fourth-rounder Nick Toon stand in Stills’ way of landing the No. 3/slot-receiver role. In 2012, Joseph Morgan and Devery Henderson combined to fill that role. Henderson has moved on, but Morgan returns. That said, the eye test alone tells me Stills is more versatile and will have a leg up on Morgan once he starts to get comfortable in the offense. Stills does have experience returning punts, which could be what wins him a roster spot and makes Morgan expendable.

New Orleans runs an air-it-out offense similar to what he was accustomed to at Oklahoma. In the limited sample size we have of Ryan Broyles healthy, we’ve seen the former Oklahoma star fit right in to a similar style of offense in Detroit.

Stills definitely won’t be a stranger to being targeted with a high volume of passes if asked. He caught over 200 passes for 24 touchdowns during his three years at Oklahoma.

Despite not showing a lot of straight-line speed on the field at Oklahoma, Kenny Stills was clocked as the fourth fastest receiver at the NFL Combine with a 4.38 40-yard dash. This tells me he has the capability to execute those deep routes we see Lance Moore score on so often. Stills explosiveness combined with his precise route-running ability allowed him to gain separation on nearly every type of route he was asked to run in college. That skill should translate well to the NFL, especially with ongoing rule changes that give receivers more space to operate.

Kenny Stills FantasyShould Stills lands the No. 3 slot, his numbers should approach the combined 2012 totals of Henderson and Morgan. If he comes up short, it will likely be due to a failure to achieve Morgan’s ridiculous YPC average (37.9) from a season ago.

That said; I feel comfortable projecting Stills at 35 catches for 500 yards and four touchdowns in 2013.

He likely won’t be a game changer in traditional leagues this season unless Colston or Moore go down with injuries, but he’s well worth a look in keeper/dynasty leagues — especially in a PPR format.

I think the long-term plan New Orleans has for Stills is for him to be the heir apparent to Moore, who turns 30 in August. Whether that happens sooner or later remains to be seen.

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About the author

J.P Scott

J.P. is an award-winning college football writer specializing in finding hidden gems at the college level who could become household names in fantasy leagues one day. He is the founder of KnowItAllFootball.com, host of Raising The Bar on RadiOmaha.com and writes a series of "Outrageous Prediction" articles for Athlon Sports. He lives with his wife and their two children in Omaha, Nebraska.

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