WR Willie Snead | New Orleans Saints | 3rd Year
2016 Stats: 72 receptions for 895 yards, 4 TDs
After going undrafted out of Ball State in 2015, Willie Snead has topped 100 targets in each of his first two seasons. A few more targets (104) and a few more catches (72) last year yielded fewer yards (895) compared to 2015 (69 receptions for 984 yards-101 targets), but it’s clear Snead has earned the trust of Drew Brees.
Snead operated primarily out of the slot last season, and he ranked highly among his peers in that role by many measures. His snap percentages were pretty volatile, but in the seven games he played over 70 percent of the snaps his averaged 6.4 receptions (on 8.7 targets) for 81.1 yards per game. Projected over the 15 games he played last year, that’s 96 catches on 131 targets 1,216 yards.
The departure of Brandin Cooks leaves 112 targets from 2016 available for the taking in the New Orleans passing game, and free agent replacement Ted Ginn is in line to take a role as a deep threat. Tight end Coby Fleener could see more targets and rookie running back Alvin Kamara could push into a passing down role, but Snead’s snap count should at least be more consistent in his third year.
The knocks on Snead are clear. He lacks size (5-foot-11) and great timed speed, which has limited his red zone usage (21 red zone targets in two seasons) and touchdown totals (seven in two seasons). Eight of his 12 red zone targets in 2016 came inside the five-yard line, but that’s hard to take much from since Snead only had one more touchdown than he had as a rookie.
Snead has finished as a high-end WR3 in PPR leagues in each of his first two seasons, and he’s in line to repeat that again in 2017. He can be booked for 100-plus targets, and based purely on another increase in volume his first 1,000-yard season is within reach. The question is if that qualifies as a real breakout, or just a residual of Cooks being gone and getting more opportunities. There’s a safe floor provided by catching patches from Brees, but Snead’s upside is also capped by a plethora of other options in the passing game.